Is it Right or Wrong to Use Soap for Eczema?

Eczema can often be very hard to manage. It causes a lot of itchiness and discomfort. A whopping1 31.6 million Americans are affected, which is about 10% of the country. If you’re struggling with the dry, irritated skin of atopic dermatitis or red rashes from contact dermatitis, choosing the right soap or cleanser is crucial. It can make a big difference in how you deal with your eczema.

This article will help you understand the best skincare approach for eczema. We’ll check if regular soap is a smart choice or if there are better options. Together, we’ll look into what causes eczema, the types out there, and what makes it worse. But, most of all, we’ll share tips on how to build a skincare routine that’s gentle yet effective. Such a routine can calm your eczema and stop it from coming back.


Key Takeaways

  • Eczema is a chronic skin condition that affects about 10% of the U.S. population, causing dry, itchy, and inflamed skin.
  • Many common soaps and cleansers can actually worsen eczema symptoms due to harsh ingredients like fragrances, dyes, and detergents.
  • The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends that individuals with eczema use soap-free, fragrance-free cleansers instead.
  • Products with the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance are specially formulated for eczema-prone skin and less likely to cause irritation.
  • Developing a consistent, gentle skincare routine with proper bathing and moisturizing techniques is crucial for managing eczema.

Understanding Eczema and Its Impact

Eczema is more than just a skin problem. It’s a long-lasting condition that makes your skin dry, itchy, and red.2 People with eczema often have very dry skin because their skin’s outer layer doesn’t work well.2 Using the right soap and lotions is key to help keep this condition in check.2

What is Eczema?

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is actually quite common. It affects 10% of folks in the U.S.2 Its symptoms include dry, itchy, and red skin that can get worse if not cared for.

Types of Eczema

There are many types of eczema. Atopic, contact, dyshidrotic, neurodermatitis, nummular, seborrheic, and stasis dermatitis are a few. Each type shows different symptoms and needs different care strategies.

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Symptoms of Eczema Flare-ups

An eczema flare-up can happen on any part of your body. It may cause the skin to crack, get dark around the eyes, itch a lot, ooze, crust, feel raw, have rashes, bumps, swell, or thicken.2 These symptoms can make life very hard.

Causes and Triggers of Eczema

Eczema’s causes differ among people, often stemming from a weakened skin barrier. This allows irritants, allergens, and bacteria to enter easily.3 Certain genes can make the skin barrier less effective.

Weakened Skin Barrier

Having too much Staphylococcus aureus bacteria on the skin can also harm the barrier.3

Excessive Staphylococcus Aureus

Allergies, tough chemicals in cleaning, cold air, infections, and stress can make eczema worse. So can fabrics that irritate the skin.34 It’s crucial to learn your specific triggers to control eczema.

Common Eczema Triggers

Over 30 million Americans suffer from eczema.4 When one week had high ozone levels, doctor visits for eczema rose.4 Metals like cadmium, lead, and mercury from pollution sources like paint and smoke are common triggers.4 VOCs, found in some paints, can affect children greatly in short periods.4 Jobs that involve wet hands, such as dishwashing, can aggravate eczema.4 Some indoor and cleaning chemicals as well as metals like copper make eczema and asthma more likely.4 Everyday products like soap or laundry detergent and even nickel can exacerbate eczema.4 Certain plastics contain phthalates and bisphenol A which can trigger eczema.4

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Proper Skin Care Routine for Eczema

It’s crucial to have a steady, kind skin care plan to deal with eczema. Those with eczema often find their skin quite dry. This is because the skin barrier may not work properly due to the disease.2 A good skin care routine can help by making your skin more moist. It also protects the skin barrier and stops flare-ups..

Bathing and Showering Tips

When you bathe, use warm water, not hot, for 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t scrub with rough cloths or loofahs. Use skin-friendly, fragrance-free soaps.2 Warm water can keep your skin moist. After bathing, put on moisturizer within three minutes to seal in moisture.2

Moisturizing Techniques

Moisturize right after you shower to keep your skin hydrated. A cream with lots of oil works well. Apply it twice daily to keep skin healthy and protect against eczema.2 For an even better routine, use the “Soak and Seal” method. That’s a bath, pat skin dry, apply any meds, and moisturize quickly.

