Today, I’m typing up this post with itchy, dry, sore and very red hands – an extremely uncomfortable condition that I’m sure many of you experience yourselves. That’s right, the absolute hideousness that is eczema.
I’ve suffered with eczema on my hands since my early teens. At first, I thought it was just my teenage hormones that were causing my skin to flare up so badly but here I am. Over ten years later and I still experience it. It’s not just the itchy, sore feeling that bothers me either. It’s actually quite upsetting when your hands become so red and blotchy that you feel like you can’t even get your nails done because you’re so self-conscious of how your hands look.
Eczema is extremely common and I know a lot of people will experience the same symptoms I do. According to the National Eczema Society an incredible 6 million of us suffer from eczema in the UK – 15-20% of those are school children with 1 in 12 adults living with the condition.
Unfortunately, there is no cure yet for eczema but it can be controlled. I wanted to share some of my top tips and products for controlling my eczema in the hope that it’s useful for others who are at their wits end with it! After endless doctors visits throughout the years and having tried a million and one different creams, these are my top tips:
- Try Epaderm Cream
This is a cream that has come to my attention recently after reading an Independent article titled ‘7 best moisturisers for Eczema’. It’s so important to keep moisturising your skin regularly, particularly through the winter months, and you can buy Epaderm cream in a massive pot with a pump so you can use it as much as you like. It’s often prescribed by doctors but if you don’t receive free prescriptions, it’s much more cost effective to get down to Boots. You can buy a massive tub of it for £12.49. Since I’ve been using this, my skin has become a lot less dry. By no means has it cleared up the actual eczema itself, but it has definitely relieved the dryness and my skin is a lot smoother. It can help to temporarily relieve the itchiness as well. I rub this on my hands ever morning before I leave the house and every night before I go to sleep.
2. Give Eumovate a go
This is my godsend when I’m having a particularly bad flare-up. Eumovate is a steroid cream that can be bought from a pharmacy but it is for short-term use only. It must not be used daily for more than seven days. It contains the active ingredient clobetasone butyrate 0.05% which is a type of medicine that reduces inflammation in the skin. It comes in a moisturizer or ointment. I find it extremely effective, clearing up bad flare-ups within just a couple of days. It stops that horrible, constant itchy feeling so you don’t feel the need to scratch. Because of this, your skin is actually given the chance to recover rather than constantly being opened up again by the scratching. Side note, it really annoys me when people tell me to “just stop scratching”. If you are an eczema warrior too, you know that it is near impossible not to scratch! Back to Eumovate, I would definitely recommend going to your local pharmacy and finding out more about this product if you’re experiencing a bad flare up. As highlighted, it’s only a short-term solution but it can provide you with relief when you’re beginning to lose your mind! If it’s your first time using it, make sure you let your pharmacist know.
3. Protect your hands with gloves
There are so many different things that can irritate eczema. My hands are prone to get quite dry when I’m having a flare up so I always make sure to where gloves when carrying out household chores such as washing up. It protects your hands from drying out too much and avoids washing off the layers of moisturiser that you will have no doubt smothered your hands in! It’s also equally important to where your warm, cosy gloves in the winter when venturing outside. The cold weather can be really harsh on the skin.
4. Gently rub or massage your skin
As I’ve already mentioned, it’s so hard to not scratch at all. We all know that scratching is extremely bad for our skin and can even cause infection if scratched enough. If I really feel the urge to scratch, I try gently rubbing my skin first. Try running your fingers over the itchy area and gently massaging the skin. I find it really does help soothe the itchy feeling. I often get poor Ollie to massage my hands for me when we’re sat in front of the TV in the evening as it’s so much nicer when someone else is doing it! You could also try keeping your nails short so that even if you do feel the need to scratch, it won’t cause as much damage to your skin.
5. Cover the effected area with clothing
I also get small patches of eczema on the inside of each elbow. Sometimes, this can get extremely itchy, particularly if I’m at the gym and I start sweating a lot. I find that wearing a top with long sleeves discourages me from scratching at it when it becomes itchy. Depending on where your eczema is, it might no be possible to cover it with a material but if you can, give it a go.
I hope these five tips have been useful if you suffer from eczema. Please always consult your doctor first as what works for me might not work for you. Everyone is different but I wanted to reveal my own ways in which I cope.
If you have any other tips for tackling eczema, please do leave them in the comments below.