Perhaps you’ve come to terms with your eczema and learned to control it through dietary changes and medication. The last thing you want is to be burdened by infection. Every moment of every day, your skin is working to protect you from the swarm of bacteria that is swirling around in your environment. Unfortunately, severe eczema can create the cracks that let these bacteria in. So, how can you avoid infected eczema?
Preventing flare-ups of your eczema is the first step to blocking infection. You can reduce flare-ups by avoiding eczema triggers like certain foods, detergents, and chemicals. You should also keep your skin moisturized. Moisturizing your skin daily will not only decrease flare-ups, but will also keep you from itching those flare-ups if they occur and further irritating the skin.
What would you use to care for your baby’s newborn skin? If you wouldn’t use it on your baby, don’t use it on yourself. When washing your skin, use mild soap, avoid hot water, and pat your skin dry instead of rubbing. Use soaps that are free from dyes, fragrances, and alcohol. Look for labels like “hypoallergenic” or “for sensitive skin”.
You’d also keep your baby away from harsh chemicals, like cleaning products and solvents. You should stay away from these chemicals as well in order to prevent hand eczema. When you do need to use them, protect your skin with gloves or plastic while you clean or engage in other activities with these triggering chemicals.
A gentle moisturizer can help treat eczema and keep your skin crack-free. Generally, creamy lotions are the least effective while greasy moisturizers like vaseline work best to treat your eczema. Apply your moisturizer after bathing or washing your skin and while your skin is still damp. Newer barrier-repair creams that have no steroids can be helpful for treating your eczema flare-ups.
Moisturizing isn’t the only way to reduce itchiness and scratching. To avoid winter eczema, you should wear protective clothing during the winter when your skin could be exposed to cold and dry weather. In the hotter weather of the summer, try to avoid getting too hot and sweaty, which can make your skin feel itchier. Keep your nails short, so that any scratching is less damaging to your skin. When your skin does get itchy, you can prevent scratching by applying a cold compress to the affected area.
Certain medications can be helpful in preventing infection. Topical creams and ointments as well as oral antihistamines and corticosteroids (like prednisone) can help treat the redness, swelling, and itching associated with eczema. Over the counter anti-itching medications like Benadryl and calamine lotion can assist in treating your eczema. Additionally, there are non-steroid medications like Protopic and Elidel available if you want to avoid the side effects often caused by steroids.
Do whatever you can do to keep your skin from irritation. Unfortunately, from time to time you may still develop infection. But if you know the warning signs, you can catch it before it catches you. Pus, honey-colored crusting, infected hair follicles, and fever should send you to your dermatologist right way.
Whether you want to create a plan to prevent infection from your eczema or need to treat an infection, get in touch with Vanguard Dermatology with multiple locations in the greater New York City area. Together, we can manage eczema to prevent infection and keep it from becoming severe.