This post has been sponsored by Cetaphil*
The first time my eczema flared up I was about thirteen years old. Like many teenagers I had been using those lovely fragranced face-care products that leave your skin squeaky clean, and I’m guessing it was this combined with hormonal changes, stress and my environment that finally broke the camel’s back.
Suddenly my face was covered in dry patches around my forehead, nose, eyes and chin, and this quickly developed into these white blotches spreading out from the centre of my face like some horrendous orchid.
Naturally I was horrified.
My mom took me to a dermatologist who went on to tell me I had eczema and prescribed a round of cortisone along with this super gross, slick body wash that felt like I was showering with petroleum jelly, and a thick, sticky body cream to slather on afterwards.
At this point in my life I completely understand the reasons for these icky sticky products, even though back then I hated the idea of these taking over by bathroom cabinet. Thing is, when you have eczema or other variations of dermatitis your skin’s barrier becomes really thin, which means your skin looses moisture quicker and the underlying layers are more exposed.
When you have eczema your skin’s barrier becomes really thin, which means your skin looses moisture quicker and the underlying layers are more exposed
When you have healthy skin the cells are also packed tightly like a brick wall with cement gluing them together. Now your cells are all jumbled like loose pebbles and consequently all sorts of nasties can enter the deeper layers of your skin. Cue inflammation and proper skin freak-out.
Doctors normally treat inflamed eczema with a round of topical cortisone to ease inflammation, and some emollient rich creams that will seal in moisture and mimic a healthy skin barrier.
I have been fighting a continuous battle with my skin and these days I feel I have the upper hand most of the time but every now and then during a particularly stressful period, when the seasons are changing or when I’ve been using the wrong combination of skincare products, all hell will break loose and I need to do damage control. I prefer to leave cortisone as a last resort and always try to manage the situation with the right skincare first.
When the seasons are changing or when I’ve been using the wrong combination of skincare products, all hell will break loose and I need to do damage control
When my eczema has flared up I have learned to steer clear of any fragranced skincare and exfoliating products (including products containing retinol). I reach for products containing petroleum jelly, glycerin, panthenol and all your lipid-rich nut butters.
The problem is when you’re a teenager you really don’t want to slather sticky things on your face and body. Even as an adult I don’t much like seriously heavy creams, particularly going into summer months.
I recently started using the Cetaphil DailyAdvance Ultra Hydrating Lotion (R229,95 at select pharmacies), which has been formulated for dry to very dry skin and I can honestly say it is going to be a staple in my routine. It is intensely moisturizing without being heavy at all. In fact the cream has this whipped consistency that absorbs quickly and feels light and comfortable when spread on your skin.
The cream contains their Epidermal Replenishing Complex, a combination of five ingredients that protect and rehydrate skin. They’re not specific about the actual components in this complex, but I spotted macadamia nut oil, Shea butter, Vitamin E and Panthenol in the ingredients list, all brilliant nourishing goodies.
I have tried it on my body but I think it should also be fine to use on your face if you’re in a pinch. You can, however, also opt for their Moisturizing Cream. Check out my video review of that product here.
If you are struggling with eczema, here are a few of my top tips:
- Go see a doctor. Yes, really. If the problem has progressed beyond a certain point you’re not going to solve if with lotions. You’ll need them to prescribe a round of topical cortisone.
- Avoid products with fragrance, especially synthetic fragrance, as well as drying alcohols.
- Opt for oil or cream cleansers to remove makeup and cleanse. I prefer an oil makeup removers that dissolve makeup and daily grime instead of products that require meto rub cotton pads over my face, which can be rough on a sensitized skin.
- Don’t wash your face with very warm water. Luke warm is sufficient.
- Moisturize immediately after cleansing. You can also add a skin oil before your cream. I love Baobab oil or products rich in ceramides. If your skin is still feeling dry you can add a barrier repair balm over your moisturizer. These are mostly a blend of silicones, petroleum jelly and glycerin. You can even use something like baby bum cream – I’m not kidding.
- Try and pinpoint what triggered the breakout. It can come from food allergies like gluten intolerance, stress, sweat, or harsh ingredients in skincare products.
- Follow a diet that is rich in good fats. These are important components in a healthy skin barrier.
Anything to ask or add? Please pop your requests and recommendations in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you.