Adding baking soda or oatmeal to baths can ease itching from eczema.2 Stick to unscented, dye-free products to avoid irritation. Moisturize your hands every time you wash them to protect your skin. Stay clear of harsh antibacterial soaps to dodge flare-ups.2

Eczema affects a lot of people in the U.S., about 31.6 million. That’s 10 percent of the country’s population.5 Certain things in the environment can trigger eczema. Knowing and avoiding these triggers help control the condition.5 For treating eczema, ointments and creams work better than lotions. They’re thicker and keep more moisture in the skin.5

Sticking to a skin care routine can be hard. It should be easy and doable every day to be effective against eczema.5 Short, warm showers or baths are best for the skin. They help keep the skin from drying out. Keeping track of what triggers your eczema can really make a difference. It helps you steer clear of things that make your eczema worsen.5

Is it Right or Wrong to Use Soap for Eczema?

Using certain soaps can make eczema worse. This happens because they have harsh ingredients. These include fragrances, dyes, deodorants, and sodium lauryl sulfate.6 Such soaps can take away the skin’s natural oils. This makes the skin feel tight and itchy.6 The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology suggests using cleansers that are free from soap and fragrance.6

Soaps to Avoid for Eczema

Soaps with harsh chemicals and allergens can irritate the skin and make eczema worse.6 People with eczema should read soap labels carefully. They need to watch for allergens, fragrances, alkaline content, deodorants, and dyes.6 Also, looking for a seal of approval from the NEA can be helpful. Not every soap will work the same for everyone with eczema.6

Gentle, Fragrance-Free Cleansers

Products that the National Eczema Association endorses might be good for eczema. Some of these soaps include Cetaphil PRO Gentle Body Wash and Skinfix Eczema Soothing Wash.6 For the best cleanser for your eczema, see a dermatologist.6 Also, testing soaps on a small skin area first can help you find what works best for you.6

NEA Seal of Acceptance

Look for products with the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance. They are made for sensitive skin and are less likely to cause irritation.1 The NEA gives this seal after a thorough review by experts.1 If a product causes a bad reaction or if eczema gets worse, see a doctor. Signs of need for medical help include pus or a broad rash area.6

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Choosing the Right Soap for Eczema

Choosing the right soap for eczema-prone skin is hard because everyone reacts differently.6 You should start by testing a small amount on your wrist. Cover the spot and wait 48 hours to see if your skin reacts.7 If there’s no irritation, the soap is probably safe. Plus, seeing a dermatologist for advice is smart. They can suggest the best soap and moisturizer for you based on your eczema type.6

Patch Testing

7 To test a new soap, apply a bit on your skin and watch for 48 hours. Look out for any redness, itchiness, or pain.7 If there’s a reaction, using a cream with hydrocortisone can help with itch. Calamine lotion also soothes the skin.7 For severe itch, consider an over-the-counter antihistamine. If you have trouble breathing, get help right away.

Consulting a Dermatologist

6 Seeing a dermatologist is a great step. They can give personalized advice for dealing with eczema.1 For serious or constant eczema, it’s best to get professional help. Dermatologists can also provide you with special creams or meds.

Additional Eczema Management Tips

Dealing with eczema means more than just washing your skin every day. You need to know your eczema type1 and stay away from what makes it worse.1

Identifying Eczema Type

There are many types of eczema, like atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis. Knowing your type helps choose the best treatments.1 Because some treatments work better for some types.

Avoiding Triggers

Eczema can get worse from things like allergies, harsh cleaning chemicals, and stress.1 Finding and avoiding what triggers your eczema is key to stop flare-ups.

Prescription Medications and Creams

If your eczema doesn’t get better with simple steps, you might need medicine or creams from a dermatologist.1 These can help with itching and swelling when regular treatments aren’t enough.

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Eczema in Infants and Children

Eczema, known as atopic dermatitis, is common in kids under 18, affecting about 13% in the U.S.8 It often starts before age five, making the skin dry and itchy.89 This makes it tough for children to sleep, and they might get skin infections from scratching too much.9

Parents need to find a balance in treating their child’s eczema, avoiding harsh products.9 It’s key to work with a doctor for the best treatment plan.8 This might involve special lotions, finding and staying away from triggers, and keeping the skin clean and moisturized.9

Kids with a family history of eczema, asthma, or hay fever are more at risk.8 Babies and younger children can wear mittens to stop scratching.8 Although there’s no cure, managing eczema well can improve life quality by reducing symptoms.9

Eczema in Infants and Children Key Facts
Prevalence Eczema affects 13% of all children under 18 in the US8
Onset Eczema often appears in the first 6 months to 5 years of life8
Symptoms Dry, itchy skin rashes that can lead to sleep issues and skin infections9
Risk Factors Children from families with eczema, asthma, or hay fever are more likely to develop it8
Management Requires a gentle skin care routine, trigger avoidance, and potentially prescription treatments89

Special Bathing Treatments for Eczema

Besides daily gentle baths, special ones can ease eczema signs.2 These need a talk with a skin doctor first, not all treatments work for everyone.

