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January 18, 2011

Skin Woes: Eczema

For anyone who suffers with it, eczema can be really debilitating. Not only does it look unsightly but, it can hurt and itch like no tomorrow. When I was a baby I had standard juvenile eczema in the creases of my arms and legs but, that eventually went away. However, about three years ago, my eczema came back with a vengeance as random splotches all over my lower legs. After much trial and error, I have found a few unconventional methods that really seem to help reduce the dryness, itching, peeling and scarring and, while I am aware this doesn't affect everyone, I thought I would share them in case some of you are fellow sufferers!

Dermatologist


One of the first things I would recommend is get yourself a good dermatologist. They can advise you as to what is causing your eczema outbreak i.e. dietary, environmental or otherwise and can also prescribe you creams and such to help with it.

My dermatologist advised that I stop using generic shower gels, face creams and moisturisers. Her family have a brand of seaweed based shower and skin products which she suggested I try. At first I thought she was just trying to make money but, ever since I picked up the Seavite moisturiser, it has become my Holy Grail skin product. Similarly, the Seavite shower gel does not irritate my skin at all.

She also got me using Elave Instensive Cream as an all over body moisturiser as it is super mild but really hydrating, thus helping with flaky eczema.

Finally, I was prescribed Protopic Ointment and some strong antihistamines for the itching. I did not need the antihistamines after a few days and, while the Protopic is excellent, it also costs €100 so, I couldn't keep buying that. Hence, I came up with my own little tips and tricks!

In-Shower Moisturiser


Say what?! But, yes. Ironically, water is the devil for dry skin and, so I began slathering the affected areas (my lower legs) in Silcock's Base before getting into the shower. SB is a super thick emollient which basically acts as a shield for your skin to the water. The majority of it stays put on your skin while you wash your hair and body and then, just quickly at the end of my shower, I wipe the SB off with my hands and my skin is clean (as Silcock's can be used as a soap too) and moisturised without being affected by the water.

Dry-Off Properly


This might sound stupid but getting all the excess water off your skin is super important in trying to clear up and heal eczema. Just pat the affected areas dry, never rub, getting your skin ready for the next stage of hydration.

Post-Shower Moisturiser


Yep, you've guessed it, the key to reducing eczema is moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! Especially after you shower. This is where I use the Elave Intensive Cream my dermatologist recommended although, in a pinch, I do use Silcock's Base here as well. I just cover my legs in whichever cream and let it soak in while I do my hair, make-up or whatever.

Bio Oil


This is probably one of the most innovative tricks I have come up with. Bio Oil is basically an oil that is used to reduce scarring, especially stretch marks which are partially the result of dehydrated, un-elasticated skin. Last summer when I was getting ready to go on holidays, I realised that the dryness on my eczema was much improved BUT I had been left with nasty marks. I had Bio Oil to clear up a few stretch marks (which it did) and just took a notion to start applying it to the eczema scars. And it worked! The scars were greatly faded over a couple of weeks and the remaining dryness cleared up. While Bio Oil is expensive, you need such a small amount to treat patches of eczema that a small bottle could last you almost a year.

Sun


Letting the sun at your affected (and protected) skin is one of the things my dermatologist recommended. Whether it was sitting out in one of the few sunny summer days we get in Ireland or on holidays, I tried to let as much UV at my skin as possible and it really does help make the skin healthier. The offshot of this is that the cold winter weather and central heating makes your skin as dry as anything and you need to redouble your moisturisation efforts. Also, let your skin breathe as much as possible and don't cover it up with tights/socks/leggings/pyjamas when its not necessary!

I hope these few tips helped some of you. The key really is to keep your skin as hydrated as possible, beyond the point of drinking water. I probably moisturise my skin 2-3 times a day as well as protecting it in the shower and, in conjunction with the Bio Oil, it has really made a huge difference! Good Luck!

Love,

S.

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