Eczema Prevention

Friday, March 18, 20110 comments

Eczema Prevention

eczema-main By the Healthline Editorial Team
Reviewed by Jennifer Monti, MD, MPH

Behavioral changes can have a significant impact in reducing the likelihood of an eczema flare-up and they don’t require any medication. There are several ways you can help keep eczema under control or at least reduce the severity of an outbreak:

Avoid Scratching

People with atopic dermatitis may scratch their skin 500 to 1,000 times per day, according to the American Academy of Dermatologists. Avoiding scratching, such as by using cold compresses or soaking in a warm bath, prevents the inflammation from worsening, protects against breaks in the skin that can lead to an infection, and allows the skin to heal. It also helps to trim your nails short to make it harder to break the skin and do damage if you can’t help but itch.

Try Rubbing Instead

The nerve fibers that cause your body to itch (and tempts you to scratch) also respond favorably to pressure. Instead of itching and increasing the chances of skin breakdown and infection, try to rub areas that are itchy. This may fools the body into feeling the sensation of a scratch without subjecting the skin to scratching.

Reduce Stress

Stress can trigger an eczema flare-up. Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, listening to relaxing music, progressive relaxation, yoga and meditation to soothe stress and get a grip on anxiety. Joining a support group can also help reduce stress.


Dry skin can trigger an eczema flare up and make the skin condition more uncomfortable. Ask your dermatologist to recommend an ointment-base (such as one that contains petrolatum) or cream-based moisturizer that will help soothe your skin and is safe for eczema patients. Apply the moisturizer within three minutes after bathing, while skin is still damp, to lock in moisture. Use a moisturizer every day, even on days when you aren’t experiencing an eczema flare-up. Plain Vaseline or over the counter emollients like eucerin cream are generally very helpful.

Get Adequate Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep helps reduce stress, which can bring on an eczema flare-up.

Avoid Irritants

Several factors can increase the risk of an eczema flare-up. These include fabrics that are rough to the touch, such as wool as well as harsh soaps, cleansers and detergents, and even cold weather that can dry out skin. Learn which irritants bring on an eczema occurrence by keeping track of which products you used and type of clothing worn before a flare-up. Once you’ve pinpointed the culprits, try to avoid or at least minimize contact with these irritants. Wear loose-fitting clothes made from cotton or a cotton blend, use mild soaps and cleansers and fragrance-free detergent, and wear gloves in the winter to protect your hands from dryness.

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