Eczema sufferers will be all too familiar with the discomfort caused by itchy, dry and inflamed skin.
This often painful condition can occur on hands, face, arms and legs, with frequent and severe flare-ups experienced in the worst cases. Eczema refers to a group of skin conditions including:
- Atopic eczema : Affecting one in 12 adults and one in five children in the UK. It often runs in families and is linked to other conditions including asthma and hay fever.
- Discoid eczema : Generally affecting adults, the symptoms include circular or oval patches of eczema.
- Contact dermatitis : More common in women than in men (around 20% of women suffer with contact dermatitis). This type of eczema occurs when skin comes into contact with a particular substance which causes irritation.
- Varicose eczema : This type of eczema occurs on the legs, generally around swollen and enlarged veins
- Seborrhoeic eczema : Symptoms include red, scaly patches that can occur on the sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears and scalp
- Dyshidrotic eczema : Eczema that causes tiny blisters to erupt across the palms of the hands.
At present there’s no cure for eczema and many sufferers require medical prescriptions from their GP to treat the symptoms. There are, however, a number of steps you can take which may help to ease the discomfort:
Limit bath-time: A shower or bath can provide some much needed relief for eczema sufferers as the water will replace moisture, while removing irritants naturally accumulated throughout the day. Be aware that after ten minutes your skin will begin to dry out so limit the time spent in the bathtub or shower to prevent potential problems. The use of shower puffs or loofah sponges should also be avoided as they may irritate your skin.
Keep it lukewarm: As much as you may love the indulgence of a steaming hot shower or bath, your skin won’t. Excessively hot water will strip it of essential oils. Set the temperature at lukewarm and turn it down or get out of your bath the instant your skin begins to redden.
Moisturise quickly: Pat your skin gently dry with a towel and apply moisturiser after any prescribed medication to lock in maximum moisture. Rich in essential fatty acids, My Trusty® body butter is ideal for use on dry skin as it melts at body temperature for ease of application.
Avoid irritants: It is important to learn which type of perfumes or chemicals irritate your skin and trigger eczema flare-ups. With 5% sunflower oil, My Trusty® sunflower cream is 98% natural, free from parabens (preservatives), colour, lanolin and perfumes and is not tested on animals. Learning more about eczema and how your skin responds to the different types of moisturisers available will help you to manage its symptoms better. Always read the list of ingredients and carry out a patch test when using a skincare product for the first time.
Minimise stress: There are some suggestions that stress triggers eczema flare-ups although there is no clear understanding of how or why this might occur. A balanced healthy diet, regular exercise and adequate levels of sleep can all help towards combating stress levels.
Use a cold compress: If the temptation to scratch becomes too much, gently apply a cold compress to your skin to reduce inflammation and ease irritation. Scratching the affected area may lead to infection is your skin is punctured.
Use emollients: Emollients are moisturisers with skin softening properties that prevent your skin from losing water, ease itching and may help to repair skin and prevent infection. Sunflower oil contains emollient properties and is found in My Trusty® skincare products which are specially formulated for use on dry skin. Emollients are suitable for use even if you are not experiencing a flare-up.
Moisturize throughout the day: Once you have found a skincare cream that suits your particular skin type, moisturise throughout the day to prevent flare-ups. Regularly washing your hands will have a drying effect on your skin. Use a gentle handwash and reapply your moisturising cream as often as your skin needs it.
Treat your skin overnight: Showering and moisturising before bedtime means your skin is less likely to dry out overnight. Use fabrics that are natural and breathable, such as cotton, to enable you to get a better night’s sleep. Some eczema sufferers report a positive response when wrapping their hands and feet in cotton gloves or socks after applying their prescription medication and moisturisers and leaving them on overnight.
More information on the types, causes, symptoms and treatment of eczema is available on the NHS website.
Please note the advice in this article is intended for guidance only and is not a replacement for medical advice. It is important to see your GP if you are concerned about your symptoms. When using a skincare product for the first time always carry out a patch test to ensure its suitability for your skin.