As a first step, it’s critical to identify any potential eczema food triggers and get to the root cause of this autoimmune ailment. This will help you resolve it permanently. However, you don’t have to suffer during what is usually a lengthy healing process.
There are a number of things that can provide immediate, although temporary eczema relief. So, while you work your way towards internal healing, here are a few things to help you on your way.
Skin Care Basics for Eczema Relief
The goal in treating eczema is to heal the skin to the point where moisturizing is no longer necessary. However, the reality is that while your skin will likely lose much of its dryness as it heals, it may never be as soft and smooth as you would like. So, it’s imperative that you find the right methods for moisturizing your skin. For some people a simple carrier oil like olive oil or avocado oil works wonders, for others it may be an oil mixed with beeswax in the form of a balm. For still others more of a traditional cream is optimal.
Regardless of the format you choose, just be cautious and always read the full list of ingredients for potential allergens and harmful ingredients. And ALWAYS patch test a new product on a small area of skin before slathering yourself with it as any ingredient, no matter how natural, could cause your skin to react.
TIPS: Best practices for moisturizing your skin are to apply an oil or cream twice a day and thoroughly after every bath and hand washing. My personal favorite skin care product for eczema is the Manuka Honey Skin Cream. It’s not quite a balm and not quite a cream, but the active manuka honey and oil make this product very moisturizing and healing.
Bathing & Hand Washing
Bathing is a bit of a confusing topic as some are told to bathe daily while others are told to bathe only as needed.
Then there is the infamous suggestion from some conventional doctors to add bleach to the bath. Yes, chlorine bleach! While bleach does kill bacteria like staph that can trigger infections in those with eczema, it is a very harsh chemical. It can severely dry out the skin ultimately making things worse!
What about soap? Even natural ones like Castile soap? Are they too drying or are moisturizing versions ok? What about body washes? Bubble bathes for kids? The answers to these questions is to find out what works best for your or your little one’s skin through trial and error, but here are some suggestions to get you started.
Try bathing daily for one week and then the following week, only bathe once. Determine which method was less irritating for your skin and stick with it.
Try to find a soap with only a few basic ingredients like a tallow soap only with lye, water and tallow, like this one. Then use it as sparingly as possible. When bathing, only use the soap where it is absolutely needed and never soak in soapy water.
In general, skip the bubble bath and body washes because they contain a host of potential irritants, although there are a few good ones out there with healing herbs like this one. Alternatively, you can also try hand washing and bathing with local, raw honey, which is naturally antibacterial and very moisturizing. To add some anti-itch power to your bath, try straining gluten free oats or calendula flowers in warm, not hot water. And lastly, to help keep infections at bay, try using apple cider vinegar instead of a bleach bath, it works amazingly well. Just remember to ALWAYS moisturize your skin thoroughly after every bath and hand washing.
Important: Bathe and Shower Chlorine Free
One other tip: make sure you are bathing in chlorine free water. Chlorinated water is very drying to skin even for those without eczema. This includes swimming pools – even saltwater swimming pools have chlorine!
If you don’t have a whole house filter, opt for a bath ball that will remove around 90% of the chlorine as the tub fills with water. For showers and baths, a chlorine removal filter works great. Once you’ve bathed chlorine free for awhile, you will wonder how you ever went so long without taking this basic precautionary step.
Dry & Wet Wrap Therapy: Effective Relief from Eczema
For those that need an added boost of moisture to provide quick eczema relief, nothing speeds up healing like dry or wet wrapping.
Apply a generous layer of oil, balm or cream and cover the skin with a piece of form fitting clothing for as long as possible. This works really well for eczema on the hands and feet where socks and gloves can be worn for an extended period of time.
This method is a bit more intense, but the results can be incredible, although temporary until internal healing is complete and the skin heals from the inside out.
- Bathe for 20 minutes in lukewarm water.
- Pat dry with a soft towel.
- Apply a generous layer of oil, balm or cream of your choice to your skin.
- Dampen a form fitting piece of clothing in warm water, ring it out and put it on. 100% cotton, bamboo or special fibers like Eucalyptus are the best materials for this. You can wet wrap your entire body with tops and bottoms or just a small area like your feet with socks. There are special garments available to enhance the effects of wet wrapping, like the ones you see here.
- Cover the damp layer of clothing with another layer of dry clothing.
- Keep the damp and dry layers on for a minimum of two hours and up to 12 hours or overnight. The key is to keep the damp layer damp, so if you chose to wear the clothing for a longer period of time, keep a spray bottle handy and dampen the underneath layer as needed.
- Remove the clothing and apply another generous layer of oil, balm or cream of your choice to your skin.
- Repeat several times per day for up to a week. NEVER use any form of topical medication while wet wrapping as the effects will be enhanced and could be dangerous.
Eczema Relief Requires Special Clothing Considerations
Synthetic fibers and rough seams in clothing can really irritate eczema prone skin. And, some individuals may even be allergic or sensitive to elastic in waist bands and socks if a latex allergy is suspected. While some clothing can be harmful to eczema, some fabrics and protective clothing exist to soothe and protect the skin from scratching.
TIPS: Look for natural fibers that breathe well, like cotton and bamboo, but avoid wool when at all possible as it can be scratchy. If elastic is irritating to you, then you may have an allergy to latex, so search for latex-free, elastic-free clothing items and stay away from spandex.
If scratching is a concern, try keeping gloves, mittens or socks on overnight to prevent skin damage overnight. Check out ScratchMeNot and GoumiMitts for kids or these adult PJs from Soothe with fold over mittens and covered toes – talk about ultimate skin protection for eczema relief!
Fast Eczema Relief by Simplifying Your Laundry Routine
Laundry detergents are really harsh on all skin, not just eczema. Not only do they contain a host of chemicals and fragrances, but they are also very alkaline, exactly the opposite of the more acidic conditions our skin needs. Sadly, the more natural detergents and “free” varieties are usually not much better. What happens is when you wash your clothing, the detergents don’t easily wash out and actually remain in the fabric for up to 10 washes! This residue is really irritating and if the ingredients themselves don’t trigger eczema, the constant rubbing of this alkaline film on your skin all day certainly can make already irritated skin much worse.
More gentle laundry options that can really make a difference for relief from eczema symptoms include: soap nuts, mineral laundry balls (like SmartKlean), or just a wash with vinegar and baking soda. An added bonus is that with any of these laundry alternatives, you’ll find you simply won’t need fabric softeners and dryer sheets. They contain just as many harsh chemicals as detergents do. Skipping these unnecessary extras will save you money, save your skin and most importantly, give you some much needed eczema relief!
The take away is that eczema is a difficult condition to manage in that no one’s skin is the same, so no one form of treatment or skin care will work for everyone. Effective eczema relief is always a matter of trial and error, which can take both time and a great deal of patience. These quick relief tips should help you get through the more difficult times so you can stay focused on your journey to internal healing by healing and sealing the gut to put your eczema in remission for good!
Jennifer Roberge is mother of two, blogger and founder of the Eczema Company. She hopes to inspire parents raising a child who is suffering from eczema, allergies or asthma, as well as adults who are personally suffering, to heal from within via holistic means.