When you've got eczema, you want to do everything you can to keep your skin hydrated and soothed. Using a body wash that's too stripping can do just the opposite, leaving you with skin that's even drier and more irritated than usual. To prevent that from happening, Ivy Lee, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Pasadena, California, says you should stick to gentle cleansers.
"Because eczema is associated with a compromised skin barrier and is more sensitive to irritation and allergy, I recommend using a moisturizing body wash that is free of fragrance, dyes, and exfoliants," says Dr. Lee. "I favor 'syndets' which is an abbreviation for synthetic detergents, which are non-soap cleansing agents that are neutral or slightly acidic and gentler on skin. Traditional soaps have high pH (are more alkaline) and can potentially irritate the acid mantle structure of our skin."
To protect your skin in the shower, know that a gentle body wash is just the start. Dr. Lee says to keep the cleanser limited to your face, pits, and groin. And make sure you're using warm—not hot—water and keeping those showers quick. After the shower, gently pat dry the skin and apply a liberal amount of a fragrance-free moisturizing cream, ointment, or lotion, like Dr. Lee's go-to CeraVe Healing Ointment ($11). And "for eczema-prone skin, skip the scrubs, loofahs, and exfoliating mitts," and just get clean with your hands, she says.
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