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The Eczema Files: A date with the dermatologist

April 23rd 2015 / Ali Hunter / 4 comments


Eczema and acne sufferer Ali Hunter decides it’s time to get some professional help…

As a veteran acne sufferer with several years' eczema experience I’ve been long overdue a follow up to my 17-year-old Roaccutane fuelled initiation into specialist dermatology. Over the past few years I’ve been to various GPs countless times to try to tame my outer reptile. I’ve had more than my share from the lucky dip of steroid creams and ointments, leaving me more often stressed than soothed. Over half a decade after my first foray into a dermatology clinic, I find myself in the waiting room of the Chelsea Bridge Clinic for European Dermatology London. Read on to hear all about my date with the derm…

The Derm

I had the good fortune of booking an appointment with Dr Stefanie Williams, Founder and Medical Director of European Dermatology and writer of the Futureproof Your Skin series. Dr Stefanie knows skin, and she takes a thorough, holistic approach to find a solution to the most challenging dermatological disasters.

The Consultation

During my hour-long consultation Dr Stefanie leaves no stone unturned. First she takes a detailed history, noting all my previous acne and eczema treatments, medical conditions and allergies. She also takes a family history, which for my clan of lizards is extensive, including eczema, acne, psoriasis, asthma, hayfever, milk intolerance… Dr Stefanie knows my whole dermatological dynasty!

Next she takes a look at my skin, identifying the acne scars on my face, my enlarged pores, and the patches of dry skin around my eyes, neck and back. She asks about my lifestyle, skincare habits and diet, analysing my skin inside and out.

The Diagnosis

Dr Stefanie gives me a diagnosis of chronic acne and atopic eczema. She explains that the latter is an underlying condition caused by a genetic predisposition that can be triggered at any time: in my case by the course of Roaccutane I was prescribed when I was 17. Both of these skin conditions are chronic, meaning there isn’t a simple cure, although they do tend to improve with age. It also transpires that my skin is one of the hardest combinations to treat, as the treatment for one is bound to aggravate the other. The standard acne treatments based on vitamin A and salicylic acid are far too drying for my eczema and all the rich ointments and creams usually prescribed to soothe eczema are far too greasy for my acne. The GP didn’t stand a chance against this dermatological Rubiks cube!

The Treatment

Now it's time to take the lizard by the scales (I’m sure reptiles are more stubborn than bulls) and work out a strategy to manage my paradoxical skin. After discussing various options and combinations, Dr Stefanie writes me a skin regime and a few prescriptions:

The pills: I’m to embark on a 3 month course of antibiotics to tackle the acne. The oral antibiotics won’t aggravate my eczema like topical acne treatments would.

The creams: Dr Stefanie prescribes me Elidel cream for my face and Elocon ointment for my body to use on eczema flare-ups.

The regime: Dr Stefanie recommends a cleanser, moisturiser and sun cream to use every day. She even colour matches me for Lycogel Camouflage Medical Foundation so I can be a true chameleon and hide my spots and scales from the world whenever I choose.

The facial: I’m booked in for a Gentle Breakout Facial with a Medical Aesthetician at the clinic. This lizard needs some expert pampering!

The supplement: Dr Stefanie recommends Optibac Extra Strength probiotics, from £22.49, which contain 20 billion live microorganisms per capsule to address the imbalance of bacteria in the intestines that often accompanies acne and eczema.

So there you have it, I’ve learned more about my skin in an hour with Dr Stefanie than in years of rushed GP appointments and I’m ready to shed my scales, clear my blemishes and give my skin the health boost it sorely needs...

Do you suffer from eczema, acne or both? Tell Ali what's worked (or hasn't!) below or tweet her

Join the conversation

  • Elizabeth
  • March 11th 2017

I've had eczema occasionally on my hands and arms. This past year it started on my eyelids, then above and below my lips. Some days I want to rip my eyelids off. The itching is so horrible. I saw a lot of people on the internet saying apple cider vinegar (diluted) helped with the itching, so I tried it. I have to say it really helped a lot. In a couple days my eyes were less puffy and not itching. I got a little over confident and put a tiny amount of foundation on , avoiding eyes. The itching is back.

  • katie
  • May 7th 2015

I've found Eau Thermale Avene products really great for very sensitive, dry eczema prone skin.

  • hannah
  • April 28th 2015

I too have called myself a lizard for quite some time! Elocon has massively helped to manage my body flare ups. Vaseline intensive care, both the cocoa butter and the 'extensive repair' body moisturiser is excellent, which has also strangely been highly successful with treating my severe facial eczema. I am also in the queue for the Chuckling Goat probiotics - check them out, the testimonials sound great!

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