My face has always been my most affected area or at least where I seem to notice my flare ups more, which is understandable as it’s the most visible place. So I’ve used hydrocortisone on my face for the longest time and it has helped but then it stopped working and I was put on clobetasone butyrate (eumovate) which is stronger and more potent. It got to the point where using steroids on my face was becoming excessive so the dermatologist decided to put me on tacrolimus ointment (Protopic). It has worked wonders for my face and neck, my skin has been clear for a good 2 months now but since it being so good I had forgotten to reapply to keep it clear and I’ve been blessed with a facial flare.
Little side note for future Lowri: Don’t get addicted to protopic!!
Now I know a lot of people going through TSW (topical steroid withdrawal) are probably screaming at the screen now and telling me to stay clear of protopic but in my defence, it’s a way for me to get off the steroids so I’m weaning off the protopic when my skin is stable enough to!
Now for the whole point of this post, calming down flares and soothing my sore skin. When I feel a flare coming I will make sure I keep nice and relaxed, avoiding stress and any irritants like dust. I know this is easier said than done but I will go out of my way to make myself feel put together and in control (although this is a little tricky with everything going on at the moment). Once my skin becomes inflamed I like to keep it clean, I normally use Dermol wash emulsion as this stuff is super gentle and doesn’t leave me feeling dry and tight as it’s a cream consistency. I also use colloidal silver spray to keep any sore, unbroken skin clean, this works as a natural anti bacterial and I just ordered mine from amazon.
I like to try new creams, I’m becoming a little bit skincare obsessed, but when I have active eczema I find it’s best to stick to what I know and I would recommend anyone to just stick to a routine or cream that works for you. Once your flare up is settled that’s when you can introduce something new. My go to cream for my face is the Balmonds skin salvation, I reach for this over anything else. It’s a magic cream for me, it doesn’t react at all and leaves a lovely layer of hydration to protect my skin! Zinc based creams have also helped me in calming down redness and drying out any oozing skin. I especially love the zinc and calendula range from Lyonsleaf for eczema around the mouth.
When my body is affected in a flare up I find an evening bath with epsom and magnesium salts help or oats in sock but if I am too sore I will have a morning shower, making sure it isn’t too hot. I always use Aveeno body wash, I don’t use anything else now, no fancy washes or soaps, just simple Aveeno wash. I find soaps strip my skin and leave me feeling mega dry so Aveeno is perfect as there’s no soap or nasty stuff in it! In terms of shampoo and conditioner, I am yet to find anything that really works. I don’t get much eczema on my scalp, just really dry, flaky skin but I am on the hunt for some good quality shampoo and conditioner!
Post shower or bath I will always wait 5-10 minutes, sometimes longer before I moisturise which sounds like a bad idea but if you let your skin cool down and a dry out a little, when you apply your cream your skin drinks it up and doesn’t get that horrible itchy hot feeling you might sometimes get. My skin does dry out and begin to flake but it feels a lot better than trapping in the heat with cream! A little tip I got from my dermatologist. Sometimes if I don’t feel like I need to moisturise I won’t, controversial I know, but after seeing many people withdraw from moisturisers to allow their bodies to produce natural oils it kind of makes sense.
Now night time can sometimes be the worst because you get all hot and bothered under the duvet and it can feel like the nights drag on as you claw your skin away. A few things that have helped me are to take a stronger antihistamine at bed time, I take Fexofendine prescribed by the doctor; use a tubular bandage or wrap to cover up any eczema on your arm or leg creases, this will hopefully stop you breaking any skin if you manage to keep them on. I use arm sleeves with gel patched in them that help the skin retain its moisture. If I am feeling particularly hot at night I will keep a damp flannel by my bed side to hold onto skin to reduce the itch. Tips for night time are harder as I, myself am looking for ways to get through the night a bit easier when my skin is super itchy.
So I’ll break it down into a few easy, simple steps:
- Keep your skin clean: use a non foaming cleanser you know won’t react or make your skin worse. You could even use your moisturiser.
- Stick to what you know: simplify your skincare routine and don’t bother trying lots of different creams on your active eczema, I find its best to just use products you know work for your skin and will help soothe it. Wait until you’re cleared up to try something new and you never know it could be your new go to.
- Wash with products that don’t contain soap: soap can dry your skin out even more and strip away those natural oils you need to help your skin recover. Soap can also impact the PH level which can worsen symptoms.
- Use topical medications only if you really have to: getting addicted to things like steroids and protopic can in fact cause these flare ups to become more frequent and worse. If they help you, use them as and when for short periods of time (but try and avoid them all together, you’ll only save yourself the hassle of coming off them).
- Take salt baths: sounds like a crazy idea that might sting but it is very soothing and relaxing. Epsom salts detoxify the skin and draw impurities to the surface so if you’re having a bath before bed, rinse of your skin before drying off.
- Keep your skin cool: whether you need ice packs, a fan, frozen peas, use whatever you need to keep the temperature of you skin down, this will help reduce any itchiness.
- Practise some self love (you deserve it): Some things I like to do are write in my journal, use essential oils in my mist diffuser, get into a good book, talk to friends, yoga flow it out, there are so many more things you can do to check in with yourself. For some good tips and inspiration about this look at The Beauty of Eczema on instagram and Camille Knowles who as written an amazing book.
- Distract yourself: get creative, dance around the room (if your skin will allow you to) or read a book. I know how hard it is to stop scratching, I need to practise what I preach but scratching less will hopefully break that itch scratch cycle and cause less damage to your skin.
I hope these tips and tricks help you, feel free to leave yours in the comments, I’d love to know what works for you.
Useful links for products mentioned:
Balmonds (affiliate link): Use the code LOWRIHAF20 for 20% off https://balmonds.co.uk/rfsn=3798450.6f6e5d&utm_source=refersion&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=3798450.6f6e5d
Colloidal silver spray: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005KQ3ZJM/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o07_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Westlab salts: https://westlabsalts.co.uk/