Eczema can be an unrelenting source of frustration, affecting your appearance and producing enough pain and discomfort to make everyday tasks far more difficult. It’s also an enduring problem. Many people who suffer from eczema see it flare up intermittently, often at particularly inconvenient times.
While it isn’t possible to outright cure eczema, meaning there’s no silver bullet that will prevent it from ever returning, our guide does offer steps on how to get rid of eczema to help make it less likely that it will bother you again in the near future.
Before you start looking at our eczema treatment options, here’s our general guide of how to clear up your skin and stay eczema-free for as long as you can:
How to prevent eczema from developing
There are still many things about eczema that aren’t fully understood, but we do know that the following things tend to exacerbate it:
- Skin irritation. When skin is exposed to chemical irritants, the immune system responds — this can lead to eczema developing, particularly if there’s a history of allergies.
- Skin damage. As well as serving as an irritant, damage to skin layers can leave them dry and more vulnerable to infection, both things that make eczema more likely.
- Stress. Becoming stressed has some wide-ranging physiological consequences. Many eczema sufferers find that their skin gets worse whenever they get stressed.
To give yourself the best chance of preventing eczema in the first place, so you don’t need to treat it when it’s serious, you should avoid these things:
- Avoid irritating or damaging your skin. Steer clear of harsh and/or abrasive chemicals. Wear protective gear (gloves, for instance) if you’re going to be doing anything that might cause damage to a vulnerable area of skin. You should do this whether you’re currently suffering from eczema or have simply suffered from it before.
- Pursue a balanced diet. As well as helping with your health in general, a balanced diet will ensure that you get sufficient nutrition to keep your skin in good condition.
- Try to remain calm. Stress just makes your skin get worse, it can cause a vicious circle that continues to intensify. It isn’t easy, but try to keep your cool. Practice breathing, meditate if it helps you, and try to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
- Keep your skin from drying out. Dry skin is far more likely to crack and/or become infected — oils on the skin help keep it sealed from infection. (More on this next.) If your skin does dry out to the point that it starts flaking, don’t scratch it — simply apply more moisturiser and carry on with your day.
How to moisturise properly
Moisturising on a regular basis is hugely important for protecting your skin from harm, particularly during the colder months or in areas with low humidity. There’s a lot written about proper moisturising, but it doesn’t need to be very complicated — it’s just a matter of habit.
- Find a moisturiser that suits your needs: you can use something simple with no additional purposes or potent ingredients, or a dedicated anti-itching product.
- Get into a routine of applying it whenever you’ve just finished washing (whether showering or bathing) as a minimum. Ideally you should be moisturising two to four times daily.
- Moisturise any areas of skin that are dry, plus any that have been affected — or are currently affected — by eczema. Your hands and feet usually warrant attention.
- Apply enough to get even coverage, but not so much that it doesn’t completely soak into the skin (wipe off any excess).
Particularly if you’re using a simple moisturiser, it can be very useful to carry some around with you so you can apply more if the need arises. If you suffer with eczema of the scalp, take a look at our guide on how to moisturise your scalp.
What clothing is best when dealing with eczema?
While you can try to keep the fabric of your clothing away from your patches of eczema, it isn’t very practical to walk around intermittently adjusting your sleeves. It’s far better to wear items of clothing that won’t irritate or damage your skin.
Stay away from synthetic fabrics such as nylon or polyester. Wool is another fabric to avoid: it can lead to the skin overheating, but the main problem is how much the fibres irritate the skin. In general, you should stick to fabrics that are light, cool, and won’t wick away moisture.
Among common fabrics, there are two strong choices: cotton, and silk. Cotton is light, smooth, and reasonably cheap (the only drawbacks are that it’s absorbent and textured). Silk might be comparatively expensive, but it’s as good as you’ll get without investing in specialist micro-fibre clothing — it’s smooth, cool, and doesn’t dry the skin.
Suggestions of things to avoid
Whether you’re trying to protect eczema-affected skin or stop it from developing, there are certain things that you should make a point of avoiding. Here are some recommendations:
- Stay away from extreme temperatures. Skin that gets too cold or too hot can dry up and become damaged. Limit your exposure to hot water when bathing — keep it fast.
- Keep out of direct sunlight. As well as heating up the skin, direct sunlight exposes it to damaging UV radiation. Apply sunscreen, or simply keep the skin covered when outside.
- Don’t use medication that hasn’t been prescribed. Aside from generic moisturisers, it isn’t a good idea to apply any substances or use any medications for your acne unless you have the approval of a doctor or pharmacist.
Treating eczema with topical steroids
If your eczema is too severe to be addressed with the recommendations we’ve looked at so far, you may benefit from using topical steroids such as Betnovate Cream or Betnovate Scalp (depending on the location of the eczema).
Keep in mind that they’re not available over the counter, though — if you want to use a topical steroid cream containing betamethasone, you’ll need to get a prescription. Topical steroids use anti-inflammatory and/or antibacterial active ingredients to treat the causes of eczema much more potently than other treatment options, but they’re dangerous if used incorrectly. Fucibet cream is an example of a topical steroid that also contains an antibacterial agent.
If you’ve exhausted other options, and you truly feel that topical steroids are justified in your case, be sure to get an expert opinion before making any decisions.
To wrap up, let’s recap everything we’ve looked at so far:
- Eczema risks include skin damage or irritation, allergies, and stress.
- Moisturising, relaxing and eating healthily will help avoid it.
- You should make a habit of applying moisturiser after bathing.
- Wearing light fabrics helps protect the skin.
- Extreme temperatures and UV light are damaging.
- If all else fails, topical steroids can be very effective (but need prescriptions).
You might be able to make some real progress with your eczema using the advice on this page, but it’s possible that you’ll try our suggestions and still have a big problem. If that happens, get in touch for a free consultation — we’ll help you find the right treatment for you.