In part one of our eczema series we looked at the environmental triggers for eczema and how you can make changes to your diet to reduce the number of eczema flare-ups you have. This time, we're looking at what you should be putting on your skin to treat it, including some simple, low-cost remedies you can make at home.
Lets take an outside-in view, and looking at the range of topical treatments you can use on mild forms of eczema.
Eczema creams, ointments and lotions
All the eczema creams on the market can be put into one of two categories:
1. Conventional creams containing both synthetic and natural ingredients designed to coat the skin and trap moisture without irritating
2. More natural oil and herb-based products which provide nourishment and anti-inflammatory ingredients.
It is important to find the right treatment for your own eczema, so keep trying different products until you find the one that is right for you. Helpful ingredients to look for include, Aloe vera, Calendula, Cocoa butter, Borage Oil, Vitamin E and Evening primrose oil.
Here is a summary of our natural products that are suitable for eczema prone skin
About cortisone creams/topical steroids for eczema
There are pros and cons to using medicated treatments. One the one hand, they can provide desperately-needed relief for eczema. With short-term use there shouldn't be any long-term side effects. But, with long-term use of topical steroids there can be damage to collagen, which means that the skin will lose tone and get thinner. Steroids can basically cause similar symptoms to premature ageing. They also cause the body to lose chromium and reduce the effects of vitamin C and D. Plus of course they contain a cocktail of chemicals.
Traditional soap can break down the skin's barriers, making it more vulnerable to irritants and allergens. Try an unperfumed, mild soap instead. Watch out for commercial foaming products which are likely to contain sodium laureth sulphate, which can damage and dry the skin.
Limit your baths to fifteen minutes to prevent the loss of natural oils from the skin, keep the bath luke-warm rather than hot, and add magnesium flakes.
Moisturising bath recipe
Mix a teaspoon of oil (olive, coconut or almond) with a teaspoon of your favourite moisturiser and stir it into the bath.
Soothing bath recipe
Add 1/2 cup of organic apple cider vinegar and 6 to 8 drops of rose oil to warm bath water. For some people this will help soothe the inflammation and balance the pH of the skin. In others it may cause itching - if so, put 1/4 cup of baking soda in fresh bath water to relieve the itch.
To soothe itches
We'll leave you with some at-home first aid treatments for itching!
1. Fill a plastic bag with ice and hold it on the skin
2. Add 1/4 cup of bicarbonate of soda to a lukewarm bath and soak in it for 15 minutes