Step-by-Step Guide to Using Baking Soda for Eczema

And benefits for other skin conditions

If you have eczema, perhaps you have found yourself wide-awake at 4 a.m. with an itch so intense that you can feel it in your bones.

There are many products and treatments for severe eczema. Some options, like a baking soda bath, are easily accessible and effective at soothing the itch.

While there’s no definitive research proving that taking a baking soda bath for eczema is beneficial, many people who have eczema find relief with the treatment. Baking soda cannot cure eczema, but it does offer natural antibacterial capabilities that may help keep your skin clean as it heals.

Young woman scratching her arm while sitting on the stool in the home kitchen.

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Severe Eczema Treatments

Eczema is a chronic condition that causes the skin to become red, inflamed, and itchy. The skin may ooze and can get thick and crack, allowing bacteria or fungi to creep in and cause more irritation and even infections.

Flare-ups of eczema can last a month or sometimes less. A month can feel like a year when you are in the midst of intense eczema symptoms. The more proactive you are about caring for a rash, the quicker it will heal.

The main focus when treating a rash is to minimize symptoms, keep the area away from anything that could cause an infection, and give the skin time to fully heal.

Medication

There are many treatments for eczema, both prescribed and over-the-counter (OTC). Some people find luck with zinc oxide creams, while others swear by hydrocortisone ointments.

Some people with eczema require prescription treatments like triamcinolone or Protopic and might need to take allergy medications or a prescription steroid as well.

With most of these treatments, you can apply them only once or twice a day. Sometimes the itch from eczema returns long before it's time to apply the next dose. When that happens and you need relief, there are some methods you can try that do not require medication.

Alternative Remedies and Lifestyle

There are some easy ways to help soothe eczema symptoms during a flare-up as well as prevent flares in the long term.

Clothing

Some people with eczema find that the fabrics they wear can provoke or intensify a rash. For example, polyester is known for trapping in heat, while wool is known for being itchy (whether or not you have eczema).

Wearing clothing made primarily from bamboo or cotton will keep your skin cool. Your skin can also breathe better with bamboo or cotton fabrics. Since heat can increase the itch factor of eczema, wearing natural fibers like cotton or bamboo may help reduce itchiness.

Soap

When it comes to buying and using soap, the best option if you have eczema is a product with no fragrance or dyes. The fewer additives a soap has, the less likely it is to irritate your skin.

If possible, find a bar of soap with zinc. Soaps with zinc help reduce inflammation and remove bacteria and fungal spores naturally. 

You'll also want to be choosy about laundry detergents. Pick liquid detergent over powdered detergent. Liquids dissolve and wash away much more easily, while powdered detergent is known for leaving residue behind (since it may not fully dissolve in the wash).

Cool Off

Heat can irritate eczema and make the itching more intense. Try holding an ice pack wrapped in a towel over the inflamed area.

You might find this remedy more helpful if you apply ice after using an anti-itch cream. A cool compress will help reduce the itching sensation while the medication kicks in to do the long-term work.

First check to make sure that your skin has absorbed most of the cream. Then apply the ice pack.

Take a Bath

Having a soothing bath and applying a thick cream when you're done can reduce itching and seal in moisture to keep your skin hydrated. An oatmeal bath can be especially good for soothing the itch, as can a baking soda bath. You can even combine the two for more relief.

Do Baking Soda Baths Help With Eczema?

There is no conclusive scientific research showing that baking soda treats an eczema rash, but anecdotally, some people swear by baking soda baths during severe flares of eczema.

Baking soda is naturally antibacterial, which is important if you have cracked skin from eczema. Taking a 15-minute bath, in general, helps add moisture and is a great way to support your skin as it heals.

However, baking soda may cause skin irritation for some people. Most people do not know they have a baking soda allergy until they use a deodorant with baking soda or apply a baking soda paste on a bug bite or eczema bump.

Before jumping into a baking soda bath, do a patch test on a small part of your skin that does not have an eczema rash to make sure you do not have a reaction.

How to Prepare a Baking Soda Bath for Eczema

Taking a bath with baking soda is pretty simple. Here are the steps.

  1. Fill the bathtub with warm—not hot—water. The ideal water temperature is between 94 and 96 degrees Fahrenheit. If the water is too hot, it can actually cause your skin to feel worse.
  2. As you fill the bathtub, sprinkle in one-quarter cup of baking soda. Swish it around to help it dissolve. You can also try adding Aveeno’s Colloidal Oatmeal bath treatment or an Oatmeal Bath Bomb from Eczema Honey. Colloidal oatmeal can soothe many types of skin rashes.
  3. Sit in the bathtub for 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure you do not stay in longer than 15 minutes, as being in the water for too long can be counterproductive.
  4. After you finish your bath, pat yourself partially dry. Leave a little moisture from the bath behind to help promote skin hydration.
  5. Apply medicated ointments to any inflamed, irritated, itchy, or cracked areas of skin.
  6. Immediately after applying the ointments, put some of your favorite OTC eczema lotion over your entire body. The goal is to get the lotion on the body within three minutes of drying off to ensure that your skin does not get dry.
  7. Wait about five minutes to get dressed. If you put on your clothes before the lotion or ointments have time to set in, your clothing may absorb more of the moisturizers than your skin.

A Word From Verywell

Taking a bath will not cure your eczema, but it can help manage your symptoms. Additions like baking soda and oatmeal are not cures either, but they can make a bath more soothing and can help keep your skin hydrated. Having moisturized skin will help prevent it from cracking, which can leave it vulnerable to infection.

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3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Eczema Association. Eczema and Bathing.

  2. National Eczema Association. What Is Eczema?.

  3. National Eczema Association. Managing Itch.