I’ve lived with eczema on and off for 28 years. It’s been itchy, uncomfortable, and a huge lesson in learning to love myself despite not always liking what I see in the mirror. Here are a few of the tips I can share with you from my experiences.
1. Routine Is Pivotal
In my teenage years, my eczema flared up so badly it bled constantly. The reason is simply because I had no routine. My skin wasn’t a priority; there were sleepovers to attend, technology to distract me, and boys. No matter how much my dad told me to “keep up with your moisturiser”, I didn’t listen. I had the ‘I know better’ teen mentality, and boy did I pay for it.
Now, I know how crucial routine is, and not just because my dad said so. I’ve spoken with countless Dermatologists, and each has reiterated it to me. Keeping your skin well moisturised is crucial for eczema sufferers as our skin’s natural barrier is weakened. I moisturise top to toe morning and night without fail nowadays.
2. Hot Showers Are A No-No
I wish this one weren’t true, but hot showers are a terrible idea for all skin types, not just if you’re eczema-prone like me. A steamy shower dries out and irritates the skin as it strips it of its natural, healthy oils. It’s a surefire way to make your skin dehydrated. Instead, it’s better to opt for a lukewarm shower; if the mirror is steaming up, you know it’s time to turn down the temperature.
3. Stress Shows
Skin is the body’s biggest organ, so it makes sense that it shows signs of stress. For me, stress shows up on my skin as red, itchy eczema. For years, I resented that, hated it even, but now I accept it as a part of who I am and get on with it.
When I am getting a stress-induced flare-up, I reach for my steroid cream, if necessary, and schedule some me-time. Years ago, I had the ‘don’t let my skin condition stop me’ attitude, and although I still have that, I think it’s important to listen to our boy. When my skin isn’t happy, it’s sometimes a sign that I need to take a break.
4. Don’t Itch
Many people have excellent self-restraint when it comes to things like only eating one slice of cake; I, however, can stop myself from scratching when my whole body feels as if it’s on fire. It’s taken years of practice and a few crucial products, but I’m now the queen of anti-itch.
Scratching your skin until it bleeds isn’t good, but that can go out of the window if you have a skin condition. It’s as if the entire world is whispering in your ear to ‘scratch’. What helped me stop was seeing how much worse my skin would get for a few seconds of relief, then the desire to itch would come back again. My top tip is, have a water spray close to hand at all times; whenever you get the urge to scratch, spritz!
5. Less Is More
I’ve worked in the beauty industry for over seven years, and my inner beauty lover still squeals with excitement whenever a new product arrives at my door. I adore trying the latest innovations. My skin, however, isn’t always so thrilled. It’s a creature of habit and doesn’t react well to change or harsh ingredients. Years ago, I would tear open the packaging of a new release straight away and use it right away. Now, I take more care when trying new things so as not to overburden my skin or be wasteful.
6. There’s No One Size Fits All
Have you ever been hooked by someone’s incredible results? Yes, me too. And although a fantastic before and after is great to make a note of, it’s worth understanding that what works for someone else may not necessarily work for you. It took me years to come to terms with this. I always wondered why someone else had found a miracle cream to fix their eczema. When it comes to your skin, skincare is just the tip of the iceberg. Your diet, health, environment, and so much more come into play.
7. Sunscreen is Non-Negotiable
When I started using skincare, no one mentioned sunscreen. It was all cleansing, toning and moisturising and SPF was something to pull out on a sunny day. If only I knew then that 80% of sun damage happens before the age of 18. Now, sunscreen is a crucial part of my routine to prevent premature ageing and protect myself from skin cancer. One of my favourites that doesn’t upset my eczema-prone skin is the Avene Sun Care Intense Protect SPF50+.
8. Handbag Skincare Is A Thing
Skincare isn’t just an AM/PM thing for me. I carry a few skincare essentials around me everywhere I go. And I mean everywhere. The micro bag trend is a big no-no for me; I need skincare space. I always have a moisturiser, water spray (you never know when that itch-scratch cycle will creep up), and a lip balm inside my handbag at all times.
9. The Right Amount Exists
It’s easy to think that the more you apply, the more benefits you’ll get, but that’s not the case. Skin can only absorb so much, so when you use too much product, you’re wasting it and thus throwing money down the drain. It took me years to learn this!
10. My Skin Is Beautiful
For years I hated my skin. I wished it was normal. I scratched until I bled and cried until my eyes were red raw. I had a ‘why me’ attitude and thought having a skin condition was the end of the world. It isn’t. As I’ve gotten older and learned more about how my skin works and what it likes, I’ve learned to love the skin I’m in. And it’s pretty cool, too; every square inch of your skin has around 19 million cells, and your skin constantly sheds dead cells, about 30,000 to 40,000 cells every minute!