Eczema Management


How to manage eczema

Although there is no cure for eczema, there are many things you can do to reduce the itch and manage the condition well.

Here are some eczema management tips from The Australasian College of Dermatologists.

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There are 3 main ways you can manage your eczema:

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Look after your skin

  • Avoid soaps and use soap substitutes which are less alkaline and similar to the pH of the skin.
  • Avoid perfumed bubble bath and scented bath salts.
  • Add non-perfumed bath oil to bath water, but extra care will be needed because of slipperiness.

Depending on the outside temperature, apply as greasy a moisturiser as possible all over, soon after coming out of the bath. Emulsifying ointment can be mixed with varying amounts of water by the chemist.

  • Apply moisturisers once or twice daily, usually as a long-term preventive particularly when the skin is dry.
  • When the skin is very inflamed, applying wet bandages over ointments or creams for 30 minutes will give better relief. Examples
    of “wet bandages” include Tubifast-type bandages or wet combine bandage for limbs, a damp singlet or cotton sweatshirt for the
    body, a damp bandana for the scalp and a damp scarf for the neck.
  • Cool compresses may provide immediate relief for very itchy areas.
  • Avoid frequent hand washing if there is involvement of the hands. People with a history of eczema may be more prone to developing irritant contact dermatitis in occupations involving lots of wet work, such as hairdressing, nursing, food handling and cleaning. They should be advised to use gloves to protect their skin as much as possible.
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Reduce inflammation

  • Topical cortisone ointments (generally preferred to creams as they are more moisturising and do not require preservatives) are the mainstay of treatment for atopic dermatitis. The dermatologist or doctor will select the appropriate strength of cream to use on different parts of the skin. On the face, under arms and groin areas the weakest preparations will be used. Topical calcineurin inhibitors may also be used.

The treatment must be applied (usually twice daily) until the active dermatitis has completely cleared. This also reduces the likelihood of a rebound flare-up.

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Control infection

  • A swab of the skin may be taken to identify the cause of the infection and antibiotics prescribed, as appropriate.
  • If bacterial infections are recurrent: the nostrils may be treated with an antibiotic ointment; diluted bleach baths twice per week may also help. Options should be discussed with the treating dermatologist or doctor.

Let the doctor or dermatologist know if the infection is not responding to treatment.

Treatment and Management

New & emerging eczema treatments

Medical researchers continue to strive for new treatments that provide relief from, what can be, an overwhelming experience. Be sure to ask your dermatologist about potential options and feel free to seek guidance from Eczema Support Australia. Eczema Support Australia is committed to helping people living with eczema overcome difficulties and thrive in their community.

Download Information Sheet

Treatment and Management

Emollients, moisturisers & creams

  • Emollients are medical moisturisers that form a vital part of therapy for all dry skin conditions.
  • Topical steroids are aerosols, creams, gels, lotions and solutions that contain corticosteroids and can be applied to the skin.
  • Many natural creams, lotions and oils claim to be good for eczema, but not all are considered safe.

Download Information Sheet


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Treatment and Management

Wet dressings and bleach bathing

  • Wet dressings help to reduce itch by cooling the skin. The itch is worse when the skin is hot and inflamed.
  • Bleach baths assist in reducing the number of bacteria on the skin so eczema does not get infected. Regular bleach bathing may help manage eczema in children and adults, resulting in reduced inflammation and itch.

Download Wet Dressings Information Sheet
Download Bleach Bathing Information Sheet

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Treatment and Management

Hand eczema

Hand eczema is an inflammatory condition that can cause itchy blisters, cracks, or rashes on the hands.

It can go hand-in-hand with atopic eczema or be a result of contact dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis can be more common in professions with frequent contact with water and chemicals. E.g. Hairdressers, cleaners, healthcare workers and hospitality workers.

Women are more likely than men to have another form of hand eczema called pompholyx or dyshidrotic eczema. This results in very itchy little blisters on the palms or fingers.

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Impacts Of Eczema

Treatment and Management

Facial eczema

Facial eczema can be chronic, reoccurring, or a fleeting occurrence.

When eczema affects the face, it can have a huge impact on quality of life due to the sensitivity of this area of skin and the visibility.

In babies, cheeks and the folds of the neck are often affected by eczema.  Children can develop further facial eczema, including the eyelids. Adults with facial eczema may have developed contact dermatitis.

Facial eczema is not always because of atopic or contact dermatitis. Facial eczema in adults may be a different form of eczema – seborrheic dermatitis. This can result in dry scaly skin around ears, eyebrows, eyelids or ear canals. It can also be the cause of scalp dandruff.

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Vicki L
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Frequently Asked Questions

Eczema is a chronic and complex itchy skin condition. But it is more than just a skin condition. For those living with eczema, it can vary from a mild to moderate itch to an extremely itchy, painful and debilitating condition, with huge effects on quality of life. There are different types of eczema, the most common being atopic eczema.

Visit the Eczema Resource Library to learn more.

All our information about eczema has been reviewed by The Australasian College of Dermatologists.