MUM KNOWS BEST: A mother looking after the welfare of her baby
IT’S COMMON knowledge that when winter comes knocking eczema sufferers are at their worst, with the harsh weather making their already dry skin become drier.
Despite this widespread skin problem affecting millions around the world, there is in fact no real solution to combat eczema, other than moving to a warmer climate. For many sufferers it’s a trial and error experience, experimenting with countless remedies. However, in this exclusive interview The Voice speaks to founder and CEO of Salute Skincare and mumpreneur Natalie Hall to find out the best ways to soothe the aching itch of eczema.
What causes eczema, or atopic dermatitis and why is it so common in black skin?
Eczema is a general term for many types of skin inflammation (dermatitis). The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis. The exact cause of eczema is not known, other than it is a defect of the skin that impairs its function as a barrier.
Eczema can be seen as a way of your body telling you that something is out of balance and that a change is needed in order for it to become rebalanced and repair itself. Eczema can affect any race, however it seems to be even more apparent with black skin. This could be because our skin tends to be drier living in cold climates and in need of richer moisturisers.
Can children grow out of it and what can parents do?
Eczema can affect people of any age although the condition is most common in infants, and about 85 percent of those affected have an outbreak prior to five years of age. However, eczema will permanently disappear by age three in about half of all affected infants. In others, the condition tends to recur throughout life. People with eczema often have a family history of the condition or a family history of other allergic conditions, such as asthma or hay fever.
What inspired you to come up with Salute Skincare?
When my second daughter was born, she developed eczema within the first few months of life. She would scratch her skin until it bled and watching her helplessly became very distressing. I was given steroid creams by my doctor to cure it, but after doing some research, I realised that steroids were not ideal and can lead to thinning of the skin. So I decided not to use this treatment, but to try to control the condition myself.
I began by blending different combinations of naturally moisturising oils together and using it all over her skin. I stopped using soap to wash her body and only used thick moisturising creams to wash her. I cut out dairy products from her diet and changed her onto soya, but most importantly, I moisturised her skin up to ten times a day. I eventually found that using the right combination of oils regularly on the skin really improved her condition. This continued until the eczema was virtually gone.
A CHILDHOOD TRAUMA: Eczema affects a high amount of children
What are the best remedies for children suffering from eczema or atopic dermatitis?
If you or your child suffers from eczema, there are a number of things you can do to help ease the condition:
Keep the skin well moisturised:
Emollients / moisturisers – these form the foundation of eczema management. They come in different forms – lotions, creams, oils and ointments. I often get asked ‘what is the best one to use’ and my answer is always the same – the best one is the one the patient will use. Moisturisers need to be applied regularly, so it is important that the one you use is one that you and your child like the feel of.
Bath oils/ shower gels – water by itself dries the skin, so an oil to protect your skin whilst in the bath or shower is essential. Also, cut out soap and harsh washing powders. They can be severe irritants and worsen the condition.
Bandages/garments/ paste bandages- There are occasions where the use of these may be necessary. If the eczema is severe, they should be used at night once moisturisers have been applied.
Look closer at your child’s diet:
Do you find your child suffering with food allergies? If so their diet could be exacerbating the condition. Find alternative food groups instead of diary for instance and see if this makes a difference. It is well known that there are certain kinds of nutrients a person needs in order to thrive - vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids, carbohydrates, water and other factors such as light, love and rest.
Detoxify your child’s life:
Remove toxins that cause allergens as much as possible. Examples of allergens are foods such as dairy products, pollen, dust in bedrooms, chemicals from harsh washing powders, mould around window frames and on walls and other microorganisms which can grow in beds on carpets and curtains etc.
As parents we sometimes forget that when we are stressed our children get stressed too. Stress and invasive life events such as parents arguing and/or constantly unhappy, divorcing or a big house move etc can affect the intestine greatly and aggravate the condition. Try to de-stress as much as possible by creating a balanced environment for your children to thrive in and love them a little bit more
A HELPING HAND: Honey kills bacteria
Is Eczema more prevalent in the winter time?
Yes. The harsh weather changes our skin like any other sudden climate change. Pay attention to spots on the body that start itching when the temperature changes.
Look for itchy, red, scaly patches of skin in the creases of the body. Common places for winter eczema are the insides of elbows, behind the knees, around the armpits and behind the ears.
They say the best cures are sometimes natural - what can parents use in their kitchen to soothe their children’s skin?
If you are at home and need a quick solution to ease the itch fast, try the following and see how you get on:
* Use cold yogurt to instantly cool the area
* Rub a thin layer of honey on the area, as it is moisturising for the skin.
* Use olive oil as a quick moisturiser.
* Juice a cucumber and rub into the affected area. Apply cold to get a real soothing effect
Here to help you are five tips to keep the itch at bay and skin suitably moisturised:
* Do not over bathe. Wash the affected area thoroughly only once for the day and apply oil to the skin before you apply the water.
* Use entirely natural products on your child’s skin and remember to apply 10 times a day and bandage using a thick layer of moisture at night.
* Use natural fibres on your child’s skin such as cotton and keep away from synthetic fibres
* Do not over heat your home! Many of us have the heating turned up to the maximum temperature to feel toasty inside, but this causes great havoc on the skin, as it dries it out. Keep thermostats at around 20 degrees on a constant heat and apply another thin layer of cotton clothing if necessary. This is much kinder to your child’s skin and causes less irritation and scratching. Plus, it helps cut down on those ever increasing excessive heating bills.
* Allow your child to take part responsibility in keeping their skin moist, by allowing them to take part in moisturising their skin too. Babies as young as one year olds are capable of rubbing creams into their skin, so turn it into a fun exercise, rather than an inconvenient chore.
To find out more about Salute Skincare and Natalie Hall visit www.saluteskincare.co.uk