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How to Treat and Prevent Eczema

Dry skin and eczema flares up in the winter. What causes eczema? How do you know if what you have is eczema versus dry skin? And how can you best treat and prevent these dry, irritating conditions?

 

By
Sanaz Majd, MD
4-minute read
Episode #228

For those severe and difficult to control rashes that failed to respond to the topicals, an oral steroid can be prescribed to pull you out of dry skin misery. Other topical treatments, such as Elidel and Protopic, are also used for resistant eczema. But they are not first line and not without risk.

The best way to fight eczema, like many other medical conditions, is really to prevent the flare ups in the first place.

How to Prevent Eczema

There is no cure for eczema. Flare ups tend to come and go throughout life. But they can be tamed and controlled. The best way to fight eczema, like many other medical conditions, is really to prevent the flare ups in the first place. Here are a few quick and dirty tips to do just that:

1.  Minimize hot showers: Heat is drying to the skin. Therefore, turn down that water temperature to as low as you can tolerate when bathing, and simultaneously save on your energy bills.

2.  Minimize water exposure:  Ironically, the water itself can be drying. So avoid baths and limit showers to no longer than five minutes. Yes, it can be done.

3.  Avoid harsh cleansers: Put away those fruity, fragrant soaps your grandma gave you at your last birthday. And avoid falling for those “deodorant” soaps at the drugstore, while you’re at it. Instead, opt for a very mild and hypoallergenic soap, like Dove or Cetaphil.

4.  Moisturize: Especially during low humidity, dry, cold temperatures, put that Costco membership to good use and invest in a thick moisturizing topical. Apply it multiple times a day if you need to, including immediately after bathing. Petroleum jelly is the most inexpensive and works best—however, not ideal if it's rubbing off of your clothing before it has sunk into your skin. Therefore, the next best options include thicker, oilier creams. Examples include Eucerin (The Original) and Cetaphil.

Share your ideas and learn more quick and dirty tips with us on the House Call Doctor’s FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest pages! If you learned anything here today,or simply enjoy all-things-medical, you can also listen and subscribe to the House Call Doctor podcast on iTunes, Spotify, GooglePlay, and Stitcher.

Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only.  This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider.  Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

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Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

About the Author

Sanaz Majd, MD

Dr. Sanaz Majd is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. Her special interests are women's health and patient education.