Eczema is a skin condition that causes the sufferer to come out in dry and itchy, red rashes.
Some people grow out of it, but for some it’s a lifelong struggle.
It can affect certain areas or even the whole body. And, apart from being painful (sometimes debilitating), it can have a hugely negative impact on self-esteem and mental health.
The root cause remains a mystery, which means there is no cure, but there are treatments available that can relieve symptoms.
On Eczema Awareness Week, I’ve put together a list of tips and tricks I’ve learned as a person who has had eczema on and off for my whole life.
It’s taken me a long time to accept that there is no cure and that, for me, it’s a chronic condition.
But once I came to terms with that, it became easier to deal with.
Instead of ruminating over why a trendy new product, treatment, diet or vitamin wouldn’t cure me, I re-focused on finding things that can help.
Curb the itch
As soon as you feel the need to scratch, reach for something cold and apply it to the area.
I keep a cold compress in the freezer, but the classic bag of peas wrapped in a tea towel does the trick, too!
I also lie on a cold mattress topper during nights when it seems impossible to sleep.
Wrap it up
A nurse taught me this one and it’s been a real life saver ever since!
Buy a roll of tubular bandages and cut two equal lengths, enough to cover the problem area.
Apply your moisturiser (and topical steroid if this is prescribed), wet one of the bandages and put it on, then put the dry bandage over it.
This not only helps the moisturiser to sink in and keep it from soaking into your clothes instead, but it relieves the urge to itch for a couple of hours while the bandage stays damp.
Doing this overnight for about a week helped heal my ankles and the backs of my knees.
Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!
Often, you’ll be advised to moisturise twice a day but I’d suggest applying it on the hour every hour if that’s necessary for you to keep your skin from getting dried out and itchy or sore.
Apply it first thing in the morning, re-apply as much as needed throughout the day, apply it on damp skin after a bath or shower and re-apply right before bed.
Everybody’s skin is different, so experiment to find the right moisturiser for you and remember to always patch test before using a new product.
Inspect the ingredients on products instead of relying on the promises and claims on the front of the bottle. Become an expert in what works and doesn’t work for you!
You can search this website for each ingredient, and it will tell you what the ingredient is and what it does. This is helpful when trying to avoid irritants.
Look for ingredients that hydrate and protect the skin barrier.
Although it’s tempting to reach for your favourite scented shampoos, soaps, bubble baths and shower gels, or turn the water temperature right up, it just isn’t good for eczema. It’s akin to punishing your skin.
Ask your doctor to prescribe a shower gel suitable for sensitive skin (you can also use this as hand soap too) and try a medicated shampoo if you have eczema or dry skin on your scalp.
Swap out bubble baths for Epsom salts which help to hydrate the skin and soothe, as well as ease out tension.
Finally, consider a shower filter that removes any chemicals and hard metals from the water.
You can light scented candles to make the room smell and look lovely if you’re missing that luxury element.
Ask for help
For more tips and support, visit the National Eczema Society.
If your eczema is very bad, make an appointment with your GP and ask if it’s worth seeing a dermatologist.
Taking photos on different days can help your doctor assess your needs.
For more health tips from “The People’s Friend”, click here.