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Skin

Top Recommendations for Patients With Eczema

Eczema is characterized by inflammation, barrier defect, blistering, itching, and very dry skin. Eczematous skin can get so dry that it cracks…and then microbial infection can become an additional problem.

What to do to keep skin with eczema smooth, happy, and healthy…and steroid free? Let’s start with what not to do.

What To Avoid:

  • Harsh soaps;
  • Hot water;
  • Frequent washing;
  • Drying alcohol (not all alcohol is drying);
  • Natural remedies (without your doctor’s ok) — many natural ingredients are common contact allergens;
  • Using topical steroids every day for a prolonged period of time — this can be dangerous to your skin and cause other serious health problems;
  • NOT using topical steroids if prescribed by your doctor;
  • Not taking other prescribed medication and not following your doctor’s instructions;
  • Using products with allergens, especially perfumes, dyes, preservatives or any other allergen identified by a patch testing.
  • Your allergens in everything else: skincare, makeup, shampoo, clothing, digital equipment, plants and fruits, house cleaning products, laundry detergent, room sprays, vaping, scented candles, etc.

Best Practices:

1) Practice Strict Allergen Avoidance.

Contact dermatitis is a common cause of eczema and flare-ups, which is why patch testing is standard in the diagnosis and management of the condition. Once you know what your allergens are, you can avoid them in your skincare, makeup, shampoo, conditioner, clothing, phone cases, house cleaning products and laundry soap, and more.

For more on common allergens, check out our popular Allergen-Not An Allergen tab. For products free of all or most common contact allergens, check out VMVHypoallergenics.com. If you would like customized product recommendations based on your particular patch test results, contact us or drop us a private message on Facebook

2) Less Is More, and Hypoallergenic Is Best.

The fewer products the better, and hypoallergenic products — without the top allergens as published by dermatologists who do lots of patch testing — are the safest options.

3) Your Dermatologist Is A Long-Term Partner, Not A Fling.

Your skin, as with all other organs, changes over time. If your eczema is being managed well, schedule an appointment with your doctor once or twice a year for a general checkup. Your patch test might need to be repeated because you may have developed new allergies (or outgrown others). And of course, follow your doctor’s instructions for flare-ups.

4) PRAM: Prevent, Repair, Antimicrobial, Moisture.

Normalizing eczema means babying your skin:

Prevent:

  • Avoid your allergens as strictly as possible.
  • Use very gentle cleansers, soaps, lotion…everything. Think “gentle” in terms of textures, too: no rough or abrasive fabrics or materials.
  • Look for products that are validated as hypoallergenic and that contain as few ingredients as possible.
  • Prevent flare-ups before they can even start by being consistent about your daily care and trying a steroid-free soothing balm or anti-inflammatory balm if you feel that there is a risk of a flare.

Repair:

  • The skin’s barrier layer becomes compromised in eczematous skin. Look for moisturizers that provide barrier repair like virgin coconut oil.
  • “Repair” here also means: quickly and properly address a flareup should an emergency happen. Your doctor may prescribe a topical steroid for a short amount of time. Immune-modulating and other anti-allergy drugs may be called for if the eczema is generalized or recurrent despite strict allergen avoidance. Antihistamines or centrally-acting medicines can help relieve severe itching.
  • Part of repair is normalizing skin quickly after a flare. Early on, apply virgin coconut oil (VCO) to soften the crust as it forms (the crust makes the skin dry, hard and itchy). Keep applying the oil for occlusion, giving skin a secondary barrier against water loss.

Antimicrobial:

Opportunistic bacteria and viruses can enter microscopic cracks in very dry skin to cause a secondary infection. This makes the management of eczema more difficult, and can make itching and dryness worse. Remember that some antimicrobials are allergens, too, so use a non-allergenic option like monolaurin) or ask your doctor for guidance as prescription drugs may be needed for a secondary infection.

Moisturize:

Avoid drying ingredients in skincare and be generous about applying occlusive, healthy moisturizers. It’s so important that layering moisturizers for extra protection is often recommended: follow a daily moisturizer with virgin coconut oil (VCO replaces the fatty acids that make up the skin’s cell walls which are destroyed with inflammation).

