Home Remedies: What Can Relieve Itchy Eczema

If you or your child has eczema, you know first-hand the dry, itchy, flaky skin and the incredible discomfort it causes. Nothing is worse than not being comfortable in your own skin, literally.

Read today’s article for easy ideas to make your skin feel better and prevent future eczema flare-ups. Keep reading to learn more about:

  • Eczema and eczema symptoms
  • What causes eczema flare-ups?
  • How long do eczema flare-ups last?
  • How to prevent eczema flare-ups
  • At-home remedies for eczema

What is Eczema?

Eczema is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition. The terms eczema and atopic dermatitis are often used interchangeably; however, there are several types of eczema, and atopic dermatitis is the most common form. Eczema can appear all over the body, including on the face, torso, hands, wrists, and ankles.

Eczema affects around 18 million people in the United States and 200 million globally. The condition often first appears in infants, and many outgrow it. But for some, eczema persists into adulthood. It’s also possible to develop eczema as an adult.

Symptoms of eczema include:

  • Itching
  • Dry skin
  • Irritated skin
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Peeling or scaling
  • Cracked or raw skin
  • Sensitive skin

Symptoms are often chronic, and flares can be challenging to manage.

What Causes Eczema Flare-Ups?

Eczema may be brewing under the surface, and often, the first sign of a flare is dry, itchy skin. The rash may develop after the initial skin irritation and itchiness. The immune system may already be hyper-alert, and a trigger, such as a particular food or soap ingredient, sets off the inflammatory process.

The cause of eczema is complex and involves immune system dysregulation, skin barrier sensitivity, and environmental factors.

Common Eczema Triggers

Understanding personal eczema triggers is essential for preventing flares. Triggers vary by person, and each person may have multiple triggers.

Let’s look at some of the more common triggers.

Hot Temperatures

Hot temperatures may trigger or exacerbate eczema symptoms. Hot water in the shower or bath may irritate the skin and decrease the skin’s production of natural oils that maintain barrier function. Likewise, hot weather or conditions that induce sweating may be irritating for the same reasons.

Stress

Chronic stress is associated with eczema and can worsen the condition trigger a flare. Stress affects the immune system and hormone balance, leading to increased inflammation and decreased resources for skin protection.

Allergies and Environmental Irritants

Allergies and eczema correlate. Those with allergies, asthma, specific infections, and other inflammatory disorders (like depression) are more likely also to have eczema. The connection likely has to do with shared root causes and triggers.

Allergies can be environmental, such as hay fever or allergies to fur, pollen, air pollution, and other environmental antigens. Food allergies and sensitivities are also common triggers for eczema in children and adults.

Other environmental irritants, including harsh chemicals in soaps and detergents, can irritate the skin and trigger eczema. Interestingly, eczema on the hands is related to too frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing. Hand eczema can worsen in the winter when the skin is dryer.

How Long Do Eczema Flare-Ups Last?

The length of an eczema flare varies depending on many factors, such as:

  • Immune system health
  • Stress levels
  • If exposure to the trigger continues
  • How quickly treatments for eczema begin

How to Prevent Eczema Flare-Ups

The main objective of eczema prevention is avoiding eczema triggers, such as allergens, irritants, stress, and hot temperatures. Here are some additional tips.

Use Mild Soaps & Detergents

Use mild, hypoallergenic, and gentle soaps and detergents. Irritants in soap are widespread; you may think you are using something gentle, but it may contain harsh ingredients. The same goes for laundry detergent, which can irritate sensitive skin. Discovering the products that work for you may take some trial and error. Choose natural products, read ingredient lists, and do your research.

Keep Things Cool

Since hot weather, hot baths, and the heat and sweat from exercise can be irritating, do your best to keep cool. Here are some tips:

  • Take warm or cool showers and baths (you can also filter chlorine out of your bath water if it irritates your skin)
  • Wear light, breathable clothing (like cotton)
  • Wear layers so you can cool off when your body gets hot
  • Rinse (in warm or cool water) after exercise, saunas, and being out in hot weather
  • Stay hydrated by drinking enough water

Wear Soft Material

You might notice you are more prone to eczema in areas where your clothing rubs or restricts. So, avoid restrictive clothing and stiff, irritating material. Choose soft materials such as cotton, linen, Tencel, and other natural fibers. Find comfortable clothing you feel good in.

