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Help! My eczema

Help! My eczema's driving me mad!

Eczema is a skin condition where patches of your skin become inflamed, itchy, red, cracked, and rough. Genetic and environmental triggers can cause eczema. Sometimes eczema is triggered due to a reaction caused when skin comes into contact with certain materials or products. Some of the most common ingredients and materials that can cause a reaction are nickel, hair dyes, sunscreen filters, and perfumes. Atopic dermatitis, however, is another matter, it's genetic and affected skin needs to be treated with emollient creams so as to restore the skin's natural barrier. Applying an emollient cream on a daily basis can reduce eczema by up to 50%. Read on to know more about the different ways in which you can soothe and heal affected skin.

1. Homeopathy
The advantage of treating eczema with homeopathic products is that they have no unpleasant side effects. Homeopathic treatments aim to rid the body of toxins found in the skin by flushing them out via our urine or intestines. Secondly, they help re-balance your skin so that flare-ups no longer occur. Even though you can easily buy homeopathic remedies, it's best to follow your GP's advice. They can check organ health (stomach and intestines in particular) and advise you on changes you can make to your lifestyle.

2. Essential oils
Essential oils can help treat atopic eczema. They're quickly absorbed and massaging them in helps them to penetrate our skin. They should be blended with vegetable oils (sweet almond, wheatgerm, oat, apricot) so that they don't become dermocaustic. Word of warning: essential oils should not be used by pregnant women or on babies under 6 months old. As for plant-based oils, gently massaging in shea butter twice a day can reduce irritation and itching.

3. Phytotherapy
Phytotherapy is an effective, natural way to treat eczema. Numerous plants contain substances that can help this dermatological problem. First up is turmeric, an anti-inflammatory that can be taken in liquid form (3ml per day). Then there's sea buckthorn - a healing anti-inflammatory, plantain - either massage it in or use its fresh leaves as a compress, liquorice - apply as a compress or concoction and aloe vera - for its softening, emollient properties and ability to soothe red patches and itchiness. You can also whip up a detox treatment by blending 50g equal measures of chicory, stinging nettles, dandelion root and soap wort. Add four tablespoons to a litre of water, bring to the boil for 3 minutes and then let it infuse for 10 minutes. Drink a litre a day for a month to give your body a wonderfully, natural detox.

Some skin care tips -

• Clothes-wise, wear cotton rather than wool or synthetic materials.

• Take lukewarm rather than hot showers or baths.

• If you have a flare-up, cortisone-based creams will help reduce any inflammation, but these should not be used over extended periods.

We hope these tips help you soothe your skin and calm down a flare up. But please keep in mind that these tips and tricks are not designed to replace specialist advice. Your dermatologist is there to help if symptoms persist!

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