A person may worsen eczema symptoms by bathing or showering using water that is too hot. In addition, the products a person uses and other habits can impact how eczema reacts to bathing and showering.

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes dry, itchy, and scaly patches. Regularly washing the skin is necessary to hydrate it and keep it clean.

This article provides tips for bathing and showering with eczema, types of special baths that may be beneficial, and an outline of other eczema triggers.

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Bathing or showering for too long in hot water can cause the skin to dry out, worsening eczema symptoms, such as itching.

The National Eczema Association (NEA) recommends bathing or showering in lukewarm water rather than hot water, which may damage fragile skin.

Bathing and showering in lukewarm water can help hydrate the skin. However, people must also apply moisturizer within 3 minutes of patting the skin dry with a towel.

According to the NEA, bathing and showering are equally effective at hydrating the skin, which helps keep the skin barrier healthy and flexible.

Showering ensures that a person’s skin does not have prolonged contact with irritants that may be in bath water.

Everyone’s eczema reacts differently to different stimuli, so some people with the condition may prefer baths while others prefer showers.

It is important to know how to bathe and shower with eczema in mind. A person with the condition should follow the below washing practices.

  • Take only one bath or shower a day.
  • Bathe or shower in lukewarm water for 5–15 minutes.
  • Use a mild cleanser suitable for sensitive skin. Do not use soap, as this can dry out the skin.
  • Wash the skin gently using the hands rather than a washcloth, which could damage delicate skin.
  • Rinse off cleansers, shampoo, and other products before getting out of the bath or shower.
  • Pat the skin with a towel so it is almost dry. Avoid rubbing it with a towel.
  • Apply prescription topical medication to patches of eczema.
  • Within 3 minutes, apply a hypoallergenic moisturizer or emollient cream to prevent dryness.
  • Wait a few minutes before dressing so the moisturizer can penetrate the skin.

There are several ways to treat eczema at home. People can also treat the condition with special baths that may help alleviate symptoms.

Bleach bath

Some people with eczema find relief by taking bleach baths, which contain a mixture of water and bleach to help cleanse the skin.

A 2022 study found that people using bleach baths could see an improvement of up to 50% in the severity of their eczema symptoms. However, the study notes that this may not work for everyone.

Here are some important tips for using a bleach bath:

  • Strength: People should always use regular strength bleach of around 6% rather than concentrated formulas.
  • Measuring: Measuring out the correct amount of bleach is essential. Too much may cause harm, and too little may not have any effect. A person should make sure that they properly dilute the bleach before stepping into the bath.
  • Duration: Most dermatologists recommend soaking for 5–10 minutes, but people should speak with a doctor for specific guidance.
  • Frequency: The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) recommends limiting diluted bleach baths to no more than twice a week.
  • Moisturization: People should pat their skin dry after the bath and apply their usual emollient products to lock in moisture.

Learn more about bleach baths for eczema.

Oatmeal bath

Another common treatment for itching from eczema is to add colloidal oatmeal to bathwater or to apply it directly to the skin as a paste.

Colloidal oatmeal is a type of oatmeal that manufacturers have ground into a fine powder. People can use it as an ingredient in food, bath products, and cosmetics.

There are many benefits to using colloidal oatmeal for baths. It can relieve skin irritation and inflammation, help heal cuts and burns, soothe dry or itchy skin, and relieve itching due to eczema or psoriasis. Colloidal oatmeal baths also contain anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce symptoms of asthma or seasonal allergies.

Learn more about oatmeal baths for eczema.

Baking soda bath

Baking soda is a common ingredient in many homes and has many uses, including relieving itching.

To relieve itchy skin, the NEA recommends adding a one-quarter cup of baking soda to a bath or applying it to the skin directly in the form of a paste.

Learn more about baking soda baths.

Essential oil bath

People can add gentle oils to bath water to help keep the skin hydrated. They should choose products that do not contain fragrances or foaming agents that may irritate the skin. It is also important to note that oil-based bath products can cause the bath to become slippery, so people should take extra care when using them.

Although research suggests essential oils may have some health benefits, it is important to remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not monitor or regulate the purity or quality of these oils. A person should talk with a healthcare professional before using essential oils and research the quality of a particular brand’s products. It is also important to always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.

Learn more about using essential oils for eczema.

Some of the things that can worsen eczema include:

Learn more about eczema triggers.

Eczema is common in people with allergies, asthma, or hay fever, which doctors call atopic diseases. People can discuss all their symptoms with a doctor to determine likely triggers.

People with eczema should consult a healthcare professional if the rash:

  • contracts an infection
  • persists even after using over-the-counter medicatons
  • is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, difficulty breathing, or joint pain

Stress, depression, and other mental health issues can trigger eczema. Conversely, living with the condition can cause stress. A person can talk with a doctor if they are experiencing mental health challenges.

Learn about the link between eczema and depression.

Eczema causes dry, sore, and irritated skin, but it is not contagious or life threatening.

The outlook for people with eczema depends on the severity of the symptoms and whether they can identify their triggers.

Some people manage their symptoms with minimal medical support, while others may need to take medications or use prescription creams to help manage their symptoms.

Bathing or showering in water that is too hot can damage the skin barrier and exacerbate eczema symptoms. It can also lead to increased dryness and itching.

People with eczema can bathe or shower once per day with lukewarm water. Experts recommend using mild, soap-free cleansers suitable for sensitive skin.

People’s eczema may respond differently to being bathed or showered, so individuals should choose an option that causes the least skin irritation. Showering allows people to avoid prolonged contact with irritants that may worsen symptoms.

It is important that people use a moisturizer or emollient within 3 minutes of bathing or showering to prevent the skin from drying out.