Eczema Awareness Week - How Bath Salts Can Help
What is Eczema?
According to U.S. Dermatologist and eczema specialist Dr Peter Lio, “Eczema is a chronic inflammatory, itchy condition which affects children and adults. The majority of eczema begins in childhood. Eczema is often related to other atopic diseases such as asthma, hayfever, allergies and food intolerances.”
What are the symptoms of Eczema?
The most common symptom of eczema is dry, itchy, rough patches of skin.
This usually presents on areas of the body where the skin is at it’s most delicate, such as the inside of elbows, the backs of the knees, the groin and the face.
What causes Eczema?
Eczema is very common in infants and children (with around 90% of new eczema cases being found in young children. It usually clears up naturally by around the age of 10 if it is managed effectively. However many parents are not given the help that they need to support eczema in young children and often the eczema can become worse over time as only the symptoms are treated, rather than the cause.
Eczema is most often originally triggered by common allergens such as the below:
- Household pets – cats, dogs, guinea pigs etc.
- Environmental allergies such as pollen, hay and dust.
- Food allergens – including wheat, dairy and tomatoes.
- Cosmetic ingredients – such as fragrances, propylene glycol, Parafinum liquidum.
- Household cleaners including laundry detergents and soaps.
This list is just a tip of the iceberg in terms of the amount of allergens which could be triggering eczema flare-ups. And to add to this, some of the cosmetic allergens are found in many creams used to treat eczema. This can make it a minefield for parents to know where to start in identifying the triggers.
The skin barrier and the itch-scratch cycle
Moisturisation and barrier protection are of vital importance to help prevent flare ups. Studies in the field of eczema have found that the defective skin barrier allows irritants to penetrate the skin more easily, resulting in inflammation which causes intense itching. In addition to this, moisture is not retained by the skin, which leads to dryness and roughness.
When the skin barrier is damaged the epidermis becomes dry and inflamed so it can be very difficult not to scratch the skin. However it’s extremely important to avoid scratching, as this causes further damage to the already delicate skin barrier, which in turn results in more inflammation, dryness and therefore more itching. And so the cycle begins.
Treatments for Eczema
There are many different ways to treat eczema, but the most effective way is to focus on identifying the triggers, while at the same time reducing the symptoms and preventing the itch-scratch cycle.
- Trigger diaries – these are the most effective way to help treat eczema in young children. If you remove the triggers, you reduce the flares and allow the skin barrier to repair itself.
- Skin barrier protection – One of the easiest ways to help maintain a healthy skin barrier is to avoid the use of Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES). These are lathering agents which are very commonly used in shower gel and bubble bath for eczema (do check the ingredients on products in your bathroom to check you’re not using these). They not only dry out the skin, but are also known to disrupt and damage the skin barrier so are definitely to be avoided.
Our Dead Sea Bath & Shower Gel for eczema has been specially formulated to protect and help maintain the skin barrier. Free from SLS/SLES and infused with Dead Sea Salt, it also gently moisturises the skin.
Bathing products such as Dead Sea Salts and Colloidal Oatmeal are also very effective for protecting the skin barrier while soothing the skin, which is key to breaking the itch/scratch cycle. Both these ingredients can be added to your eczema bath soak to soften and soothe the skin naturally.
Our Dead Sea Salts are rich in essential skin minerals such as Magnesium, Potassium and Calcium. The Dead Sea is recognised as a world-renowned centre for research and treatment of Eczema. Many studies have shown the benefits there are for bathing in Dead Sea Salt for eczema, as it is proven to repair and restore the skin barrier.
- Topical steroids are a common, effective treatment for eczema, available over the counter and by prescription, but should be used with extreme caution and only for very short periods, such as a week or two with the mildest dose possible.
Red Skin Syndrome & Topical Steroid Withdrawal
Long term use of steroids has now been linked to a condition known as ‘Red Skin Syndrome’ (RSS), which is a result of steroid addiction. The steroids no longer work as they did before, and so the skin flares become unmanageable. This is when many chronic eczema sufferers have to endure what is Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW) which is extremely distressing, painful and can take years to recover from both physically and mentally.
If you’d like to learn more about steroids there is an excellent podcast hosted by the Eczema association where Dr Lio discusses the benefits, risks and correct way to use them based on the most recently presented research: https://nationaleczema.org/blog/podcast-story-of-steroids/
To learn more about the Red Skin Syndrome and Topical Steroid Withdrawal you may want to watch the documentary Preventable: https://youtu.be/RMbtf3C8BZk
The key to managing eczema when it first presents is to identify and avoid the triggers, while protecting the skin barrier.
Although trigger diaries can be hard going they really are worth the effort early on to prevent a lifetime of symptoms.
Alongside reducing the triggers, it’s essential to focus on protecting the skin barrier, moisturising the skin and soothing the inflammation to prevent the itch-scratch cycle.
Although there isn’t a cure for eczema, if managed effectively the symptoms can become mild and comfortable with minimum impact on quality of life.