What's Better for Eczema, Cool or Warm Water?
For an eczema sufferer, few things feel as good as relaxing with a nice bath. The water can hydrate your skin and soothe your itching. The big question is, what is the optimal temperature of water for use as an eczema treatment?
How Warm is Too Warm?
Lots of people like hot, steamy showers, but they can wreak absolute havoc on an eczema sufferer’s skin. Yes, the dip into the hot water might give you an immediate sense of relief from the itchiness, but that will be temporary. Hot water can actually damage your skin and worsen whatever eczema symptoms you have in the long term. The heat will also draw out moisture and essential oils from your skin, further dehydrating it. You might feel better getting in, but getting out, your skin will be red and more irritated than ever. Depending on how your body reacts, this could even trigger another flare up.
So What About Cold Water?
A cool to cold water bath or shower can actually be great for the skin. The cold will help decrease inflammation, sooth your itch, and hydrate your skin. This, however, comes at a price. Have you ever jumped into a cold body of water? It isn’t exactly the most pleasant experience in the world. And although an adult might be able to push through a daily cold bath or shower, a child suffering from eczema would probably be very, very uncomfortable and unhappy. They might even come out of the water cold and shivering, basically creating a whole new problem to deal with. A cool bath or shower can be more forgiving, but unless it is a hot day, not necessarily very enjoyable or relaxing depending on your tastes.
We tend to believe that a warm bath or shower is the perfect temperature for eczema relief. You want to aim for water that is just above body temperature, water that you feel comfortable in. Not hot, not cold, but just right. The warm water will give you the hydrating benefits of a cold bath, while also giving you the itch relief of a hot one.
Regardless of the temperature, people with eczema shouldn’t stay in the bath or shower for too long as this can cause skin irritation. For a child eczema sufferer, you want to aim for a 10 to 15-minute bath. When bath time is over, gently pat the skin dry with a towel. Follow this by immediately moisturizing with your favorite eczema-safe emollient. If you are going to apply wet wrap therapy, this is the time! Dampen one of our Eczema Rescue Suits and put it on to lock in the moisture and help repair the skin barrier.
There are some people out there who just love hot showers, and we totally understand why. But for an eczema sufferer, a hot bath or shower might be a luxury you just can’t afford. Experiment with a variety of warm temperatures to figure out the best for your skin and keep your bathing time reasonably short to get the maximum benefit of the hydration. Enjoy your bath time!