Living with Eczema: How to Prevent and Treat Symptoms

Written by: Cindy Mills


How to prevent and treat eczema is a top concern for women around the world since this chronic skin condition, characterized by dry, red, and itchy patches, can affect your confidence, appearance, and even sleep patterns.

Understanding what eczema is, what triggers flare-ups, and how to best manage its symptoms can be an empowering journey toward increased personal happiness and improved skin health.

Let’s delve into the world of eczema, aiming to equip you with the knowledge and tactics you need to live a more comfortable life with this condition.

Understanding Eczema and Its Impact on Skin Health

Eczema, a common skin condition, affects millions worldwide.

This pesky ailment comes in various forms, such as atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis.

Severe signs and symptoms of eczema can cause major disruption to one's skin health.

Types of Eczema

Eczema is often used as a general term to describe chronic skin conditions caused by inflammation. While there are several types of eczema, the most common ones include:

  • Atopic Dermatitis: This is the most common form of eczema, often starting in childhood. It's characterized by red, itchy, and dry skin. Atopic dermatitis tends to come and go periodically and is often associated with other conditions like asthma and hay fever.
  • Contact Dermatitis: This type occurs when your skin comes into contact with a substance that causes an allergic reaction or irritates your skin. There are two types of contact dermatitis: irritant contact dermatitis (caused by exposure to an irritating substance, like harsh detergents) and allergic contact dermatitis (caused by exposure to a substance you're allergic to, like nickel or poison ivy).
  • Dyshidrotic Eczema: This type of eczema causes small, intensely itchy blisters on the edges of the fingers, toes, palms, and soles of the feet. It's more common in women and often associated with stress and seasonal allergies.
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis: This skin condition primarily affects the scalp, but can also occur in other oily areas of the body such as the face, upper chest, and back. It's characterized by red, scaly, itchy, and inflamed skin. In more severe cases, yellowish to white scaly patches can form on the skin, which might resemble dandruff.

Symptoms: More Than Just Dryness And Itching

Beyond just dryness and itching, inflammation also accompanies these annoying eczema flares making it more than just a simple itch but a serious concern for many individuals seeking relief from their symptoms. It can wreak havoc on your confidence and even prevents many from participating in social activities.

Digging Deeper into Severe Symptoms

If you thought mild irritation was all there was to worry about with atopic dermatitis, think again.

Those suffering from severe cases may experience raw, sensitive, swollen patches due to persistent scratching.

Now that we have a general understanding of what eczema is let's take a look at over-the-counter treatments available for helping to manage this condition.

Over-the-Counter Treatments for Eczema

For those seeking to treat eczema, there are over-the-counter topical treatments that can help prevent flare-ups and bring some relief to common symptoms, including itching and irritation. Possible treatments include lotions, moisturizers, topical hydrocortisone cream, pain relievers, and antihistamines.

The Role of Topical Hydrocortisone

This low-potency steroid is known to help reduce itching associated with eczema symptoms. Its anti-inflammatory properties help manage those pesky red patches and itchy bumps characteristic of an eczema rash. These OTC steroids can be purchased as gels, lotions, creams, and ointments.

Shampoos for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Moving onto seborrheic dermatitis - another type that affects the scalp primarily but also other oily areas such as eyebrows or behind ears. Dandruff is very common. Medicated shampoos come into play here. A good shampoo not only cleanses your hair but also helps keep dandruff at bay which often accompanies this form of dermatitis due to excessive oil production by glands on our scalp.

Medicated shampoos can help ease discomfort and control flaking. Look for shampoos containing selenium sulfide that targets yeast, reduces the number of dandruff cells on the scalp, and eases irritation and itching

Prescription Treatments for Eczema

If you have intense eczema, OTC remedies may not suffice. It could be time to consult with your doctor or dermatologist to learn about the latest innovations in medical treatments for eczema.

Immunosuppressants and Oral Steroids

This is where more intensive treatment, including prescription treatments, come into play. So work with your doctor to find the best treatment plan for your specific conditions.

Topical steroids of higher potency can help reduce inflammation and itching associated with atopic or contact dermatitis.

