At ChitoCare beauty, we know how easily our skin can be affected by environmental triggers. Proper skincare plays a leading role in managing eczema-prone skin, so we have put together a few simple tips that can help alleviate or prevent some of the symptoms from occurring.
Atopic dermatitis, also often referred to as “atopic eczema,” is the most common type of eczema, affecting between 1% and 3% of the global population. It occurs when an overactive immune system causes the skin barrier to become dry and itchy. As the number of people who suffer from this oftentimes painful skin condition has tripled in industrialized countries since the 1970s, information on the subject is one of the first steps towards better managing life with eczema.
Skincare Tips for Eczema-Prone Skin
As eczema triggers and symptoms are different across eczema types and across people, not all treatments work the same for everyone. Speaking with a specialist should be the first step towards treating eczema, as they can help you develop a skincare routine that best meets your specific eczema type and individual skin needs. Below are some simple tips that have worked for many people living with eczema, and which can complement your personal skincare routine.
Check your elbows and knees
While eczema can affect each person differently, it can commonly show up in the same places for many people. Check the insides of your elbows and behind your knees for signs of red, dry, inflamed, itchy or flaky skin. The patches will most probably be uncomfortable or sensitive to the touch, which is one way to tell an eczema outbreak from regular dry skin. If you are unsure of whether you are showing signs of eczema, you should check with your doctor before proceeding with any kind of treatment.
Avoid the temptation to scratch
Eczema can be a painful skin condition to deal with. When it flares up, skin becomes dry and itchy. Itching is one of the most common symptoms of eczema-prone skin and one can be tempted to relieve it by scratching. However, too much scratching can cause rashes, sensitivity, soreness, even infections if the skin is broken. Scratching can also trigger a cycle known as “itch, scratch, itch,” which is when scratching leads to more itchiness. If your skin feels itchy, try patting or pinching it, or applying some soothing moisturizer. ChitoCare beauty Body Lotion is composed of natural, emollient and moisturizing ingredients and has been known to help people with sensitive and eczema-prone skin*. It can help to reduce redness and itching, locking in moisture and protecting the skin by forming a breathable film.
Wash with lukewarm water
When dealing with eczema, it might seem like hot, steaming showers and scrubbing hard is a good idea, but that can in fact make the problem worse, and irritate or inflame the skin further. Extra-long showers, especially with hot water, can make it harder for your skin to retain the necessary amount of moisture it needs. Short (no more than 10 minutes), lukewarm showers with unscented soap, followed by moisturizing while the skin is still damp can help reduce some of the itching or irritation. Some people take apple cider vinegar baths to help soothe the symptoms. Alternatively, you could mix a solution with 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, add it to a cold compress, then gently pat your skin with it. Others swear by oatmeal baths, combined with dead sea salts and castor oil.*
Use soap with caution
Washing too frequently and scrubbing hard are sure ways to exacerbate eczema-prone skin. While it might be nice to shower with fragrant shower gels, keep in mind that scented products or products containing harsh chemicals and synthetic microgranules can make the problem worse. Be mindful of what ingredients are in your body wash or scrub, and never scrub hard when exfoliating. Additionally, opt for skin cleansers with pH levels similar to the skin and remember that over-washing will deplete your skin of its natural, necessary oils. After bathing, always pat dry your skin softly to avoid aggravating your eczema.
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
One of the most important steps when dealing with eczema is moisturizing. Even normal skin needs moisture, and this is especially true of eczema-prone skin. As people with eczema have a damaged skin barrier, it is harder for their skin to retain moisture, making it dry and itchy. Chronic dry skin can cause eczema to flare or become worse, so locking in moisture is crucial.
Moisturizers are categorized based on their amount of water and oil content. Creams and ointments that feel a bit greasy usually contain more oil than lotions. Typically, the more oil a moisturizer contains the better it is at treating eczema, as it keeps moisture in and irritants out. Opt for moisturizers that are fragrance- and dye-free to avoid irritating your skin further. Some ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, can benefit your skin as it has the capacity for moisture retention. Crucially for people with eczema, moisturizers must be applied to the skin within three minutes of bathing so the skin can lock in water before it dries completely. To benefit face and neck eczema-prone skin, apply the ChitoCare beauty Anti-Aging Repair Serum, rich in hyaluronic acid and chitosan, every morning and evening to replenish and protect the skin.
