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Atopic Eczema: 10 Top Tips for Managing Your Symptoms

Image: Girl wearing a white tank top scratching her sore red arm

What is Atopic Eczema?

Atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis) is the most common form of eczema, a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, dry and cracked. It can affect any part of the body but is most common on hands, the insides of elbows and the back of knees.

Some may have small patches of dry skin and others may have larger areas of inflammation. People who suffer from eczema usually experience periods when symptoms are less noticeable, as well as periods when symptoms become more severe. These are called flare-ups.

Causes of Atopic Eczema

Atopic eczema is often caused by a combination of things. Those with atopic eczema often suffer from very dry skin because their skin is unable to retain much moisture. Therefore, dryness may make the skin more sensitive and likely to react to certain triggers which can make the skin feel itchy and sore. 

Common triggers include:

  • Irritants - such as harsh soaps and detergents, including shampoo and body wash

  • Environmental factors - such as cold and dry weather or dry air from central heating

  • Allergens - such as pet fur or pollen and different types of food

  • Certain materials - such as wool or synthetic fibres

  • Feeling stressed or unwell

Sadly there is no cure for eczema, however there are many things you can do to ease your symptoms.  Here are our top tips for keeping them under control.

*Please note: If you are severely suffering from symptoms of Eczema or are trying to heal broken skin, we would strongly suggest asking for advice from your GP. 

How to Manage your Atopic Eczema:

  1. Try not to scratch

Although it can be tempting, when you scratch your eczema you can make it even worse. Deep scratching usually causes skin damage and bleeding which increases the risk of infection. Try to reduce scratching whenever possible and gently rub the skin with your fingers instead. If your skin feels hot, apply a cold compress to relieve irritation.

  1. Keep a food diary

People with eczema can experience inflammation from eating certain foods. Common triggers are citrus fruits, dairy and gluten/wheat but each person can have unique triggers they should avoid. Keep a note of what you are eating and be mindful of how/if your skin reacts. This can help to illuminate what causes your flare-ups and which foods you should try to avoid. 

  1. Choose skincare products carefully

Choose products that are advertised as “safe for sensitive skin” that don’t include irritants that may affect your eczema. Stay away from products that are highly scented as fragrance can be a number one cause for irritation. People with particularly sensitive skin should always introduce new products slowly over a matter of days. It may also be a good idea to perform a patch test on the neck or inside of your arm to ensure your skin reacts well before applying to a large area. If you wash your hair while standing in the shower, opt for a gentle shampoo and conditioner that won’t irritate your skin.

  1. Choose soft fabrics

Material that is rough, too tight, or itchy can trigger eczema. Synthetic materials such as nylon, rayon, and polyester tend to be warmer which can cause itchiness and prolong the effects of eczema so are best avoided. Opt for soft clothes that are gentle and loose fitting to help keep your skin cool and free of irritation.

  1. Be mindful of allergens

Eczema may flare up when you’re around things that may cause an allergic reaction. These can be different for each person, so it’s important to be mindful of things that may cause you to react. Some of the most common allergens are: seasonal pollen, dust mites, fine fur from animals, mold and dandruff. Taking note of the appearance of your skin and recognising the environments that can make it sore may help to identify the things you should avoid.

  1. Manage stress

Stress is known to exaggerate skin concerns. Use stress management strategies and take care of yourself. Sleep, eat well, exercise, and consider including meditation or breathing exercises in your daily routine.

  1. Choose the right form of exercise

Exercising can lower stress, boost the immune system and help to keep you healthy. However, sweat can also trigger eczema to flare-up. As sweat evaporates, the skin dries and is left with a salty residue that can irritate eczema and encourage you to itch. If you are suffering from a flare-up,  try low-impact exercises like walking, yoga or pilates. These can be helpful to relieve stress and avoid skin from becoming too hot.

  1. Be aware of your environment

Many people with eczema become itchy if they get too hot. This can happen if you get too sweaty or layer up too many clothes. During the cold winter months, it’s important not to allow your skin to dry out from harsh winds, so always make sure to keep skin hydrated with gentle moisturising creams.

  1. Avoid hot water

When your skin is irritated, a hot shower can often feel like a great way to temporarily relieve itching. However, dermatologists warn that this can actually make eczema worse. Hot water dries out the skin and causes it to crack and become sore. Turn the heat down and soak in luke-warm water instead. Moisturise straight after bathing to lock in moisture and keep the skin hydrated.

  1. Look after your hands

It is important that we wash our hands thoroughly throughout the day to get rid of any nasty germs and bacteria. You may like to take a look at our Vitality Hand & Body Wash - a rich, soap free cleanser which has been dermatologically tested and is suitable for sensitive skin. 

After washing your hands, make sure to pat them dry as opposed to rubbing them as this can cause irritation. You can read more about how to treat sore hands by visiting our recent blog post here.

Recommended Skincare Products for Atopic Eczema:

Vitality Hand & Body Wash 

ARK Skincare Vitality Hand & Body Wash

Our ultra-nourishing soap-free hand & body wash produces a luxuriously rich lather which hydrates and cleanses skin while maintaining the skins natural moisture barrier. The 100% natural fragrance is fresh, gentle and created from a blend of Palmarosa, Rosemary, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine and Mimosa. Dermalogically tested. Suitable for sensitive skin. 

Nourishing Hand & Body Lotion

 ARK Skincare Nourishing Hand & Body Lotion

Our deeply nourishing hand and body lotion with Shea Butter, Kukui Nut and Coconut Oils instantly hydrates and helps to protect the skin, improve elasticity, and reinforce the skin’s natural moisture barrier.

ARK Skincare Body Beautiful 

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