1. Patch Test
Always patch test for at least 24 hrs before using any new skin care product - and that includes emollients!
2. Make It Non-Sting
If the skin is broken or scratched raw, it’s best to use an ointment, because water-based emollient creams or lotions tend to sting. If you’re putting emollients on a child, choose an ointment your child likes and will tolerate frequently, rather than making it into a fight.
3. Moisturise After Bathing
Apply creams or salves straight after bathing and every time you wash your hands, so you lock in moisture and stop the skin getting dehydrated. Within three to five minutes of getting out of the bath/shower is perfect. Emollient oils are a good choice to cover large areas of the body after bathing.
4. Wash First!
Wash hands very carefully first: infection is a real risk with eczema so it’s very important to keep strict hygiene routines.
5. Keep It Clean
To to prevent contamination, use very clean fingers or a clean scoop, spatula or spoon to remove ointment from the jar.
6. Warm Up
Warm the ointment between clean fingers to soften it before applying very gently to sore skin.
7. Be Gentle
Apply the salve with gentle downward strokes in the direction of hair follicles, not circular rubbing motions, to avoid further damaging broken skin or blocking hair follicles (folliculitis).
8. Don’t Spread It!
Be very careful not to spread infection from one area to another: dab salve onto one patch then another, rather than using big sweeping strokes.
9. Steroids: Follow The Instructions
If you’re using prescribed topical steroid creams FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS ON THE PACKET PRECISELY. Don’t apply too much, too frequently or for too long a period of time. These will vary according to age and to where on the body you’re using the cream, so it is important you check the instructions on your own particular prescription.
10. Give Steroids Time
Let topical steroids soak in for thirty minutes before applying emollient creams or ointments.
11. Make It Frequent
Apply emollients regularly throughout the day, at least 3-4 times: you can’t overuse emollients.
12. Maintain Condition Between Flares
Apply emollients even when you’re not in flare-up: maintaining your skin in healthy, hydrated and well-nourished condition is vital to strengthening the skin barrier and warding off flare-ups.
Moisturising lotions and creams are good for regular daily use on unbroken skin to maintain its condition.
13. Wet Wraps
If the skin is really sore/itchy and needs some intensive overnight care, you can use emollient ointments with wet wraps or cotton gloves/socks. Apply a thick layer of ointment after bathing (dry the skin with clean towels by patting down gently rather than rubbing). First put on clean, dampened cotton wraps or bandages, then use a dry layer of cotton over the top. Leave on overnight.
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.