Preventing Flare-Ups

Lifestyle modifications are the first line of defense in controlling eczema, regardless of whether the eczema is mild, moderate, or severe. Recommended by dermatologists, the following guidelines can help reduce the severity and frequency of flare-ups, which also may decrease the need for anti-inflammatory medicine. Continuing to follow these guidelines once the signs and symptoms clear can help prevent further outbreaks:

1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Eczema is usually dry and itchy, so applying moisturizers as needed to keep the skin moist is part of an effective treatment plan. Frequent moisturizing locks in the skinís own moisture to prevent dryness and cracking.

One of the best ways to lock in moisture is to apply moisturizer after bathing. When bathing, care must be taken to avoid irritating the skin. For tips on how to bathe and moisturize to help alleviate eczema,
visit Bathing and Moisturizing Guidelines.

2. Limit contact with anything that irritates the skin. Soaps, bubble bath, perfumes, cosmetics, laundry detergents, household cleaners, too much time spent in water, finger paints, gasoline, turpentine, wool, a petís fur, juices from meats and fruits, plants, jewelry, and even lotions can irritate sensitive skin. Know what irritates your skin and limit contact with all that does. Avoiding personal-care products that contain alcohol and not washing hands too frequently also will help reduce irritation. 

3. Avoid sweating and overheating. The most common triggers of the scratch/itch cycle are sweating and overheating. It is essential to prevent these situations whenever possible.

4. Avoid sudden changes in temperature and humidity. A sudden rise in temperature can cause overheating and sweating. A drop in humidity can dry skin and lead to a flare-up.

5. Grab a cold compress to curb the itch. Scratching makes the condition worse and may puncture skin allowing bacteria to enter and cause an infection. Gently applying a cold compress to the area that itches can reduce inflammation and lessen the desire to scratch.

6. Keep fingernails short. Short nails decrease the likelihood that scratching will puncture the skin. Keeping nails short and wearing cotton gloves at night may help prevent scratching that punctures the skin while asleep.

7. Dress in loose-fitting cotton clothes. Synthetic fabrics, wool, and other materials that feel rough to the touch often irritate the skin and trigger a flare-up. Cotton and cotton-blend clothes usually make skin feel better.

8. Double rinse clothes, and wash new clothes before wearing. Laundry detergents can trigger flare-ups. Using a fragrance-free, neutral pH detergent and double rinsing clothes can help prevent flare-ups caused by laundry detergent. It also may be helpful to wash new clothes before they are worn as washing removes excess dyes and fabric finishers, which can irritate the skin. Tags should be removed, too, as these can rub the skin, causing irritation.

9. Reduce stress. Stress reduction plays a key role in preventing eczema flares. In todayís fast-paced world, reducing stress can be challenging; however, there are ways to effectively reduce stress. For more information about how to reduce stress, visit Stress Reduction Techniques.

10. Follow a prescribed treatment regimen. Moisturizing and using medications as directed by a dermatologist go a long way toward keeping flare-ups at bay.

For Atopic Dermatitis Only
Since atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema that occurs in people who have an inherited predisposition to allergies, such as asthma, hay fever, or food allergies, the following also can help prevent a flare-up:

11. Limit exposure to environmental triggers. Pollens, molds, mites, and animal dander can cause flare-ups. When pollen and mold counts are high, limit time outdoors. To help eliminate flare-ups from mites and animal dander, follow the guidelines in Around the Home.

12. Find out if any food(s) triggers the atopic dermatitis
. If you suspect a food allergy is a trigger, be sure to tell your dermatologist. Tests can be run to determine which, if any, food allergies exist.


All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

Around the Home
What you can do around the home that may help relieve the signs and symptoms of atopic dermatitis

Bathing and Moisturizing Guidelines
Tips to maximize the benefits of bathing and moisturizing

Stress Reduction Techniques
Many have found these methods effective

Winter Skin Care Guidelines
Tips for preventing dry skin when the humidity drops





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