Suffering from eczema as an adult can really bring you down, but make 2013 the year to take back control over your skin. As always, it's best to visit your dermatologist to seek his or her advice on what types of care you need, whether it's a prescription for steroids or an at-home remedy. Once you have your doctor's approval, see five ways to fight the itch steroid-free.
1. Go fragrance-free: Scented products can irritate skin, so now's the time to really take a look at everything that comes into contact with your body. From laundry detergent to your shampoo, conditioner, and skin-care products, check out all the labels to ensure they're fragrance-free.
2. Find the right body care: Not all body washes and lotions are created equal. Now that you've narrowed your search down to the fragrance-free variety, why not choose one that's particular to your needs? Look for something like Cetaphil's Restoraderm body wash and moisturizer ($16 each), which have both been awarded the seal of acceptance by the National Eczema Association.
3. Make cotton your new best friend: It's soft and cheap and it breathes. This natural fiber is often recommended for eczema-prone individuals, so steer clear of itchy wool and synthetic materials. Plus, you can also try washing new clothes before wearing them to help make them more comfortable for your skin.
4. Consume more oils: Help hydrate your dry, itchy skin from the inside out. Eating foods rich in fatty acids like fish, flax seeds, and walnuts can help nourish your skin's protective barrier from a cellular level. You can also add things like evening primrose and fish oil supplements to your diet.
5. Take a lukewarm shower: No matter how good a steaming hot shower feels, its damaging effects aren't worth it. The overly hot water actually strips your already-dry skin of even more moisture, which can lead to more itchy breakouts. Simply turn down the nozzle to a more skin-friendly temperature.
While it seems like a lot, making these lifestyle changes can help ward off future breakouts or at least make your condition less severe. Healthy skin requires work when you have eczema, but it's well worth it when you have clear, beautiful skin to show off.