Bathing (or showering) is an important way to both treat atopic dermatitis as well as prevent recurrences of AD and maintain healthy skin. Bathing helps hydrates the skin and removes various things that might be on the skin from the day including scales, crust, irritants, and allergens. Adequate hydration of the skin is required to help preserve the skin’s natural barrier and minimize the effects from irritants or allergens, which can make AD worse.
Setting up a good skin care routine that includes daily bathing and moisturizing is very important for managing eczema symptoms and preventing flares. Bathing may be slightly better than showering to soak inflamed skin. Soaking in a tub of lukewarm (not hot) water can help your skin better absorb moisture, taking a bath instead of a shower can also be relaxing and can help reduce stress.
There are lots of different things that can be added to your bath. Additions may help with specific symptoms of eczema, such as inflammation, the intense itch or inflammation. A look at some different types of baths you can take to help manage eczema.
Bath treatments to consider
Adding a small amount of bleach to the bath can help decrease the amount of bacteria on the skin and reduce the chance of infection for those with eczema. Eczema may cause breaks in the skin’s protective surface, (scratching can also cause breaks in the skin) that provides an opportunity for bacteria that live on the skin’s surface to create infections. A mild bleach and water solution is thought to decrease inflammation and bacteria on the skin, which can lead to skin infections. Use a half-cup of household bleach for a full tub of water, one-quarter cup for a half tub. Soak up to 10 minutes, then rinse off. Best when done two to three times per week.
Baking soda bath
Baking soda as an addition to the bath can help ease intense itching. It is suggested to add a quarter-cup of baking soda to a lukewarm bath, mix the ingredients well and then soak for about 10 minutes. You can also mix the two ingredients and apply it to the skin directly in the form of a paste. In addition to the baking soda, you can also add Epson salt or oatmeal which can help with itch relief and skin inflammation.
Essential oils are a popular addition to the bath. Bath oils, when added to a lukewarm bath, provide additional hydration for the skin. Something to be careful with is sensitivity to additional fragrances which can be in essential oils and may be irritating to sensitive eczema skin. Another thing to be careful with if using oils in the bath is they can make the tub slippery so be cautious when climbing in and out of the bathtub.
Oatmeal baths are another great way to help calm inflamed and itchy skin. Oatmeal baths have been used for lots of skin conditions that cause itchy skin such as poison ivy, chicken pox, hives, dry skin and of course eczema. You won’t be putting your morning breakfast oatmeal into your bath, it is a different kind of oatmeal you will be using. For oatmeal baths, you will need colloidal oatmeal. You can either make your own oatmeal bath or purchase an over-the-counter product. Colloidal oatmeal forms a protective a protective barrier as it binds to the skin so it helps lock in moisture and eases inflammation.
Vinegar is antibacterial and anti-fungal, like bleach baths, vinegar baths can help decrease the amount of bacteria on the skin and reduce the chance of infection. Apple cider vinegar is a popular vinegar that people use for eczema. Vinegar baths can help relieve inflammation and also can help with skin itchiness as well. Vinegar can be very drying to the skin so it is important to moisturize immediately after taking a vinegar bath.
Salt can have many therapeutic effects on skin impacted by eczema. If the skin is painful and inflamed a salt bath can help relieve some of the stinging or burning sensation. Adding a cup of table salt, sea salt or Epsom salt to the bath water can help ease the discomfort, decrease the itching, inflammation, and redness eczema can cause.
With any of these treatments, it is key no to soak longer than 10 to 15 minutes and avoid scrubbing the skin with a washcloth or loofah as this can further irritate skin. During bad flare-ups, limit the use of cleansers to further avoid irritation to the skin as well.
What bath treatments have you tried to help manage your eczema symptoms? Share with the community!