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Eczema types: Nummular eczema self-care

Self-care can help clear your skin and prevent flare-ups

If you have nummular eczema, self-care plays an important role in your skin’s health. Self-care can help you get the best results from treatment. It can also help you have fewer new flare-ups.

To help heal your skin and prevent new flare-ups, apply a fragrance-free moisturizer (cream or ointment only) after every shower and bath

Nummular eczema is more likely to hang around and return when skin feels dry.

Woman applying moisturizer to her hand

Here’s the self-care that dermatologists recommend.

  1. Apply moisturizer every day year-round. Moisturizer helps trap water in your skin, which can help heal your skin and reduce flare-ups. To get the best results, dermatologists recommend the following:

    • Use a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic cream or ointment rather than a lotion.
    • Apply this moisturizer to damp skin after every bath, shower, and handwashing.
    • Moisturize dry skin throughout the day.

  2. Use baths, showers, and handwashing to hydrate (instead of dry) your skin. If you know what to do, water can hydrate rather than dry your skin. To hydrate your skin, follow these dermatologists’ guidelines every time you bathe or wash your hands:

    • Use lukewarm water.
    • Take baths and showers that last no longer than 20 minutes.
    • Apply your moisturizer to damp skin after every bath, shower, and handwashing.

    To heal your skin and prevent irritating it, remove your rings before you wash your hands.

    Before you put your rings back on, apply your moisturizer.

    Close-up hands of male taking off his wedding ring
  3. Use mild, fragrance-free, and hypoallergenic skin care products (cleanser, body wash, or soap) made for dry skin. Products formulated this way are less likely to irritate your skin and trigger a flare-up.

    Buy fragrance-free instead of unscented products

    Fragrance-free” products cannot contain any ingredient that is added to give the product a particular smell. “Unscented” products contain fragrance, which is used to cover up the scents from other ingredients. Even when you cannot smell the fragrance, it can irritate your skin.

  4. Keep a humidifier running when indoor air feels dry. Heat and air conditioning zap moisture from the air, which can dry your skin and lead to a flare-up.

  5. Protect your skin from injury and harsh chemicals. Try to avoid scrapes, cuts, and other injuries. Anything that injures your skin can worsen existing nummular eczema and trigger a flare-up of new spots and patches.

    Getting a harsh chemical on your skin (like the ones used in cleaning products) can also injure your skin. To protect your skin, always wear gloves for household chores like washing dishes, cleaning, and gardening. To prevent further irritation, wear cotton glove liners under waterproof gloves. If your job requires you to work with harsh chemicals, a dermatologist can help you find ways to protect your skin.

  6. Reduce stress. This may sound impossible, but everyone can find something that reduces their stress levels. Daily meditation, yoga, and biofeedback therapy are a few common stress busters. The key is to find what works for you.

  7. Avoid overheating. Sweating can irritate your sensitive skin, which can lead to a flare-up. Anything that heats up your skin can also trigger a flare-up.

    To avoid overheating, never sit next to a fireplace, campfire, or anything else that can heat up and dry out your skin. When it’s hot outside, plan outdoor activities during the coolest parts of the day when possible.

  8. Wear loose-fitting clothing made of soft, breathable fabric. Rough-feeling fabric and tight clothing can irritate your skin, which can cause another flare-up. To avoid this, dermatologists recommend wearing clothes made of cotton or labeled “eczema friendly.”

    Fabrics that can trigger a flare-up when they touch your skin include wool, polyester, rayon, nylon, acetate, latex, and spandex.

  9. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Researchers have found that heavy drinking can trigger flare-ups of nummular eczema. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define moderate drinking in healthy adults as follows:

    Women: Up to 1 drink a day
    Men: Up to 2 drinks a day

If you continue to have flare-ups of nummular eczema

It’s common for nummular eczema to come and go. If you have spots and patches on your skin or the itch feels unbearable, a board-certified dermatologist can help.

Find a dermatologist

Getty Images

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Alcohol use and your health.” Page last reviewed October 1, 2020. Last accessed December 11, 2020.

Jiamton S, Tangjaturonrusamee C, et al. “Clinical features and aggravating factors in nummular eczema in Thais.” Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2013;31(1):36-42.

Leung AKC, Lam JM, et al. “Nummular eczema: An updated review.” Recent Pat Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov. 2020 Aug 10. [online ahead of print].

Miller JL, “Nummular dermatitis (nummular eczema).” In James WD [editor]. Medscape. Last updated November 2020.

Purnamawati S, Indrastuti N, et al. “The role of moisturizers in addressing various kinds of dermatitis: A review. Clin Med Res. 2017;15(3-4):75-87.

Written by:
Paula Ludmann, MS

Reviewed by:
Erin Ducharme, MD, FAAD
Amanda Friedrichs, MD, FAAD

Last updated: 3/15/21