For more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe topical medications, including topical calcineurin inhibitors, which are immunosuppressants to regulate an overactive immune system causing flare-ups.

Phototherapy Treatment

Beyond topical therapies and oral medications are other treatment options worth exploring with a skincare professional if you have persistent eczema symptoms.

An example? Light therapy.

The idea behind light therapy (or phototherapy), is using controlled exposure to natural sunlight or artificial UV light to slow skin cell turnover, thus controlling inflammation & reducing itching associated with this condition.

Now let's shift gears from medical interventions to your daily skincare habits, which can also help manage this troublesome condition.

Daily Skin Care to Reduce Eczema Flares

Let's dive into the heart of eczema management - skin care products. As you assess your current beauty routine for premature skin aging, be mindful of the types of products you use each day to keep your skin healthy.

When preventing eczema flares, a consistent skincare routine that includes the right skin care products is paramount. Again, since eczema is not curable, the key is to find a treatment plan that reduces flare-ups and brings relief to common symptoms. How you treat your skin is vitally important.

Types of Moisturizers

Dry skin can be an open invitation for an eczema rash. So how do we combat this? Apply moisturizer.

Preserving the hydration of your skin's protective layer is a must, and that's where moisturizers can be helpful.

  • Ointments: These are oil-based products with minimal water content. They're great at locking-in moisture but might feel heavy on sensitive skin or during warmer months.
  • Creams: A balanced mix between oils and water, creams provide good hydration without feeling too greasy. This Moisture Therapy Cream uses natural ingredients to calm and hydrate troubled skin, including aloe vera, jojoba oil, and shea butter.
  • Lotions: Lighter than ointments or creams due to their high-water content, lotions get absorbed quickly providing instant relief from dryness. American Academy Of Dermatology Association recommends applying these immediately after bathing when your pores are open which helps lock-in maximum moisture.
  • Serums: The lightest option includes fast-absorbing serums that are blended with skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and cucumber to nourish, calm, and refresh the skin - like this Calming Serum by Aluril.

Remember. It's not just about what you apply but also when and how often. Consistency matters.

So ladies, let us make our stand against premature aging by ensuring our skins remain hydrated all day long. And learn more about skincare solutions for Dry Skin in this article.

Stay tuned as we explore more ways to prevent those pesky flare-ups.

Home Remedies for Eczema Symptoms

In addition to medications, OTC products, and a healthy skincare routine, some women find home remedies to be helpful in managing eczema symptoms.

  • Aloe Vera Gel: This natural substance is known for its soothing properties, which can help to calm inflamed skin. Pure aloe vera gel can be applied directly to the affected area.
  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal baths can soothe the skin and relieve itching. You can buy colloidal oatmeal or make your own by grinding oats into a fine powder and adding it to a lukewarm bath.
  • Coconut Oil: This natural oil has antimicrobial properties and can also provide moisture to the skin. Apply virgin or cold-pressed coconut oil directly to the skin after bathing.
  • Honey: Applied topically, honey has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Make sure to use raw, unprocessed honey for this purpose.

As a reminder, it is always important to consult your physician or dermatologist when trying any new treatments.

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Eczema

When it comes to managing eczema, your lifestyle plays a crucial role.

Avoiding known triggers can significantly prevent flares and reduce eczema symptoms.

Avoid Artificial Fragrances

One of the most common triggers of atopic dermatitis is fragrances – especially those commonly found in laundry detergents and dryer sheets. They infuse artificial fragrances into your clothes and directly contact your skin.

Choose the Right Fabrics for Clothing

Many women find that wool, nylon, and polyester can irritate eczema-prone skin as they can cause the skin to sweat and overheat – which can make the skin itch. Instead, opt for fabrics that are soft and breathable, like cotton, bamboo, and silk.

Protect Your Skin with Sunscreen

Women with eczema are affected by heat and must protect their skin from the sun. While some women find that mild exposure to the sun can help with contact dermatitis, unprotected sun exposure typically worsens eczema conditions. So find a quality sunscreen that doesn’t irritate your skin, and consistently use it prior to sun exposure. Read more about sunscreen here.

