Below is a list of frequently asked questions common to eczema sufferers as well as parents or family members of eczema sufferers.
Select the question below to find the answer. If you have a question that does not appear on this list, feel free to contact us and we’d be happy to provide you with the necessary resources to help you find the answer.
Aloe Vera can be a helpful anti-inflammatory ingredient, however, few moisturizers exist that allow the use of Aloe Vera in a formulation that will also hydrate the skin appropriately. Speak to your doctor about any questions you may have related to the use of aloe vera and your eczema.
Ceramides are an increasingly popular ingredient in moisturizers and emollients. Ceramides are lipid (fat) molecules that are important components of skin. They improve the skin barrier, help to increase skin hydration, and prevent the entry of irritants. People with atopic dermatitis have fewer ceramides in the skin, so it is thought that these missing fats can be replaced with moisturizers that contain ceramides.
Yes! Certain moisturizer ingredients, such as colloidal oatmeal and niacinamide, can have anti-itch properties and help to soothe the skin. Other anti-itch strategies (and perhaps the most effective) include frequent application of moisturizers, keeping nails trimmed short and smooth, and using cool compresses during periods of intense itch.
Bleach baths are being increasingly used to help manage eczema, as adding bleach to your bath water helps control skin bacteria, and in turn helps children and adults get better control of their eczema. Use bleach baths only on the advice of your physician.
To create a bleach bath at home, add 60 to 120 ml (1/4 cup to 1/2 a cup) of regular strength household bleach (4-6% sodium hypochlorite) to a full bathtub of warm water (which is usually about 150 litres). Mix the bleach and clear water well. Bathe in the solution for 5 to 10 minutes. After this, rinse the skin well with warm water. Then, gently pat the skin with a soft towel, leaving some water on the skin. Immediately continue with your regular moisturizing routine, using moisturizer and/or prescription products as recommended by your physician. These bleach baths can be done 2 or 3 times a week. This concentration of bleach is quite low (0.005%) and is similar to the amount in a swimming pool. Bleach baths help to control eczema because the dilute bleach baths help to control the amounts of a certain bacteria on the skin. This type of bacteria can be responsible for making eczema worse. For smaller bathtubs, a good rule of thumb is to use 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of regular bleach for every 5 litres of water. Always exercise caution when handling bleach, and remember to protect clothing, bath mats, towels, etc as they may become bleached.
No sunscreen has earned our Seal of Acceptance, however, there are some good options for people with eczema. Many sunscreen products contain irritating ingredients. Look for sunscreens that are formulated for sensitive skin, or look for formulations with physical sunblock (e.g., titanium dioxide or zinc oxide). Other sun protection strategies should always be used when possible. These strategies include: avoidance of peak sun exposure time (typically mid morning to late afternoon), use of a wide-brimmed hat and use of loose and light protective clothing.
Although red patches and dryness of the skin are often the first signs, it is usually the itch that upsets children and parents, and causes them to seek medical advice.
A dermatologist or pediatric dermatologist should be able to help. Contact your family doctor for a referral.
Your doctor can get information and brochures from our organization to give out to patients.
Any doctor can diagnose eczema (atopic dermatitis, or other forms of eczema). Physicians specializing in diagnosing and treating skin conditions can confirm the diagnosis and advise about treatments.
If you have found our website helpful, please share the information with your family doctor! Your doctor can visit the physician’s area of our website where he or she can order brochures and print information sheets.
- Keeping your skin moist and well hydrated (e.g. applying moisturizer several times throughout the day) is the best defence against recurrent flares.
- Use a cool-mist humidifier in the house or in the bedroom of the eczema sufferer, especially during the dry winter months. Clean as directed to prevent potential mold growth.
- Avoid overheating and sweating when possible as it increases itchiness and can worsen eczema.
- Cotton clothing is often best tolerated by people with eczema.
- Avoid harsh soaps and try to select products that are formulated for eczema and/or sensitive skin.
- Keep nails trimmed short and filed smooth. Damage done from scratching may be the biggest contributing factor to eczema flares, inflammation, and bacterial infection.
- Eczema is not contagious. You cannot “catch” it from a school playmate.
- Ensure that you use your prescription products as recommended by your doctor.
- Eczema sufferers often use too little, rather than too much, of their topical treatments, which reduces the effectiveness of the medication.