Practical tips for eczema management

Reader Sandra Robinson shares some advice.

Action Against Allergy joined together with the allergy team at St Thomas’ Hospital early in November to run one of their workshops for the parents of allergic children. It was well attended and well received, especially by Sandra Robinson who sent the following email to AAA in which she included some of the invaluable tips she has picked up and which have so improved her own eczema:

'Even though I have attended other AAA workshops, yours are so fantastically informative and I learn something genuinely life-improving every time – and I have had eczema for 45 years (since I was 6 months old), asthma since I was 11 and hayfever since my mid-20s, so believe me, I have a lot of experience in these conditions, and in trying out suggestions from various authorities. And yet there are several ideas I have got from your workshops that have MASSIVELY improved my day-to-day living.

To name just one example: I have never been able to tolerate any of the aqueous creams etc that doctors and others have prescribed over the years, I reacted to them all. And then at your last eczema workshop I met Epaderm and bingo! I have a protective lipsalve to put on over my usual olive oil & lavender ‘moisturiser’ (which I make myself. Indeed I make all my own skincare products now – except for Epaderm). Epaderm suits both my children too, one of whom gets dry lips in winter and the other gets dry back-of-hands.

And I now know to ask for my Betnovate in ointment rather than cream form, too. In fact, I have hardly needed my Betnovate for months, which is utterly delightful.

Now when I tell people I suffer from eczema and asthma and hayfever, they don’t believe me, because they can’t see the evidence! They don’t see the daily battles of course, with things I can/must/can’t eat/touch/breathe, but for the first time in my life, my hands and face are free of scabs, and I don’t sound like Darth Vader if I have to run for a bus on a cold day. It’s a joy.

I can also encourage my friends who have children with bad eczema, having myself suffered social exclusion at school (I was nicknamed “the leper”). Later on, as a teenager, I felt I just had to avoid going to parties, but on the up side it didn’t do my school work any harm. But what is available now is paradise, compared with what help there was (i.e. there wasn’t) in the 1970s!

So thank you, thank you, for all the work you do. Please do keep me informed of your next event. I do try to bring along fellow sufferers (well, mostly mums of children who suffer), none of whom could make it this time, so I hope to organise a group outing from Kent for next time!

In response to AAA’s request to publicise her letter Sandra replied:

Of course - I do believe AAA is a ‘Good Thing so please pass on / use any info I have given you if this could be of use to others.

The over-riding belief I battle against – a belief held by parents who have not suffered themselves and do not have particularly well-informed GPs - is that a child with bad eczema simply has to suffer, no avoidance action is possible, just lots of steroid creams and E45…

My husband is always encouraging and usually amused by my ‘proselytizing’ behaviour (if you could name it that). He says this is better than seeing the steam coming out of my ears when I see parents who time after time do nothing to help their children! I really don’t know whether this is ‘ostrich in the sand’ behaviour i.e. they don’t want to accept there is an issue, or whether they just can’t be bothered to make these irritating, but (in the grand scheme of things) relatively easy, adjustments to their lifestyle. Maybe they just feel helpless.

Anyway, I do what I can to help them with very simple advice, such as:
• putting on moisturiser in the direction of hair growth
• NOT sitting in a hot bath but having a shower instead
• having a shower in the evening, including washing hair, during the pollen season, so the child doesn’t smear pollen all over its face from its hair into the pillow and back again.
• Or regular showering without soap/detergent, which is frequently sufficient.
• Or washing all bedding at 60 degrees every week.
• And avoiding washing detergents by using the Eco Balls.
• Using olive oil as a moisturiser…

Oh dear, I’ve started off again, so sorry, will stop, I promise! '


First published 2009


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