Managing Eczema: Don’t Forget the Basics
While groundbreaking medications and treatment options to better manage eczema continue to surface, dermatologists still need to emphasize basic skincare guidelines for patients to follow on a daily basis. When paired with the right prescription creams, which now may include the new Crisaborole ointment, consistent skincare and lifestyle habits can make all the difference when it comes to living with eczema (Dermatology News).
Here are some of the most important tips to share with patients struggling to manage dry, flaky skin conditions.
Use the Right Moisturizers and Reapply Frequently
Improving eczema is more involved than simply moisturizing here and there. The key is to first find an effective barrier repair moisturizer and then reapply it throughout the day and in the evening before bed. Applying moisturizer or oils like jojoba, argan, or safflower right after your shower when your skin is still damp can amplify their effectiveness.
The reason barrier repair moisturizers are so important is that skin affected by eczema already has a compromised barrier. If we repair that, we can restore vital moisture to the skin, prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and help to rebalance the skin’s natural beneficial lipids.
Zerafite products use multi-lamellar emulsion (MLE) technology, which has been shown to be an effective method of barrier repair for skin affected by atopic dermatitis (Annals of Dermatology). Look for products that utilize this technology and contain ingredients like ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol.
Avoid Products that Dry the Skin
Just as important as finding and using the right moisturizer is avoiding products and ingredients that can dry out or cause further damage to the skin. Common culprits include foaming cleansers, bar soap, bubble bath, and toners. As a general rule of thumb, do not use any product that foams.
Instead, look for creamy cleansers like MV Hypoallergenic Moisture Rich Creammmy Cleansing Milk, NIA 24 Creamy Cleanser, or IS Clinical Cream Cleanser.
Fragrances have been shown to irritate atopic skin. If ypou chosoe to wear perfulse or cologne, spray it on your clothing rather than your skin. Avoid scented bath products. Use fragrance-free laundry detergents like Tide Free and do not use Downy dryer sheets.
Avoid Long, Hot Showers
Although long, hot showers can be relaxing, they can also strip your skin of its natural moisturizing factor (NMF) and worsen eczema symptoms. Swap out scalding hot water for lukewarm showers and baths, and try to limit their duration to under five minutes whenever possible. If you are going to take a bath, use bath oils instead of bubble bath.
Use a Humidifier
Low air humidity can contribute to dry, itchy skin because of the decreased moisture content in the air that surrounds you. To help remedy this, try using a humidifier in your bedroom to help add some water content back into the air, and therefore your skin, during sleep.
Keep in mind, too, that if you live in a cold climate and need to keep your house and car heated, this can also contribute to dry skin. A humidifier can help to counteract this effect.
Resist the Urge to Scratch
It’s tempting to scratch your skin when it’s dry and itchy, but this is one of the worst things you can do. Scratching will only cause more damage to the skin’s barrier and make your skin susceptible to potentially harmful bacteria that can lead to an infection.
To help curb itchiness, dermatologists can prescribe antihistamines like Benadryl, Claritin, or Zyrtec. For eczema symptoms that don’t respond to these medications, corticosteroids may also be used to alleviate itching.
The Bottom Line
While dermatologists should absolutely take advantage of new advances in treatment options for eczema patients, stressing the importance of following these basic skincare guidelines is still a crucial step in properly managing and improving this condition.
To help your patients choose the most appropriate skincare products for their unique skin type and condition, consider becoming a Skin Type Solutions® physician partner, gaining access to an entire collection of STS-approved products.
Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. and her team at Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology believe in proof, not promises. World-recognized for both cosmetic and general dermatology, our treatment strategies rely exclusively on evidence-based, scientifically verified products and procedures that promote skin health and a natural appearance. We combine effective medical procedures with individualized instruction on proper skincare, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in order to maximize the health of the skin and body as a whole while minimizing the effects of aging. For more, visit Dr. Baumann’s blog for daily updates Monday through Friday, or inquire about an appointment through Derm.net.