7 Skincare Solutions for Eczema Sufferers
Everyday things can trigger an eczema flare-up. Dermatologists advise how to break the cycle
When it comes to keeping eczema symptoms at bay, the importance of regular moisturising can’t be overstated. “Use a moisturiser on damp skin to lock in moisture,” says dermatologist Dr Adam Friedman. The overarching goal is to ‘lock in’ moisture after showering to protect the skin barrier. When this is compromised, irritants can sneak in and water escape, resulting in dry, itchy patches of skin.
2 SKIP THE SOAP
“Soaps are designed to strip away fat and dirt from the skin,” says Dr Friedman. “Soap is alkaline and skin is acidic, and shifting this balance messes everything up and can make eczema symptoms worse.” That’s not to say all soaps are bad for eczema-prone skin. Avoid body washes that dry out your skin. For a good alternative ask your pharmacist. “But if you are flaring up, plain old water is more than fine,” he says.
3 TURN DOWN THE HEAT
Use lukewarm water for showers and baths, says dermatologist Dr Jeffrey Fromowitz. “Heat acts as a degreaser and strips the skin of fats and oils”, which is what your eczema care regime is trying to preserve. Very hot water can also stimulate mast cells, which encourages the release of histamines that trigger the itchscratch cycle.
4 TAKE A DIP
A bath a day may keep eczema flare-ups away, says Dr Peter A. Lio, a dermatologist and expert in eczema. “Bath additives such as bicarbonate of soda, sunflower seed oil and even apple cider vinegar may also help soothe the skin, but bathing alone seems to have a positive effect, especially when patients moisturise afterwards. Washing off irritants and allergens from the skin may be part of why it works, but allowing the skin to become deeply hydrated provides an advantage as well.”
5 MIND YOUR TRIGGERS
Eczema sufferers are more susceptible to environmental irritants such as smoke, dust, adhesives, formaldehyde from household disinfectants, isothiazolinones (an antibacterial in personal-care products) and overheating. “In healthy skin, such exposure may make a person slightly itchy, but if you have eczema, it can send you over the edge and activate a flare-up and itch-scratch cycle,” says Dr Fromowitz. “Try to be aware of your eczema triggers by keeping track of when your skin is at its worse.”
6 SLATHER ON SUNSCREEN
Sunscreen is important for everyone including people with eczema, as long as you choose the right one. “Limit your use of chemical screens in favour of physical blockers with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as these are gentler on skin and less irritating,” advises Dr Fromowitz.
7 CHOOSE FRAGRANCE-FREE
Everything from your cleaning products to make-up should be fragrance-free. People with eczema are sensitive to contact dermatitis, so avoid dyes and harsh detergents when doing laundry. Look for plant-based ingredients that are gentler on skin.