Handling eczema

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Hot and humid weather heading into summer means many people will experience flare ups with skin conditions like eczema.

Eczema is the common name given to Dermatitis which is skin inflammation and generally involves a red, itchy skin rash.

Other symptoms can include weeping skin, dry and scaly skin or painful, cracked skin. Heat and humidity is a common trigger for eczema.

Other triggers include emotional stress, allergies, skin infections, chemicals like soap and also certain fabrics.

There are a few common things to avoid for eczema: Using soaps and detergents as they dry the skin and make symptoms worse. Long periods in hot water results in dryer skin. Use luke-warm water when symptoms are bad.

Sand, wool, nylon, carpet, rubber and grass are known irritants for eczema. Instead of soap, use a hyperallergenic cleanser to clean the skin.

This means the ‘skin friendly’ washes like Cetaphil, QV or ChemDerm. Moisturise two to three times daily after bathing using a cream like QV, Cetaphil, or those targeted for skin conditions. Creams are generally better than lotions to use when your skin is bad. Once your eczema settles down you can progress onto the lotions.

If you are also using a corticosteroid cream, wait at least 15 minutes between applying the two. Try a bath oil or oatmeal bath, e.g. Dermaveen or QV bath oil.

Soaking in these baths for 15 minutes a day can be helpful for maintenance and you can repeat this up to four times a day during flare ups. An antihistamine, like Claratyne, Aerius or Zyrtec may help if the triggers are due to allergies.

Corticosteroid creams and ointments can help with flare ups. Some of the treatments are available over the counter at your pharmacy, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist first.

One product I strongly recommend trying is Eczema Shield made by Ethical Nutrients. It’s a high strength probiotic and I have seen some very good results from people using it.

There are many causes of eczema so it’s a case of trial and error to find out your triggers and best treatments.

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