Controlling Eczema with a Daily Bath?

Question of the Week

Make sure bath time isn't just play time.
A bubble bath isn't the best idea for a child with eczema. Photo by Getty Images

Q.My son has eczema and it is fairly hard to control. Can I give him a bath each day? I have heard conflicting advice on this topic. My pediatrician 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.

Daily Baths for Eczema

A daily bath may dry out your child's skin and worsen his eczema.

However, if one properly, a daily bath should be okay and may even be helpful.

The trick is to:

  • use a mild, nondrying soap or soap substitute like Dove or Cetaphil
  • avoid bubble baths and harsh soaps
  • use lukewarm bathwater
  • gently pat dry your child (don't rub vigorously) as soon as he gets out of the tub
  • quickly (within 3-5 minutes) apply a good moisturizer to your child's skin as soon as he gets out of the bath

It is 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.

Moisturizers for Eczema

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

Other treatments for eczema include the nonsteroidal creams Protopic and Elidel, both of which can be effective for hard 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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