Wet dressings for eczema factsheet


Wet dressings are used to give children some relief during a severe eczema flare-up. They are usually used when moisturisers and topical corticosteroids are not enough to treat a flare-up.

Wet dressings can: 

  • cover and protect the skin from scratching
  • give children some relief from the heat and itching sensation of eczema
  • help to hydrate the skin
  • improve how moisturisers and topical corticosteroids are absorbed into the skin.

Wet dressings can be applied to a specific part of the body or the entire body. They can be applied at the hospital or at home if they are only being used for short periods.

 Preparing for the treatment

Items used in wet dressings include:

  • linen or 100% cotton fabric, crepe bandages and Tubifast bandages - cut to the size of each part of your child’s body
  • short lengths of tape - cut to about 5cm for closing and securing bandages
  • a wooden spatula or plastic spoon - used to remove moisturiser from the jar and prevent contamination.

Try to prepare the wet dressing items ahead of time so that application is quick. This can lower stress and discomfort for your child.

During the treatment

The steps for wet dressing treatment are as follows:


Give your child a bath in lukewarm water only, then gently pat their skin dry.

Baths should happen daily to lower the risk of skin drying out.

Applying topical corticosteroid

Steroid cream or ointment prescribed by your child's doctor is applied to the areas of the skin affected by eczema.

Applying moisturiser

Apply a generous amount of moisturiser to the part of the body that will be wrapped in the dressing.

Apply fabric strips

Place the strips of linen of 100% cotton fabric into a bowl of warm water, then gently squeeze to remove any excess water. Place them onto the skin affected by eczema. Avoid overlapping wet linen strips, as this can cause irritation.

Applying crepe bandages

Apply crepe bandages firmly over the wet linen. Avoid placing the crepe bandage over the skin, as this can cause irritation.

Make sure your child is comfortable and still has a good range of movement. 

Make sure the bandages are held in place by applying a piece of tape or tucking them in securely. 

Depending on how old your child is, thumbs and fingers can be wrapped separately.

Applying Tubifast

Apply the Tubifast bandages over the crepe bandage.

Wet dressing can also be applied to your child’s face. 

The steps for wet dressing treatment on the face are:

  1. draw a face mask on paper and adjust it to make it fit comfortably around your child’s eyes, nose and mouth 
  2. use the paper mask as a template to cut a mask out of the linen fabric
  3. apply the corticosteroid cream or ointment and moisturiser carefully to your child’s face
  4. moisten the linen mask with warm water and gently squeeze to remove excess water
  5. carefully place the linen mask on your child's face
  6. hold the mask in place with crepe bandage and Tubifast.

If your child is under 12 months old, dressings on the head and face must be removed before you or your child go to sleep. 

This is because the head and face dressings can cover the airways and cause suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDs). Apply extra moisturiser to your baby's face overnight if they wake up.


Tips for applying wet dressing

Tips for applying wet dressings to children include:

  • ask a partner or other trusted adult to help you apply your child’s wet dressing
  • choose a time of day when your child is not feeling hungry, tired or upset
  • 100% cotton clothing, like long pants and long-sleeved shirts, can be used instead of linen 
  • use your child’s favourite toys, games, music, and TV shows to provide comfort and distraction while the dressing is being applied
  • build your child’s confidence by getting them to help prepare the bandages or help you apply the moisturiser onto their body
  • in warm weather, remove the bandages and Tubifast, and spray water onto the linen using a new, clean spray bottle to prevent infection
  • in hot weather, dress your child with one layer of clothing over a wet dressing like a t-shirt, loose shorts, or dress to prevent overheating.

If your child is experiencing pain or you have concerns, see your local doctor as soon as possible.

Resources and more information

Eczema Support Australia

Eczema Support Australia

Email Send email
Phone1300 329 362
Provide practical support to reduce the feelings of isolation and manage eczema.
Related Links
Eczema Association of Australasia

Eczema Association of Australasia

Email Send email
Phone1300 300 182
Highly regarded within Australian healthcare, the EAA has knowledge depositories and community education resources dedicated to the wide range of issues associated with the management, treatment and impact of Eczema.
Related Links
Last updated Tuesday 5th March 2024


This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024