There’s no cure for eczema, but you can do plenty of things at home to give your skin some relief.
Stay moisturized. Your skin needs moisture to heal and protect itself. Most lotions can’t create a strong barrier for your skin because they contain water. Choose a thick cream or ointment instead. Petroleum jelly and mineral oil work well. Put it on your skin at least twice a day to keep your eczema at bay.
Avoid drastic temperature changes. Going from a hot room into a chilly one may cause a flare-up. Try to keep your home at a comfortable, consistent temperature. Low humidity can dry your skin. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
Skip long, hot showers. Very hot water will dry your skin and make your symptoms worse. Take lukewarm showers or baths instead. Use mild, perfume-free soap or non-soap cleanser, and avoid bubble baths. When you’re done, gently towel off your skin -- don’t rub -- until it’s partly dry. Then, within 3 minutes, put on a moisturizer. If your doctor has prescribed an eczema cream, apply that to your skin first.
Skip scented laundry products. The perfume in many cleansers and fabric softeners can irritate your skin. You’re better off using gentle, scent-free products. And always wash new clothes before wearing them. It’ll help get rid of any excess dyes and chemicals that could inflame your skin.
Wear loose clothing. It’ll allow air next to your skin. Cotton or cotton-blend fabrics are good choices. That’s especially helpful when you’re working out because you’re likely to sweat. Always avoid wool. It can rub against your skin and make you itch more.
Try an over-the-counter oral antihistamine. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) works well to calm itching and help you sleep. Cetirizine (Zyrtec) and loratadine (Claritin) are non-drowsy options that may help you feel better during the day.
Keep your cool. When your itching feels out of control, put a cold compress right on your skin. If your eczema is severe, after you’ve put on lotion or medicine, make a wet wrap by soaking a gauze or piece of soft clothing, like a T-shirt or pair of socks, in warm -- not hot -- water.
Wet wraps help your skin absorb medicine and moisture. They also relieve itching and pain. Once they’re dry, you’ll want to either make them wet again or remove them.
Ask your doctor if you should take vitamin D. Experts say there’s a link between eczema and low levels of the “sunshine” vitamin. Check to see what supplement you can try for a boost.
Stay calm. Angst and stress can make you itch and scratch even more. Look for ways to ease your mind. Talk with friends, try a yoga class, or learn how to meditate. Asking a loved one to give you a quick massage with a moisturizing cream or oil may help, too.