Welcome to the bathing, showering, and washing clothes section!
This section will look at:
- How can I stop my eczema getting worse after a bath or shower?
- Can I use wash products, like soap or bubble bath?
- What can I use instead of soap?
- Can I use shampoo on my hair?
- How often should I have a bath or shower?
- What washing powder shall I use for my clothes?
- Will water softeners help my eczema?
How can I stop my eczema getting worse after a bath or a shower?
Bathing or showering helps wash off things that might irritate the skin and stops infections. It can also help relax you if you are feeling stressed.
Some people find that bathing or showering can dry out their skin and make it itch more.
The best thing you can do to stop this is to put moisturising creams on afterwards. This restores your skin barrier and locks moisture into your skin. You may find it helpful to put cream on once the skin has had time to cool down. This will stop you from getting too hot.
You may find it helps to pat yourself dry with a soft towel, as rubbing can make your skin itchy or sore.
Can I use wash products?
People with eczema should avoid using wash products, including soaps, bubble bath, shower gels, and body wash. This is because they dry the skin out and can cause an eczema flare-up.
I found that the moisturising creams would make the bath or shower really greasy. I use a bath mat or old towel in the bath to stop myself slipping.
What can I use instead of these products?
Most moisturising creams can be used instead of these wash products. If you don’t find this easy to use, you can also ask your doctor or pharmacist for a soap-free wash product that has been made just for eczema. You can use all of these products in the same way you would use normal soap to wash in the bath or shower, or when washing your hands. These products do not foam like normal soap, but are just as good for cleaning the skin.
How could I use my moisturising cream or soap-free wash as a soap?
If your moisturising cream or soap-free wash is quite thick, you can mix around a teaspoon of it in the palm of your hand with a little warm water. You can then use this to wash your skin. You can also put it on dry skin and then wash it off in the bath or shower.
Finding a product that you like is very important. Most people try a few different ones before settling on their favourite.
What about bath additives or bath emollients?
You can also get an eczema treatment that you pour into the bath water. These are sometimes called ‘bath additives’, ‘bath emollients’ or ‘bath oils’.
It was once thought that you should use these bath treatments as well as moisturising creams to keep control of eczema. Research now tells us that if you are using moisturising creams at least once a day, then these bath treatments don’t add anything extra. However, they can be used instead of soap, the same way as your moisturising creams and soap-free wash.
I always take spare moisturising creams with me to school and use it instead of soap when I wash my hands. I get eczema on my hands and the school soap can set my eczema off.
Can I use shampoo in my hair?
Some shampoos contain colours, perfumes or soaps that may make eczema worse. It’s best to use shampoo for sensitive skin that doesn’t contain any colours or perfumes that may make eczema worse.
Some people with eczema find it helpful to wash their hair over the bath to avoid the shampoo coming into contact with their skin.
If you use these shampoos, it is important to wash them off your skin straight away. They can still make your eczema worse if they are on your skin for too long.
I use a sensitive skin shampoo, which is much better for my eczema. Sometimes it can make my eczema worse, but I just use as little as possible and make sure I put on more moisturising creams after my shower.
How often should I have a bath or shower?
There is no clear answer about how often people with eczema should bath or shower. Many people find that their eczema gets worse if they have a bath or shower more than once a day. The best advice is to go for whatever works best for you.
I used to stay in the shower quite a long time because it relieved the itch. But I felt very itchy afterwards, even though I was putting moisturising creams on. I read somewhere that heating my skin up could be making things worse. So now I have a shorter shower and have got used to it being less hot. It’s definitely helped.
What washing powder should I use for my clothes?
You might have heard that a non-biological washing powder or liquid is better for eczema, but there is not much scientific evidence for this. Some brands will do a range for sensitive skin, which some people prefer. Again, there is not much scientific evidence that these products are any better for eczema.
Often, it is possible to use much less washing powder or liquid than the product label suggests. This means there will be less product left on the clothes.
Try not to use fabric softener on your washing, because it also has things in it that can cause an eczema flare-up.
I always put the washing on an extra rinse cycle to make sure all the soap is rinsed out
Here are a few handy tips for doing your washing:
- Use the least amount of washing powder or liquid needed. This way, these products will not affect your skin as much.
- Moisturising creams can build up and damage the rubber seal of your washing machine over time. Give your washing machine an empty wash on the highest temperature every now and then to help remove any cream that is left behind.
- When trying a new washing powder or liquid, only wash a few of your items to make sure your skin doesn’t react.
- Some people with eczema believe that washing liquid is better for eczema, because it washes off clothes better than washing powder.
Will water softeners help my eczema?
You may have heard that hard tap water can make eczema worse. A research study looked at whether putting a water softener in your home can help eczema. The research found that it made no difference to people’s eczema. So, it is unlikely that water softeners will help your eczema.