If you’ve got eczema and have to wash your hands frequently throughout the day, you’ll know that all that soap and water can leave your hands really dry and sore! Frequent washing can flare up eczema on the hands, and the more you wash, the worse it gets.
Ordinary household soap has a high PH level, meaning it combines with the hot water to strip away the natural oils of the top layer of skin, which are needed to keep the skin’s barrier function intact.
Without those fats, the skin’s barrier function doesn’t work as well.
- irritants can enter the body and trigger inflammatory response, keeping the skin locked in a cycle of damage and inflammation.
- moisture is lost from the skin, leaving it dry and vulnerable to cracking, infection, and flare-ups.
The other problem with soap is that it’s generally scented and coloured, and the fragrances and dyes added to soap can be highly irritating to sensitive skin.
So if your skin is sensitive or prone to eczema, avoid ordinary bars of soap!
What can you use instead?
If you’re dodging the soap, you want a scent-free cleanser that works well enough as a detergent to bind with grime, dirt and germs and wash them off your skin, but doesn’t work so over-efficiently that it washes away those vital oils!
That means looking for low-ph bars that are closer to the skin’s own neutral ph levels, that will be effective at washing off the germs, without scouring your skin.
Although low-alkalinity bars aren’t allowed to be called ‘soap’ (which is reserved for the high alkalinity products), you can try bars that are labelled ‘low ph cleansing bar’ or similar.
Or try a soap-free foaming wash, like Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash.
You can also use some prescribed paraffin-based emollients to wash with; check with your pharmacist if yours works as a cleanser as well as a moisturiser. These oily emollients bind to germs and allow them to be washed off the skin.
If you have eczema and need to wash your hands frequently, the main thing is to find a cleanser your skin can tolerate, and then moisturise with an intensive moisturiser afterwards!
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash with calendula & chamomile, £19 for 200ml
Skin Salvation balm with hemp seed and beeswax, from £7.99 for 30ml
Balmonds Intensive Hand Cream with shea butter and sea buckthorn oil, from £10.99 for 50ml
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.