Skin Wars: Eczema

It's one thing to suffer from everyday issues like dehydration, clarity and lines, but what if your skin is higher-maintenance and your problems need more specific solutions? MELANIE MORRIS and specialist dermatology nurse Selene Daly examine the most common Irish skin complaints and address how to handle them.



Eczema or dermatitis is a general term for a group of conditions that cause the skin to become dry, red, itchy and inflamed. Types include atopic eczema, allergic contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, aesthetic eczema, and seborrheic dermatitis. Medically, eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that is characterised by dry skin, irritation and inflammatory lesions.

When skin is dry and damaged, its barrier function is reduced. Common allergens such as animal hair, pollen and preservatives in cosmetic products trigger allergic inflammatory action. Dry skin is also more vulnerable to a particular bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus.



Currently, there is no cure for eczema - so no pill, vaccine, diet or supplementation that works to eradicate it. However, we do have effective, safe methods that help control eczema. Steroid creams, and use of non-soap products help, but really the key is moisture. You can't do this enough. Dry skin should be moisturised even when there's no flare. This builds up the barrier, preventing flares from triggers. Regular use of moisturisers has been proven to reduce the amount of topical steroid needed. All products for dry skin should never contain preservatives.



Moisturise liberally (three times daily), using a heavy hitting cream with active, natural ingredients that hydrate the skin barrier. Elave Intensive Cream, €4.99, is clinically proven for eczema-prone skin. Shampoos and shower gels are important to get right. Look for sulfate- and soap- free washes that won't irritate the skin. Try Seavite's shampoo and shower gel.

This article originally appeared in the May issue of IMAGE, on shelves now.

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