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  • Body Eczema: A Guide

Body Eczema: What You Need To Know & How To Treat It

By Ellie Child and Alex Bryson - 1 year ago | Updated
Women scratching her arm

If you had to choose – if you absolutely had to ­– then body eczema is just about preferable to that on the face. Except, come to think of it, doesn’t the former affect a much wider area of skin? Either way, it’s no kind of choice to make.

And even worse than this lose-lose hypothetical is the fact that our skin remains stubbornly indifferent to bargaining and trade-offs. It turns out that there really is no choice to be made. So it seems like the easiest thing to do is just resign yourself and suck it up.

But any half-decent sports, high school or survival movies will have told you all you need to know here. Namely, that you should tap into your inner pluck and wear those punches, go to the prom and survive that bear mauling. Or whatever.

In this case, your options are simpler and altogether less deadly. By making a few key lifestyle changes and investing in a good formula, you can take back control of a skin complaint that threatened to take over your life.

What is eczema?

If you're dealing with the condition, then chances are that you're all-too-knowledgeable already of its different forms and permutations. Before we launch into our pick of solutions, though, it's worth outlining what exactly it is that we're talking about.

Atopic dermatisis, otherwise known as atopic eczema, is the most common variety. Often first apparent in childhood, the condition is more likely to develop if a parent has also experienced it, although some children do 'grow out' of it. The condition makes itself known as patches of dryness on the skin, normally occurring on the wrists, face and neck, as well the creases of your knees and elbows. These can become red, itchy and inflamed over time and can even – with itching – produce clear fluid and cause the skin itself to thicken. Contact dermatitis, meanwhile, is the most common sort of work-related skin disease, while seborrhoeic dermatitis is another relatively recurrent form, affecting the scalp, head and torso.

Particularly in the case of atopic dermatitis, people living with the condition often find that it doesn't remain consistent, but rather fluctuates over time.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis can affect anyone: even Kim Kardashian suffers with this particular skin condition! Like eczema, it is not contagious but can cause serious discomfort to the person suffering with this condition.

Taking the form of red, raised scaly patches of skin (known as plaques), psoriasis usually appears around the elbows, knees and scalp but can occur anywhere on the body. This skin condition can be organised into several categories: mild, moderate and severe. Mild psoriasis (the most common form) involves a few patches that can be easily controlled. Moderate psoriasis starts to affect more areas of the body whilst severe psoriasis covers larger areas of the body and can be incredibly hard to control.

What does psoriasis look like and how do I know if I have it?

Usually, mild to moderate psoriasis can take the form of raised, thick scaly skin that boasts a red or pink colour. However, people have reported that it can appear as small flat bumps or larger, thicker plaques. People with mild to moderate psoriasis usually get flareups on the elbows, knees and scalp but it is important to note that it can appear anywhere on the body. Around 50% of sufferers have also reported some involvement of the nails.

If you recognise any of the above characteristics, consult your GP for a full diagnosis and recommendation for treatments.

What are some eczema causes?

When it comes to eczema, there are quite a few common causes that result in a flare up. These include irritants (disinfectants, soaps and detergents), allergens (dust mites, pollens and mould), hot and cold temperatures, perspiration through exercise, microbes, hormones, stress and foods – dairy, eggs and wheat being the main culprits.

More often than not, it can be a combination of the above, making it hard to control certain types of eczema. Women can also experience increased symptoms of eczema at times when their hormone levels are changing, for example around their periods or during pregnancy.

What are the best types of eczema treatments?

More often than not, doctors will prescribe some form of steroid cream such as hydrocortisone to alleviate the symptoms and provide comfort. These steroid creams can arrive in different strengths dependant on the severity of the eczema, but usually mild, over-the-counter treatments will be used first.

Alternatively, natural remedies may be able to treat some cases of eczema. Look out for solutions that banish the likes of skin care nasties to avoid aggravating an eczema flare up. SLS, SLES, parabens, phthalates, alcohol and synthetic fragrances are all skin care 'bad guys' that you should avoid if you suffer with eczema. Bonus points if you can find a hypoallergenic formula!

How do I get rid of psoriasis?

Usually, treatments for psoriasis are administered through GP's. While some natural creams may be able to alleviate symptoms, three types of treatment are often dispensed:

  • Topical: ointments and creams that can be applied directly to the skin
  • Phototherapy: exposing the affected area to certain types of ultraviolet light
  • Systemic: oral and injected medications

Again, your GP will know the correct treatment for your psoriasis and it is always best to consult a professional before applying any treatments.

What lifestyle changes can you make?

There are, thankfully, a whole host of different lifestyle changes that you can make. E45 is an obvious choice for eczema prone skin, with it's gentle and effective formula for supporting your skin's natural barrier. But it's not your only option, with plenty of sensitive solutions for dry skin sufferers.

Cleansing

Eczema specialists recommend taking one bath or shower a day, for between 10 and 15 minutes. So far, so normal. But it's here that the caveats start. They also suggest using water no hotter than 'lukewarm', given that higher temperatures can irritate the skin, as well as banishing the washcloth or loofah from your self-care routine. All that abrasive action has a pretty damaging effect on tender skin, it turns out. Limit the use of cleansers during a flare-up and always pick your chosen formulas with care. That means no fragrance and no skin-irritating nasties.

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser

Something like this high-performing cleanser does the job very well, fusing thorough cleansing power with a skin-boosting complex of soy proteins, cucumber extract and balancing rosewater. After all, just because you have eczema doesn't mean you should settle for skin that's just 'okay'. This formula soothes, tones and rebalances your complexion, packing it full of natural radiance.

Moisturising

Many of the common causes of eczema all come down to one thing: dehydrated skin. It's actually incredibly common for sufferers to have an imbalance in their skin's topmost barrier, your body's first defence against external aggressors and irritants. This means that it's vitally important to keep your moisture levels high with a gentle but deeply nourishing formula.

Aveeno Dermexa Daily Emollient Cream

Aveeno Dermexa Daily Emollient Cream

This fast-absorbing moisturiser is clinically proven to restore very dry skin and keep skin healed, protected and soothed. It's suitable for eczema and sensitive skin thanks to the primary ingredient of ultra-fine oatmeal powder, which moisturises and reduces flare ups.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream - 170G

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream

This moisturising cream treatment is the perfect antidote for eczema prone skin, as well as other conditions including psoriasis and skin rashes. Enriched with shea butter, eucalyptus, oatmeal and ceramides, plus free from fragrance, chemicals and parabens, it's extra gentle on extra sensitive skin.

If your eczema holds out against these solutions then – there's no point in dressing it up – it's deeply infuriating. There are alternative options, however, such as prescription topicals and phototherapy, both of which have a proven record of success against the most pervasive types.

But for many, simply altering your daily routine can have an utterly transformative effect. Simply be kind to your body's largest organ and see if doesn't pay you back.

At the same time, it's important to remain realistic. Eczema is one of those conditions that is very rarely 'cured' in its entirety. But with the right life choices and products, you can reveal clear, comfortable skin that requires just a little sensible maintenance. Explore our broader skincare collection to find out all the ways in which the latest formulas can calm complexions and promote self-belief.

Still got questions? Find out even more with our guide to body eczema.

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Ellie Child

Written by Ellie Child

With five years’ experience under her belt, Ellie has worked alongside a range of highly regarded makeup artists, giving her a real insight into what consumers should be spending their money on.

Alex Bryson

Written by Alex Bryson

Alex has over six years of experience as a writer. He demonstrates exceptional grooming knowledge and has a natural skill for following current trends.

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