Tips for Managing Eczema
Healthy skin is like a well-built brick wall. In eczema, the skin is dry with gaps between the skincells. Emollients (moisturiser) fill these gaps and help hold moisture in the skin. Emollients hydrate and soften the skin and are used to treat or prevent dry skin. Emollients are different to cosmetic moisturisers. Apply plenty of emollient (moisturiser) to the whole body (face, body, arms and legs) twice a day, even when you cannot see or feel any eczema. There is no need to completely rub it in. Keeping the skin well hydrated helps improve eczema by reducingwater loss, improving dryness, reducing itch and protects from things like pollen, animal dander and foods, getting through the skin.
How much emollient should I be using?
Probably more than you think! Each week, aim to use the following amounts:
125g for baby 250g for small child 500g for bigger child or teenager
How often should I wash my baby/child, and what should I use?
Bath/shower daily if possible, in lukewarm water and for ideally less than 5 minutes. Bathing with water that is too hot removes natural oils from the skin and can make the skin more itchy.
Avoid soap, which also removes natural oils and dries out the skin. Use a soap-free wash instead. Bathoil can be added if the skin is very dry. Moisturiser is best absorbed when applied to damp skin after getting out of the bath or shower so this is the most important time to moisturise.
Cortisone creams and ointments (eczema treatments used on the skin)
Cortisone creams andointments work like an anti-inflammatory to settle irritation and itch on the skin and help reduce eczema flares (when the eczema is worse and the skin is more itchy).
When and where should I use cortisone creams and ointments?
Apply cortisone (asprescribed) as soon as you see any areas of eczema (e.g. red, inflamed, rough areas), and apply it to all the eczema affected areas, not just the worst bits. It should also be used on broken skin.
How much do I use?
It can be hard to know how much cream or ointment to apply to an area. If you apply too little, it may not work.
Apply enough cortisone cream or ointment to cover all the eczema affected areas. Fingertip unit amounts can help. One fingertip unit is enough to cover an area of skin twice the size of a flat adult hand with the fingers together. For example, if the area of skin to be treated is the size of four flat adult hands, two fingertip units of cream or ointment should be applied each time.
Once a day is often enough.Continue applying once a day until the eczema has completely gone (i.e. theskin is smooth, not red and not itchy), or as advised by your treating health professional. If treated correctly, the eczema should clear within 1-2 weeks,in most cases.
Are cortisone creams and ointments safe?
Yes, they are extremely safe when used correctly. Undertreated eczema from not using enough cortisone creams can lead to thick skin, frequent skin infections, poor sleep and growth can also be affected.
General tips to help manage eczema
Avoid overheating, particularly when dressing babies and young children. Overdressing and getting too hot is one of the most common things that makes eczema worse. Wear light cotton clothing and pyjamas and try not to make beds too warm. Avoid heaters in bedrooms.
Avoid hot baths and long hot showers.
Avoid soap, shower gel and bubble bath as these dry the skin.
It is always best to moisturise after a bath or shower and also after swimming.
It is best to avoid products containing perfume or fragrance as these can irritate the skin. Some plant extracts (e.g. rosemary, lavender, tea tree) can also irritate the skin.
Goat and soy milk in skin products are not recommended for people with cow’s milk or soy allergy. Most of the proteins in goat and cow’s milk are the same and often children with cow’s milk allergy are also allergic to soy.
It is best to avoid skin products which contain food oils (including nuts) and food proteins. Keep nails short. This can help limit damage to the skin from scratching.
If the eczema isn’t clear or much better within 2 weeks of treatment,see your healthcare provider.