Eczema and psoriasis are common skin conditions that can affect people at any age. Some people are born with dry skin and have lower levels of natural oils in their body.
So, what are the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis and what triggers the flare ups? And is there anything you can do to alleviate the discomfort associated with these conditions.
What is eczema?
Eczema is a common condition that affects the skin, causing inflamation, itching and a thickening of the skin. If left untreated it can sometimes get infected. It affects both children and adults. It’s also known as atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis.
Eczema is often linked with other allergic condition such hay fever and asthma. Genetics or hereditary factors may increase the tendency to develop eczema. However, the exact cause of eczema is still unknown.
In people with eczema the skin does not retain moisture very well resulting in super dry skin and itchy skin. Scratching the skin causes it to feel itchier which is not only very uncomfortable, but it increases the risk of open wounds and infection.
Hydration is one of the best ways to treat dry skin so it’s important to keep applying creams daily to help protect your skin’s natural barrier.
Is psoriasis the same as eczema?
Psoriasis and eczema are similar but not the same…
Whereas eczema is a chronic skin condition that causes itchy, red patches of skin, psoriasis is thought to be an autoimmune disease that causes skin cells to be replaced more quickly than usual.
Psoriasis shows as raised patches of skin that is scaly and itchy usually on elbows and scalps. Psoriasis can appear on any part of the body.
In people with psoriasis, their skin is replaced every few days instead of over a few weeks. The skin cell builds up causing the skin to become thickened, dry and scaly.
People of any age can get psoriasis and it usually develops from late teens onwards. Although there is no cure for psoriasis, there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms of this condition.
For people living with severe eczema or psoriasis, it’s important that you seek medical advice to help with a treatment plan for your specific situation. There is no single treatment for everyone. Early treatment can help save your skin from scarring by alleviating the symptoms such as itching and inflammation.
Taming the beast – how to get your flare-ups under control
Although there is no permanent cure for eczema and psoriasis sufferers, there are some things that you can do to adjust your lifestyle to minimise flare ups and alleviate discomfort.
Keep skin hydrated by applying a moisturiser daily
- Remember to regularly moisturise to stop skin from drying out and becoming flakey. Use products that are specifically forumulated for sensitive skin. Certain ingredients such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and retinol can cause flare-ups.
- To complement any medical treatment that you may be presribed, why not seek out natural eczema remedies. Look out for fragrance free and unscented products that will be kinder to sensitive skin.
- If you love to exfoliate, use a gentle product to prevent the skin from drying out and keep this to a minimum. After exfoliating, make sure you apply a moisturiser to lock in the hydration.
Minimise exposure to triggers and irritants that may cause eczema flare ups
- Avoid harsh soaps and synthetic cleansers which may further dry out and damage skin. Check out oil-based products for a gentler cleanse.
- Reduce exposure to sun, heat and dust.
- Avoid products with artificial colours and preservatives to minimise any allergic reactions. Be careful of potential irritants such as perfumes and soaps.
- Try exercise or mediation to improve your wellbeing and health. Stress is a known psychological trigger for eczema and dermatitis flare-ups.
- Keep washing to a minimum as constant exposure to water will lead to dry and cracked skin and in some instances infection.
- Be kind to your skin and make sure you wear gloves when washing up!
Keep the itch at bay
- Itching is a common symptom of eczema and psoriasis. To keep this under control, use cold application to reduce the itch and risk of scarring from scratching.
- Antihistamines and some over the counter cortisone products may also help reduce the itch but be sure to follow the instructions on the mediation and seek medical advice for alternate options if this does not help. Prolong and over-use of these products may be detrimental. Cortisone creams can cause thinning of the skin if used long-term.
- Resist temptation to keep scratching your skin. This can be quite challenging if you have children living with a skin condition. Rather than peel of the bits of dead skin, it’s better to just keep moisturising to reduce further irritating your skin. Cracks and bleeding skin increase the risk of infection and bacteria entering our body.
And don’t forget the sunscreen
- Exposure to the sun will damage already dry and sensitive skin so be friends with your hat and find a natural sunscreen that does not contain any harsh ingredients
If you are living with atopic dermatitis, we would love to hear how you manage the flare ups and what natural eczema and psoriasis treatments and skin care products you use to alleviate the dryness.