As a child, Ife Rodney, MD experienced severe dry patches of skin along with itchy bumps that would appear around her hair follicles. However, it wasn’t until adulthood that she finally found the culprit.
“My main eczema symptom has always been having very dry skin that felt impossible to moisturize. Throughout the years, I also had rashes that would flare up from time to time and then improve,” Dr. Rodney writes in an article published on SELF.
“Most of my life, my rashes just presented as small bumps around hair follicles on different parts of my body, but during my first pregnancy, my eczema really flared out of control. I got these thick, dark patches on my thighs that were so extremely itchy they woke me up at night. I’d scratch them so much and nothing gave me any relief. I’d be tempted to take a hot shower because the warm water would sometimes soothe some of the itching, but then, as soon as I got out of the shower, the itching would be even worse. Ultimately, that’s when I diagnosed myself with eczema,” she continues.
Dr. Rodney’s doctor prescribed a mild steroid ointment, “which can be helpful for eczema and a wide variety of inflammatory skin conditions.” Unfourtanetly the ointment didn’t offer her much relief. Determined to find an effective solution, she turned to her background in dermatology training.
“During my dermatology training, I learned that lifestyle changes and skin care can make a big difference in eczema. And that’s exactly what I experienced: When I became really purposeful about following a simple lifestyle-based approach to my eczema treatment (and only using prescription steroid creams in specific spots during bad flares) the itching and my rashes significantly improved,” Dr. Rodney shares.
Here are Dr. Rodney’s tips for caring for melanated eczema-prone skin.
1. Avoid long, hot showers & harsh soaps
“The number one change I’ve made is avoiding long, hot showers, which strip my skin of its moisture. I love hot showers so much, but cutting them out has really helped me avoid that intensely itchy, dry skin,” Dr. Rodney says. “Instead, I take short, lukewarm showers, where I’m in and out. I’m also careful about how I wash—soap can be very drying, so I only use soap in key areas like my armpits and genitals on a daily basis, unless I’m especially dirty or sweaty. I like to use the white Dove bar soap ($6.50, Target) because I find that it doesn’t strip my skin of its moisture as much as others.”
2. Moisturize after you shower
“Another important lifestyle habit I use to treat my eczema is moisturizing my skin immediately after showering. Right now, I like to use the La Roche-Posay Lipikar Balm ($20, Ulta), which I keep in the shower with me. As soon as my shower is finished, I pat my skin dry with a towel to remove excess water but not enough to dry it completely. Then I apply moisturizer all over my skin. Next, I apply a layer of petroleum jelly, which acts as an extra barrier to lock that moisture into the skin,” she adds.
3. Avoid perfumes, dyes, and fragrances
“Eczema-prone skin is so sensitive and prone to allergic-type reactions that products containing perfumes, dyes, and fragrances can be extremely irritating and cause an eczema flare,” Dr. Rodney shares. “So I make sure to avoid