Summer is both a blessing and curse for those with eczema. While itchy patches often recede with exposure to air and sunlight, shedding clothes can be embarrassing and chemicals in suncare products and swimming pools can worsen the condition.
Eczema is not contagious, but more than one member of a family is often afflicted. The current thinking is that the condition has a genetic component…
Eczema is certainly a condition we care much about here at LoveLula, not least because it was the impetus behind our founder, Sonia’s original quest for natural, chemical-free living when her son developed it at an early age. The condition often begins during childhood – but can strike at any age. Most often it affects skin in the face, hands, feet, inner elbows and back of the knees. It is basically a defect in the skin barrier which allows moisture out and germs in. The skin usually feels dry and itchy, which leads to scaling and redness. In severe cases the skin cracks and becomes infected. Typically inflamed areas tend to flare up then settle down. As Sonia found out, symptoms can be made worse by the chemicals in many household products (even those which claim to be ‘natural’), and the prescribed solution is steroids – not exactly what you want to be putting on your newborn’s skin! Equally some of the most common Eczema creams contain Parabens and SLS’s which can not only add to the irritation but dry up the natural oils in your skin. The same harmful chemicals are found in most mainstream daily soaps and moisturisers. SLS is a foaming agent also used in products to clean cars and garage floors! It breaks down skin’s natural proteins, making skin more vulnerable to outside contaminants. Parabens pose multiple health risks, including a link to cancer.
While there is no real ‘cure’ for eczema, treatment with the right products can usually control or ease symptoms and about 2 in 3 children with atopic (allergic) eczema grow out of it by their mid-teens. The first step is to change your shampoo and soaps and read the ingredients labels.Get rid of anything that has Parabens and SLS’s in it – a valuable motto is: “Don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth.” Choose products that pride themselves on being natural organic to protect, heal and nourish your skin. Bathe less frequently, using warm water and moisturise well, preferably while your skin is still damp as this locks in more moisture. Creams and lotions work well, and oil-based moisturizers are particularly good as they form a barrier that prevents moisture from evaporating off the skin. Moisturising products should be used every day – a common mistake is to stop using them when the skin appears healed. Pump dispensers are better than pots because they are less likely to harbour germs. If you need to use a pot, use a clean spoon or spatula to get the contents out, rather than your fingers. In terms of ingredients, Aloe Vera is a particularly soothing as found in its purest form in the excellent Santaverde range . Chamomile is another natural ingredient to look out for as it soothes and calms irritation. Calendula is also proven to have skin healing properties and is present in many natural and organic products. And finally, look out for nourishing Almond Oil to aid repair. Natural Balms are packed with anti-inflammatory and skin barrier repair effects. Try massaging over your body an hour before having a bath to prevent dryness. Lotions containing antioxidant Vitamins C, E and D might also be helpful as they can protect from free radicals and help with essential fatty acid metabolism. The next step is to look at triggers. For some this can be what you eat. Dairy is a common trigger as are eggs, soya, gluten, citrus fruits and nuts. You should focus on foods that promote gut and liver health and eliminate as many processed and high-gluten foods as possible. For some, natural supplements can help. Washing detergent is another common trigger. Change to non-bio and wear natural fibres against your skin – this includes bedding if possible. It might also help to change to a natural deodorant. Avoid getting too hot or cold as extremes of temperature can also irritate the skin. Stress is another trigger so you are advised to take time out– our range of holistic candles and bath soaks make a well-earned and relaxing treat. I hope this has been helpful. We are always on the look-out for new natural remedies from all corners of the world and aim to keep our range of skin-friendly products in tip-top condition! Jane x