Atopic dermatitis can make you feel pretty miserable. Between the itching, flaking, and redness, you may often feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. Most patients assume that since this is a medical condition, they need medicine to treat it. And indeed, there are medications, such as corticosteroids, that can help you get over a flare-up. However, in the long-term, managing the condition is often more reliant on lifestyle changes than on drugs. Here are a few lifestyle changes that often help curb atopic dermatitis symptoms.
1. Switch to unscented everything.
The chemicals used to add scent to laundry soap, fabric softener, body wash, and shampoo are often irritating to the skin, especially for those with atopic dermatitis. Switch to unscented versions of everything, and you will likely notice that your skin is calmer on a daily basis. Note that even so-called "natural" products can contain essential oils for added scent, and these can be irritating, too. You should be looking for products that are specifically labeled "unscented" or "no scent added."
2. Wear looser clothing.
Tight clothing does not cause atopic dermatitis, but it can rub against the skin, causing irritation that makes a flare-up more likely if you then come into contact with a substance your skin does not like. Wear looser clothing made from breathable material. Avoid anything with tight elastic around the waist, arms, or collar.
3. Apply sunscreen whenever you'll be outside.
You have to be extra careful about sun exposure when you have atopic dermatitis. It can dry out and irritate your skin, leading to a flare-up. Apply an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen (an unscented formula, of course) before spending time outside. If you'll be going outside for longer, such as to play on the beach or go for a run, opt for an SPF 30 formula.
4. Avoid pools and hot tubs.
Pools and hot tubs are treated with chlorine or bromine to kill bacteria and other pathogens. This works really well for preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Unfortunately, it can be really irritating to patients with atopic dermatitis. If you do swim once in a while, spend less than an hour in the pool and take a shower immediately afterwards to rinse the residual chlorine off your body.
With the right lifestyle changes, you can get your atopic dermatitis under better control. For more tips and help with finding atopic dermatitis resources, talk with your dermatologist or general physician.