Topical steroids are a commonly prescribed treatment for eczema symptoms. They are designed to reduce redness and itchiness in the skin, and when used correctly for short periods of time, are considered to be a safe treatment for eczema symptoms. For some people with extremely debilitating eczema, it may be considered necessary to undertake a short course of topical steroid treatment. However, they are NOT a cure, and if used for long periods of time they can cause unpleasant side effects that can be very hard to get rid of.
These side effects include thinning of the skin, loss of elasticity, stretch marks, increased hair growth and perioral dermatitis (a persistent red, spotty rash around the mouth and nose). There is also some concern about the potential absorption of these steroids by the skin into the bloodstream.
At The Healthy House, we always advocate the most gentle and natural approach possible when it comes to treating allergy symptoms and skin conditions. This is particularly relevant in the cases of mild to moderate eczema.
What is eczema?
Healthy skin creates a barrier between the inside of the body and the outside environment. This barrier prevents the body from absorbing fluids, and letting them out. When the skin is affected by eczema, this barrier is damaged. This means that substances that might not otherwise have affected the skin may now irritate it.
If you're struggling with eczema symptoms but want to try a more gentle approach, follow these suggestions...
1. Remove irritating substances
Eczema triggers can be found all over the home and include many everyday items that few people are aware of. These triggers can include harsh, fragranced detergents, soaps, fabric conditioners and clothing. It is therefore vital to use products that do not contain harsh chemicals. Shampoos, soaps and detergents should be replaced with non-toxic products based on natural ingredients where possible. We offer a wide range of gentle toiletries and household products.
A common irritant is chlorine, which can be found in our everyday drinking and bathing water. Although it is currently considered safe at low levels and is used to kill bacteria, this substance can be toxic, abrasive and irritating to the already sore and sensitive skin. Swimming pools can cause major problems for eczema sufferers, but even sitting in a bath or having a shower in chlorinated water can trigger a flare-up. Try using a bath dechlorinator or shower filter and see if your symptoms improve - (save 10% on selected water filtration until the end of April)
2. Beat the dust mites
House dust mites are found in most homes. They are microscopic creatures, invisible to the human eye. They don't bite, but their allergenic faecal pellets can break into tiny pieces which can be inhaled or come into contact with the skin. If you have eczema and your skin is broken and irritated, the allergen can penetrate the skin more easily, leading to an increased reaction in anyone allergic to the house dust mite. Dust mite proof barrier cases for your bedding are a great starting point, but we offer a wide range of products to help you undertake a thorough mite-proofing regime in your home. Read more about dust mite allergy here.
3. Check your diet
Eczema isn't always triggered by a substance coming into direct contact with the skin. One of the most overlooked triggers of skin irritation is food sensitivity. Food sensitivity is very individual and any food could cause a problem but milk, wheat, eggs and food colourings are among the most likely culprits. Often in cases where eczema has been cured, rather than just treated, it is because a food sensitivity has been diagnosed and the substance avoided. Diet is therefore a very important aspect of eczema control and a food sensitivity test is a very worthwhile investment.
4. Kill it with kindness
Swapping harsh laundry products, irritating clothing and abrasive skincare products for more gentle alternatives can make a big difference to the severity of your symptoms. Why not try these suggestions?
- Highly fragranced fabric softeners and harsh detergents can exacerbate eczema. Try switching to fragrance free, non-biological laundry products to reduce the chance of a reaction.
- Keeping skin clean and well-moisturised is key to keeping eczema under control. The Hope's Relief range (save 20% until the end of April) has been specifically developed for sensitive, eczema-prone skin and includes gentle cleansers, moisturisers, shampoos and conditioners using naturally-derived ingredients.
- If your skin is extremely dry rather than weepy, an intensive 100% natural ointment such as Purepotions Skin Salvation Salve helps lock moisture into the skin and soothe itching and redness.
- Cotton clothing and medicated anti-eczema undergarments from DermaSilk can also really help break the itch-scratch cycle that prevents many eczema sufferers from getting better.
To read more about eczema, its causes and symptoms, click here.