Reduce Stress and Anxiety

It’s easy to say, “Reduce stress and anxiety,” but it is much harder to do because there are many stresses in life that we can’t avoid. Start by letting go of the stress you can control and taking the pressure off yourself. Then, build in daily stress management and relaxation practices such as deep breathing, meditation, movement, or journaling. If you know stress triggers your eczema, build extra self-care in your routine at the onset of stress.

Moisturize

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Dry skin can trigger eczema so be sure to take care of your skin by keeping it hydrated and moisturized. Moisturizing can protect and strengthen the skin barrier, making it more likely to keep out irritants.

Moisturize your skin with a thick moisturizer after bathing when the skin is slightly damp. Then reapply as often as needed. Be sure to choose a gentle, non-irritating moisturizer for sensitive skin.

At Home Remedies for Eczema

While the above tips may help prevent eczema flares, what do you do when you are in a flare to soothe irritated skin? You may need a visit to your dermatologist for personalized care in addition to the ideas for treating eczema at home we’ll cover next. The DIY, at-home remedies can complement medical treatments.

Colloidal Oatmeal

Colloidal oatmeal is a form of finely ground oats used as a gentle, soothing ingredient in bath soaks and skincare products. The oats offer antioxidant protection and bind to water to hydrate skin. Colloidal oatmeal reduces redness, dryness, and flakiness. If your skin feels hot and irritated, it can help cool it down.

Apple Cider Vinegar

The skin’s natural pH is acidic, and apple cider vinegar helps maintain the natural acidity of the skin barrier. Adding some to bath water is a simple way to for your skin to benefit from apple cider vinegar. A recent study suggests that diluted apple cider vinegar on the skin is safe and doesn’t disrupt the skin microbiome.

Steroid-Free Eczema Creams

A well-formulated eczema cream is another topical treatment option; however, it can be hard to find one that actually works to provide lasting relief. When Dr. Nassif wasn’t satisfied with the non-steroidal options on the market, he developed his own to help his patients and community.

Dr. Nassif created NassifMD® Eczema Cream – Soothing Skin Treatment with 1% Colloidal Oatmeal with a deep understanding of how the skin works and the necessary elements to soothe dry, itchy, and irritated skin.

This formula includes antioxidants from colloidal oatmeal, bearberry extract, and other synergistic ingredients. It contains plant extracts to target eczema, including Allantoin, a comfrey root extract that stimulates new skin growth while soothing and protecting. Burdock root extract is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial to protect inflamed skin from the environment and irritants.

We hope this information provides you with some new strategies and tools for preventing and managing eczema more effectively, so you can feel comfortable in your skin again.

 

References

  1. Hanifin, J. M., Baghoomian, W., Grinich, E., Leshem, Y. A., Jacobson, M., & Simpson, E. L. (2022). The Eczema Area and Severity Index-A Practical Guide.Dermatitis : contact, atopic, occupational, drug, 33(3), 187–192.
  2. Chovatiya R. (2023). Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema).JAMA, 329(3), 268.
  3. Raveendran R. (2019). Tips and Tricks for Controlling Eczema.Immunology and allergy clinics of North America, 39(4), 521–533.
  4. Frazier, W., & Bhardwaj, N. (2020). Atopic Dermatitis: Diagnosis and Treatment.American family physician, 101(10), 590–598.
  5. Loman, L., & Schuttelaar, M. L. A. (2022). Hand eczema and lifestyle factors in the Dutch general population: Evidence for smoking, chronic stress, and obesity.Contact dermatitis, 86(2), 80–88.
  6. Loh, E. W., & Yew, Y. W. (2022). Hand hygiene and hand eczema: A systematic review and meta-analysis.Contact dermatitis, 87(4), 303–314.
  7. Luu, L. A., Flowers, R. H., Gao, Y., Wu, M., Gasperino, S., Kellams, A. L., Preston, D. C., Zlotoff, B. J., Wisniewski, J. A., & Zeichner, S. L. (2021). Apple cider vinegar soaks do not alter the skin bacterial microbiome in atopic dermatitis.PloS one, 16(6), e0252272.

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