Gentle rubdowns with natural oils moisturize skin and help you relax, says Peter A. Lio, MD, assistant professor of clinical dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “My favorite is sunflower seed oil,” he says. “It contains good fats and seems to improve the barrier function of the skin.” One study found that symptoms of eczema improved when kids (ages 3 to 7) received massages every day for 8 weeks. In another study, children experienced less anxiety and skin redness, itching, scaling, and thickening when their parents gave them daily 20-minute massages. Steer clear of massage if skin is cracked or weepy.Hypnotherapy
Learning not to get upset about outbreaks could make symptoms much more manageable, say hypnotherapists. In a hypnotherapy session, you’ll relax and focus on your inner self, says Elizabeth Fung, PhD, a psychotherapist in Chicago who works with eczema patients. As you breathe slowly and deeply, your therapist might suggest ways to reduce itching and scratching. “After a few sessions, people will say, ‘I didn’t scratch or itch as much,’ ” says Fung. After the initial sessions, she advises patients to try practicing self-hypnosis for 10 to 15 minutes 3 times a day. (Bonus: science says hypnosis can boost your sex life.