Managing Eczema: Science-backed Solutions for Daily Care
It’s estimated that at least 1 in 12 Irish adults suffer with atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema. This figure is increasing at an alarming rate worldwide, especially in urban areas.
If you have atopic eczema, it’s likely that you’ve tried numerous creams, lotions and portions in an attempt to find the holy grail product that will minimise itchy and painful flareups.
People who suffer with sensitive skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis often react only when they experience a flareup, dashing to their doctor and getting medicated prescriptive ointments in a quest for immediate relief.
The problem is that there is no cure for these conditions, which means that finding a daily management solution is critical to easing discomfort, minimising flareups, and building the skin’s ability to keep itself protected.
If you suffer with eczema your skin is hyper sensitive with a compromised skin barrier. This means that it has trouble keeping itself effectively moisturised, and this leads to itchiness, dryness, and discomfort. We know that aisles full of endless lotions and creams can feel overwhelming – label fatigue sets in quickly.
Once you understand what ingredients work for eczema and why, you can cut through confusion and choose daily care products that actually make a difference to how your skin looks, feels and reacts.
Hydrated skin is happy skin
First of all, it’s worth pointing out the obvious: avoid products that contain known irritants like artificial dyes, fragrance, harsh acids, foaming agents and parabens. When it comes to sensitive skin conditions basic, minimalist products are best.
Look for these categories of hydrating ingredients. An effective daily eczema cream will often combine all three.
3 types of hydrating Ingredients you need
Peptides are some of the most innovative ingredients out there for improving the firmness, hydration, and elasticity of the skin. And they are a powerhouse when combined with other hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid.
According to Pestle & Mortar’s skin education expert Marie Therese Byrne, “my best recommendation for anyone who wants to support their skin as it ages is to combine a peptide-rich daily moisturiser like Hydrate with a hyaluronic serum. These two work together like a dream to bolster collagen and maintain hydration.”
Emollients are moisturising treatments applied directly to the skin to soothe and hydrate it. Often used to help manage dry, itchy or scaly skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and ichthyosis, emollients fill in the fissures in dry skin, restoring the natural fats in the skin.
Not all emollients are made equal – some work better than others for dry and itchy skin conditions. Examples of great emollients for eczema include shea butter, coconut oil or capric triglyceride, oat kernel extract, squalane and avocado oil.
Humectants draw moisture into the skin, pulling it from the air and also from deeper in the skin up to the outer layers. They work well when combined with emollients as they give the skin a surge of hydration which is then sealed in with an emollient moisturiser and preferably an occlusive also. Examples of humectants that are used effectively in eczema skincare are aloe, glycerin, and capryl glycol.
Occlusives are moisturising ingredients that form a protective barrier on the skin to prevent loss of moisture. They are used to help super dry or damaged skin and can double-job as emollients which is confusing. Basically, occlusive ingredients keep hydration where it belongs – inside the dermis – by preventing evaporation.
Examples of good occlusive ingredients for your eczema- or psoriasis-prone skin are coconut oil and other plant-derived oils.
Treating inflammatory conditions doesn’t stop at hydration. Eczema and psoriasis-prone skin is often cracked, rough, flaky and damaged.
Which means that your daily routine should supplement hydration with calming, healing, soothing and anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Some of the absolute holy grail ingredients in this category include Tiger Grass and niacinamide.
Tiger Grass (so named because actual tigers roll around in it to heal their wounds!) is fast becoming a holy grail ingredient for people who suffer from inflammatory skin conditions. Immensely calming, it moisturises, heals and repairs skin leaving it feeling soft and calm.
Niacinamide reduces inflammation and eases redness from eczema and itchy skin. It is widely hailed as a hero ingredient to soothe irritated and inflamed skin and minimize scarring.
You Have to Love How it Feels
It’s really important for eczema-prone people to love the feel of the cream that they are putting on their skin. Sensitised skin doesn’t like vigorous rubbing and is often crying out for soft, absorbent, soothing care that gives immediate relief on application.
If you don’t like how a cream, wash or lotion feels on your skin, you won’t use it.
Bottom line: texture matters and so once you’ve got the ingredients right, it’s worth paying attention to how a product feels on your skin.
TRY: The Essentials Range, clinically tested and dermatologist-approved skincare for eczema- and psoriasis-prone skin.