Soaps and laundry detergents often contain sulphates, which can strip the skin of its natural oils, causing dryness that can be irritating for individuals with eczema. In addition, many individuals with eczema are allergic to common soap and detergent ingredients, which can trigger an outbreak when used. Instead, look for a mild non-soap cleanser that is free of fragrances and dyes, such as Dr. Bronner's organic pure castile liquid soap in unscented (drbronner.com, $3 to $60) or Rocky Mountain Soap Company's pumpkin soap (rockymountainsoap.com, $5). Be sure to pat skin gently after washing, and apply a cream to lock in moisture. Laundry detergent should also be unscented and dye-free. Try Eco Nuts' organic laundry soap (econutssoap.com, $4) or Tide's Free & Gentle laundry detergent.
Flare-ups aren't only irritating; they can lead to scratching, which further aggravates skin. Using a humidifier is a good way to add moisture to the air, which can soothe skin and prevent any irritation caused by dry air. Placing a cold milk or water compress on the affected area several times a day can also help to ease itching. If you find yourself scratching in your sleep, put gloves or socks on your hands before you go to bed.
A thick moisturizer should be applied numerous times throughout the day, especially after washing or bathing. Coconut oil is a natural option that helps to add moisture to the skin while providing a protective barrier against irritants. Many individuals also find that cocoa butter soothes skin.
Many individuals who have eczema also have food allergies. Therefore avoiding these allergens can help prevent an eczema flare-up. Because eczema is associated with inflammation, it is suggested to avoid inflammatory foods, such as processed foods, and to add anti-inflammatory foods or supplements to your diet. Omega-3s, which are found in avocados, nuts and fish, and vitamin A, which is found in sweet potatoes, pumpkins and dark, leafy greens, can help reduce inflammation when you are experiencing a flare-up. To help with dryness, try taking a vitamin E supplement or adding foods containing vitamin E to your diet, such as seeds, nuts and vegetable oils. Finally, zinc has been shown to help heal skin. This mineral can be found in seafood, meats, beans and lentils.
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