Atopic eczema affects 1 in 5 children and 1 in 12 adults, making it the most common form of eczema and one of the most common skin conditions. Its red and dry appearance accompanied by an intense itch makes for a very painful and chronic condition.
Unfortunately, there can be many triggers associated with eczema, which are common and abundant such as: washing detergents, stress, temperature changes, and allergens. When the eczema flares up, it’s important to treat at the first sign of symptoms to prevent any worsening that could potentially end up in bleeding or infection.
Emollients are the mainstay of all treatment for eczema and products include creams, ointments, lotions, bath additives and soap substitutes. Emollients can help soothe and repair the skin while also reducing the requirement for topical steroids (i.e. medicated creams/ointments) and can also increase the effectiveness of prescribed treatments. Sometimes you may need more than one type, and often people prefer to use a lotion during the day and an ointment at night due their textures. Ideally they should be applied at least twice a day and adults should use approximately 500g while children should use approximately 250g of emollient per week.
Some tips for eczema suffers that I would always recommend are:
- Don’t stop moisturising when your skin is eczema free – prevention is better than cure!
- Keep fingernails short.
- Avoid soap and harsh chemicals in cleaning products.
- Shampoo that is fragrance free and pH neutral should be chosen (avoid Sodium Lauryl Sulphate).
- Emollients are best applied straight after a bath/shower.
- Cotton clothing is the most preferred to avoid irritation.
- Do not limit your diet if you believe some foods may be causing it before talking to your GP.
- Aqueous cream should not be used as a leave-on emollient as it has been proven to cause irritation. Instead, it is better as a soap substitute.
- For those with severe eczema, “wet wrapping” should be considered. This involved applying a generous layer of emollient, which is then covered with a wet cotton bandage.
- Take extra care during these cool winter months as often, the cold can cause dry skin to become worse.
- Aveeno® and La Roche Posay™Lipikar/Cicaplast range are my top recommended emollient products (available from the LloydsPharmacy website-subject to availability) and Doublebase Emollient Gel (available from LloydsPharmacies nationwide- subject to availability).
- Always contact your GP or local LloydsPharmacist should you find your eczema difficult to manage or if you have any questions regarding your treatment.
Brought to you by Sarah Morris, 4th year pharmacy intern at LloydsPharmacy