What is Eczema? And How Can We Care For It?

April 26, 2021 4 min read

What is Eczema? And How Can We Care For It?

The Sensitive Skincare Edit 

Eczema - the dry skin epidemic that affects one in 10 adults

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis as it is also known, is a dry skin condition that affects one in four children and one in 10 adults in Ireland – a huge leap from previous generations. We don’t know exactly what is causing this increase, but medical experts believe it is what we are literally pumping into our environment and putting on to our skin.

We do know that eczema frequently runs in families and can occur alongside things like hay fever and asthma. Attacks may be infrequent, or occur on a daily basis. It is useful to keep an ‘Eczema Diary’ so you can take note of when attacks occur.  This will help you pinpoint what is setting off your skin, as it could be one thing or multiple factors. Often, it is a case of elimination.  

Symptoms can vary depending on the age of the person who has the condition. In mild cases, it can result in flaky, red, tender and itchy skin - an annoyance as much as anything else. In severe cases, however, it can present as small itchy bumps filled with fluid that can burst and lead to painful infections which require medical attention.

How to avoid the itch, scratch, itch cycle

Frequent and generous use of emollients, formulations which soften and soothe the skin, forms the basis of eczema management. In atopic eczema, the skin’s protective barrier is weakened, allowing allergens to pass through the skin more easily, so it is vital to moisturise, moisturise, moisturise to keep the dermis in tip-top condition.

Gardiner Family Apothecary make Elave and Ovelle skincare products - gentle, free-from formulations specifically created for the treatment of dry, sensitive skin conditions like eczema, rosacea and dermatitis. Find out about more about our extensive range of award-winning, dermatologically-proven washes, creams and ointments at www.gardinerfamilyapothecary.com.      

Among them are Elave Sensitive Intensive Cream, which protects the skin’s natural barrier and reduces flare-ups with an emollient-rich formula containing white soft paraffin and fractionated coconut oil. Absorbs quickly, apply as often as required. Elave Sensitive Intensive Ointment softens plaque and replaces skin oils to boost the natural dermal barrier and reduce flare-ups.

Elave Happy. Skin. Gardiner Family Apothecary Sensitive Skincare Eczema Psoriasis Rosacea Dermatitis

Avoid soap and irritating gels that can cause drying and flaking by using Elave Sensitive Body Wash,a sulfate-free cleanser with camomile extract, recommended for all skin types. We also offer the handy Elave Sensitive Shower Gel,an oil-free wash containing vitamin E and moisturisers to sooth dry skin.

Ovelle Silcock’s Baseis a traditional high lipid cream containing 20% white soft paraffin which helps retain moisture by reducing the rate of normal evaporation. It can be used as both a skin moisturiser and soap substitute cleanser for the face and body to prevent itching and flaking.

A traditional and trusted moisturiser and protectant, Ovelle Coconut Oil melts on the skin as soon as you apply it, without leaving any kind of residue. It easily seeps into the skin pores, moisturising deeply and thoroughly. Its high fat content and anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to help improve many skin conditions.


Baby eczema usually appears in the first six months

Baby eczema usually appears in the first six months of life.  It is a very common complaint and children often outgrow it, but it is important to identify triggers and manage the condition appropriately. Babies can get it anywhere on their body, but most often on their cheeks and the joints of their arms and legs.

Elave Happy. Skin. Gardiner Family Apothecary Sensitive Skincare Eczema Psoriasis Rosacea Dermatitis

The Elave Baby range is specially formulated to combat dry and sensitive skin conditions among infants. The products contain only the purest, gentlest, most natural ingredients to sooth, moisturise and protect as part of a head-to-toe skincare regime. That means no dyes, scents, parabens, sulfates, alcohol or MIs.

Don’t wait for an attack to happen – make deep moisturising part of your baby’s skincare routine. Elave Baby Intensive Cream is a clinically proven emollient-rich moisturising cream with camomile extract and vitamin E. The Elave Baby range includes Shampoo, Baby Bath, Baby Lotion, Baby Oil and Nappy Creamwhich are suitable from newborn and are paediatrician and dermatologically approved.


Identifying frequent triggers of flare-ups

Soaps, fragrances, detergents and household sprays are frequent triggers of flare-ups. Fluctuations in temperature, as in moving from warm houses to the cold outdoors, can spark an attack, particularly in winter. Food allergies, especially nuts, eggs and dairy, are common, along with sensitivity to pollen, animal dander and dust mites.

Soft, breathable, natural fabrics in layers work best against sensitive skin – opt for cotton, silk or linen whenever you can, and avoid scratchy wool and synthetics. Even things like tight clothes, fabric labels and lumpy seams can cause irritation. Make sure to use an eczema-friendly laundry detergent and rinse clothes well. 

Elave Happy. Skin. Gardiner Family Apothecary Sensitive Skincare Eczema Psoriasis Rosacea Dermatitis

Eczema sufferers should not overheat their home or take hot baths and showers, so turn down the thermostat to 20C (18C in the bedroom) and take lukewarm dips. Treat moulds, which can trigger flare-ups, in bathrooms and kitchens immediately and ensure good ventilation. Install electric dehumidifiers to curb the growth of moulds or dust mites, and place containers of water under radiators if the air is too dry.


Find out what works for you …

Talk to your doctor to find the most appropriate treatment regimen for you and seek urgent medical advice if skin becomes very sore or weepy, with yellow/brownish crusts, or if you develop clusters of painful itchy blisters, particularly if you have had contact with someone suffering from a cold sore.

If you do develop a serious case of eczema other treatments, such as topical steroids, can be prescribed by your healthcare professional. Ultraviolet light therapy (also called phototherapy) can be delivered in hospital dermatology departments. Your GP may also prescribe systemic medications that work inside your body.

  • For more advice on caring for eczema and other dry skin conditions, check out the Irish Skin Foundation at irishskin.ie.


Elave Skincare and Ovelle ranges of dermatologically-approved free-from natural products are available at gardinerfamilyapothecary.com, Boots, Dunnes Beauty and local pharmacies.


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