• Reviewed on 12/12
    By Dr. Boguniewicz

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema): Lifestyle Management

Action Plan

An action plan will help you control your atopic dermatitis, or eczema. It will help you know what to do if your skin is dry, itchy or has a rash. Your health care provider can help you develop your atopic dermatitis action plan. Here are some important things to include:
  • What to do if daily "Soak and Seal" skin care isn't enough
  • What to do if you feel like scratching
  • When to start, stop, increase or decrease your medicine
  • What to do if you notice signs of infection
  • When to call your health care provider

Make sure you understand how to use your action plan. Talk with your health care provider if you have any questions. Be prepared; know what to look for and what to do. Be sure to have a supply of the skin care products and medicines you need.


What to Do When Symptoms Are Severe

If your skin is becoming more dry, itchy or your rash is worsening, call your health care provider for advice. You may be told to increase your daily "Soak and Seal" skin care to two to three times a day. Your health care provider may also start or change medicines.

When your rash is very severe, your health care provider may recommend wet wrap therapy. Wet wraps are dressings, such as gauze or articles of clothing that are soaked in water and then applied to the skin after soaking and sealing. Wet cotton gloves or socks can be applied over the hands. They help keep the skin moist, increase absorption of topical medicines and have a cooling effect. The wet wraps should be re-wet or taken off when they start to dry out.

Day hospitalization at a specialty center can be helpful for people whose rashes are not well controlled. Children, adolescents and adults may spend their days in a hospital and go home or to a hotel at night, or they may be hospitalized overnight. This can help get treatment back on track in several ways.

First, it removes you from allergens in your home or environment. It also allows you to be seen by a team of physicians, nurses and other providers who specialize in atopic dermatitis. Team members assist you in self-care techniques to manage your atopic dermatitis. Antibiotics may be given to fight secondary skin infections, if present. During the hospital stay, testing and challenges are often done to identify irritants and allergens that worsen your atopic dermatitis. Psychosocial aspects of this frustrating disease can also be addressed. Most people's atopic dermatitis improves during the hospital stay, so they are able to avoid using more aggressive treatments at home.


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