Skin Care for Atopic Dermatitis

I have chronic eczema, otherwise known as atopic dermatitis. The severity of my eczema changes and avoiding foods high in nickel is one of the best ways to treat / reduce my eczema flare ups. In addition, I proactively care for my skin by moisturizing daily, clipping my nails weekly and trying to reduce stress.

Over the weekend I attended a one day adult forum by the National Eczema Association. I’ve found many of their educational resources. Since treatment for eczema is very trial and error, I’ve also used their Facebook page to ask questions about what they do or products they use from their fans. Once I was looking for a lip moisturizer without shea butter and someone recommended Aquaphor Healing Ointment. I use it daily on my lips and finger and it works great!

One of the original founders of the National Eczema Association Susan Tofte, RN, FNP, presented information during the eczema forum about techniques for basic skin care, specifically for us with atopic dermatitis. She mentioned that bathing dries out the skin. However, I learned that bathing helps the skin IF a moisturizer is applied to your skin within 3 minutes of gently patting yourself dry with a towel. Nurse Susan Tofte also mentioned that when your skin becomes (about 20 minutes) during your bath or shower, your skin has absorbed the maximum amount of moisture from the water.

For those of us with atopic dermatitis, bathing without moisturizing after can cause dryness that stings like swimming with jellyfish.

For those of us with atopic dermatitis, bathing without moisturizing after can cause dryness that stings like swimming with jellyfish.

Nurse Susan Tofte shared when you’re experiencing a severe eczema flare up it’s important to “baby” your skin care for at least one week to help get things back under control. During that week, she suggested bathing in lukewarm water for 20 minutes and moisturizing your skin with a moisturizer (not a lotion, as they can contain alcohol and dry out your skin) within 3 minutes of gently pat drying your skin. She suggested bathing 2 times a day throughout that week, both in the morning and at night. If your eczema is really bad, she recommended taking a bath instead of a shower (if you can). The goal of bathing often is to help your body’s skin rid itself from outside irritants and/or allergens and reducing your skin’s inflammation and reducing the itch-scratch cycle.

I use Cetaphil’s Gentle Cleansing Bar for my bathing soap and Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Special Shampoo when I shower. Then I use Cetaphil’s Moisturizing Cream on my skin and Aquaphor’s Healing Ointment on my lips and sometimes on my elbows or fingers if they’re really dry. I also keep a small bottle of Cetaphil’s lotion and Aquaphor’s “on the go” packs in my purse when I need to moisturize my hands and lips throughout the day.

What gentle soap, nickel free shampoo and moisturizers I use daily.

What gentle soap, nickel free shampoo and moisturizers I use daily.

I’ve used other lotions, moisturizers and lip balms that haven’t worked as well as these. Many other targeted eczema products include shea butter or oats. I cannot use anything with shea butter or oats because those ingredients include nickel and irritate my skin. If you’re purchasing the Aquaphor healing ointments, I purchase the travel “on the go” packs. Aquaphor offers a “lip balm” that I cannot use because it include shea butter, so read the ingredients.

If you have chronic eczema or a nickel allergy I highly suggest you give Skintifique’s products a try. Using Skintifique’s Cleanser P and Moisturizing Lotion HP daily has relieved the intensity of my eczema on my face, even when I’ve occasionally eaten foods higher in nickel. In addition I believe using Skintifique’s cleanser has diminished my acne. I also enjoy using Skintifique’s Hydrating Gel Plus HS from time to time where my skin is especially dry or itchy.

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic disease and it’s important to recognize that flare ups will occur. Appropriately caring for your skin when you’re experiencing an eczema flare up is critical to getting your eczema under control. For me that not only involves avoiding eating foods high in nickel, but also not putting too much pressure on myself and frequently using moisturizer!

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