Your hands and feet are especially vulnerable to eczema triggers like dry winter air or heat in summer. And eczema that does flare up on your fingers and toes can be itchy and painful. So give these parts of you a little extra TLC.
Cut Back on Hand Washing
Wash your hands only when they are truly dirty or have germs, like after you use the bathroom. Each time you wash your hands, you rinse away some of the nourishing oils that your skin naturally produces.
Also, be picky when choosing soaps because some have harsh chemicals. Look for products that don’t use the word “soap,” but instead say “mild cleansing bars” or “lipid-free cleansers.” These are gentler on sensitive skin.
Before sudsing up, take off your rings -- they can trap irritants next to your skin. Rinse your hands with lukewarm water, then gently pat your hands dry before replacing your rings.
Love the Gloves -- For a Little While
Use protective, cotton-lined gloves when doing housework or when using cleansers and chemicals. Latex gloves can cause allergic reactions, so it’s best to avoid them. Don’t wear waterproof gloves for long periods of time, though. They can make your hands sweat and lead to an itchy eczema flare-up.
Manage Cracks on Your Hands
If a flare-up makes the skin on your hands crack and bleed, try the “soak and smear” technique.
- Soak your hands in lukewarm water for five to 10 minutes and then pat your hands dry.
- Next, smear plain petroleum-based ointment all over your hands and put on cotton gloves. Glycerin-based ointments also help heal dry, cracked skin.
- Wear the gloves for at least 30 minutes.
Do this twice a day. If that’s hard to do at work, make sure you moisturize frequently.
Pull Back the Shower Power
A long, hot and steaming shower may sound like your idea of heaven, but it's anything but paradise for your hands and feet. Instead take short, lukewarm showers each day to help prevent dry skin. Use mild, soap-free cleansers or body washes that contain moisturizer.
After showering, pat your skin lightly dry. Apply a rich moisturizer while your skin is still slightly damp. Look for cleansers and moisturizers that are “fragrance free” because ingredients that give scents can trigger eczema flare-ups.
Save Your Soles
Are your feet often dry and itchy? Your socks may be to blame. Synthetic fabrics and wool can irritate your skin. For everyday wear, use 100% cotton socks, preferably ones that have not been dyed. Also, change your socks a couple of times during the day if your feet sweat. Damp socks can worsen eczema.
For evenings and work, try silk stockings and cotton tights. Avoid spandex, which has dyes and chemicals that can bother your skin.