ChitoCare medical Wound Healing Gel is specially designed to help acute and chronic wounds and other skin conditions, including eczema and inflammation. Containing marine chitosan, it reduces the symptoms associated with various skin conditions, such as itching and redness, promoting the skin's natural repair process. It creates a thin, transparent and breathable film over the skin, protecting against infections, and helps reduce bleeding, scarring and pain, offering a soothing cooling effect. For a lighter skin protection and to lock in moisture, apply ChitoCare medical Healing Spray as an alternative to the gel.
Be mindful of fabrics and surfaces
Various fabrics and clothing textures can have a direct effect on eczema-prone skin. Harsh fabrics like wool or synthetic fabrics like polyester can trigger eczema, causing irritation, itching or soreness. If possible, try wearing loose-fitting clothes made of cotton or other natural fabrics that allow the body to breathe, as overdressing or synthetic fabrics can cause sweating, which in turn can cause an eczema flare. The same goes for bed linen – avoid synthetic fabrics or rough textures and opt for cotton or other natural fabrics that will not irritate the skin or cause sweating during the night.
Another thing to keep in mind is surfaces. Certain materials, metals, textiles, and other rough textures can irritate the skin. Avoid sitting with bare legs on surfaces like grass, metal (especially nickel), plastic chairs, upholstery, rough carpets or woolen blankets.
Protect yourself from the sun
All types of environmental triggers can affect your eczema and the same is true for sunshine. This makes outdoor activities challenging for many people living with eczema. While one type of eczema, called photosensitive eczema, is caused by sun exposure, it is rare. For most people with eczema, moderate sun exposure is harmless: it provides the body with vitamin D and acts as a mood booster, while swimming in salty sea water can help soothe eczema-prone skin and reduce stress (another eczema trigger). However, extensive exposure to the sun, that can lead to sweating and sunburn, can severely worsen eczema, so practicing wise sun protection is strongly advised.
Generously apply sunscreen with a SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30 that is suitable for eczema-prone skin. Remember to reapply as needed – typically every two hours, but more often if swimming, sweating or rubbed off by towels. It can help to apply your usual moisturizer before applying sunscreen, to enhance your skin’s moisture levels before heading out into the sun. ChitoCare beauty Face Cream with SPF 15 is suitable for eczema-prone skin and will hydrate your skin while supporting its natural repair process. Supplement with a high SPF sunscreen. Sit in the shade, when possible, wear a protective hat, sunglasses and loose-fitting clothes made from breathable fabrics, and drink plenty of water to remain hydrated. If you sweat through clothes, it can help to change them, to avoid sweat-related irritation.
The skin is often the first part of our body to be affected by stress and the signs can show up externally. Stress almost always makes health conditions worse, and this includes eczema. Some people keep their stress levels in check by keeping an anxiety journal. This allows them to see what stressors affect their daily life and which ones might be causing their eczema to flare up.
Some ways to reduce stress include getting plenty of sleep, drinking lots of water, and frequently exercising or meditating. As your body goes into repair mode when you sleep, getting at least eight hours of sleep a day will help your body – and by extension your skin – get the rest and recovery it needs. Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water will help your body flush out toxins. Exercising is a great way to lower stress levels, though it can cause sweating which might make eczema worse. You could opt for meditating or simple stretching, which are also effective ways of lowering anxiety levels.
Watch what you eat
Our diet affects our overall health and by extension our skin, and this is also true of people living with eczema. Understanding how what you eat affects your skin can help minimize eczema symptoms. Some people find that certain foods (such as nuts, eggs, or dairy) trigger their eczema and eliminating them from their diet helped. Even though there is no clinical support proving a connection between eczema and diet, allergic reactions can compound existing skin conditions.
One way of figuring out what food or beverage might be causing eczema to flare up is to try an elimination diet. This is when you exclude certain foods from your diet and then reintroduce them, all the while taking notes or keeping a food diary to keep track of any possible reactions. A nutritionist or eczema expert will monitor the procedure to help identify what foods you might be intolerant of.
For further information on how to manage eczema, you can check out our basic skincare routine for eczema-prone skin.
* Always speak with a dermatologist or eczema specialist before using new products or if you are unsure about what to use. They can suggest a treatment option that is most suitable for your specific eczema type and skin type. When using a new product for the first time, it is advised to do a topic skin test by applying a pea-sized amount to the inside of your wrist or elbow. Do not wash the area for 48 hours (about 2 days) and check for any allergic reactions, such as redness, itching, rashes, flaking or pain. Avoid using products if any know allergies to individual ingredients exist, or if sensitive to scents and fragrances.