Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Living With Eczema- Part 2- Treating Outbreaks

This is the second (and final) part of a short series on dealing with eczema I've created with Sara, a reader who has learned to manage (and basically eliminate) the eczema on her face and body. In conversations that began during my "What's Your Routine?" contest, we've been trading tips and discussing ways that we make the best of our eczematic skin (I should mention that my condition is fairly mild and limited to my legs, so Sara is the real expert here) and I thought it might be helpful to readers who have eczema, psoriasis, severe dry skin or other similar conditions.

Yesterday we covered prevention, which is obviously the first key step in dealing with a triggered skin condition, but today we're moving on to how to treat those nasty outbreaks when they occur. Sara recommends keeping the following products on hand when you begin to develop rashes:

1. A bottle of antiseptic/anesthetic that keeps rashes from becoming infected and dulls the itch so that you're less tempted to scratch. The ones that come is spray form, like Bactine, are the easiest to apply and are less likely to be sticky and transfer on clothes/sheets.

2. Ice packs are wonderful for soothing the skin and reducing irritation. They also help reduce itching (as well as the burning that results from it). The children's sized packs are perfect for smaller areas and those with fabric covers are the most comfortable. Sara's favorite trick is to dampen a soft washcloth and throw it in the freezer, it works especially well for the face.

3. Aquaphor: the be-all and end-all moisturizer for super dry skin. It's very viscous, so it doesn't work well for day, but you can't beat it as a night treatment. It will break you out if you have combination skin and it contains lanolin alcohol (not always good for those allergic to wool) so a patch test is never a bad idea. It's also the greatest lip moisturizer on the market.

4. Benadryl can make you sleepy, but it's wonderful for allergy relief. They have a new dye free formula that's especially good for those with allergies/sensitivities to dyes.

5. Milk, honey, yogurt and oatmeal all make great natural treatments for dry skin. I've been taking oatmeal baths (whether natural or the kind from Aveeno) since I was a baby, but you can also combine whole oats with milk or honey to create a soothing, moisturizing mask. The higher the fat content of the milk or yogurt, the more moisturizing it'll be, and Sara recommends the whole milk Greek yogurt as a face mask, since it has a thicker consistency.

This post wraps up my series on living with eczema; if anyone has specific questions about product recommendations, you're welcome to e-mail me and Sara and I would be happy to answer them. We'd also love hearing suggestions for how other readers prevent and treat eczema and which products work best for you, so leave a comment and join the discussion.

Thanks again to Sara for her expertise and assistance, I couldn't have done it without her!


Lacrima said...

I have very difficult skin - dry, itchy, prone to rashes, eczema, flakiness, you name it. Tests have shown that I'm allergic to many things; among them fragrances and colouring pigments in cosmetics. My dermatologist advised me not to use any products at all - no cleansing milk, no creams, no cosmetics. Just give your skin a chance to heal by itself, he said. According to him cleansing your skin every knight is very bad for it, because you keep destroying its balance. Also when I have eczema my skin gets very thin and I run a greater risk of developinbg new allergies to creams that I put on. So I did as I was told (sigh) and it made a lot of difference. I do miss my make-up (very much), but my skin looks 10 times better (and I save a lot of money). I do however sometimes use a very light vaseline based cream from the chemist's when my skin is very dry, and have recently started using Weleda's Almond Oil and Hydrating Almond Cream - just because I like the feeling of smoothing cream or oil onto my face and having slightly plumper skin.
So what works for me is: keeping bowls of water around the house when the heating is on to fight dry air; no foundation, no lipstick, no eyeshadow, no blusher etc (when I go out, I use an eyepencil and very occasionally some mascara); no creams or cleansers unless they are completely free of alcohol, essential oils and added fragrances; and if things get really bad I use a bit of hydrocortison cream (but not on my face, as the skin of my face has grown allergic to it!).
One last tip that could be useful for others (sorry this posting is so long): I use a toothpaste that doesn't contain fluoride. It turned out I was sensitive to that as well, and it caused my skin to break out/get very itchy,red and flaky.

Good luck to all the itchy people out there!

Laura said...

A few years ago I noticed my skin getting dry on my legs, arms and heels, which was odd because I've always had oily skin. I also live in humid Houston so lotion had never been a necessity. Since nothing added up, I did some investigation, and then purchased a chlorine filter showerhead and bathball and I'm back to normal. I've also recommended this to friends and they had the same success. Depending on your water supply, it might help alleviate some of the dry skin problems.

a.swank.circumference said...

I don't know if this will help, but I worked at a boutique that sold egyption magic and it was for psoriasis and eczemaand other skin conditions. The ingredients are as follows: olive oil, bees wax, honey bee pollen, royal jelly,and bee propolis. I bet you could find it on e-bay if you wanted to try it. We had two customers that where really happy with it!
Oh and meg, thanks for all the bathing suit post- they where really helpful!! (:

Fabulously Broke in the City said...

Oh!! I have eczema too!

What I do is right when I get out of the shower after bathing with Aveeno Oat Body Scrub, when my skin is dripping wet and moist (no towel goes near it before I do this next step), I slathered on Oil of Olay's Concentrate (for dry cracked heels and elbows), ALL over my body where my eczema was.

In about 2 weeks, it was completely gone. I keep using it on a regular basis every time I feel a slight itch coming up, and it disappears in no time.

Ice packs are also another great way to numb the skin to stop it from feeling. Or the cortisone stuff (like what Lanacane is) that stops mosquito bites, etc, is fantastic..

Anonymous said...

I've had psoriasis since I was teen and I find taking a bath with bath salts (1/2 sea salt/1/2 epsom salt) 2 times a week and then slatherin myself with a thick lotion afterwards really helps. My body will work with a lotion for a while only to rebel later. Currently it likes Bath and Body Works Spa line Look Mom New Hands (it contains Parafin).