Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a chronic skin condition. It usually affects the face, scalp, elbows or knees. The red, scaly, itchy rash is more common in infants and in people with a history of allergies or asthma. The techniques listed below can be very helpful in managing eczema flares.
When symptoms are severe, your allergy doctor may suggest wet wrap therapy. These are dressings–often made from articles of cotton clothing–that have been soaked in warm water with a dry layer applied on top. Face wraps can be done using gauze.
Apply wet wraps to skin after soaking and sealing and after applying medicated ointments or creams. The wraps help keep skin moist and improve effectiveness of topical medicine. They also have a cooling anti-itch effect. Wraps can be applied for the night or for shorter time periods during the day.
Cool compresses work very well for facial eczema. Apply an unscented moisturizer to face and neck area. Soak a towel in cool water with an added cupful of oil. Hold the wet towel to the red or itchy areas of face and neck for five to ten minutes, and repeat every half to one hour until the redness or itch subsides.
Wet wraps and cool compresses should not be used as a last resort when eczema flares. Use these helpful techniques as the first line treatments as soon as skin worsens, becomes red or itchy.
Common triggers of eczema include allergens, sweat, emotional stress and irritants such as harsh soaps and detergents or wool clothing. In addition, another factor contributing to flare ups is the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which frequently infects the skin of people with atopic dermatitis.
To decrease bacterial infection and reduce symptoms, bleach baths are sometimes recommended. Bleach baths can be painful for people with extremely dry skin, so ask your doctor first if you can benefit from this method of bathing.
Diluted bleach bath recipe
Add ¼ – ½ cup of common household bleach to a bathtub full of water. Soak full body or affected area for about 10 minutes. Limit diluted bleach baths to twice a week. Do not submerge your head and avoid getting the diluted bleach into the eyes. Rinse off with fresh water and apply a moisturizer.