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The Eczema Files: The eczema first aid kit

May 22nd 2015 / Ali Hunter / 3 comments

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What's the best way to cleanse, soothe and protect eczema prone skin? Ali Hunter has some answers...

Like many other eczema sufferers I live in fear of those days when my skin does everything in its power to turn me, physically and emotionally, into a fire-breathing dragon. It may be caused by stress, overindulgence in trigger foods or a reaction to an irresistible eyeshadow or fake tan. Whatever the cause of your eczema emergency help is at hand: here are a few tricks and treats to get you feeling more human on those eczema-plagued days.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, £8.99

Everyone at GTG is a big fan of this gentle, good value cleanser. Massage over your face and rinse off with a warm cloth to refresh your skin without the irritation many cleansers cause to delicate eczema-prone skin.

Avène XeraCalm A.D.

Avène’s new Xeracalm range is a godsend for itchy eczema flare-ups. Made with pH neutral, silica rich Avène thermal water the range contains a gentle cleansing oil and lipid replenishing cream and balm. Avène uses a patented sterile sealing system that eliminates the need for irritating preservatives and prevents contamination of the products. The balm is perfect for tackling those stubborn patches of eczema on elbows and knees.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane

Another French thermal water heavyweight, La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Ultra range has the Allergy UK Seal of Approval. Their unique hermetic packaging means no preservatives and no risk of contamination or oxidation. The new Fluid formulation is a lighter alternative for combination skin using a targeted anti-inflammatory and Dry Flo powder to control excess oil – perfect if eczema isn’t your only skin dilemma. I’m particularly taken with the Eye Contour Cream as it goes on light as a feather to soothe itchy peepers.

Locobase Repair Cream

Recommended to me by a fellow flaky friend and I’ve never looked back. Whenever I struggle to find the skin beneath the scales I turn to this super rich cream, which improves skin barrier function and never fails to hydrate and smooth extremely dry skin.

Dead Sea Salt Bath

The mineral composition of Dead Sea Salts may help to cleanse skin and remove many of the impurities that exacerbate eczema. A 15-minute soak in a warm (not scalding) salt bath reduces itching and helps skin to retain water and respond to moisturising creams. It also helps to combat the stress that often accompanies and exacerbates an eczema breakout. It pays to be savvy about your salts, as some suppliers add irritating fragrances and other chemicals. Westlab’s dead sea salts, £2.49, are unrefined, don’t use any harsh chemicals and they provide a mineral breakdown for each variety, so you know exactly what you’re bathing in.

Vaseline

According to Dr Stefanie Williams, this humble little pot is probably the most hypoallergenic product around. Containing one ingredient, Vaseline is the ultimate for creating a barrier between damaged skin and external irritants, meaning you can protect your skin and get on with your life.

Sunshine

The National Eczema Society says that “some people find that their eczema improves with exposure to sunlight”, and I am one of those lizards that benefits from a decent dose of vitamin D. However the NES also warns that in rare cases eczema sufferers find the sun makes their skin worse and that some treatments can cause photosensitivity. Ask your doctor about any medication you are taking and bask responsibly…

SPF

…Which leads us neatly on to sun protection! Eczema prone skin is delicate, making sun protection extra important. It can be a difficult task finding a suncream that doesn’t cause your skin to react. Avoid fragrances and known irritants – a list of common problem ingredients can be found on the NES website and GTG’s very own sensitive skin expert Judy Johnson has also compiled a list of no-go irritants. Mineral-based sunscreens tend to cause fewer reactions than chemical absorbers. SkinCeuticals Sheer Mineral Defense SPF 50, La Roche Posay Anthelios Spray SPF 50+, £19, and Avène Very High Protection Mineral Cream SPF 50+, £13.50, are all highly recommended. Make sure you leave time to let your moisturiser sink in to avoid diluting the sun cream and ‘frying’ your epidermis.

Prescription creams

If your eczema continues to get worse it’s worth calling in the professionals. If your GP prescribes you a cream make sure to ask how to use it properly and read the precautions. I’ve been caught out using creams in the wrong order, thus losing many of the benefits and exposing photosensitive treated skin to sunlight, turning a potential cure into another irritant. If your eczema persists, don’t hesitate to ask for a referral to a dermatologist.

Do you have any emergency skincare standbys? Comment below or tweet Ali

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  • Kylie Poole
  • May 27th 2015

I forgot to add - it's about £12 from boots. Often they have 3 for 2 offers on there, so obvs I load up. Totally worth it for the results :-). x

  • Kylie Poole
  • May 27th 2015

My eczema was pretty bad when I was younger - improving into adulthood. However, the biggest improvement can be attributed to me discovering the following product - completely by accident!!

Eucerin Intensive Lotion 10% w/w Urea - Cutaneous Emulsion

I have always found that the best time to moisturise is when coming out of the shower ... when your skin has been dabbed dry but is still slightly damp - I used to lather vaseline all over as a barrier that managed to lock in the moisture and keep my skin non-scaly all day.

The great thing about the above product is that it is somehow very oily AND liquidy ... with vaseline, as it is basically a thick grease, it can't provide any of the original wetness that you need - hence needing the shower. The Eucerin stuff wettens your skin and oils it up with a great barrier at the same time. So you can use it mid of the day and get the same effect as the shower situ...

I really couldn't recommend it enough. You can barely tell I even have dry skin or eczema now - unless you look at big problem areas like my ankles. If I for whatever reason run out of it / can't get any on hol when I've run out, my skin and the feel of my skin deteriorates in about 24/48 hours. The uncomfortable tightness comes back and eventually - the scales.

Try it!! Hope this helps :-) x

  • Fiona Knight
  • May 24th 2015

A really useful post. Thank you.

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