Skin Care Tips and Routines

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: February 2024

Atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema. It causes skin inflammation, dryness, and itching. Eczema often starts in childhood and can continue into adulthood. There are many skin care tips and routines that may help ease your eczema symptoms.1

Basic skin care for eczema

Basic skin care helps support the natural skin barrier. This basic care is essential for everyone with eczema.2

Basic skin care for eczema begins with:2

  • Avoiding triggers
  • Bathing or showering regularly
  • Moisturizing regularly
  • Avoiding scratching affected areas
  • Monitoring for signs of infection

Avoiding triggers with eczema

Common items that can trigger an eczema flare include:3-5

  • Wool, latex, and synthetic fibers such as nylon, polyester, and spandex
  • Food allergies
  • Body care products such as soap, body wash, and shampoo, especially those with added fragrance
  • Stress
  • Cleaning products, waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer, air and fabric freshener, laundry products
  • Cosmetics, hair dye, perfume, and essential oils
  • Environmental allergens such as dust mites, cigarette smoke, pet dander, and pollen

It may not be possible to avoid all triggers. But you can keep track of things that tend to make your eczema worse. When trying a new product for the first time, apply a small amount to your wrist. Then watch for any signs of redness or irritation.3

Check the label of any product you buy that touches your skin. The National Eczema Association (NEA) closely examines many products. It looks to make sure products are free from known skin irritants. Look for the NEA Seal of Acceptance to help you find products that are less likely to cause a flare.6,7

Tips for moisturizing with eczema

Moisturizer keeps your skin hydrated and supports a healthy skin barrier. Daily moisturizing can help:8,9

  • Relieve itching
  • Reduce the frequency and severity of eczema flares
  • Reduce how much medicine you need to take for your eczema

Tips for moisturizing with eczema include:4,9,10

  • Use a moisturizer with a high oil content (ointment or cream) 2 times a day.
  • Moisturize every time you wash your hands.
  • Apply medicines you put on your skin (topical medicines) first, then moisturizer.
  • Apply moisturizer to damp skin within 3 minutes after bathing.
  • Choose products labeled fragrance-free, dye-free, and hypoallergenic.
  • Cover your hands and feet with cotton gloves and socks after applying moisturizer overnight to keep moisture in.

You may have to try different moisturizers to find one that works for you. Brands like CeraVeⓇ, AveenoⓇ, and CetaphilⓇ have products designed for people with eczema. Search the NEA product directory to find products with the NEA Seal of Acceptance.6,10

Tips for bathing with eczema

Bathing is another important part of daily skin care for people with eczema. Here are some tips to avoid making your skin drier and more irritated:2,4,9

  • Bathe or shower daily.
  • Use cleansers and hair products that are hypoallergenic, soap-free, and gentle. Limit the use of cleansers during flares.
  • Avoid scrubbing your skin.
  • Gently pat your skin dry after bathing.
  • Use lukewarm (not hot) water and soak for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Apply topical prescription medicine to damp skin right after bathing.
  • Moisturize within 3 minutes of bathing to seal in moisture.

What are bleach baths?

If you have moderate or severe eczema, your doctors may recommend bleach baths. A 2023 study showed that twice-weekly bleach baths resulted in less itching, better sleep, and improved quality of the skin barrier. These benefits were seen without drying out the skin or altering the skin bacteria. Talk to your doctor before starting bleach baths, especially if you are sensitive to bleach or have asthma.4,11,12

Tips for bleach baths:4,11,12

  • Use about one-fourth to one-half cup of bleach to 40 gallons of lukewarm water or 1 teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water. The bleach should be unscented, 6 percent, and regular strength (not concentrated).
  • Soak for 5 to 10 minutes up to 2 to 3 times a week.
  • Bleach baths can be for the entire body below the neck or a soak just for affected areas.
  • Do not put your head into the bleach bath.
  • Avoid getting the bleach water in your eyes.
  • Rinse off with fresh water, gently pat dry, and apply moisturizer after bathing.
  • If you have discomfort, stop and rinse off. Talk to your doctor before continuing bleach baths.

What is wet wrap therapy?

Wet wrap therapy can be used for moderate to severe eczema. This technique involves applying a wet wrap over treated and moisturized skin. Wet wraps lock in moisture and improve how well topical medicines work. Talk to your doctor before starting wet wrap therapy.8

Tips for wet wrap therapy:2,8

  • After bathing, apply topical medicines and moisturizer as directed.
  • Prepare a clean cotton bandage by getting it slightly damp with warm water. If your eczema is widespread, use a layer of damp cotton clothing. You can use cotton gloves or socks for eczema on your hands or feet.
  • Cover the damp bandage with a dry bandage or a loose layer of dry clothing.
  • Leave the bandages on for several hours or overnight.
  • The duration of wet wrap therapy may be limited if you use a strong topical steroid.

There is not yet a cure for eczema. But a consistent skin care routine can help ease symptoms and reduce flares.2

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.