Whether you have eczema or care for someone who does, living with eczema is part of life for a lot of people.
Also known as dermatitis, eczema is a common skin condition among children and adults. In fact, in the UK, one in five children and one in ten adults live with eczema. But, what is it?
Eczema is a non-contagious, inflammatory skin condition that can affect people of all ages and can appear all over the body. Dry and itchy its symptoms can be unique for everyone. Different types of eczema may even appear in different areas of the body, so don’t be surprised if your eczema doesn't look the same as other people's.
What causes eczema?
The cause of eczema is still unknown. Researches haven't yet discovered a single, definitive reason that some people suffer eczema, or dermatitis, while others don't. Many specialists do agree that it develops from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
And...is there a cure for eczema?
Right now, no but some treatments work to heal the affected skin and prevent flare-ups of symptoms. These depend on age and severity and include; over the counter (OTC) remedies, topical medications, phototherapy, immunosuppressants, and biological drugs.
Many people with eczema also find success with natural and alternative treatments that help them prevent and manage flare-ups. Even with treatments, eczema can be incredibly stubborn. So, rather than seeking cures, one of the best ways to control your eczema is to prevent and manage your flare-ups.
Life & eczema. What can I do in my day-to-day to deal with flare-ups?
Here we've pulled together a list of the easiest, most effective lifestyle tweaks which can help manage those itchy, red, annoying flare-ups.
- Clothing: More than what you wear is the materials your clothes are made of. Many people with eczema find that wool and synthetic materials, such as polyester and nylon, cause overheating, sweating, and irritation, which set off the dreaded itch. So, to prevent the appearance of flare-ups choose clothes made from the so-called “eczema friendly” materials; Cotton, bamboo & silk.
- Stress: Stress is one of the most common eczema triggers, so managing it is essential to manage your eczema. We know this is not easy, especially when it’s caused by work, family life, or situations which feel out of our control. Small changes to your mindset and lifestyle can have a significant impact on the amount of stress you’re under and your ability to cope with it. The practice of mindfulness is a game-changer for many. Have a look at this post for some tips to relax and control stressful situations.
- Household irritants: As mentioned, eczema can be caused by different environmental factors, so reducing exposure to, the most common irritants you might come across at home may potentially help in reducing the appearance of flare-ups. Here you have some common examples you can avoid are:
- House dust mites
- Pollen and moulds
- Some types of foods
- Central heating and the decrease in humidity
- Some washing powders
- Sun: Though excessive sun exposure can make the condition worse, there is evidence that moderate exposure can alleviate symptoms. In fact, some people find their eczema improves when they bask in the sun. In any case, everyone should protect their skin from the sun all year round by using a good sunscreen. We can fin two different types of sunscreen; chemical absorbers and mineral-based reflectors. But which one is better for people with eczema? Many seem to find mineral-based sunscreens less irritating to their skin than chemical filters. Learn more here.
- Swimming: Chlorinated swimming pool water is, without a doubt, a common trigger. Skin dryness after swimming is most likely to occur if the pH level of the water is raised above neutral (pH 7.0) and skin irritation occurs due to the reaction to chlorine or any other chemical added to sanitise the water. You don't need to give-up on swimming, but be sure to shower well to rinse off chlorine and any other drying salts or chemicals as soon as you're out of the pool.
- Your skincare routine - Establishing a gentle cleansing and good moisturising routine is key to keeping your skin happy and healthy. Using allergen / irritant-free skincare is also essential to minimise the risk of unwanted flare-ups. Avoiding skincare rich in essential oils, which are highly concentrated forms of plant oils, often accompanied by known allergens is a good way of avoiding common skin sensitisers. Ditching perfumed skincare is another. Perfumes are often alcohol-based and can be drying on your skin.
So, if you suffer from any kind of eczema, from mild to severe here's a summary of home care tips to support skin health and alleviate your symptoms.
- Taking lukewarm baths and showers
- Apply a moisturiser or ointment after bath time
- Always moisturise, every day
- Avoid using soap-based cleansers
- Avoid wearing rough and scratchy clothing
- Use a humidifier in dry or cold weather and take extra precautions to prevent eczema flare-ups in winter.
- Keep your fingernails short to prevent scratching and breaking the skin.
- Try avoiding sudden changes in temperature and where possible, activities that cause sweating. And if you do work up a healthy sweat, avoid scratching your skin and be sure to shower after.
Knowing and avoiding the things that trigger your own eczema will give you the power to control your relationship with your eczema. Spotting the triggers can make life more comfortable for most, and some people will find they can drastically reduce, or even clear up their eczema entirely.
Choosing the correct cosmetic product will also make a huge difference in how they appear.
As part of National Eczema Week, the National Eczema Society is calling on people to share their own stories of living with eczema, using the hashtag #MyEczemaStory.
A long term sufferer of eczema, James Jardella founded Skin Sapiens in 2018. His own experience of living with the condition has directly shaped the way that Skin Sapiens products are created.
"As an eczema sufferer, my personal experience is that removing the triggers for eczema flare-ups has always been much more effective than trying to treat my eczema over the years.
Even when I used medicated products, my eczema used to be stubborn, and I really struggled. My skin would flare up in winter, especially if I was in dusty environments, and the stress of exams, or work, often made it worse. Spotting the triggers, moisturising dry skin patches, and avoiding scratching at all costs has enabled me to bring my eczema under control. My flare-ups are now incredibly rare, and short-lived.
This is why we formulate Skin Sapiens products the way we do. An alternative to complex formulas and "problem" ingredients. By marrying nature and science to blend nature's best active botanicals we're all about prevention rather than cure."
James Jardella, Founder
All-natural, vegan and cruelty-free, Skin Sapiens are made with only the best, carefully chosen ingredients, and we leave out the junk. Perfume-free, dermatologically tested and free from essential oils, everything we make is great for those living with sensitive skin or prone to eczema.
Proud pioneers of conscious beauty we're built on the belief that everybody has the right to total control what they put on their skin. That's why you can find the natural origin of every ingredient on every pack we make. The goal? To empower you to make the best choices for your skin and the planet, so you can feel good in the skin you're in.
Want to try us out? You can shop the range here.
Important note - this journal post is designed to help offer ways to prevent eczema through spotting triggers. It is the result of personal experience, external advice and good practice. Eczema is a medical condition and the contents of this post should not replace the advice of your own doctor or dermatologist. If you are suffering from eczema always seek medical advice to develop the best personalised strategy to help you manage your condition in the most effective way for you.