Skin is important in our family. With both my toddler and myself suffering badly with eczema everything from the food we eat to the creams we use is considered. There have been highs and many painful lows for both of us, but we have started this year empowered with our discoveries, which is why I’m sharing my top 5 eczema solutions for your family to ditch the itch too.
WORK ON THE INSIDE
Skin is the biggest organ in the human body and it works closely with the other major organs, which is why it’s so important to keep the insides well looked after. For our family that means vitamins, not only in our food but also taken daily. The key vitamins for eczema-prone skin are zinc, Vitamin D, Probiotics , omega oils and Vitamin C, with a daily dose of echinacea (elderberry is a great alternative for kids).
You need to strengthen your gut and restore moisture to boost your immune system.
BANISH THE IRRITANTS
At the beginning of 2018 our whole family was tested for food and topical intolerances and discovered a rather shocking list of no gos such as dairy, soya, pineapples, tomato skin, chocolate and sulphates. We eliminated them immediately, with much difficulty (shopping while scanning the back of every packet is a ball ache) and noticed a difference, especially if we had even a whiff of any of them – cue itching, red rashes, wheezing and coughs. I even suffered with crazy cracked lips for months, which healed after I switched to a non-sulphate toothpaste.
This does make me a label scrutiniser for everything I buy, but knowledge is power and it’s scary how much of our industrialised food and skincare are filled with products you wouldn’t expect them to be. #Disturbed
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, I’ve been very deliberate in minimising my kids fluid intake to water and milk. So, a sugary juice to the kids is the equivalent of what a McDonald’s milkshake was to me as a kid and that’s a big treat. Our bodies are made up of a lot of water, and our skin needs it to counteract the drying affect of the drying eczema. chase was to the 80s kid me.
I keep a water dispenser in the kitchen so my daughter enjoys pouring it for herself and therefore drinks more. We also all have our own water bottle to keep nearby, I love my Swell bottle, which keeps water ice cold for hours and also a lovely glass one by my desk with a charcoal stick inside (activated charcoal sticks purify water and infuse water with minerals at the same time).
Moisturising the skin on the outside is a basic requirement of managing your family’s eczema. However, did you know that in addition to the choice of creams you use, you need to get the technique right? I have learned from my dermatology nurses that the best way to apply creams is to keep it in the fridge (it will be cooling on itchy angry skin) and apply in long strokes in one downward direction to avoid aggravating your skin cells by rubbing. Try to moisturise within 3 minutes of bathing, as your wet skin will be more receptive to the lotion.
Also consider homemade (i love all the butters with essential oils such as frankincense and hemp) lotions or high street brands such as Cuderm – we use their lovely lotions, which are paraben, perfume and alcohol free and also vegan. I can also recommend Weleda Skin Food, a really thick ointment for those extra dry days, you can carry with you in on the go. Top up the lotion whenever your skin feels dry (in our house that means up to 4 times a day) and always keep some cream next to your sinks to moisturise hands immediately after washing.
WEAN OFF THE DRUGS
This is a bit controversial and I’m scared I might open my front door to men in dark suits, but the pharmaceutical companies are not set up to heal your family’s eczema, but to dampen the condition for a hot minute until you need your next fix. Yeah I said it, fix, because strong topical steroids are drugs and like drugs your body can become addicted them and they can even exacerbate the issues. Last spring I went on antibiotics, after a reaction to Dermovate made my skin peel, bleed and become infected! I discovered the world of topical steroid withdrawal and the shockingly painful process of going drug-free, most eczema sufferers eventually self heal after a few years of sore, red skin.
My hospital are helping me to wean off the strong steroids through the PUVA treatment and by showing me how to do so in a gentler process. The advice has been to use the strong steroids for the serious break outs to calm the skin, and then wean down to once a day, once a week, once a fortnight and eventually once every few months. It was pretty damning on the drugs to hear that you still needed to tap in every now and then to avoid an eczema breakout.
Also try levelling down to a milder potency steroid. I stick to hydro cortisone for my face and will NOT use any steroid creams on my daughter’s skin. Don’t even go there mama, it’s a trap!
So these are just some of the tips we are using to manage our family’s ezema. I would love to know your experiences trying to manage your condition and any tips you may have picked up along the way. Please share in the comments below or head over to the Mums That Slay @instagram page and join the party over there.