Our top 10 tips for coping with eczema:
- Use a non-biological washing powder or consider using a natural alternative such as soap nuts. Most washing powder contains enzymes, phosphates, petrochemicals, artificial fragrances and optical brighteners so it’s well worth looking at natural alternatives.
- Avoid fabric conditioners which are really just a bunch of chemicals and artificial fragrances that coat the surface of material to make them feel smoother.
- Always do an extra rinse cycle at the end of the wash to remove as much of the washing powder residue as possible.
- For those with airborne allergies, bathing twice a day can really help to remove allergens. For us the opposite was true – our daughter reacted to the water and when we reduced her baths to once a week her skin improved dramatically (we just top and tail every night). Either way keep bath water cool and make sure you moisturise immediately after bathing to lock moisture into the skin.
- Steer clear of synthetic materials as they heat the skin and don’t allow it to breathe. Instead chose natural fibres such as organic cotton or bamboo.
- Try not to overdress as those with eczema already seem to be warmer than the average. Try layers that can be easily adjusted to the outside temperature.
4. SYMPTOM DIARY
- Eczema can flare up for no obvious reason but keeping a symptom diary may help you track down some of the possible triggers. Aim to include food & drink, creams, exposure to pet hair, changes in temperature and even trips to new places. Sometimes reactions can take a couple of days to show up or it may be that repeated exposure to an allergen leads to a reaction. Although it’s time consuming, the more information you have in your diary, the easier it will be to track down your triggers.
5. FOOD ALLERGIES & INTOLERANCES
- The most common food group to cause problems is the Nightshade family, including peppers, tomatoes, aubergines and potatoes. Also acidic fruits such as oranges, lemons and strawberries can be a problem.
- Less common allergies include dairy, eggs, gluten and nuts.
- Watch out for a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugars as this can upset the metabolism of essential fatty acids which are crucial in healthy skin and often already lacking in those with eczema.
- Always speak to a health practitioner before eliminating a major food group from your or your child’s diet.
6. Keep FINGERNAILS SHORT. This is true for both adults and children as even grown-ups can unknowingly scratch in their sleep.
- For children try wearing ScratchMeNots or ScratchSleeves to prevent little finger scratching itchy skin. This gives skin the chance to heal and can help break the itch-scratch cycle.
- Keep the bedroom (and in fact, the whole house), cool.
- Use a dustmite cover on mattresses, pillows and duvets.
- Use only 100% cotton bedding and wash at least once a week at 60C to kill off dustmites.
- Put cuddly toys into a freezer bag and freeze overnight then wash and dry to kill off dustmites.
- Ensure any pets are kept out of the bedroom at all times. Dust surfaces regularly with a damp cloth.
8. MOISTURISE as often as possible.
- With babies, some mums find it easier to remember if they moisturise at every nappy change.
- Apply moisturiser in the direction of hair growth.
- Keeping creams in the fridge can help soothe hot and itchy skin.
- Unfortunately there is no “magic cream”, just whatever works for your skin. However watch out for anything that contains ingredients such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate as this is a known skin irritant. For more details see our blog “What’s actually in the bottle?”
9. Keep a look out for INFECTIONS.
- If the eczema starts to weep or ooze, or to smell differently then contact your doctor immediately as you may need antibiotics.
- Eczematous skin tends to have higher levels of Staphylococcus aureus on it which can cause nasty infections.
- Check out SKINTOSKIN clothing which has been shown to reduce levels of Staphylococcus aureus on the skin.
10. If you feel that you/your child’s skin is not responding to treatment ask for a referral to your local Dermatology Nurse Specialist or Dermatology Department. Read up on the NICE guidelines if you are finding it difficult to get a referral.