Eczema is on the increase according to the latest NHS figures, so what can we do to minimise the discomfort of itchy, sore skin?
Currently 1 in 5 children in the UK have eczema (as well as 1 in 12 adults). Around 90% of eczema cases occur before the age of five and whilst three-quarters of eczema sufferers will be free of it by the time they are teenagers, this National Eczema Week (15th-23rd September) we have tips from TV’s Dr Hilary Jones and sensitive skincare expert Bao-Tam Phan on how to ditch the itch through those troublesome years as well as a round-up on the best products to soothe your skin.
- Avoid soaps and detergents close to your skin if you have eczema as these can make the skin drier and itchier. Use extra mild clothes detergents. Choose cotton fabrics instead of synthetics or wool.
- Try to avoid very hot baths and showers as the heat can flush the skin and make it itchier. Instead bath or shower using a soap substitute, bath or shower emollient. This will cleanse the skin without stripping the skin of its important oils.
- Creams or soap substitutes containing a chemical called sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) should be avoided, as this may also be harmful to the skin.
- Once the eczema is better, it is still important to keep on using a good emollient (moisturising ointment) to keep the skin supple, and help to stop the eczema from coming back.
- After a bath or shower, use a good moisturising cream or ointment, to trap the moisture within the top layers of the skin, and so stop the skin from drying out.
- Always put the cream onto the skin in quick downwards strokes. This stops the creams from getting into the skin’s pores and leading to spots. Use emollients (moisturising creams) often. Even as much as 4 times per day. Once you’re in a routine, it only takes a few moments to quickly cover your skin with a calming cream.
- Different people find different creams work best for them. This may be a different cream at different times of the day. Creams which are often used include Dexeryl with white soft paraffin, liquid paraffin, emulsifying ointment and many others, A-Derma based on soothing Rheaba Oat, Eau Thermale Avène Trixera+ with anti itch properties.
- Living with eczema can lead to feelings of anxiety, shame and frustration which ultimately can make the condition a lot worse. Loss of self esteem experienced by individuals suffering with eczema can lead to deterioration in the skin condition itself, leading to further lack of confidence, feelings of isolation and in extreme cases depression. If a child is affected try to find time to cuddle the child and make bath time enjoyable specially making the application of the emollient more like a massage.
- During different times of year eczema can get worse. Stressful times such as during exams can cause eczema to worsen. Avoid this by taking time to relax. During the winter months moisturise often to reduce skin tightening and flaking.
- If the skin is very itchy use a cooling spray such as the Avène thermal water spray on the patch to soothe and alleviate the sensation.
There are a lot of treatments on the market to help people cope with the symptoms of eczema. It’s all about keeping your eczema under control.
“Don’t ignore the signs of sensitive skin, as a starting point, see if you are able to identify irritants within your current skincare regime and remove them. As tempting as it is to self diagnose a skin condition, you’re always better off speaking to your GP or pharmacist for professional advice. If you do choose to use a skincare treatment then choose a range that’s suitable for extremely dry or intolerant skin. The Eau Thermale Avène range of products all contain the unique soothing, anti-irritating Avène thermal spring water which has been helping sensitive skin sufferers for hundreds of years.”
Some gentle products available on the market to soothe skin include:
A-Derma Exomega Cream is an emollient designed to provide very dry and eczema prone skins with the comfort, softness and suppleness they require. The formulation includes Rhealba® oat seedling extract, vitamin B3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids, in the form of evening primrose oil, for even greater relief and reinforcement of the skin’s barrier. In a trial, a significant 21% increase in moisture rate was observed in children after the first week of Exomega Cream application. £10.50 Boots
Affordable, SLS free treatment from Dexeryl
Dexeryl is SLS, lanolin and fragrance-free, hydrating, preventing dryness and restoring the skin’s barrier. Bao-Tam Phan, Pharmacist at Pierre Fabre Dermatologie, the manufacturers of Dexeryl® cream comments, “The combination of glycerol (which helps to keep the skin moisturised), white soft paraffin and liquid paraffin in Dexeryl® cream offers a highly acceptable non-sticky and non-greasy formulation, which patients in our trials significantly prefer.” The skin is left smoother and soothed from itchiness.
Pharmacies nationwide priced at £2.00/50g and £6.12/250g or ask your GP to prescribe the 250g.
Infused with clinically proven soothing & anti-irritating Avène Thermal Spring Water
Avène TriXera Emollient Cream is a fragrance free, paraben-free formula that nourishes and soothes even the driest of skins. TriXera contains Avène Thermal Spring Water that works to rapidly reduce irritation while softening the skin, and is formulated with Selectioseâ, to reduce skin reactivity. It has a rich yet gentle texture that facilitates application and helps to instantly restore comfort as well as suppleness and elasticity. £11.50, stockist line 01582 820165 or visit avene.co.uk
Care ITCHeze Cooling Spray Gel with revolutionary patented ‘OsmoCare’ technology which helps soothe dry, reddened and itchy skin
Care ITCHeze Cooling Spray Gel is a breakthrough product containing a unique patented technology called ‘OsmoCare’ which rehydrates skin by drawing water from the inner layer of the skin to the surface. This generates a cooling effect at the surface of the skin which can help reduce the ‘itch scratch cycle’, quickly easing discomfort. It is safe to use on children as young as 6 months, making it an ideal family medicine cabinet essential. It is safe to use on both the face and body and is quickly absorbed by the skin.
£7.49 for a 120ml family sized pack. It should be sprayed onto the affected areas and rubbed into the skin two or three times a day or as required. Available from Tesco, Wilkinson’s, Waitrose and independent pharmacies nationwide.
The Organic Pharmacy Skin Tincture 1
A combination of herbs to help reduce inflammation and help calm the skin. With Wild Pansy, Oats, Chamomile, Chickweed, Neem Chamomile, Chickweed, Wild Pansy, Neem and Oats combine in this skin tonic to help calm the system and the skin. 10-15 drops in a little water or as directed. £11.50, 50ml from The Organic Pharmacy or theorganicpharmacy.com
Manuka Doctor Apiclear Skin Ease Repair Gel
The brand new Manuka Doctor ApiClear Skin Ease Repair Gel (£5.99 25ml) can be used to help treat irritated skin conditions on the whole body. This soothing and calming lightweight gel will reduce irritation and is rapidly absorbed into the skin leaving no sticky residue. Formulated with Propolis, a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds and sap flows, scientifically proven to have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. This, combined with UMF 18+ Manuka Honey provides an instant cooling effect on irritated skin and can be applied up to three times a day.
Available from Holland & Barrett or online at http://www.hollandandbarrett.com