It’s a frustratingly tricky skin condition to temper, but there is some reprieve for the 1 in 12 adults who deal with eczema, in the form of calming foods and a kinder skincare regimen. Reduce redness, blistering, scaling and thickening of skin by following our 5 top tips on the things you should – and shouldn’t – do when a flare-up takes hold.
1. Keep fingernails short
Long fingernails can make particularly itchy episodes all the more painful. Trim them down to keep them short and round – especially if you scratch in your sleep.
2. Be careful when you bathe
Bathing can strip skin of its protective oils, so lather up as little as possible and opt for lukewarm water over hot, moisture-sapping soaks. When you emerge from the tub, pat and blot skin dry very gently taking care not to rub. The last thing fragile complexions need is a rigorous scrub from your towel.
3. Avoid inflammatory drinks
Though topical caffeine in certain products has shown some improvement for eczema sufferers, drinking stimulating drinks like coffee or tea is often considered a no-no. Such beverages can trigger your body’s stress response, which can contribute to flare-ups – so it may be time to wean your body off that morning brew.
4. Amp up moisture levels
This probably goes without saying, but moisturising is one of the best ways to keep eczema under control – especially after washing or bathing your skin. Plump for a plain, unscented cream that’s formulated without unnecessary additives, like Eau Thermale Avène Skin Recovery Cream, £12.50, or Dermalex Eczema Cream, £10.79.
5. Keep a food diary
In some eczema sufferers, a food allergy or intolerance could be the culprit. If you suspect this is the case for you, try keeping a food diary. By documenting what you eat, you may be able to figure out what triggers your flare-ups – though it’s best to consult your doctor or dermatologist before you cut foods out.
For more advice on controlling your eczema, get support from the National Eczema Society.