Why you have eczema, triggers and treatments

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Suffering from eczema? Here's our 101 in the skin condition and how to deal with it

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Whether you've been feeling the red and raw effects of eczema for years, or are new to dealing with the dry itchy skin, there are a few basic questions that are often left unanswered.

Like why you even have it in the first place? The best way to soothe your skin? How to prevent a flare-up?

So we caught up with Bao-Tam Phan, skin expert and pharmacist at Laboratoires Pierre Fabre to get a few answers.

What is and how do I spot it?


Eczema is a non-contagious inflammatory skin condition that can affect children and adults. Skin may be very dry, itchy, scaly, cracked and inflamed. It often affects the creases of body joints (e.g. back of knees or inside of elbows).

What can trigger a flare up?


  • Strong soaps and detergents can make the skin drier and itchier. A soap substitute, bath or shower emollient will cleanse the skin without stripping important oils

  • Creams or soap substitutes containing a chemical called sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) can be harmful

  • Synthetic fabrics or wool can increase irritation, so choose cotton instead

  • Very hot baths and showers can flush the skin and make it itchier

  • Stress such as exams or busy work periods can trigger inflamation

  • Weather at different times of year can also cause eczema to worsen


  • How do I best treat eczema?


    After a bath or shower, use a good moisturising cream or ointment, to trap the moisture within the top layers of the skin, and to stop the skin from drying out. This is especially important during the winter months, to reduce skin tightening and flaking.

    Different people find different creams work best for them. This may even be a different cream at different times of the day. Creams which are often effective include Dexeryl (available from pharmacies) with white soft paraffin, liquid paraffin, emulsifying ointment and many others. While the A-DERMA skincare range uses soothing Rheaba Oat, and the Eau Thermale Avène Trixera+ cream has great anti-itch properties.

    Always put the cream onto the skin in quick downwards strokes, as it will stop the cream from getting into the skin's pores and leading to spots. Apply as regularly as you can, even as often as four times a day.

    If the skin is very itchy use a cooling spray such as the Avène Thermal Water Spray on the patch to soothe and alleviate the sensation.

    Can I prevent eczema flare ups?


    It's important to keep on using a good moisturising routine to keep the skin supple, as this can help to stop the eczema from coming back. Make sure you take time to relax too, so that you can limit the effects of stress on your eczema.

    Did you find Bao-Tam Phan's advice helpful? Share your own eczema tips below...

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