Finding Ways To Manage Stress Levels

It’s no surprise that stress makes our lives so much more complicated – including being a significant contributor to eczema flare-ups. We all experience stress, yet how we respond to it varies from woman to woman. For some, it causes inflammation throughout the body and negatively impacts overall health.

So, what can we do to reduce stress and help manage skin flare-ups? Take time to relax and invest in your personal approach to self-care. Meditation or Yoga, anyone?

It’s so hard to put your needs first, but if you want to help others – you have to be healthy first. And create a stress management plan, especially for big, upcoming events like job changes, weddings, and class reunions – before they happen.


Avoid Harsh Soaps Or Hot Water for Sensitive Skin

Body wash and soaps are common triggers, especially those that are harsh and lead to dry skin. The combination of harsh, scented body wash can trigger eczema symptoms.

Selecting mild soaps without dyes or perfumes can help keep sensitive skin happy and reduce the chances of an unexpected rash from seborrheic dermatitis. And pay special attention to facial cleansers. Avoid harsh ingredients that strip natural oils. Instead, select a moisturizing cleanser like this Gentle Face Wash blended with aloe vera, jojoba, and coconut milk.

Hot water strips away natural oils leaving behind dry skin prone to itchiness. For baths and showers, use warm water instead. It's one simple change toward preventing future outbreaks.

Eczema FAQs

What is eczema?

Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is a group of diseases that result in inflammation of the skin. It may affect any area but typically appears on the arms or behind the knees. It tends to flare up periodically and then subside.

What are the common symptoms of eczema?

Symptoms can vary from person to person, but they often include dry, itchy skin, red to brownish-gray patches, especially on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, and inside the bend of the elbows and knees, small, raised bumps which may leak fluid and crust over when scratched, and thickened, cracked, scaly skin.

What causes eczema?

The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but it's believed to be linked to an overactive response by the body's immune system to an irritant. Eczema is commonly found in families with a history of other allergies or asthma.

Can eczema be cured?

There is currently no cure for eczema, but treatments can help to manage the symptoms. A dermatologist can suggest a treatment plan that may include over-the-counter creams and ointments, prescription medications, or light therapy.

Is eczema contagious?

No, eczema is not contagious. You cannot catch eczema by coming into contact with someone who has it.

How is eczema diagnosed?

Eczema is usually diagnosed based on a physical examination of the skin and a review of the patient's medical history. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be taken to rule out other conditions.

Can diet affect eczema?

Some people find that certain foods trigger their eczema symptoms, but this varies widely from person to person. Common food triggers include dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, wheat, and soy. If you suspect a certain food is triggering your eczema, it may be helpful to keep a food diary, noting what you eat and when flare-ups occur. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet.

What's the difference between eczema and psoriasis?

Eczema and psoriasis are both chronic skin conditions, but they are not the same. Eczema typically causes itchy, red, and dry skin due to inflammation. Psoriasis, on the other hand, leads to thicker, red skin with silvery scales. While eczema often appears in the bends of the elbows or knees, psoriasis may commonly affect the front of the knees and the back of the elbows, as well as the scalp and lower back.

Can stress trigger eczema?

Yes, stress can trigger eczema flare-ups in some people. While stress does not cause eczema, it can worsen or trigger symptoms. It's important to manage stress levels through techniques such as exercise, meditation, or other stress-reduction techniques.

Is there a link between eczema and asthma?

Yes, there is a link between eczema and asthma, as well as hay fever. These conditions are often found together and are believed to be part of the "atopic triad". If you have eczema, you are at a higher risk of developing asthma or hay fever, and vice versa. However, not everyone with eczema will develop these conditions.


Eczema can be an uncomfortable and often embarrassing condition to manage, but with the right action plan, you can find relief. Everyone's experience with eczema is different, so it's important to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare provider about a personalized plan tailored to your needs.

Remember to establish a regular routine for moisturizing your skin, using mild soaps and detergents, dressing in appropriate clothing, and adjusting environmental triggers like humidity and temperature when possible.

With patience and commitment, these simple strategies can help reduce the frequency of eczema flare-ups; additionally, implementing lifestyle changes like stress reduction may offer relief.

Stay informed, stay mindful, and stay ahead in managing your eczema!