Eczema. The very word can put, as your granny would say, 'the wind up you'. Struggling with it can be a real nightmare and can genuinely affect your quality of life.
It does effect adults, and is very unpleasant indeed. More commonly, though, it effects children. And if you happen to be mothering one of these rashy little people, their suffering will quickly become your own.
I've had eczema as an adult, and it's red, itchy-as-bejaysus and painfully hot, particularly when scratched (but of course, not scratching is next to impossible). Anything that can help to reduce inflammation and soothe this dry, sore, and often cracked skin condition is very, very welcome.
A two-pronged approach is essential. If you're using all the right moisturisers, but using alcohol rich, soap-based shower gels and body washes, the eczema just won't get any better. Ditch the soap.
In a way, eczema is doubly sad - not only do you have an annoying and unpleasant new condition to fuss over, you have to reject any body products that look and smell nice in favour of boring, hardworking products that smell like a doctor's waiting room. Humph...
XeraCalm from Avene is a new (and very interesting) range of products designed specifically to tackle eczema, and it has shown really impressive results in studies.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, refers to a variation of skin conditions that cause inflammation. The symptoms are pretty much always severely dry, itchy and inflamed skin which can be prone to bleeding or weeping sores.
First things first - don't scratch! The itch is maddening, but scratching will make it so much itchier (and more painful). Switch your body wash to a soap-free alternative. The XeraCalm A.D. range contains a lipd replenishing cleansing oil (starting from around €19 for a whopping 400mls). It doesn't smell beautiful, but it doesn't smell offensive either. The fact that it is oil based and soap free means that you'll emerge from the shower with skin that doesn't feel tight and sore. This wash will help replenish the oils your skin is so lacking in, rather than further robbing it of them. You can also use this on babies, or pop some in the bath! AND it doesn't feel like Aqueous Cream, which is utterly disgusting.
Originally intended as a soap alternative for eczema sufferers, Aqueous Cream has become widely used as a moisturiser. I'd strongly advise not to use this as a moisturiser, particularly on children's more delicate skin. Recent studies have shown that though it is an effective soap alternative, when left on the skin for longer periods, it actually acts as an irritant! Despite the advice of yore, Aqueous cream is not a good moisturiser for eczema.
So once you've switched to a body wash that won't undo the work of your moisturiser, a really rich emollient moisturiser is imperative. The XeraCalm A.D. moisturisers come in two formulations - a lipid replenishing cream for moderately dry skin (around €21), and a lipid replenishing balm for severely dry skin (around €25).
I've been trialling the body wash and XeraCalm cream for around three months now, and my skin is in great condition. No dryness or tightness to be found. Since I didn't have eczema when I started using the products, but did have severely dry patches around my abdomen, I can only say how well it has worked for me.
However, Avene have really tested these products properly. In very respectably sized studies of real eczema sufferers, 97% said that it soothed their itching very rapidly, and 100% said that the dryness in their skin was improved. We love products that work at beaut.ie, and that's very hard to argue with!
My favourite aspect of the range is that Avene have created an all-new nozzle. It sounds dull, but this nozzle doesn't permit any air to get back up into the product when you squeeze out the cream. This clever addition means that they have been able to formulate the product without alcohol based preservatives which will irritate your eczema! Clever!
The XeraCalm range is available from Boots.ie, Lloyds and other pharmacies. You can find your local stockist here. Have you tried this range from Avene? Are you an eczema sufferer, or do you live with one? Tell us your woes in the comments!