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Eczema is a skin condition that can greatly affect a person’s self-esteem. Those patches of scaly, red, itchy, and dry skin can really be irritating, and most people want to cover it up instead of letting people see their skin. There are a lot of reasons why eczema can occur, including allergies, inflammation, and irritation. There are also a lot of treatments available for eczema, though many people try multiple treatments before finally finding something that works for them. Here are some tips that can help you feel comfortable showing more skin.

Take Diet into Consideration

There are a number of foods that can cause eczema or can result in a flare of already existing eczema. Many people react to dairy, eggs, nuts, peanuts, citrus fruits, and soy. If you’re dealing with eczema and can’t figure out the source, try cutting some of these common eczema-irritating foods out of your diet. It may take a number of weeks for you to see results. If you see a difference, start working certain foods back into your diet to see how your skin reacts. You might be able to narrow down what’s giving you problems. There may not be one cause, but you can at least determine what’s making an already existing issue worse.

Find Creams That Work

There are a lot of topical creams and ointments that you can use to reduce the inflammation that your eczema has created, and you can help get rid of the itch that makes the problem worse. Depending on the severity of your eczema, you may be able to get by with over-the-counter products. A hydrocortisone ointment works very well when applied twice per day. Try to keep the areas covered until the ointment soaks into the skin. If you need something a little bit stronger, your doctor may be able to prescribe something for you. There are other prescription steroid creams that work very well. If you notice that a product burns or is causing more irritation, take a break and try something else.

Wet Wraps

Finding a way to reintroduce moisture into your skin can really make a difference in your eczema. You’re essentially trying to rebuild that barrier on your skin that is damaged. Apply whatever creams or lotions that you’re using. Take wet gauze that has been wrung out, and wrap it around the areas of your skin that are suffering. On top of the wet wrap, cover your skin with something dry like a bandage. Leave these wraps on the skin as long as you can.

Keep Products Simple

If you have eczema, it’s likely that you have very sensitive skin that reacts strongly to different irritants. When it comes to choosing skin products or beauty products, opt for the most natural and simple products possible. Stay away from acid-based products, and the fragrance is something that really irritates people with eczema. If they work for you, try to use products that are very natural. Aloe vera can be used for dry skin and irritated skin. If you buy it in gel form, there are usually very minimal ingredients you’re applying to your skin. There are also ingredients that can be very irritating to eczema-prone skin. Stay away from sodium laureth sulfate, parabens, and sulfates.

Stay Hydrated

It’s helpful to develop a good skincare routine that you use topically, but it’s also important that you stay hydrated from the inside out. Try to drink eight to ten glasses of water each day. Stay away from things like coffee, which can actually dehydrate you. If you are outside on a particularly hot day and are sweating a lot, you should strive to include even more water into your day.

Mind Your Bath Water

The temperature of your water should be lukewarm. Very hot water or very cold water will dry out your skin and negatively affect your moisture barrier. It’s tempting to hop into a hot shower on a really cold day, but this soak can be damaging to your skin. It’s best to take a bath instead of a shower and try to limit the amount of time that you’re in there. As soon as you come out, pat your skin dry (don’t rub). Apply your products right away. If you’re taking a bath, consider using a colloidal oatmeal bath product. If you include it in the bathwater that you’re getting into, this can help hydrate and heal your skin. It can also help take away some of that itch.

Eczema can quickly take over your life if you don’t take a proactive approach to it. If you aren’t finding relief with your own methods of care, you should talk to a trusted medical professional for help. Your primary doctor can help, but a dermatologist will be able to give you a lot more insight into what’s going on with your skin. If you’re not already working with an allergist, you may want to think about getting started with this specialist as well. You’ll be able to find out a lot about your eczema triggers from the skin and blood testing that may be prescribed to you.