Eczema, to most people, is a little understood skin condition that has no side affects other than red, blotchy and sometimes scaly skin. But, for those of us who live with it everyday it’s hard not to notice. The constant itching seems to creep up at the most inconvenient times – during that meeting at the office, right before that important job interview or even worse, as you’re trying to go to sleep.
Whether you suffer from eczema or just have dry skin, these 10 tips will help you soothe your dry, itchy skin without the use of steroids or other prescription medications.
1. Don’t Scratch: Ice!
An eczema itch can feel unbearable and your first reaction is to give that itch a good scratch. But beware, scratching inflamed skin breaks down the already thin protective top layer and can lead to infection. Instead, resist the urge and reach for an ice packet.
It might sound counter-intuitive to ice down an itch but, hot water dries out the skin leading to more itching and breakouts. So, next time you feel the need to scratch, go straight for the cooling sensation of an ice gel pack to calm the itch and inflammation and I promise you’ll prevent what could have been a massive breakout.
2. Moisture: It’s Not Just in Your Skin…
It’s in the air too. If you live in a dry desert climate or a place with cold, dry winters, using a humidifier to keep moisture in the air is a must. Dry air can make eczema worse and lead to additional flare ups.
The optimal range for moisture levels in your home is between 35%-50% and is crucial to maintaining healthy skin. Make sure you get one that is large enough for your room and keep it running consistently. If you suffer from allergies, choose one with an air purifier or filter.
3. Keep It Cool
Living in a cold dry climate is a challenge if you have problem skin. It’s cold, so you turn on the heat, the heat dries out the air and your eczema flares up. Heating your home sucks moisture out of the air, even if you have a humidifier running.
Try keeping the house cool during the night, no warmer than 68 degrees with a humidifier running. If you live in a cold climate, layer on the blankets while you sleep. This will help ensure that the loss of moisture that happens throughout the day while the heat is on is replenished throughout the night.
4. Cleanse Gently
Cleansing the skin is important if you suffer from eczema. The top layer of your skin is thinner than most people’s and an eczema outbreak can lead to cracking, leaving you susceptible to infection.
Most soaps and detergents are too harsh and alkaline for eczema prone skin and can cause flare-ups. Use a gentle moisture rich cleanser without perfumes or dyes for your body and face instead.
5. Exfoliation Creates Hydration
Dead skin cells keep your skin from getting the moisture it needs. Slough off dead skin regularly with a gentle exfoliator such as a sugar scrub. This can be done 2-3 times a week as needed for best results.
Turn on the water and get the shower steamy making sure not to expose your skin to scalding hot water. Apply the exfoliator to your dry skin, gently scrub and rinse off in warm water for no more than 10 minutes. Exfoliation will aid in deeper product penetration to heal, nourish and hydrate your skin, so make sure to moisturize afterwards.
6. Omega 3′s, Inflammation Free!
People with eczema lack the proper amount of omega 3 fatty acids which are helpful in the development of the immune and nervous systems. Fish oil is a great way to replace the fatty acids that your body might be missing and regulate your hormones to prevent future outbreaks.
Omega 3’s also replenish moisture in the skin from the inside out and are known for supporting healthy eyes, skin and hair. You don’t have to swallow a nasty spoonful of cod liver oil to reap the benefits of fish oil either, as many companies now make easy to swallow, odorless omega 3 gel caps.
7. Moisturization is the Key
Staying moisturized is one of the cornerstones to soothing and preventing an eczema outbreak, but not all moisturizers are created equal. Avocado and sunflower oils are rich in EFA’s (essential fatty acids) and are one of the best natural oils that you can use on your skin.
Apply immediately after your shower or even in the shower, while your skin is still damp to seal in moisture. For maximum hydration, use a thicker, scent and dye free lotion to layer on top.
8. Change Your Sheets Often
Bed critters are attracted to the dead skin that sheds onto your sheets and can be highly irritating if you have eczema. Changing your sheets often (usually more than once a week) can make a huge difference in reducing your itching during the night.
If your eczema is concentrated mainly around your face and neck, try changing just your pillowcase.
9. Exercise Sometimes Isn’t Wise
Sometimes, keeping an eczema outbreak under control isn’t about what you do but, what you don’t do. Exercise is great but, an overheated system and sweat can leave a flare up worse than it started. When you’re having an outbreak, go for several brisk outdoor walks a day instead and make sure to wear loose fitting, breathable clothing that won’t let moisture sit on your skin.
10. What Not to Wear
Clothing is one of the most overlooked factors to keeping eczema at bay. The type of clothing you wear, such as itchy fabrics like wool, can irritate your condition and should be avoided. Clothing that adheres tightly to your skin or doesn’t “breathe” can also irritate your skin by trapping moisture and heat beneath the surface.
Make sure that when you wash your clothes to always use a perfume and dye free detergent and no fabric softener. Washing clothes just purchased is a good idea too because they may have chemicals on them from the manufacturer that can irritate sensitive, eczema prone skin.
With these 10 tips, you don’t have to depend on prescription drugs or questionable medications to soothe the itch.
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