How To Care For Skin With Eczema

Based on what we know about eczema, we recommend this daily regimen:

  1. FACIAL CLEANSING: Red Better Deeply Soothing Cleansing Cream
  2. SHAMPOO & BODY CLEANSING
  3. CONDITIONER: Essence Skin-Saving Conditioner
  4. MOISTURIZERS:
  5. FOR CRUSTS OR VERY DRY PATCHES: Grandma Minnie’s The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm
  6. FLARE-UP PREVENTION: steroid-free Red Better Calm-The-Heck-Down Balm
  7. SUN & LIGHT PROTECTION, BARRIER PROTECTION: (physical sunscreens that double as a barrier cream to help prevent contact irritations)

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Check out the other posts in this series:

What Is Eczema?

What Causes Eczema?

Eczema Flare-Up? Here’s What To Do…


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Categories
Skin

Eczema Flare-Up? Here’s What To Do…

If you’re noticing a flare coming, try staving it off with a steroid-free soothing balm or anti-inflammatory balm. If you experience a flare-up, follow what your doctor prescribes.

First, practice mindfulness.

Eczema is an inflammatory condition. Panic and stress can fuel inflammation. Make your first action to practice your calming techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises.

Next, do what your doctor tells you…which is probably a steroid.

For emergencies, dermatologists will usually prescribe a topical steroid. For bad flare-ups, dermatologists may prescribe a steroid of moderate to high potency in a cream base for acute eczemas, and in an ointment base for chronic eczemas.

While a topical steroid may be necessary — which means you should use it as prescribed — remember that steroids are not meant for daily use over a long time (like a regular cream).

The goal is to quickly address the emergency, then move to softening the skin, and prioritize prevention to avoid future flare-ups as much as possible. Done right, strict allergen avoidance and a simple regimen that is ultra-gentle and prioritizes barrier repair should reduce your need for a steroid to one or two times a year, if that.

Then, focus on normalizing and getting back to prevention…

…by softening the dry skin that develops as the eczema moves into a subacute, then to a chronic phase.

Virgin coconut oil (VCO) applied at any phase of eczematous skin is soothing, and moisturizing. It is also, importantly, a gentle yet potent antimicrobial (secondary bacterial, fungal and even viral invaders can penetrate cracks in dry skin and worsen eczema and itchiness). VCO is also ideal for barrier repair because it replaces the fatty acids that that make up the skin’s cell walls which are destroyed with inflammation. Just remember to choose a 100% pure, organic virgin coconut oil, or one with monolaurin for additional antimicrobial protection.

All the above normalizes eczema, lessens inflammation, and helps remove dried-up crust, making the skin much less itchy. Once you’re in this phase, circle back to strict allergen and trigger prevention and your gentle regimen.

TIP: VCO is especially soothing on flaring skin when stored in the refrigerator here it naturally “butters” (it melts upon contact with skin). Or, use the VCO as a cold compress on eczematous skin.

Do NOT:

  • Ignore your doctor’s orders.
  • Reach for natural remedies without your dermatologist’s approval (many natural ingredients are common contact allergens).
  • Continue to use your topical steroid beyond what is prescribed to calm an acute flare-up.

?

Check out the other posts in this series:

What Is Eczema?

What Causes Eczema?

Top Recommendations for Patients With Eczema


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Categories
Skin

What Is Eczema?

Eczema is…

…not any “sensitive skin.” Eczema is a general term for atopic dermatitis, which is the inflammation in the upper dermis of the skin.

This inflammation brings about “edema,” which is swelling from fluid retention. The fluid then moves upwards to the epidermis (the skin’s topmost layer), collects in between cells, and eventually becomes fluid-filled “bubbles” on the skin’s surface.

These bubbles get bigger, then enlarge, become blisters, dry up, and crust over, which is when they can get itchy and develop cracks. Opportunistic microbes can invade the skin through these cracks, causing more dryness and itching.

Redness is common, too, and indicates an active inflammation from…

  • The barrier defect inherent to atopic dermatitis; and/or
  • An offending product with an allergen — which is why patch testing and using validated hypoallergenic products are so important;
  • A secondary infection; or
  • Dry, crusty skin.

Removing the cause removes the inflammation and reduces the redness.

Note: Food can also contribute to redness. Scratch testing can help but positive results do not always correlate with the eczema flare-ups.

?

Check out the other posts in this series:

What Causes Eczema?

Eczema Flare-Up? Here’s What To Do…

Top Recommendations for Patients With Eczema


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)