Eczema affects millions of people around the world. We cover skincare for eczema and lifestyle tips to get relief from dryness, inflammation and itching.
What is eczema?
Eczema describes the chronic, inflammatory disease of the skin with scaly, flaky and itchy patches of inflamed red skin. It’s common for skin to blister, crack and bleed in severe cases.
Eczema is the umbrella term which covers different types of the disease:
- Atopic dermatitis: this is one of the most common forms of eczema which causes inflammation, dryness and itchy skin.
- Contact dermatitis: this type of eczema is an allergic reaction brought about by the skin coming into contact with something in the environment. For example, certain metals or bleach detergents.
- Neurodermatitis: this form makes small patches of skin itchy and scaly.
- Dyshidrotic eczema: characterised by extremely dry skin with blisters and a rash.
- Nummular eczema: small, rounded lesions appear on the body, particularly on the arms and legs.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: this type of eczema affects your scalp.
- Stasis dermatitis: discolouration on the legs which appears similar to varicose veins.
What causes eczema?
Eczema is an inflammatory genetic skin disease which can be triggered by environmental and lifestyle factors that dry out and inflame the skin.
Symptoms of eczema can be aggravated by:
- Chemical additives in skincare
- Soaps and bubble baths
- Chlorine in swimming pools
- Stress and anxiety
- Certain foods can trigger eczema in some people
- Certain fabrics
Eczema on hands, arms, legs and the face can be challenging to live with but there are steps you can take to find relief and manage outbreaks.
Skincare for eczema
Like other inflammatory skin diseases, the underlying issue of eczema is an impaired skin barrier. If you want to understand how to treat eczema, the best skincare for eczema focuses on replenishing lipids (a crucial function of a healthy skin barrier) by increasing moisture and softening skin.
Keep skincare to a minimum
Eczema skin is highly sensitive and will benefit from a very simple routine, particularly eczema on the face.
The best facial skincare for eczema includes a gentle, non-soap based cleanser, lipid-replenishing moisturiser, and sunscreen.
Mineral (physical) sunscreens are generally easier to tolerate than chemical options which can cause stinging and irritation.
When it comes to eczema skincare, minimising the products and ingredients the skin comes in contact with reduces the chance of irritation.
Keep your face moisturised with a high quality, fragrance-free moisturiser and facial oil to calm itchy patches and soften scaly, rough skin.
Use soothing products
The last thing you want to put on irritated, red eczema are ingredients that will cause further aggravation.
This includes; fragrance (artificial and essential oils),Denatured Alcohol, SD Alcohol 40, Ethanol and Isopropyl Alcohol. SLS, mineral oil, ammonium lauryl sulfate and citronella should also be avoided.
Eczema treatment should involve ingredients and products to soothe the skin and promote a healthy barrier.
How to treat eczema: Lifestyle tips
The eczema itch is real and it can be incredibly uncomfortable, but do your best to refrain from scratching. Doing so only causes more inflammation and you’ll get caught in a cycle of itching and scratching. Keeping your nails short can help here too.
When you feel the urge to scratch, apply a gentle, eczema-friendly moisturiser to the area instead. This can help shut down signals of itchiness and work to repair the skin barrier.
Bathe in colloidal oatmeal
A long-standing natural treatment for eczema relief is colloidal oatmeal.
The oatmeal protects, heals, soothes and softens angry skin thanks to compounds like avenanthramides, which inhibit the skin’s inflammatory response. Colloidal oatmeal also contains antioxidants and beta glucan which promotes moisture for dry, rough skin.
If you’re suffering from eczema on the body, taking a lukewarm colloidal oatmeal bath can provide relief. Follow bathing with a generous application of moisturiser.
Some eczema-friendly moisturisers contain colloidal oatmeal too - to further soothe the skin barrier.
Make mindful fabric choices
Many fabrics are enemies of eczema-prone skin, with wool being a major irritant.
Be mindful to choose fabrics that are free from fibres that aggravate the skin. Wearing loose-fitting, breathable clothing can also help keep eczema on the body from flaring up - 100% cotton is an excellent choice and generally recommended for eczema sufferers.
Avoid hot showers and extreme temperatures
Extreme temperatures, hot or cold, can stir up eczema symptoms. Humid conditions that cause the body to sweat can be especially challenging as sweat triggers eczema itch and dissolves the lipid barrier.
Hot showers perpetuate dry, flaky symptoms and so do extremely cold temperatures where there is little moisture in the air.
Using a cool mist humidifier in your bedroom adds moisture to the air which minimises the amount of moisture that evaporates from the skin while you sleep.
Apply moisturiser immediately after showering
To minimise transepidermal water loss from the skin (TEWL), always apply an eczema-friendly moisturiser immediately after showering while the skin is still damp. This helps the skin hold onto water and prevent flaking due to dryness.
Keep stress levels in check
There is a strong connection between emotional stress and flare-ups of eczema.
In the NES landmark 2020 patient survey Eczema Unmasked, sufferers pointed to stress as the biggest contributor to their eczema flare-ups, with significantly more women (57%) affected than men (41%). Stress not only exacerbates inflammation it slows the skin’s ability to repair itself.
Always remove makeup
Eczema on the face can be provoked by the ingredients in makeup. Choose cosmetics formulated for sensitive skin and always remove makeup before bed.
The longer your skin is in contact with cosmetic ingredients, the more likely it is to flare up, especially with makeup around the eyes.
Skip the fabric softener
It may smell fantastic but fabric softener is bad news for eczema sufferers; it can be highly irritating. Choose gentle, fragrance-free detergents instead.
What you should know about cortisone creams
Cortisone creams are often prescribed or accessed over the counter to treat eczema. While these creams do provide relief by neutralising inflammation, there is a chance of developing topical corticosteroid withdrawal (TCW) after long-term use. This is a rare adverse reaction that can occur when you stop using the topical steroid.
If you consult with a trusted health practitioner on how to treat eczema, it is important to discuss all possible side effects of using topical cortisol creams.
Are you struggling with the relentless discomfort of eczema on your face? Our team is here to help and can guide you on the best skincare for eczema on the face. Reach out to us today.