What Is Eczema and What Are the Best Treatments?

Published: December 6, 2005

Q. My eczema always flares up during the winter. I’ve never really understood: what is eczema and what treatments can you suggest?

Dr. Skotnicki: Characterized by inflamed, scaly and red skin, eczema is a problem that those with asthma, allergies and/or hayfever are particularly prone to developing. The good news is that eczema can be managed.

Here’s how:

1. Avoid fragrance. It’s an unnecessary additive and a potential irritant. I suggest using unscented laundry detergents such as Tide Free and Cheers Free, and unscented dryer sheets like Bounce Free.

2. The same goes for beauty products. Facial and body soaps should be mild and unscented, like the bars from Dove, Cetaphil and Allenbury. Stay away from body washes, which are often scented and contain irritating ingredients.

3. Moisturize the entire skin daily. Go unscented with moisturizers like Vaseline Creamy Problem Skin Therapy Unscented, Glaxal Base and La Roche Posay Lipikar Baume.

4. Take short showers. Too much water can dry out the skin, so keep showers and baths to between 10 and 15 minutes, and make sure the water isn’t too hot. Pat dry – don’t rub, and always moisturize after bathing. Moisturizer is most effective when applied to damp skin.

5. Cool down. If you don’t have much control over your central heating, a cool mist humidifier can add moisture to your air.

6. See a specialist. Painful or inflamed areas should be treated by a dermatologist.

Related Reading:
A special bath that can fight eczema
Am I allergic to exercise?
The rise of nickel allergy

Find Dr. Skotnicki’s clinic at baydermatologycentre.com

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