So your eczema is under control and your skin is looking good. You can stop your routine of bathing and moisturizing right?
In the words of the great college football analyst Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend.”
Once your skin is clear and your flare has calmed down, stopping your topical medicated creams should definitely be attempted. You may even be able to limit or stop your other anti-itch meds such as antihistamines depending on what other factors you are exposed to that could contribute to itch.
Remember, I am all for limiting your need for medications. But we always need to weigh the pros of limiting medications and potential side effects with the cons of suffering from a particular condition such as an eczema flare and requiring even more medications to get that under control.
That being said, if you want your best shot at preventing future flares, your skin care routine focused on maintaining moisture and preventing dryness should resume.
Remember, eczema is the itch that rashes and thus we need to prevent itch. Since dry skin is one of the most common causes of itch, we cannot let up on moisturizing and we must get on the defensive.
So by staying consistent with a good skin care routine, what are we defending? Let’s recap a few of the key points we touched on briefly in previous posts:
- The agony associated with the itch itself – the sleepless nights and possible decrease in productivity; the social avoidance and embarrassment seen on flared areas of skin
- The need to use topical medicated creams which thankfully are safe, but are not without the potential for side effects
- Possible infection and need for antibiotics which have their own potential for side effects; furthermore the potential development of antibiotic resistance and “superbugs” which can cause even more harm is real
- The potential to develop new sensitivities and allergies due to the damaged skin barrier.
Thus, I urge my patients to try and maintain at least one 15 minute bath or shower daily and to apply a non-medicated moisturizer of choice (preferably a cream or ointment) at least twice daily as part of their routine.
Do not tempt, dryness, itch and the eventual flare by slacking on keeping your skin moist.
And please, prior to going to the doctor, do not stop your skin care regimen so that “the doctor can see your skin without moisturizer or medicated creams.” I observe this far too frequently in clinic and it makes me cringe!
What I end up observing, is the patient scratching during the entire visit and having a flare right in front of my eyes! Do not be that person!
I do understand the patient logic in that if they don’t show the doctor what a flare looks like, they are concerned they will not be treated appropriately and need another visit when they do flare.
I promise, if you can provide a description of your skin (red, itchy, flaky, oozy) during a flare, we will (or should) believe you and provide action steps to help treat you appropriately when you do flare.