Eczema types: Atopic dermatitis: Tips for coping
7 eczema skin care tips from dermatologists
Eczema flare-ups can be distressing. To relieve discomfort from eczema, follow these tips from board-certified dermatologists.
Lifestyle changes that can relieve eczema symptoms
While it can seem that nothing will relieve the discomfort, you can ease symptoms of atopic dermatitis (AD), or eczema. Here are some easy-to-make changes that dermatologists recommend:
Moisturize after bathing and when your skin feels dry. Keeping your skin hydrated helps form a barrier between you and the world. To avoid irritating your skin, use a fragrance-free cream or ointment instead of a lotion.
Choose fragrance-free skin care products. Fragrance can cause an AD flare-up. To avoid this, only use products labeled “fragrance free.” You may see the word “unscented” on a product label. Avoid these, too. Unscented means that the fragrance has been masked. Although you won’t smell the fragrance in an unscented product, a masked fragrance can still trigger a flare-up.
Test all skin care products before using them. Some skin care ingredients besides fragrance can cause eczema to flare. Test new skin care products first by applying to a quarter-sized patch of skin on the inside of your arm every day for 7-10 days. If your skin is clear after that time, you can use the product.
Take short baths or showers to hydrate your skin. Limit your bath to 5-10 minutes and use warm water. When you apply your moisturizer while your skin is still damp after bathing, this helps to lock in the moisture.
Learn what causes AD to flare and figure out how to avoid those triggers. Skin with AD is very sensitive, so many everyday things can cause a flare-up. Finding what triggers your (or your child’s) flare-ups and avoiding them can help reduce flare-ups. You can learn how to find triggers by going to the following page. NOTE: Although the following information is geared to helping parents find childhood triggers, anyone can use these dermatologists’ recommendations to help find their triggers. Eczema triggers.
Wear loose-fitting 100% cotton clothing. Cotton is less irritating and lets your skin breathe. To avoid flare-ups, avoid wearing tight clothing, and never wear wool next to your skin.
Using 100% cotton towels and sheets can also help reduce flare-ups.
Wash clothing in detergent that is fragrance free and dye free. The fragrance and dye can trigger a flare-up.
Do this before wearing new clothing. You can avoid flare-ups from the tags, seams, and finishers in new clothing by:
- Washing new clothing before you (or your child) wears it.
- Be sure to use a fragrance-free, dye-free detergent.
- Buying clothing without tags or removing the tags.
- Covering seams that irritate your skin with silk
Protect your skin from extreme temperatures. Cold temperatures can dry your skin, which can make AD flare. When you get overheated and sweat, the sweat can also trigger a flare-up.
Partner with a board-certified dermatologist, who can create a treatment plan that works for you. With eczema-friendly skin care, trigger management, and medication or light therapy as needed, most people can control AD. Dermatologists have experience creating these tailored treatment plans. If you’re unsure how often to bathe, moisturize, or choose products with your eczema, contact your dermatologist.
You can also use a humidifier to prevent dry skin. However, make sure to clean and disinfect your humidifier weekly to prevent the growth of harmful mold and bacteria.
Related AAD resources
Hilton L. “Lifestyle recommendations may curb eczema symptoms.” Dermatol Times. January 10, 2020. Last accessed January 31, 2020.
McAleer MA, O’Regan GM, et al. “Atopic dermatitis.” In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. (fourth edition). Elsevier, China, 2018: 208:27.
Sidbury R, Tom WL, et al. “Guidelines of care for the management of atopic dermatitis Section 4. Prevention of disease flares and use of adjunctive therapies and approaches.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2014;71:1218-33.
Paula Ludmann, MS
William Warren Kwan, MD, FAAD
Shari Lipner, MD, PhD, FAAD
Bassel Hamdy Mahmoud, MD, PhD, FAAD
Omolara Olowoyeye, MD, FAAD
Sanna Ronkainen, MD, FAAD
Last updated: 10/27/22