What is the “Soak and Smear” Technique for Eczema?

Soak and Smear Eczema

The soak and smear technique is using a moisturizer right away after taking a shower. Most medical experts concur that the approach can help manage eczema symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a disorder that can result in rashes and dry, itchy skin. Atopic dermatitis affects 9.6 million children and 16.5 million adults worldwide. Although the specific cause is unknown, researchers think an overactive immune system may be partially to blame.

The "soak and smear" strategy of regular bathing followed by the application of a moisturizer or prescription steroid cream is a popular way for treating the symptoms of eczema. For years, experts have advised soak and smear, although there is significant disagreement over how much the technique works.

According to research, depending on how you care for your skin before and after the bath, bathing can either improve or worsen your condition. Here are some important facts concerning soak and smear.

What is the standard soak and smear technique for eczema?

A traditional method of treating skin that is prone to eczema is known as "soak and smear." It entails taking a warm bath or shower followed by the application of a moisturizer, ointment, or prescription lotion. Researchers advise spreading 3 minutes after taking a bath.

Whether corticosteroid cream should be applied to wet or dry skin following a warm bath is up for discussion.

When applied to dry or damp skin, a small 2016 study in children with eczema found no change. However, the study sample was tiny, and the children had moderate eczema.

Whether the smear is a medication or a lotion, most skin care and health organizations endorse the use of soak and smear to prevent eczema from worsening or crusting.

Does soaking and smearing work to help eczema?

For healthy skin, several medical organizations recommend taking warm baths and applying the right lotions. Supporters claim that it aids in preventing skin dryness, which exacerbates the signs of eczema.

A similar treatment recommended by the National Eczema Association (NEA) is known as "soak and seal." This method entails spreading the affected region and then wrapping it in a wet cloth.

The NEA also suggests using moisturizers with a lot of oil and scheduling your bath or shower for the evening. Your skin will retain moisture for a longer period if you bathe and apply lotion before bed.

Healthcare specialists can give various recommendations regarding how long to bathe and how frequently, despite the general opinion that it's ideal to moisturize shortly after you bathe.

Does using soak and smear to treat eczema have any risks?

Your symptoms might go better or worse depending on how you bathe or shower.

Your skin may become dry and experience eczema flare-ups if the water is too hot or you soak too long without using moisturizer. A 2021 study found that excessive hot water washing of the skin can damage the skin's protective barrier.

You should strive for a mild bathing temperature, according to experts. Shorter, cooler baths are advised by other groups as opposed to longer, hotter baths.

One or two daily baths may be more beneficial than less frequent showers and baths. The results of a small 2021 study on children with eczema showed that twice-daily bathing and immediate moisturization with thick cream or ointment were more beneficial than less frequent bathing.

Eczema bathing tips

  • When washing with eczema, bear the following in mind:
  • Instead of ordinary soap, use delicate skin cleansers.
  • Use them exclusively to eliminate dirt on your hands, feet, face, underarms, and genitalia.
  • Don't overdry or scrape your skin.
  • After you exit the shower or bath, apply a moisturizer.
  • When you scratch an itchy rash, you may notice scratches and skin breaks.
  • Be wary of any redness, oedema, or fever that can point to an infection.


The "soak and smear" or "soak and seal" method is advised by the majority of researchers and healthcare organizations for the treatment of eczema-prone skin. This is taking quick, lukewarm baths once or twice daily, followed immediately by liberal application of moisturizer, ointment, or topical treatment.

The soak and smear technique won't worsen your disease, but taking long, hot showers or baths without moisturizing afterwards will dry out your skin and increase the likelihood of a flare-up.


Should you let eczema dry out?

It's key to use a moisturizer.

Is “soak and smear” the same as “soak and seal”?

Soak and seal is a similar technique to soak and smear.

What is the soak and smear method for eczema?

Use a warm water bath or soak followed by the application of a moisturizer, ointment, or prescription cream.

What is soak and seal eczema?

Restores water to the skin, which both prevents and lessens the symptoms.

What is the best thing to soak in for eczema?

Baking soda bath

What is the best bath soak for eczema?

Oatmeal baths, saltwater baths, and vinegar baths.

How long do you soak eczema?

Five to 10 minutes

Can you use Dettol on eczema?

Do not use on eczema

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