Atopic eczema (also known as dermatitis) is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that appears in early childhood. In Australia, 1 in 3 children (Martin et al. 2013) and over 1 million Australians have eczema.
Why do some people have eczema and others don’t?
A difference in genetic make up of their skin, those that suffer with eczema do not have enough of the oils and fats required to protect the skin from losing moisture and prevent irritants entering the skin. Their skin barrier has microscopic gaps in it that allow irritants to get in, like dust mites, wind, sweat and pollens. There are different triggers that cause dry and itching skin, for some it could be the cold, others the heat, or wind, or synthetic fragrances, or a combination of these.
In most cases, eczema is not caused or aggravated by diet, and while eczema causes stress, and stress may increase the energy with which you scratch, stress does not in itself cause eczema.
What are the symptoms of eczema?
- Dry skin
- Itchy skin that is usually red (inflamed)
- Scaly patches on your elbows or the back of your knees
- Watery fluid weeping from affected skin
- Sores that may become infected
What are the best ways to manage eczema?
- Bathing – make sure the temperature of the water is lukewarm and not hot as the hot water will dry your skin further. Don’t always use bath products in the water, sometimes it’s best to bathe just in plain water and use a soft wash cloth to pat the skin clean (don’t rub!).
- Avoid bath products with the following ingredients:
- Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) – a preservative linked to contact dermatitis.
- Methylisothiazolinone (MI) – often causes contact dermatitis.
- Sodium Laurel Sulphate (SLS: especially if it is mentioned early in the ingredients list) can irritate the skin.
- Perfumed/synthetically fragranced products.
- Soap-based products.
- Use bath products that are oil based or creamy/moisturising, as they will clean the skin without stripping the moisture from it.
- Be careful what shampoo you use also.
- Moisturise – when you get out of the bath, pat your skin and moisturise with a thick emollient type of moisturiser very quickly, to seal in the moisture. If you swim in a chlorinated pool make sure you pat dry and apply thick moisturiser after swimming.
- Avoid over heating the skin with too many clothes or blankets on your bed.
- Use natural home cleaning products. If you wash up, moisturise your hands straight after or use rubber gloves if they don’t irritate your skin.
- If the water in your area is ‘hard’ (full of minerals) or alkaline, consider installing a water-softening device.
It’s important to remember that eczema affects different people in different ways, so you need to find what works for YOUR eczema symptoms. A product that works for one person may not suit another. Always patch test any new products to ensure that it doesn’t give you a reaction.
We have some great products from Melvory Skincare to help you to manage eczema and dry skin. Melvory Skincare Soothing Calendula Golden Milk Bath is a good alternative to soap for your bath. Melvory Skincare Lavender Chocolate Whipped Butter Balm and Hemp Seed Oil Butter Balm are two highly moisturising, thick butter balms that create a barrier over the skin to allow for intense hydration – available in a handy sample size so you can try it out.