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