As with many skin conditions, eczema can be unexpected and at times seem uncontrollable. You may have, like myself, ‘suffered’ with it from childhood or you could be experiencing it for the first time in your adult life. With a host of causes there’s a number of factors contributing to the extent of how severe your experience is; today I am going to discuss my routine and experience in the hopes of shedding some light on the different products and ingredients available.
Although I have been prescribed steroid creams by my doctor, for the more aggressive cycles I experience, I have curated a routine that means I do not have to depressingly rely on these unforgiving creams. At times they are more then definitely necessary, but with harsh skin thinning qualities, prolonged use of these products can cause more harm then good. It is important to find the balance when using any product that can have negative effects and so by paying attention to your skin and really noticing small changes you can start to identify your triggers.
Triggers will differ from person to person, but to get a better understanding of your skin you need to pay attention to your lifestyle and emotional state particularly around the time your skin decides to flare up. These can be as follows:
THE biggest contributing factor to any changes in my skin is stress. This can be tricky as my brain is always at 100mph and if I am having a particularly anxious or stressful period I can be sure my skin will show me. I have come to find meditating and reading are the only things that can alleviate the stress of stressing.
unfortunately, dear reader, you may have to take a seat for this next one, and whilst you’re at it put your chocolate down too. Your diet and in particular your sugar intake play a huge role in your skins condition. If you are a eczema suffer you will need to limit your sugar intake and near enough wave goodbye to fizzy drinks my friends.
Weather and your environment can do wonders for your skin, however on the same token it can also be a catalyst to worsening the condition. The sun can be one of the biggest helps to naturally treat eczema but on humid and hot days it can also be your worst enemy. Be sure to wear light clothing, keep your skin cool and clean and wear loose PJ’s that don’t restrict the effected area. Change your bed sheets regularly and try and keep your bedroom cool in the summer months. In same manner during winter months keep your skin moisturised and hydrated, on a general note moisturise ASAP after your shower/bath water can be hard and dry out the skin.
Most people experience ‘cycles‘ with eczema; the initial stage of the flare up, which usually goes on to be incredibly itchy, sometimes raised, red and bumpy, this stage is also referred to as ‘the bane of my existence’. This part of the cycle is the hardest to deal with as the smallest of contact can be almost torturous to abstain from itching. But we all know if you itch it will stick, causing more inflammation and at worst bacterial or fungal infections. post itch, and your best bet at treating eczema is when the skin is no longer inflamed just incredible dry and dehydrated. When I refer to the word treatment please bare in mind , in a not so dramatic way, eczema is not curable only treatable which means a loyal monogamous skin routine is crucial to minimising flare ups from this day forward, for better, for worst, for richer.. so on and so forth.
Soaps, on a day to day basis I use Johnson’s Baby soft wash although I found I can pretty much use any Johnson’s product. On a bad day I use Aveeno’s oatmeal shower oil however reading the recent reviews it seems they may have changed the product slightly. I would use this product on the effected area, which for me tends to be my arms, hands and neck, on contact with water it turns into a milky liquid which soothes and hydrates the skin. I also have a soap substitute which is called Dermol Cream, this product was in fact prescribed by my doctor however you can purchase this over the counter and is a basic emollient cream wash.
My two main ‘go to’ body moisturisers are both from Aveeno. The first one is the Aveeno moisturising cream This is my main product on sensitive day, it has active colloidal oatmeal which is a great ingredient for soothing flare ups. I also use the Aveeno shea butter moisturising lotion again this also has a triple oat complex but also includes shea butter so I use this as a general every day lotion.
If you don’t already, you will learn to love essential oils and so will your skin. Particularly: Lavender which has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, calming and healing properties, great for an aggressive onset of eczema. Chamomile is great for gently soothing dry itchy skin. Tea Tree is known for its antiseptic and antiviral properties to help reduce inflammation and heal the skin. To use these oils you can create a soak by adding a couple of drops to a bath, I sometimes add a drop to my body lotion to infuse it into my moisturiser.
If you think finding your ‘perfect guy/girl’ is hard, it’s double the struggle for finding a caring and loyal cleanser & cream. My face can be so sensitive, particularly with face creams but fear not as I have gathered a small list of products that I can use over and over again and not get the ‘ick’. I find creamy cleansers tend to be better for my skin, I will usually follow with an exfoliator (usually Elemis Gentle Rose exfoliator) . My two everyday cleaners are 1. Good things Manuka Honey cleanser inexpensive and very hydrating, 2.Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish hot cloth cleanser I have used this for years now, it never fails to settle my skin and hydrate during the winter months. One of my favourite skincare brands is La Roche-posay, I am a prolific user of their Effaclar collection and would go as far as saying the face cream in this collection is one of my top two, along with L’occitane’s comforting cream. I would recommend trying out the three step anti-blemish system which includes the face wash, toner and cream, at a better value you have the option of trying a few of the products to see if they are for you; they can be used alone for a full face skincare routine as they are a-mazing! The last product on my list, and admittedly my saving grace on many a humid summer night, or cold christmas evening is the Bee Good Necta Perfecta Mask. I am in love with the product, I have been using it for nearly 2 years now, it completely calms and soothes my skin. It relieves inflammation and is the perfect product to use around the eyes. I tend to get flare up’s on my eyelids and have found this to be the only product that does not burn or irritate.
Of course the list goes on and I have many products I use and switch to depending on my mood and the seasons but I have found these to be my staple products that I re-buy and re-use over and over again. I hope this has created some direction for the kind of product or routine that may help you, but most importantly remember a huge part of eczema is your emotional & mental state. Work on calming your mind and stress levels and look at adopting a good skincare routine as an add-on to aid this.