It’s no wonder the word eczema comes from the Greek to boil because eczema-prone skin can look like it’s been boiled.
And having split, scratchy, red raw skin can cause psychological as well as physical misery.
Today leading healthcare professionals share their advice on easing the condition.
Dermatologist Dr Anthony Bewley
1. USE THE RIGHT SOAPS Many soaps, shampoos and gels can make skin dry and aggravate conditions such as eczema. Substitutes such as Cetraben daily cleansing cream, as well as others, can be less drying on the skin.
It is also beneficial to shower in lukewarm water as opposed to hot and it’s important to remember not to scrub your skin too hard as this can irritate it further. It is also most effective to apply an emollient or moisturising cream as soon as you finish your shower.”
2. TAKE CARE IN THE COLD Eczema can get worse in the winter as cold air combined with indoor heating can dry out the skin. Flare-ups can also be caused by colds and flu, stress and sleeplessness.
I suggest taking fewer baths or showers, drinking lots of water and avoiding fabrics like wool and nylon.
3. LOOK AFTER YOUR WELLBEING Stress can be a major trigger for eczema so mindfulness, meditation or relaxation techniques can help. Lack of sleep also exacerbates eczema. Between six to eight hours is highly recommended.
Dietician Dr Sarah Schenker
Try these nutrients for eczema prone skin:
1. VITAMIN C Essential for healthy skin. One of its most important roles is in the production of collagen, a protein needed for wound healing. It is also an important nutrient for the immune system.
2. BETA CAROTENE A powerful antioxidant. It can neutralise skin-damaging free radicals found in cigarette smoke, pollution and ultraviolet light. It can also be converted into vitamin A – needed for the healthy growth of skin cells.
3. FATTY ACIDS Eating oily fish boosts our intake of fatty acids, which are known to help reduce inflammation in the skin, and vitamin D, which could help manage ezcema.
Child behaviourist Lorraine Thomas on dealing with a young sufferer
1. BE A POSITIVE AND CALM ROLE MODEL You are your child’s most powerful role model. They may be struggling with feelings of frustration, anger or stress because of their eczema and naturally this could make you feel stressed too. Managing emotions is a life skill and will boost your child’s resilience.
2. GIVE CLEAR DIRECTIONS, RATHER THAN THREATS AND ULTIMATUMS Rather than say: “If you don’t put on the emollient cream we can’t have a story,” make sure you send a positive message using “when” and “then” such as: “When we have done your cream, then we can have a cuddle and a story.”
3. CREATE A ROUTINE AND SET REALISTIC DEADLINES Children love routines. They help them feel valued and secure. Be realistic about the length of time this will take. Children have a totally different concept of time from adults.
If you are putting them under time pressure to get their ointment on because you have things to do, it will be stressful for both of you. Try to make it as normal a part of their routine as cleaning their teeth or putting on their pyjamas.