Common questions you might not want to ask

Having eczema-prone or problematic, dry skin can be a challenge, and can sometimes require some small lifestyle changes to help you manage your condition

You will have received lots of information, perhaps from your GP or even advice from friends and family, but there may be some questions that you didn’t want to ask. Here we answer some common and rarely asked questions.

What actually is an emollient?

Emollients are non-cosmetic moisturisers which come in the form of creams, ointments, lotions and gels. Emollients are very important because they form a protective layer on the skin, which prevents cracks and protects the skin barrier. This means irritants can be prevented from entering the skin and water can be kept within the skin, so the skin is no longer dry- the first and most important step in all eczema treatment

I’ve got dry, problematic or eczema-prone skin, is it my fault?

It’s not known what causes atopic eczema but it is thought that the condition can run in families and individuals who suffer from allergies can also be more susceptible. Nothing you have done could cause you to develop eczema so don’t blame yourself or make any drastic changes to your lifestyle without consulting your GP.

Dry skin can be caused by changes in the weather and is likely to flare up most during the Winter months. Hot and long showers, harsh soaps, itchy clothing and misusing moisturisers can also all contribute to instances of dry skin. If you experience dry skin regularly consider whether any of the above could be causing it.

Is dry skin or eczema contagious?

Neither eczema–prone skin nor dry skin is contagious.

Will I have problematic/eczema-prone skin forever?

Unfortunately eczema–prone skin is a long term condition which can’t be cured. However there are lots of things you can do to improve your condition and manage your skin.

Can I wear make-up?

You need to be mindful to try and choose make up that suits your skin type, as it might be more sensitive than most. Test new make - up on a small area before you use it. Use your emollient as a make - up remover.

Will swimming make my skin worse?

Yes, the water and chlorine from the swimming pool may irritate your skin and make your condition worse. The effect will depend on how bad your eczema is, how long you are in the pool and how strong the chlorine is. To minimise the effects, you can apply a thick layer of emollient before you swim, shower straight after swimming, and apply more emollient once you have dried.

Are there any natural remedies that can help eczema-prone or dry skin?

Some people do use natural remedies to treat their skin condition, however there is little evidence to support that these treatments are effective. Always speak to a GP or pharmacist before you begin to use a complementary therapy to ensure it is appropriate and safe for you.

Can my clothes and bedding impact my skin condition?

Washing your bedding frequently is advised. Use natural fabrics for bedding and synthetic pillows and duvets that can be washed easily. When washing your bedding and clothes avoid fabric conditioners and use a double rinse cycle to remove any washing powder residue.

Do I need to be careful when using cleaning products?

Chemicals in household products can be harsh and irritating to the skin. It is best to protect your skin when using these items by wearing protective gloves with a cotton lining.

Do I need to change my bathing routine to reduce the likelihood of triggering a skin flare-up?

Soaps can dry out and damage sensitive skin so make sure that when you are bathing you avoid lather and bath bubbles. Use emollient bath oils and washes to clean your skin and apply your emollient cream before and following your bath /shower.

Do I have to take steroids to treat my skin?

If you have problematic or eczema-prone skin you will not necessarily have to use steroids to treat it. Speak to your GP or pharmacist who will advise on the best course of treatment for you depending on the severity of your condition.

Do I need to get rid of my pet to prevent skin flare ups?

Your pet is a big part of your life and you don’t need to get rid of it because of your skin condition. However allergens can irritate skin conditions so it is best to ensure that you keep your pet out of the bedroom and off the sofa. Make sure you also hoover frequently to keep allergen levels low.