sandtigress, I know what you mean! I have moderate eczema, and am surviving finally! I used to have to get injections of steroids every 6wks for it to be calm to clear. But now that I am not living with family there are several things I can do, all dermatologist suggested too btw.
1. only take a shower every other day, maximum. you can still soap up in the sink with a wash cloth, but do not get your whole body wet in the shower. A shower severely dries out skin & scalp, only wash hair every other day, maximum.
2. wash all of your clothes, linens, etc in "free" type detergent, I love All Free & Clear, it reduces all allergens, even pet allergens, and has NO irritants or fragrances that dry & irritate skin.
3. wash your hands when necessary, wear gloves for cleaning & doing dishes.
4. only wear white socks, the dye's and chemicals used in colored dye's can dry out your feet & toes. no panyhose or tights! (I wear tights with boots, so I put on white socks 1st & then tights!
5. cream not lotion. I use a vaseline intensive therapy cream on my feet (that's the worst part for me), it's in a white tube, with a blue cap. It's heavy, so you don't need a lot and you have to do alot of rubbing in. Also, when you do get a shower, use cream everywhere within 3-5 minutes of getting out of the water, while still inside the humid bathroom. This way your pores are still open to soak in the cream.
6. get a humidifier, this will help your breathing and coughing and dry skin.
I hope this will help you! I have had eczema SO bad that my skin was blistered, cracked & peeling....it's very painful. But I am managing without steroids by following these steps....it's extra work, but it's worth it.