What is eczema?
Eczema is a general term used to describe a chronic inflammatory skin disorder that could be triggered by internal factors like food allergies, or external factors like an irritating substance.
Every winter, I’m bound to get at least one patch of eczema on my legs. In my case, this eczema flare-up is triggered by dry skin and a compromised barrier function (the skin’s first line of defence made up of lipids).
What triggers eczema?
No one knows the exact cause of eczema, but it’s generally understood that people who suffer from eczema have a unique genetic immune response that is triggered by certain external irritants or internal allergies. People who suffer from eczema also tend to have a weak skin barrier that’s s easily compromised by heat, cold, and dry environments (like me!).
If you suspect internal factors are at play, I recommend visiting a naturopath to determine the root cause (eggs, dairy, and nuts are a few of the most common allergens that may trigger eczema – especially in children).
Consistency is key to treating eczema
Regardless of the trigger, once eczema flares it’s important to stick with a treatment plan. In some cases, a corticosteroid cream may be necessary to get the topical symptoms under control (and it’s okay to use one!), but long-term use isn’t recommended, especially on the face.
Julie Clark, the founder of skincare brand, Province Apothecary stresses that once skin is inflamed, it takes a while to regenerate and completely heal itself. She says, “Even if the skin seems completely better, you need to treat it for 3 months for it to truly heal.”
How to treat eczema flares
Zinc is a excellent ingredient to incorporate into eczema treatments. “It’s like a 24-hour, on-call skin mechanic”, says Julie Clark. “It helps repair damaged tissues and heal wounds. Some research suggests that zinc might be particularly effective in treating topical irritations and injuries, such as acne, skin sores and minor wounds by helping cells to regenerate.”
- When the rash is ‘wet’, red and itchy: Apply a zinc-based cream 2-3x per day until it begins to dry up. Try Province Apothecary Healing Eczema Balm, or use a corticosteroid cream if absolutely needed.
- When the rash has started to dry, but it’s still red and itchy: 2-3x per day, apply a protective oil-based balm, like Province Apothecary’s Hydrating Rescue Balm on the affected area, followed by a zinc-based cream directly on top. Don’t forget to reapply anytime you wash.
- When the rash is dry and flaky: 2-3x per day, dampen the skin with water or use a calming toner like Holistic Vanity’s Anti-Inflam Calendula Skin Tonic and apply a protective oil-based balm on top, as needed. Consistently apply the balm to skin every day for 3 months, to repair and strengthen skin.
If you stop treating the area once it begins to get better, your skin will most likely flare again. Continue to treat it for the full 3 months to truly heal.
The Province Apothecary Eczema Balm treats eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, heat rashes, and pimples. It’s gentle enough for babies, sensitive skin, and to use around your eyes. It extremely beneficial for any dry, cracked,and itchy skin. Colloidal oatmeal helps treat itchiness and calendula oil calms inflammation. Zinc restores damaged tissue and reduces irritation.
Tips for preventing eczema flares
- Wear gloves as much as you can especially when washing, preparing foods (like tomatoes or citrus fruits), or when you go outside in the cold.
- Use soap less often, especially on your hands, arms, and legs. When you do use soap, make sure it’s free of drying foaming agents like SLS.
- Moisturize immediately when you get out of the shower and consistently throughout the day.
- Identify allergies by meeting with a naturopathic doctor, or allergy specialist.
Do you suffer from eczema? What treatments have worked for you?