What Is Eczema And What Causes It?
Eczema is characterised by itchy, often painful areas of sensitive, red skin. It’s a chronic condition that can flare up at any time, and can “strike at any age, particularly when skin has become weak or damaged, or immune systems are low,” explains Georgie Cleeve, founder of Oskia. Unfortunately, it is a “familial, genetically programmed pre-disposition,” notes Dr. Harold Lancer. Therefore, sufferers will develop the pre-programmed inflammatory condition at any point, which is usually beyond their control.
Can It Be Prevented?
Eczema is a genetic predisposition therefore there is little you can do to prevent it entirely. “There are things you can do to prevent breakouts and reduce the risk of it being triggered, however,” says Dr. Lancer. “Implementing proper lifestyle and diet habits, regulating stress and being diligent with skincare (including moisturising regularly) will all go a long way,” when it comes to prevention.
Likewise avoiding the use of fragrance or harsh chemicals within products, and ensuring you get adequate Vitamin D can help, according to Rose-Marie Swift, founder of RMS Beauty. Routine-wise, Georgie recommends, “avoiding over-cleansing, over-exfoliating and excessive use of acids,” in order to prevent flare-ups. It’s also best to stay away from overly fragranced products in your everyday life, such as heavily scented laundry detergent.
Eczema And Your Skincare Routine
“Eczema can’t be cured,” notes Dr. Barbara Sturm, expert dermatologist and founder of Dr. Barbara Sturm skincare. “However, there are treatments that can help prevent outbreaks and relieve the itching sensation”, she continues. It’s important to stress that sufferers with severe eczema should always consult with a board-certified dermatologist: “A dermatologist will have a clear concept of what the problem is, and properly advise on the do’s and don’ts of topical treatment,” says Dr. Lancer.
There are some calming products which can be used at home, however, such as Dr. Barbara Sturm’s brilliantly soothing Calming Serum, which is free from mineral oils and parabens, and contains natural ingredients such as vitamin E and sweet almond oil to ease symptoms of sensitive, itchy skin. Ren’s Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream is also a brilliant moisturiser that’s specially targeted toward those with skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema and sensitivity.
Eczema And Your Lifestyle
Lifestyle changes are crucial, too. Eczema is “extremely environment-sensitive,” notes Dr. Lancer. “Whether it’s hot or cold, high humidity or low humidity, the environment influences the prevalence of the trait being visible or active.” While there’s little you can do about the weather outside, Lancer suggests supporting skin’s barrier function by showering and bathing with tepid water, rather than burning hot water.
Regulating your diet can also really help to treat eczema flare-ups. “Keeping a food diary often helps to work out what the culprit is,” says Georgie. Make a note of everything you eat and every time you have a breakout, and take this to a dermatologist or nutritionist, who will be able to make sense of any correlations between your diet and your skin condition. As a rule, it’s best to avoid sugar, caffeine and dairy as much as possible, as they have been known to be the most common aggressors.
Dr Lancer also recommends avoiding, “inflammatory foods like processed snacks, empty carbs, alcohol and spicy dishes.” Eat plenty of water-rich foods, such as fruit and vegetables, take supplements (fish oil to reduce inflammation and probiotics because a health gut often equals healthy skin), and always stay hydrated for optimum skin health.