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Controlling Eczema with a Daily Bath?

Question of the Week


Updated November 27, 2003

Q.My son has ecema and it is fairly hard to control. Can I give him a bath each day? I have heard conflicting advice on this topic. My Pediatician says to only bath him every few days, but other things I have read said it is okay to give a bath everyday. Which is right?

A. They are both kind of right. A daily bath may dry out your child's skin and worsen his eczema. However, with proper precautions, a daily bath should be okay and may even be helpful. The trick is to use a mild, nondrying soap or soap substitute in luke warm bathwater, gently dry your child (don't rub vigorously) when he gets out of the tub and then quickly (within 3-5 minutes) apply a good moisturizer to your child's skin. The quick use of a moisturizer will help to prevent your child's skin from getting dry and can seal in the moisture.

This can also help if swimming seems to make your child's eczema flare up. As soon as he gets out of the pool, be sure to rinse off the chlorine, gently dry him off, and then quickly apply a moisturizer all over his body.

You should use the moisturizers every day, even when your child's eczema isn't flaring up. If a regular moisturizer isn't working, you might try Aquaphor™, which many parents find useful.

The other main treatment is a steroid cream when your child's eczema does flare up and his skin is red, rough or itchy.

New treatments for eczema include the nonsteroidal creams Protopic™ and Elidel™, both of which can be effective for difficult to control eczema.

It can also be helpful to keep a symptom diary of when your child's eczema flares up, what he has eaten recently, what soaps he has used, etc. This may help you to find things that trigger his eczema, so that you can learn to avoid them.

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