How to care for eczema prone skin
Caring for eczema skin can be daunting especially if you do not know where to start. In the previous article I covered the basics of eczema including what eczema is, types of eczema, and symptoms and causes of eczema. You can read that article here, https://senicanaturals.com/what-is-eczema. In this article I’ll be covering a few things to consider in caring for eczema prone skin.
As medical sources indicate, there is no known cure for eczema. However, learning what triggers cause flare ups can be helpful in minimizing and even eliminating eczema flareups/episodes. Current understanding shows that genetics and family history play a role in how your skin retains moisture and reacts to certain things. There are several types of eczema, the most common types being atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and 3 Tips for Managing Scalp Seborrheic Dermatitis. Most of what we cover here is applicable to these types of eczema.
1. Hydrating you skin is the most important treatment of eczema.¹ Hydration comes from water. An herb infusion or hydrofoil can also provide hydration. Hydrating your skin provides moisture but you also need to protect your skin from moisture loss something that is an issue for those who suffer from eczema and dry skin conditions. Keeping your epidermis (top layer of skin) hydrated is on one way to relieve dryness. The hydration step is easiest on freshly washed skin so after a bath is the ideal to go to the next step. Be sure you are using a gentle cleanser for your skin – handmade soap bars are always a great option.
2. Moisturizing is the next step and important for sealing in the hydration step! It is a key component as it minimizes water loss which contributes to dryness. That is why I always recommend applying your moisturizer to damp skin along with using a butter or oil based moisturizer that is water free. These are filled with botanical oils and butter which work as emollients that soften and soothe your. (If you’re a fan of lotions or creams then follow up with your butter or oil based moisturizer.) Using a water-free oil or butter based product is best because you minimize moisture loss and helping to create a breathable barrier for your skin which can be helpful in protecting it. An oil or butter based product locks moisture into your skin and also nourishes your skin cells for an awesome look and feel. It will also help to minimize itching caused by tight, dry skin.
The hydrate and moisturize steps go hand in hand. Hydrating your skin doesn’t work if you’re not sealing in that moisture. And the same goes for applying a moisturizer without first hydrating your skin. Has your skin ever been so dry that it has a worn out, dull and parched look to it? You apply your best moisturizer and work it in but it doesn’t cooperate. The result is skin that still looks parched but with an oily sheen. That’s why you need hydrate before your moisturize. Here’s an excerpt from one of the journals that support this:
“The main reason for intensive use of an emollient is its ability to increase the hydration of the epidermis, mainly by reducing the evaporation, as it acts as an occlusive layer on the top of the skin. As such, emollients have no direct effect on the course of the eczema. However, the appearance of the skin is enhanced and itching is reduced. Other moisturizers have more complex modes of action as they act by restoring the structural (lipid) components of the outer skin layers, thereby reducing cracks and fissures. Others act by attracting water molecules from the air in order to moisturize the skin. The choice of emollient depends on the individual patient. It is generally recommended that a thick (with a high fat content) cream or ointment is used for the driest skin, whereas creams and lotions with a higher water content are used only for very mild eczema. Such creams must be applied several times a day because of their rapid absorption into the skin. It is important to recommend an emollient without perfume or other potential allergens as they may provoke secondary allergic sensitization.” ³
3. Learn what triggers may contribute to your eczema and address them. Triggers can vary from person to person and can include environmental allergens, fabrics, foods, cleaners, the dye in your clothes.
Ways to tackle can be using a detergent that has not color or fragrance added. If you would like to have fragrance consider an option with an essential oil (which is distilled from a plant). You can also opt to add a few drops of your preferred essential oil to your laundry detergent or load. I like this option and also put lavender flowers in a sock and throw it in the my clothes when I use a dryer. (Of course this is something you should test with caution for yourself. 😉) Pay attention the quality of the clothes you wear. If they are ‘bleeding’ heavily, it may not be a good fit for your skin. This is something that is common with dark wash denim and other dyed clothing. You may have to wash these pieces several times before you can wear them.
Eat well and balanced meals. Food sensitivities can also be triggers for eczema. For example, one of the Sénica Family noticed here daughter was sensitive to tomatoes and found an alternative option to use in her favorite pasta dish. Another Sénica Family narrowed it down to a sensitivity to eggs and has expanded her cooking and baking knowledge to be able to enjoy some of her favorite meals without flare ups. These sensitivities can sometimes show up instantly when you eat certain foods, is the skin on your body itching, your cheeks, your scalp. Being aware of your reactions can be helpful.
Free Resource: What to Eat for Radiant Skin Food Checklist – it’s free and you can keep it handy on your mobile device for your grocery trips. Download it here, https://senicanaturals.com/skin-food-checklist.
What you use on your body and your hair. Being ingredient conscious can help to minimize flare ups. In my experience, simple ingredient lists are usually better. So is using essential oils scented products or fragrance free options as well. The cleansers you use on your skin are also important. Try using gentle handmade soap bars and liquid washed where possible. A lot of the mass produced body and hair products branded for sensitive skin often have synthetic fragrances and other fillers in them.
Try to avoid or minimize scratching.
4. Using medication options where needed. While many people with eczema find success with specific natural and alternative treatments there are times using medications may be necessary. You can determine what is best for you with your wellness team which includes your physician. The are a number of options that are usually determined based on the cause, symptoms and severity of an eczema flare up. Treatment options can be minimal and applied topically (on the skin) or more involved in cases where infection is possible. Topical anti-inflammatory medications (such as topical steroids or steroid-free products), oral antihistamines, diluted bleach baths, and antibiotics are a few of the treatment options that are used in addressing eczema. In any of these instances it is important to spend some time learning about these treatment options and paying close attention to how that are impacting you. Having a good wellness team is important to starting and pivoting with these treatments where needed.
There is no cure for eczema but there are treatments. Depending on age and eczema severity, these treatments include over-the-counter (OTC) remedies, prescription topical medications, phototherapy, immunosuppressants, and biologic drugs.
To sum it up, most types of eczema can be addressed with these basics:
+ Stick to a daily bathing and moisturizing routine – Remember hydrating and moisturizing the skin is key for maintaining moisture.
+ Learn your triggers so that you can avoid or minimize exposure
+ Use medication where needed – consistently and as prescribed by your physician
Hopefully this gives you a general way to care for eczema and dermatitis. Working closely with your wellness team can help you make the best decisions for you as you navigate preventing flare ups and a holistic treatment plan.
We’ll get more into the best products for eczema in the next article on eczema.
Natural. Beautiful. You®,
Benardett, Creator of Sénica® Body Care Products
Scientific Studies & Other Readings on Eczema:
1. Nemeth V, Evans J. Eczema. [Updated 2020 Mar 24]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-.
2. McPherson T. Current Understanding in Pathogenesis of Atopic Dermatitis. Indian J Dermatol. 2016;61(6):649-655. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.193674
3. Thomsen SF. Atopic dermatitis: natural history, diagnosis, and treatment. ISRN Allergy. 2014;2014:354250. Published 2014 Apr 2. doi:10.1155/2014/354250
4. Types of Dermatitis
5. Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
6. Kamińska E. [The role of emollients in atopic dermatitis in children]. Dev Period Med. 2018;22(4):396-403.
How to care for keratosis pilaris (commonly occurs alongside eczema)
Sénica our goal is to help you care for dry skin and celebrate your authentic beauty. Learn more about our collection of moisturizers here, Moisturizers for Dry Skin & Eczema.
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