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Skin Health Institute

Eczema Prevention and Management Tips

Winter is a bad time of year for atopic eczema. Indoor heating dries out the air and skin and coarse, rough clothing can irritate the skin. If you’re finding that your skin is dry, or your eczema is flaring up, read on for our eczema prevention and management tips.

ECZEMA PREVENTION

The first step in eczema prevention is to avoid triggers. Most of these break down the skin’s natural barrier.

  • Rubbing and scratching. Yes, we know – easier said than done!  
  • Skin irritants including sweat, soaps, detergents, and prickly clothes. Soaps should be avoided even when the eczema gets better; use a soap-free wash instead.
  • Long hot showers. These remove the natural oils from the skin and cause moisture loss. We know this is difficult, especially during winter. Aim to have short, lukewarm (around 32°C) showers instead.
  • Indoor heating. Keeping the air conditioning at a maximum of 18°C.
  • Avoid or minimise exposure to known allergies.

TREATING ECZEMA

If you do get an eczema flare-up, you may notice your skin becoming inflamed (red, hot and itchy). To reduce this inflammation, many patients use topical treatments, such as topical steroids. Topical steroids work by soothing the inflammation, reducing the itch, and allowing the skin to heal. Weaker steroids are usually used for sensitive skin (face, groin) and stronger ones for stronger skin (body, limbs).

When skin is inflamed, the topical treatment medicine is put on until the skin becomes normal, at which point the medicine is then stopped. This may take a few days or a couple of weeks. In areas where atopic eczema keeps coming back (called ‘hotspots’), medicine may be used for a little longer after it clears, to keep the atopic eczema from coming back before totally stopping the medicine. It’s important to follow guidance from your health care professional. Remember, even when the skin looks free of eczema, moisturiser use is still advised to keep the skin healthy.

RESTORING THE SKIN BARRIER

A big part of the prevention and management of atopic eczema is restoring the skin barrier. This can be achieved by regular use of a moisturiser. A moisturiser may not seem like a flashy treatment, but it’s great for preventing and treating flares of atopic eczema.

You should moisturise every day, even when the skin looks normal. Make it part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth or taking a (short!) shower.

The best time to apply a moisturiser is straight after bathing, and you should ideally apply moisturiser 2 – 3 times per day.

The best moisturiser to use is one that you don’t mind using frequently. In general, thicker, greasier moisturisers will provide more barrier protection that lighter ones. Some moisturisers contain extra ingredients that may help the skin like ceramides, which are compounds that provide additional repair of the skin barrier, and postbiotics or prebiotics, which are compounds that may reduce inflammation.

WHERE TO GET HELP

As a first port of call, your GP is a good source of advice regarding atopic eczema. Some people with difficult-to-control atopic eczema may need to see a skin specialist (dermatologist). If there are concerns regarding allergies (environmental allergies or food allergies), an allergist/ immunologist may also be involved. Depending on the problems, other specialists like psychologists, paediatricians, eye doctors etc may be required also.

There are patient support groups out there for those who suffer from atopic eczema:



04 May 2021
Category: News
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