You’ve probably been told your whole life to wash your hands before eating.  And when it comes to cuts and open wounds, you should wash them thoroughly before applying any medicine or bandages.   

Why is it that washing your hands and cuts is so important?  It might seem simple; because you don’t want to spread germs, but in all actuality, it also helps to keep your own germs from causing you to get sick.  In addition, it helps minimize the risk of getting skin infections.   

If you have eczema, or perhaps your child does, then it’s imperative that you wash your hands regularly, as well as any cuts and wounds.  In doing so, you greatly reduce your chances of contracting an infection, which tends to be a greater risk for those who suffer from eczema.   

Avoid antibacterial and other harsh soaps when washing your hands, as they too, can trigger eczema flares.  

Here are four more tips and tricks you can follow to reduce your risk of infections with eczema.   

1.) Do your best to keep your eczema under control

When eczema is controlled, you will have a lesser chance of suffering from an infection.  To keep it under control, you must apply any topical ointments that are prescribed to you as well as keep your skin moisturized.  Make sure to use lotions that have no perfumes or fragrances, as they tend to aggravate eczema.   

Keeping eczema under control also involves identifying what it is that triggers the onset of a breakout. For example, if a particular detergent upsets your eczema, you will obviously want to avoid washing your clothes with it.  

Additionally, despite the fact you may love taking hot baths or showers, it’s best that you keep your water only moderately warm.  Hot water acts can actually melt the lipids (or fats) out of your skin barrier.      

2.) Avoid being around people who have cold sores or other skin conditions

People with eczema are very vulnerable to both the chickenpox virus (varicella zoster) and the cold sore virus (herpes simplex), both of which can cause severe infection and severe flaring of the eczema.  If you have eczema and your husband has a cold sore, you will not want to be around him until his cold sore has cleared.   

3.) Bathe as much as you want, but don’t use soap and always apply a skin barrier optimizing moisturizer afterwards while your skin is still moist.

Soap should really only be used on dirty areas that cannot be cleaned with plain water.  Avoid antibacterial soaps altogether as they contain triclosan (a carcinogen and bacterial resistance inducer).

When you do use soap, make sure to use a mild soap that contains no cocamidopropyl betaine, no cocamide MEA and no sulfates–they are irritants and allergens to eczema prone skin. If you don’t need the soap, then just let the water rinse your body.  

4.) Sweating should be minimized as much as possible

Playing sports is of course not something that is going to be good for a person with eczema, however, if you or your child who has eczema wants to partake in activities that cause you to sweat, make sure to wear clothes made out of moisture-wicking material; this type of clothing prevents overheating.

It’s pertinent that you avoid clothes made out of polyester as they tend to promote sweating.  The use of a good skin barrier optimizing ointment that does not contain lanolin can help prevent that stinging sensation from sweating if it is used frequently enough to get the skin barrier healthy.


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+Dr.Cheryl Lee  Eberting is a board certified dermatologist and is a past fellow of the National Institutes of Health, who blogs regularly at