Bath Oil

Adding oils to your bathwater can make a difference for eczema.2 They lock in water and soothe your skin.

Baking Soda

Baking soda baths soothe and reduce redness in eczema.2 They’re great at calming itchiness too.

Bleach Baths

Sometimes, bleach baths are a pick for eczema, thought to cut down skin swelling and bacteria.2 But, they need careful watching and a chat with your dermatologist.

Oatmeal Baths

Oatmeal baths can nourish and comfort your eczema skin.2 Oatmeal eases the skin and stops itch.

Salt Baths

Soaking in a salt bath may reduce swelling and redness in eczema.2 Salt can dry up the irritation too.

Vinegar Baths

Adding cider vinegar to your bath can help make your skin’s pH better and cut bacteria.2 But, too much can dry out your skin, so be careful.


Eczema is a long-lasting skin issue. It can really affect how you enjoy life. Even though there’s no cure, taking care of your skin correctly is key. This includes using the best soap.

To manage eczema well, avoid strong, drying soaps. Pick mild, scent-free cleansers with the National Eczema Association’s approval. Also, bathe gently, keep your skin moist, and steer clear of things that trigger your eczema.

Seeing a skin doctor is smart. They can guide you to treatments that fit your needs. If you pick the right path, managing your eczema can get better.

Surprisingly, using the incorrect soap can make eczema worse. This is because some soaps change the skin’s natural pH, causing more dryness and irritation. In fact, a study found that the usual soap brands aren’t the best for sensitive skin.

Adding natural cures and soft soaps to your routine can help a lot. It’s also wise to work with a dermatologist to spot and deal with what starts your eczema. With the best steps, you can ease your symptoms and enjoy healthier skin.

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Is it right or wrong to use soap for eczema?

Using the wrong soap can make eczema worse. Many soaps have harsh ingredients. These include fragrances, dyes, and deodorants, which can harm the skin. It’s best to use soap-free and fragrance-free cleansers for eczema.

What types of eczema are there?

There are many types of eczema. They include atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis. Each type shows different symptoms and has various causes.

What are the common symptoms of an eczema flare-up?

The signs of an eczema flare-up are easy to spot. They can be cracked, dry skin, intense itchiness, and oozing. You might see small bumps, rashes, and swelling too. The skin can also feel raw, dark around the eyes, and get thicker.

What causes eczema?

The cause of eczema is not always clear. But, it often starts with a weak skin barrier. This lets in irritants, allergens, and bacteria. Too much Staphylococcus aureus bacteria can also hurt the skin barrier.

What are some common triggers for eczema flare-ups?

Several things can make eczema worse. These include allergies, cold and dry air, stress, and irritants like certain fabrics. Skin infections and harsh cleaning products are also triggers.

What is the proper skin care routine for managing eczema?

For managing eczema, experts suggest some steps. Take lukewarm baths with fragrance-free products. Moisturize well, especially right after a bath, using the “Soak and Seal” method.

What types of soaps and cleansers should be avoided for eczema?

Avoid soaps with harsh chemicals for eczema. These include fragrances, dyes, and deodorants. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology says to choose soap-free, fragrance-free options instead.

What should I look for when choosing a soap or cleanser for eczema?

Look for products with the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance. Brands like Cetaphil, CLn, and CeraVe are a good start. They’re made for sensitive skin and are less likely to irritate.

How can I find the right soap or cleanser for my eczema?

Start with a patch test at home. Look for any signs of skin irritation. Then, see a dermatologist. They can give you advice tailored to your specific eczema and skin type.

What other tips are there for managing eczema?

Knowing your triggers and avoiding them is key. Sometimes, you might need medicines or special creams from a dermatologist, especially in severe cases. Stick to a good skin care plan.

How is eczema different in infants and children?

Eczema in kids comes with unique challenges. Parents need to keep children comfortable while protecting them from irritating products. Working with a pediatrician is crucial for a good treatment plan.

What special bathing treatments can help manage eczema?

Some bath treatments can soothe eczema. Adding things like oatmeal, salt, or vinegar to the water may reduce itchiness and inflammation. Always check with a dermatologist first.

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