Showering Tips to Avoid Eczema Flare-Ups

By Rebekah KuschmiderMedically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on Jan 03, 2022

Bathing is a crucial part of keeping eczema under control. You might think frequent baths or showers will strip moisture from your skin, but bathing will actually give you an opportunity to replace the moisture your skin loses. Bathing, then sealing in the moisture with a good skin cream, will reduce the likelihood of a flare-up. 

Soak and Seal

A lot of experts recommend something called the “soak and seal” method of showering. After taking a shower, you follow a moisturizing routine designed to hold as much moisture in your skin as possible: 

  • Bathe or shower using lukewarm (not hot) water. Use only gentle cleansers and avoid scrubbing affected areas. 
  • Pat the skin with a soft towel, but don’t dry it off completely.
  • Apply any topical prescription medications you are using.
  • Within 3 minutes, apply your favorite moisturizer all over your body. Timing is important. You want to apply moisturizer while the skin is still damp so that the water is sealed in under the lotion.
  • Let your moisturizer fully absorb before getting dressed. 

You should only stay in the shower or bathtub for 5-10 minutes at a time. Staying in the water for too long can start to irritate your skin. You should also keep the temperature of the water lukewarm. Hot water is drying. 

Bath Products

Choosing eczema-friendly bath products will help your skin. Make sure you avoid anything that contains harsh detergents or drying alcohols. Look for body washes and shampoos that are formulated without fragrances or dyes since those ingredients can trigger flare-ups. 

When you wash your skin, you should be gentle. Don’t use harsh scrubbers or loofahs on sensitive skin. Keep body wash away from any active flares of eczema.

You can also add soothing ingredients to your bath water:

  • Oils: Choose unscented oils that don’t have foaming ingredients
  • Baking soda: Baking soda can relieve itching. You can add a quarter cup to your bath water before soaking.
  • Oatmeal: Colloidal oatmeal (oatmeal ground to a fine dust) is an effective ingredient for soothing irritated skin. 
  • Vinegar: Vinegar is anti-bacterial, so it can help prevent irritated skin from getting infected.

Hand Washing

You probably wash your hands multiple times a day. You can’t just wash and go when you have eczema, though. You should treat each hand-washing episode like a mini-shower for your hands.

After you finish washing your hands, pat them with a towel until they are slightly damp. Apply a moisturizer to the skin and let it soak in. Additionally, if you have eczema-affected skin on your hands, ask your doctor if you should use medication each time you wash.

If you have general questions about taking showers with eczema, you can call your doctor about that, too. They can help you find a routine and products that will work for your skin.

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