What is eczema? Eczema is the name for a group of conditions that cause the skin to become red, itchy and inflamed. There are several types of eczema, atopic eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) being the most common. Eczema can affect any part of the body, although most commonly appears on the hands, face and on the insides of knees and elbows. Who can get eczema? According to the National Eczema Society, one in five children and one in twelve adults in the UK have eczema. Although anyone can develop eczema at any stage of life it is most common in babies and young children, often clearing completely as the child ages. What causes eczema? It’s not clear what exactly causes eczema but it is thought that there can be several contributing factors: Family history of eczema, asthma or hay fever. Weakness in the immune system or skin barrier. Environmental causes such as colder temperatures and pollution Food allergies and sensitivities Eczema symptoms can also flare up or become more severe as a result of some common ‘triggers’ such as: Washing detergents Skin care, toiletries and perfume Clothes made from synthetic fabrics and wool Stress How can I manage my eczema? Before starting any treatment, it’s important to understand what triggers your eczema. By learning your triggers, this may well be your key to avoiding flare ups altogether. Beat the itch Once eczema is present, it’s important not to exacerbate the symptoms. In first instance, try to resist the temptation to scratch – scratching will only relieve your itch briefly and can lead to infection. When it comes to itching, try pressing a damp washcloth or ice pack on to the area of eczema. The cold will not only help to numb the skin but will also give it some moisture, softening the dry skin. Clothes and bedding made from synthetic fabrics or wool can also make eczema patches itchy and irritated. Instead, try using breathable, soft fabrics such as cotton or linen. When it comes to washing these fabrics, opt for a fragrance-free detergent which is specially formulated for sensitive skin. Inhale, exhale Stress is a common trigger that can worsen eczema symptoms. When the body experiences stress, parts of our body such as the immune system can become suppressed, causing a physical reaction in the skin. However, not only can stress trigger eczema but it can also make the symptoms even more severe. For example, at the sight of a flare up we often become even more stressed which in turn leads to a more severe flare up – catching us in one big vicious cycle. Try experimenting with various relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation or taking a minute to massage in the relaxing Herbfarmacy Temple Balm. Soothe the skin When your skin has a flare up of eczema it is less able to retain water effectively. This compromises your skin’s protective barrier which leads to further dryness and inflammation. To give your skin some much needed hydration, sink in to a warm bath for around 15 minutes daily. Take care to ensure that the water isn’t too hot and avoid using any scented or bubble bath products. After bathing, pat the skin lightly with soft, cotton towels. After bathing, moisturising is essential. We recommend using the Herbfarmacy Skin Rescue Balm which contains our signature herb, Marshmallow root. Marshmallow root is filled with a substance called ‘mucilage’, a gel-like substance that forms a protective layer that seals in moisture. The Skin Rescue Balm also contains other skin-conditioning ingredients such as Comfrey (to repair cracked skin), Chickweed (to help itching) and Helychrysum oil (to soothe inflammation). Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to caring for your skin and the road to managing your eczema can often be confusing and frustrating. Should you have any concerns about your symptoms, we would always recommend consulting with your doctor or dermatologist.