Although there is no cure for eczema, there are several lifestyle changes you can make that can help you manage the symptoms of eczema.
General tips for minimizing symptoms and helping to prevent flare-ups include the following:
Consistent skin care is one of the most critical methods for treatment and prevention of eczema flare-ups. Caring for your skin will not only help prevent outbreaks of eczema, but it may also help prevent bacterial skin infections common in people with eczema.
Doctors recommend that you establish a daily routine to care for your skin. This includes:
Outbreaks of eczema are often caused by skin exposure to irritants such as:
Protect your skin by maintaining cool, stable temperatures and average humidity levels. Avoid cold, dry weather conditions, and minimize outdoor exposure during cold weather. Wear clothing that covers and protects your skin as much as possible, and hydrate the skin with moisturizers after exposure.
Also avoid conditions where you will be exposed to excess moisture, such as in steam baths and hot tubs or when sweating after strenuous exercise.
Because there are many allergens that may trigger eczema, it is nearly impossible to completely eliminate all allergens from your environment. However, there are many things you can do to help reduce allergens and minimize your exposure to allergic triggers. For example, to limit your exposure to dust, animal dander, molds, and pests, keep your home and work environment clean and dry.
Maintaining emotional balance and avoiding stress are strongly recommended, as stress is a strong trigger for eczema outbreaks. If you need support or assistance in reducing stress, you may want to try some of the following techniques:
People with eczema seem to be more sensitive to itching and feel the need to scratch longer in response. Often, this creates an “itch-scratch cycle”—the skin itches, the person scratches, and the skin becomes even itchier. This scratching pattern will affect your skin reaction and healing patterns, sometimes resulting in thick, leathery skin from excessive scratching. Keep your skin moisturized to minimize irritation, and try not to scratch or rub whenever possible. Ask your doctor about medicines to relieve the itching.
If your symptoms become noticeably worse, or are not responding to lifestyle changes or prescribed treatment, notify your doctor.
Kimyai-Asadi A, Usman A. The role of psychological stress in skin disease. J Cutan Med Surg. 2001;5(2):140-145.
Koo J, Lebwohl A. Psycho dermatology: the mind and skin connection. Am Fam Physician. 2001;64(11):1873-1878.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov.
Last reviewed November 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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