I am not a medical professional, so I want to reinforce that this post is purely based on my personal experience living with eczema. If you haven’t already, make sure you have a dermatologist and / or immunologist to help you manage your symptoms from a medical perspective. I hope that by sharing what has triggered and helped my flare ups, might help your or your loved ones’ skin.
I have had eczema since I was two years old. I don’t remember exactly what it was like when I was younger, but I remember being really uncomfortable and itchy. My skin got so bad at one point, me and my sister (she has eczema, too) had to stay in the hospital overnight to treat it. I’ve tried everything to keep it under control. Topical steroid wraps, oral steroids (twice), oatmeal baths, oils, fragrance free everything, cotton clothes and sheets, Claritin, Xyzal, Hydroxizine, aquaphor, gold bond eczema lotion, and I could keep going. Here’s what I’ve noticed with my own body.
Fragrance / Perfumes
Poor Diet (fried foods, for example)
Lack of sleep
Hormonal Sensitivity (my eczema always get worse when I’m PMSing)
Traveling (different climates, dehydration from flying, new allergens)
The biggest trigger is stress — and I can’t stress that enough. When I am stressed, my skin goes haywire. If it’s not a terrible bout of eczema, it’s fever blisters. And the last time we were in the ER for my son, he needed an IntraOsseous IV, where they drill an IV into the bone marrow when they can’t get access with a regular IV. Most people will never need or hear of this. I didn’t know what it was, and when I heard the drilling sound (he was in my lap, this usually needs to happen very quickly, and I had very little warning) I IMMEDIATELY broke out into shingles on my back. Like I said, psychosomatic stress symptoms are REAL. When sh*t hits the fan, my skin freaks out.
It’s a given that we will experience stress throughout our lives, we can’t totally avoid that. But, we can manage it with coping skills and strategies, and that may mean a stress skin regimen.
Here is what I have come to decide works for me after 29 years of experimenting.
Resta (used to be called Elta). It can be bought online, and there are no active ingredients. It’s known as a “melting moisturizer”, and you can put it everywhere. Apply on skin after showering or bathing, while the skin is still wet. Pat dry and follow up with your lotions / oils. I use it EVERY DAY. No exceptions. It’s been a game changer for me.
Body lotions: My go-tos are BeautyCounter Body Butter and their CounterMatch Adaptive Body Lotion. They are nice and thick, which my skin soaks right up, so I’m never greasy. I actually even mix in their Rosemary Body Oil for extra moisture. Just a couple of pumps of oil into my palm, mix it in with the lotion, and slather everywhere.
Switching to BeautyCounter for cosmetics and skincare. Yes, I am a consultant - but that is only because of how much relief I have found since switching over. I was telling people about it so much, that I just ended up becoming a consultant to get the perks from spreading the word. That, and the consultant discount. But it truly has changed my skin. I had a patch of eczema between my nose and upper lip that has permanently been there since high school. I thought I would never see the actual skin there for the rest of my life. After making the switch to cosmetics and skin care with safer ingredients and no artificial fragrances, my skin changed within days. Being in showbiz, I wore a ton of makeup that was so, so bad for my skin. My lips were constantly peeling from the lipstick I would use. I am not kidding when I say that BeautyCounter changed my quality of life. Other good brands with safer ingredients / vegan / no animal testing are Josie Maran Argan Oil Products (her foundation just would rub off on everything for me. But I love the pure argan oil), Tarte, Kat Von D, Melaleuca, and Arbonne.
Hydrate! You’ve got to drink plenty of water, and eat hydrating foods to hydrate from the inside, out. Especially when you’re traveling!
Claritin (Loratidine 10mg) every morning to help with the itch. Benadryl when it gets really, really bad.
Diet When I eat crappy foods, my skin follows suit. Eczema is said to be directly related to gut issues, so probiotics can help with that. Make sure you are going to the bathroom regularly. When I’m constipated, my skin sucks. Collagen is great for hair, skin, and nails and you can find powder or capsules to add to your food, smoothies, etc. I’m still doing some research on eczema diets. Apparently red cabbage and romaine are very anti-inflammatory, so I’ll be using this a lot to cook from now on. Dairy can trigger eczema, as well as dark leafy greens, grapes, wine, sugar, certain nuts, and more. I have a nickel allergy, so I’m also looking into a low chemical diet — nickel is in the soil and is naturally occurring in lots of foods. For example, when I chop carrots, potatoes, and fruits with peels, my hands get so, so itchy and I break out in these little watery blisters. Once the food is cooked, it doesn’t bother me. But lots of raw fruits, veggies, and starches give me topical issues as well as oral allergies - which is different from a food allergy and is more linked to seasonal allergies. When consumed raw, these foods make my tongue, throat, and inner ears itch. It’s uncomfortable at worst, so I just eat them cooked or avoid them entirely. This can vary so much from person to person, so that’s why I’m sticking with what has worked for me, personally.
Exercise. You might be wondering why I would say exercise helps my skin, when sweat is a trigger. First of all, not all exercise makes you extremely sweaty. You can also dry off your sweat with a towel, which is a pretty easy fix. Secondly, your cell turnover is greatly improved and accelerated when you exercise — meaning better skin and hair.
A lot of figuring out what works for you — or your children, will be trial and error. You’ll feel like a guinea pig, but that’s just what it takes. Pay close attention to what’s going on in your lives, what’s going on your skin, what you’re consuming, and what kind of products you’re using to clean your house and everything in it. It can be pricey and time consuming to make switches in all of these areas at once, so I would suggest starting with skincare, diet, and cleaning products. Work your way out from there. If you have any other tips that might be helpful, feel free to post them in the comments so that my readers can see them!
Best of luck, everyone! Let me know if any of these things work for you :)