If you’re like me and have really dry skin that sometimes breaks out in rashes, there’s a large chance you could actually have a condition called eczema. Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes rashes and other symptoms. Everyone is different, but extremely bad eczema can cause bleeding, infections, and permanent scarring. If you think you have eczema, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with a doctor to make sure it’s not something else like a fungal infection or a basic rash that’s not necessarily eczema. It’s also possible that you could be using a product or eating something you’re allergic to. Most cases of eczema are easily resolved, but some people like myself have extremely persistent eczema that shows up year round, but is the worst in winter.
*Always patch test products before introducing them to your routine, especially if you have sensitive eczema prone skin.
Shower Every Day
I know they say that showering frequently can dry out your skin, but if you take a short lukewarm/cool shower it can actually benefit eczema. My eczema is exacerbated by allergies, sweat, and dust so taking a shower helps clean them off my skin, which prevents further breakouts. It’s important to use something really mild on your skin. Unfortunately if you have bad eczema you won’t be able to use heavily scented body wash. I personally recommend something mild like Unscented Dove or Cetaphil cleanser, but all natural skin cleansers can also help out provided they don’t contain ingredients that irritate your skin. My current favorite body wash is Aveeno Skin Relief. Don’t forget that shampoo, conditioner, and facial products can also break your skin out. I rinse my hair away from my body to keep the shampoo from irritating my skin. I also stop shaving my legs in the winter, but if you can’t avoid shaving at least do it less often.
Use Gentle Shaving Products
I know I just mentioned that I stop shaving my legs altogether, but I know that won’t be a realistic thing for most women. If you must shave at all, I really recommend investing in a really good shaving cream and razor. A cheap $2 can of shaving cream and disposable razors will irritate your skin if it’s extremely dry and sensitive. The only way I’ve been able to get away with shaving at all is by coating my skin with a thin layer of coconut oil, following up with a thick layer of Kiss My Face Shaving Cream, and shaving with the Schick Hydro Silk razor. I can actually shave without my skin immediately breaking out into huge rashes and bumps.
This one is self explanatory. Taking a short oatmeal bath in water that isn’t overly hot will soothe skin that’s irritated. Don’t use any bubble bath or heavily scented products in the water. Absolutely do not use a bath bomb with dyes or glitter.
Moisturize Within Minutes of Getting Out of the Shower/Bath
In winter, I basically slather my entire body in very heavy lotion while my skin is still damp from the shower. It helps it absorb and keeps your skin from drying out. I just blot my skin with a towel (don’t wipe your skin really hard, the towel can actually irritate it) and immediately cover myself with a generous amount of lotion. I’ve used all kinds of lotions and creams for my eczema. Some of my favorites are CeraVe in the tub, Dermasil, Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion, Udderly Smooth, Vaseline Advanced Repair Lotion, and similar products. Again, using heavily scented lotions can irritate your skin and should not be used if you have eczema.
Become a Slug At Night
When my eczema is really bad and isn’t treated with daily moisturizing, I’ll cover my legs in lotion and then cover it with Aquaphor. I personally prefer Aquaphor over Vaseline because it’s not as greasy and it soaks into your skin easier. I’ll then wear pajama pants to keep it from rubbing off onto my bed. It makes me feel like a slimy slug but when I wake up, my skin will be much softer. Some people also wear gloves when they sleep to keep their hands moisturized and to stop them from itching.
Carry Soap and Lotion With You
This one might seem a little weird, but it’s the small things that add up. In my extreme bouts of eczema, I’ve actually carried around little sample sized lotions and hand soaps that didn’t irritate my skin. It keeps me from having to use soaps that will break me out when I’m in public or at someone’s house. It’s a good idea to moisturize your hands whenever you wash them, because they’ll get dried out very quickly from repeated hand washing. Keeping a lotion with a pump next to your soap will remind you. Don’t use very hot water when you wash your hands, either.
Switch Detergents, Avoid Using Cleaning Products
Switch your laundry and dish soap for one that’s unscented and dye free. Avoid fabric softener. Don’t use harsh cleaning products unless you’re wearing gloves and don’t get any on your skin. These are all things that are overlooked, but make sense when you look into it. I’ve personally switched most of my household cleaners and detergents with natural varieties anyway.
Don’t Turn Your Heat Up Very High
Artificial heat creates a very dry environment in your house. If you turn your heat down a little bit, you’ll help your skin and save money on heating your house. If you absolutely have to have the heat up really high, I’ve found that using a humidifier or cracking the window can help keep your room from being really dry while you sleep.
Change Your Bedding Frequently
Since eczema is exacerbated by dust, and tends to be bad in winter, changing your bedding is another way to keep your skin from breaking out too much. If you can’t wash everything all the time, at least consider switching your sheets at least once a week.
Don’t Forget Your Lips
Don’t forget to moisturize your lips as well. My lips personally tend to get really dry and cracked around the borders when winter comes. Unfortunately, it means I’m not able to use liquid or matte lipsticks because they exacerbate the problem. Exfoliate your lips in the morning and before bed, and make sure to apply a balm. I would recommend really looking into which products you’re using because some of them actually dry out my lips. My favorite lip balms are LypSyl, Burt’s Bees, Nivea A Kiss of Moisture, Yes to… brand balms, and Softlips. If you must use a lip color, I’d recommend a standard lipstick that isn’t ridiculously matte. The most moisturizing lip color I’ve ever tried is by a smaller brand called Ruby Kisses. Their Maracuja Kiss Stick feels about as moisturizing as some balms I’ve tried.
Get A Manicure
This one sounds weird too, but one of the things that really irritates eczema is scratching it. Unfortunately, skin with eczema is extremely itchy and I sometimes find myself scratching without even realizing it. Keeping your nails short and filed so they’re less “scratchy” will keep you from damaging your skin too much if you do scratch it. I’ve also found that acrylic nails are thick enough to keep you from scratching your skin open. If I notice eczema, I’ll go get acrylic nails put on.
Get A Prescription
I’d recommend this if your eczema is extremely persistent and won’t go away with all the steps I mentioned above. In most cases they’ll give you a steroid cream, in more severe eczema they’ll give you an oral steroid or a round of antibiotics. It’s not good to use steroid creams all the time, but if there’s no other options available that actually help you might have to do it anyway.
Good luck, and stay moisturized!
I’m not sponsored, but checking out the National Eczema Association will give you a ton of information that can help you out.
All photos pulled from Google. I am not sponsored by any of the brands I mentioned above. I legitimately love their products and use them. I was not asked to mention any brands in this post.