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by Jill Spencer, MD   August 7, 2023

Whether you have atopic dermatitis (eczema) or just dry, sensitive skin, the way you treat your skin can have a major impact. Skincare can help protect the skin from dryness, cracking, flaking, and even rashes like eczema or infections. This is of utmost importance during the dry, cold season. Here are some tips to help best care for your skin:

  1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! The most important step for helping sensitive skin is maintaining the skin barrier. As a general rule, the greasier the moisturizer, the better. Ointments like petroleum jelly (Vaseline®) or Aquaphor® will provide the best protection for dry, cracked skin. The next best are those that come in a tub instead of a lotion with a pump. The most important time to apply emollients is within five minutes of bathing or showering, and if you can apply twice a day, even better!
  2. Avoid irritants. When the skin is compromised, chemicals like fragrances or preservatives are often quite irritating. Look for products that are fragrance free, hypoallergenic, or listed for sensitive skin. Avoid perfumes, scented detergents or dryer sheets,
  3. Avoid harsh cleansers. Use a mild, hydrating bar soap or cleanser. As above, it is best to avoid fragrances or dyes.
  4. Use warm (not hot) water. Hot water strips our natural oils and disrupt the skin's protective barrier. Avoid prolonged hot showers or baths and opt for lukewarm bathing limited to 10 minutes or less.
  5. Watch out for allergens. Introduce new products one at a time over a couple of weeks in case they do not agree with your skin. If you are concerned about a product allergy, apply a small amount to the inner upper arm twice daily for 5 days to see if a rash develops.
  6. Sun protect. Sometimes those with sensitive skin are also more sensitive to sun. Wear sun protective clothing, hats, and SPF 30+ year-round.

If you still have skin issues despite the above recommendations, please reach out to your dermatologist!

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