• Reviewed on 5/15
    By Dr. Boguniewicz

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema): Lifestyle Management

Soak and Seal

Dry skin makes the itching and rash of atopic dermatitis, or eczema, worse. Wind, low humidity, soaps, some skin care products, and washing or bathing without proper moisturizing can cause dry skin.

Depending on the severity of atopic dermatitis, your health care provider may recommend wet wrap therapy, which is done after the soak and seal process.

The most important treatment for dry skin is to put water back in it.

  • Take at least one bath or shower per day.

  • Use warm, not hot, water for at least 10-15 minutes. 

  • Use a gentle cleansing bar or wash and avoid scrubbing your skin with a washcloth.

  • Gently pat excess water away and immediately apply the recommended medicine or moisturizer to damp skin. Attempt to do this within 3 minutes. This seals in the water. (If you are applying skin medicine, do not apply moisturizer over it.)


Medicines for atopic dermatitis are added to daily skin care if itch, rash or infections are present. Your health care provider will tell you when and how you should use them. Use them exactly as your health care provider says. If you do, they will work best and have the fewest side effects.

Be sure to talk to your doctor about the medicines your child is taking. It is very important that you learn about:

  • Why your child is taking medicine
  • When to take the medicine
  • How much medicine to take
  • If and when to stop a medicine
  • What side effects to watch for and
  • How to apply the medicine to the skin.

Moisturizers and Cleansers

Ask your health care provider to recommend a skin cleanser and moisturizer. During the day, apply moisturizer whenever your skin feels dry or itchy. You can save money by asking your pharmacist to order the largest container of moisturizer available.

A skin cleanser is a bar or liquid used to clean the skin. Try products labeled for use with "sensitive skin." Gentle cleansers include:

  • Dove®
  • Oil of Olay®
  • Basis®
  • Oilatum®
  • Eucerin®
  • Aveeno®
  • Neutrogena®

A moisturizer is a skin care product that adds moisture to the skin. Ointments and creams are recommended instead of lotion for people with very dry skin. Products that can help add moisture include:

  • Aquaphor® Ointment
  • Eucerin Creme®
  • Vanicream®
  • Cetaphil® Cream

Tar shampoos, such as T-Gel®, are often helpful for red, itchy scalp. For scalp scaling or flaking, T-Sal® or Head and Shoulders® may be helpful.


Tips for Soak and Seal Success

  • Do the soak and seal skin care at the same time each day. Stay with a routine that works for you and your family.
  • Use a checklist. Check off each time you do the skin care. Keep teh checklist where you can see it.

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