Baths are one of the most celebrated ways to help cleanse delicate skin, soothe eczema flare ups, deeply hydrate the skin organ, and soothe itching. But while a good soak can be a real life saver, it can also make things worse. Many parents who try baths as a treatment for eczema find that their child’s skin actually becomes more irritated, sensitive, and aggravated just after the soak – so what’s going wrong? The answer could be something as simple as water temperature! The right temperature can allow water to penetrate deeply into the skin for soothing and healing, while the wrong temperature can actually cause intense dehydration of the skin and even inflammation. Today we’re going to look at which temperature is best and how to make it a stress-free experience for you and your child.
The Hot Bath Myth
Many sources online cite a hot bath as a great way to soothe the skin. The fact is that hot water can be one of the worst things you can do. While a hot soak may be a great way for adults with healthy skin to unwind and relax, it simply doesn’t translate for kids with eczema.
Hot water can actually draw moisture and oils from the skin. It seems strange that water can do this, but it’s a common occurrence. A hot bath or even shower can leave the skin feeling irritated, hypersensitive, and dried out – to the point that even the best moisturizers can’t compensate.
In addition to drying out the skin, hot water can actually increase inflammation. Heat causes the skin, tissues, and blood vessels to expand. This can increase inflamed space and cause more fluids to pool in areas that are already being affected by inflammation. The results end up being a extremely itchy child once the bath or shower is over.
Are Cold Baths Worth The Pain?
Let’s face it – a cold bath is just about the most unpleasant thing ever! While cold water can help end inflammation, stop itching, and even detoxify the skin, it simply isn’t worth it. A cold soak can be extremely stressful to a child, and while it may be good for the skin, the stress results aren’t a good trade. The good news is that there’s no reason for an icy plunge to get all the benefits cold water offers…
The Middle Path
A healing soak in water that’s just warmer than body temperature (tepid or luke warm) can deliver all of the benefits of cold water and none of the negative effects of hot. Warm water is close enough to our natural body temperature that it doesn’t cause negative issues, and it’s cool enough that it will hydrate instead of dry out.
Making It Even Better
Adding bath oils and herbs like calendula, aloe vera and/or lavender can transform a soothing bath into a powerful healing experience for the skin. Many healthy bubble bath alternatives are also being developed now that don’t use harsh chemicals to give your kids a fun bathtime experience. Be sure to know which allergens trigger itchy skin.
What Works For You?
Share your favorite ways to make bath time a fun and healing experience in the comments below!