Bathing, showering and washing clothes

Welcome to the bathing, showering, and washing clothes section!

This section will look at:

  • How can I stop my child’s eczema getting worse after a bath or shower
  • Can I use wash products, like soap or bubble bath?
  • What can I use instead of soap?
  • Can I use shampoo on my child’s hair?
  • How often should my child have a bath?
  • What washing powder shall I use for my child’s clothes?
  • Will water softeners help my child’s eczema?
Bleach Bathing Graphic 5

How can I stop my child's eczema getting worse after a bath or shower?

Bathing or showering helps wash off things that might irritate the skin and stops infections. Many families also find it useful as part of their child’s bedtime routine.
Tip: Bathe for no more than 5 minutes and make sure the water temperature is lukewarm.
Some people find that bathing or showering can dry out their skin and make it itch more. The best thing you can do to stop this is to put moisturising creams on within a few minutes of getting out of the bath or shower, whilst the skin is still slightly damp. This restores your child’s skin barrier and locks moisture into their skin.
You may find it helpful to put cream on once the skin has had time to cool down. This will stop your child from getting too hot.
You may find it helps to pat your child dry with a soft towel, as rubbing can make your child’s skin itchy or sore.
Many children find baths soothing and relaxing. If your child doesn’t like baths, reading this section may give you ideas for making bath time more enjoyable.


Can I use bath and shower products?

People with eczema should avoid using soaps, bubble bath, shower gels, and body wash. This is because they dry the skin out and can cause an eczema flare-up. Australian dermatologists suggest adding bath oil to the bath to prevent your child’s skin drying out.

What can I use instead of these products?

Most moisturising creams can be used instead of these bath and shower products. If you don’t find this easy to use, you can also use a soap-free wash product that has been made just for eczema.

You can use all of these products in the same way you would use normal soap to wash your child in the bath or shower, or when washing their hands. These products do not foam like normal soap, but are just as good for cleaning the skin.

How could I use my child's moisturising cream or soap-free wash as a soap?

If your child’s moisturising cream or soap-free wash is quite thick, you can mix around a teaspoon of it in the palm of your hand with a little warm water. You can then use this to wash your child’s skin.

You can also put it on dry skin and then wash it off in the bath or shower. Whatever way you do it, make sure you rinse all of the cream off your child’s skin before drying.

Finding a product that both you and your child like is very important. Most families try a few different ones before settling on their favourite. Some people prefer to use one moisturiser on their face and a different one on their body.  Sometimes different moisturisers might be needed in different seasons.  E.g. a light cream in summer and a thicker balm in winter.

I found that the moisturising creams would make the bath or shower really greasy. I use a bath mat or old towel in the bath to stop my family slipping. I also wash the bath with hot water and washing up liquid, give it a good rinse off, then dry with a kitchen towel.


What about bath oils?

You can also get an eczema treatment that you pour into the bath water. These are sometimes called ‘bath oils’.

Bath oils can be used instead of soap, the same way as your child’s moisturising creams and soap-free wash.

Bath oils are do not treat eczema flare-ups however Australian dermatologists often suggest adding bath oils to prevent the skin from drying out while bathing.

Be aware that bath oils can make your child slippery and harder to hold while bathing them.

James is really into Peppa Pig at the moment, so we got this Peppa Pig bubble bath bottle that we fill up with his moisturising cream. It makes bath-times more fun and means he doesn’t have to be treated different than his brother.
I have to take extra care as James does get slippery with moisturising creams or oils added to the bath.


Can I use shampoo on my child’s hair?

Children under 1 year old don’t really need shampoo. Older children with short hair don’t always need shampoo. Some shampoos contain  certain preservatives,colours, perfumes or soaps that may make eczema worse.

If your child needs to use shampoo, it’s best to use shampoo for sensitive skin that doesn’t contain any colours or perfumes that may make eczema worse. Some families find it helpful to wash their child’s hair while they lean over the bath to avoid the shampoo coming into contact with their skin.

If you use these shampoos, it is important to wash them off your child’s skin straight away. They can still make eczema worse if they are on your child’s skin for too long. You may prefer to wash your child’s hair in the shower. If you do this, try not to let the shampoo run onto the body. Some families find it helpful to wash their child’s hair while they lean over a bath or sink, to avoid the shampoo coming into contact with their skin.

We pretend we’re at the hairdressers and I wash her hair while she leans over the sink.


There is no clear answer about how often people with eczema should bath or shower.

Many families find that their child’s eczema gets worse if they have a bath or shower more than once a day.

The best advice is to go for whatever works best for you and your child.

My daughter was quite itchy after the bath, even though I was putting the moisturising creams on. I read somewhere that a hot bath could make itching worse. So now I make sure her bath isn’t too hot and she doesn’t stay in there for more than 5 minutes. I think it’s helped.


What washing powder shall I use for my child’s clothes?

You might have heard that a non-biological washing powder or liquid is better for eczema, but there is not much scientific evidence for this.

Some brands will do a range for sensitive skin, which some families prefer. Again, there is not much scientific evidence that these products are any better for eczema.

Often, it is possible to use much less washing powder or liquid than the product label suggests. This means there will be less product left on the clothes.

Try not to use fabric softener on your child’s washing, because it also has things in it that can cause an eczema flare-up.

I always put the washing on an extra rinse cycle to make sure all the soap is rinsed out.


Here are a few handy tips for doing your child’s washing:

  • Use the least amount of washing powerder or liquid needed.  This way , these products will not affect your child’s skin as much.

  • Moisturising creams can build up and damage the rubber seal of your washing machine over time. Give your washing machine an empty wash on the highest temperature every now and then to help remove any cream that is left behind.

  • When trying a new washing powder or liquid, only wash a few of your child’s items to make sure their skin doesn’t react.
  • Some families believe that washing liquid is better for eczema, because it washes off clothes better than washing powder.

Will water softeners help my child’s eczema?

You may have heard that hard tap water can make eczema worse. A research study looked at whether putting a water softener in your home can help eczema.

The research found that it made no difference to people’s eczema. So, it is unlikely that water softeners will help your child’s eczema.