Eczema prevention: The shower habit that could be causing your skin to flare-up

Eczema: Dr Ranj provides tips for treating condition

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Eczema symptoms can often begin to appear or worsen as the winter begins. While the weather changes are certainly one reason to blame for eczema flare-ups, experts have also warned some personal habits could make the condition worse.

When the weather turns cold, it isn’t uncommon for people to enjoy a hot shower at the beginning or end of the day.

Hot water can also provide fast relief for itching skin, with some eczema sufferers reporting soothed skin when under hot water.

However, standing underneath a hot stream of water could actually be detrimental to your skin.

According to Sarah Brown, founder of sustainable beauty brand Pai Skincare, “extreme temperatures” can cause symptoms to worsen.

This is because hot water can strip your skin of the natural oils it needs to stay healthy.

Over time this can make your skin dry and may lead to itching and irritation.

Hot water can also cause skin inflammation.

Ms Brown said: “Aim for warm showers rather than hot.”

People with eczema should aim to keep their shower or bath water below 30 degrees Celsius.

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When washing, people with eczema should also avoid bubble baths and bath oils.

Though they may smell nice, these bath time potions can lead to further skin irritation and flare-ups.

Similarly, it’s a good idea to avoid vigorously scrubbing your skin with soap.

The length of time you spend in the bath can also play a critical role in the health of your skin.

Aim to keep baths and showers to a maximum of 20 minutes. Any longer than this can cause your skin to dry out further.

According to Ms Brown, it isn’t just while showering that extreme temperatures pose a threat to skin.

She also advises people to keep their bedrooms moderately heated when going to sleep, and to wear enough layers when venturing out on winter days.

The skincare expert said: “Try to sleep in a cool room – consider investing in an air humidifier, and wrap up well when you go outside to reduce exposure.”

How can I ease an eczema flare-up?

According to Ms Brown, regular “oat baths” can help to ease symptoms.

She recounted how this dramatically improved her son’s eczema.

She said: “Fill a sock with rolled outs, soak in the bathwater and squeeze out the ‘milk’.

“After bathing, gently pat skin dry and apply body cream immediately, ideally followed by a natural balm to seal in moisture.”

Other ways to ease symptoms include:

  • Moisturising skin at least twice a day – your doctor may prescribe a specific moisturiser for you to use.
  • Apply topical creams to ease itching and repair the skin – again, these may be prescribed by your GP or dermatologist.
  • Taking anti-itching medications.
  • Use natural moisturisers such as coconut oil.

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