Itchy, dark brown or grey leathery patches on the skin, Eczema rarely needs an introduction among Black people. The condition is generally known to be prevalent during childhood, yet there is increasing evidence to suggest that more and more of us are developing the condition as adults.
Eczema has many triggers and it is a common form of skin inflammation. Usually described as atopic because it is driven by allergic reactions within the body which stimulate the immune system and its responses. It can be a chronic condition, meaning symptoms are not confined to flare up only during summer but become evident year-round.
Eczema symptoms are often very visible, causing prolonged periods of distress during flare ups due to feelings of being judged and attempts to cover up the patches. When this happens, the last thing anyone wants to hear are well-meaning opinions and misinformation about how to treat the symptoms.
So, how do we ensure we are doing everything we can to avoid developing symptoms and what are the best ways to treat the symptoms? We asked Aesthetician and Black Skin Directory founder, Dija Ayodele to share her expertise about dealing with eczema.
Prevention is better than cure
Poor skin barrier function is a major determinant so where possible my approach is always to shore up barrier strength to protect the skin from an extremely dry skin or eczemaic flare up. On black skin the results can be increased hyperpigmentation from rubbing and scratching the skin.
Products to help prevent symptoms
Apart from avoiding individual eczema triggers I recommend including Osmosis Epidermal Rescue Serum in the skincare routine as this contains Trioxolane which is a specialized extract of sweet wormwood and has a remarkable ability to calm inflammation and activate epidermal wound repair and dramatically improves skin texture.
Likewise, I rely on the Neostrata Restore Range with the abundance of polyhydroxy acids such as maltobionic and lactobionic acid to infuse the skin with hydration whist gently exfoliating for a smoother texture. Itching will also be reduced.
Medik8 B5 Hyaluronic Acid, including the intense version, are also worthy of a mention and can be used on smaller areas for hydration. I’ve used this on my son a lot to quickly ease discomfort by flooding the area with moisture.
When hayfever and other allergies trigger symptoms
As difficult as it is, avoid rubbing and scratching your face, especially the mid face area – eyes and nose. The eyes around the skin is thinner, and hyperpigmentation can occur quickly. Skin will also become puffy.
These are topical solutions but it’s always advisable to seek help from a health professional as prescribed antihistamines will greatly calm the symptoms that lead to flare ups. While it often gets a bad rep, prescribed hydrocortisone ointments can be used as and when needed. It shouldn’t be shunned because it can really be effective in taking the edge off itchy skin. There is a broad misconception that it can thin the skin, short term use will not cause this.
Always keep the skin hydrated
Remember to keep skin moist always. Regular reapplication of lotions/emollients and sealing it all in with an occlusive barrier cream or oil is necessary to avoid skin totally losing all moisture. You can also use a soap substitute to bath and wash, for example use aqueous cream as this doesn’t strip the skin of its protective barrier.
- Avoid individual triggers e.g if pollen is a trigger on your skin wear loose long sleeves.
- Seek medical advice for antihistamines and hydrocortisone
- Quality topical skincare that calms inflammation
- Avoid vigorous rubbing of the skin as this creates hyperpigmentation
- Keep skin barrier protection at the top of your agenda always.
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