September 13, 2022 3 min read
September is National Eczema Awareness Month – here’s what you need
to know about this dry skin condition and how to avoid triggers
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a lot more common than you may think, affecting 1 in 4 babies born in Ireland and 1 in 10 adults. It’s an immunological condition which usually starts in childhood as an itchy red rash which can appear anywhere on the body and become sore, rough, cracked and blistered.
Medical experts put the rise in eczema – up from 3% to 25% inside two generations - down to environmental pollutants and the harsh chemicals we are exposed to in everyday products. The condition, which can run in families, can also be triggered by allergies to certain foods, scents, smoke and pollen.
Eczema rashes commonly occur on the scalp, cheeks, neck, creases of elbows or knees, buttocks, legs and ankles. The rashes may become bumpy, lighten or darken in colour, bubble up and leak fluid. They can also thicken and develop into knots which are permanently itchy.
While eczema can lessen as children get older, it is nevertheless a lifelong condition and there is no cure as such. However, it can be managed very successfully by avoiding irritants, alleviating symptoms, and focusing on healing damaged skin.
Practical steps to avoid triggering an attack
There are lots of practical steps you can take to avoid triggering a flare-up of eczema. For example, it is fine to take a 10-minute shower or bath every day, but use lukewarm water with a mild, pure, soap-free wash, and make sure to pat your skin dry with a soft towel.
As the days get chillier, avoid the temptation to keep your house, particularly your bedroom, too warm as this dries out delicate skin. Keep the central heating a few degrees lower – and save money at the same time! Avoid using electric blankets and hot water bottles, as these can greatly irritate dry skin.
An emollient, or rich moisturiser, is your best friend and should be applied as generously and as often as possible – at least every couple of hours. Choose something which is gentle and unscented and omits the sort of chemical nasties which can spark the itch-scratch-itch cycle.
Avoidbaby wipes and cosmetic wipes – they may be handy, but the chemicals and synthetic fabrics they use aggravate and dry out the dermis. Warm water on cotton wool is much gentler on the skin. Wear natural fabrics like silk, linen and cotton in light layers next to your body. Avoid synthetic and scratchy materials like wool.
Keeping a diary could help identify your ‘triggers’
Keep an Eczema Diary to help pinpoint what triggers flare-ups in you or your child. The most common foods to cause reactions include cows' milk, eggs, wheat and peanuts. Detergents are a common cause and, in the run-up to Christmas, you may find that room scents, scented candles and potpourri start your skin prickling.
Some people find alternative treatments are useful, but medical research shows that if you limit your exposure to chemicals and use pure, certified natural products without MI (a nasty preservative) or sulfates (used in soap), you can treat eczema naturally and keep it at bay.
If the condition does flare up and becomes unmanageable, you should seek advice from your GP or Health Visitor. Steroids have been given a bad press, but they can be helpful in bringing a bad attack under control. After that, it is vital to keep your skin barrier as healthy as possible.
Elave and Ovelle - gentle formulations you can trust
The Ovelle and Elave skincare ranges from Gardiner Family Apothecary are guaranteed pure and natural and have been specially formulated for people with dry, sensitive, eczema, rosacea and dermatitis-prone skin. They leave out the sulfates, MI, SLS, scents, alcohol and preservatives which can cause irritation.
Elave Baby offers a pure, clean range of washes, creams and oils which protect and nourish delicate young skin. Elave Dermatological body wash, shampoo, conditioners, cleansers and creams offer a head-to-toe solution. Elave Sensitive Renew, our facial range, contains vitamins, bioextracts and rich moisturisers to repair and protect delicate type I and type II skin.
The Elave Skincare range can be purchased at our online shop, in community pharmacies, Tesco, Boots, Dunnes Beauty and Chemist Warehouse. Ovelle, our pharmalogical range of emollients, including Silcock’s Base and Aqueous Cream, can also be purchased online or at local pharmacies.
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