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July is Eczema awareness month

Eczema. Is there anything you can do?
Your skin is rashy, red and itchy. And this is not the first time. What is going on? Anything you can do to fix it? Is it caused by an irritatnt (like alcohol or sodium lauryl sulfate) or by an allergen (balsam of Peru, idebenone)?
You may not be able to “fix” eczema, because it has to do with the way your immune system responds to stuff. Inflammation is a symptom, and you are the detective in charge, if you are a good detective you will be able to control your eczema.
Is it irritation? Maybe you are using a disinfectant with a lot of alcohol in it, or a no-wash antibacterial. When did the problem start? Eliminate one by one the suspect products and see whether your hands get better.
Is it allergy? Maybe you started using a new toothpaste (all natural! Good for you!), but the ingredients in it are allergenic.
Is it your grandchild and a worsening nappy rash? Check the fancy nappy rash cream that “influencers” say it’s the new wave in baby products. Honest!
You need to get to know your body, and nobody but you can tell you what you are doing that may be hurting your skin. Once you have a predisposition to allergies, you need to get familiar with your body and avoid aggravating the situation. The easiest first step is to avoid fragrances. If you like a particular fragrance, maybe keep a potpourri with it in your closet. It is true that the sense of smell is precious, but don’t indulge it at the expense of your health.
If it was a bug bite, use some cortisone cream, perfect for emergencies. For larger areas, you can use Skin Actives soothing serum or anti-inflammatory cream.
You may suspect that it is a food you are allergic to, but be careful, because you may end up with an exclusion diet that leaves you with a serious vitamin deficiency or a protein deficiency.
If you recently started with a new medication, check with your doctor. In fact, antibiotic allergies can develop rapidly and land you in the ER.
Will the allergy get better? They rarely do, and you may need to get “proper” allergy tests to find out what is going on.
Before you make an appointment with the doctor, make a first inspection of the ingredient lists for the products you use. It may be hard to believe but some companies use known allergens as ingredients. Check for Balsam of Peru, a very natural ingredient that is also very allergenic and can be found in some diaper rash creams (!).
Do the earrings you got as a present contain Nickel? Have you been taking lovely, fragrant bubble baths? Sodium lauryl sulfate is great for bubbles but don’t use it in your bath, it is a common irritatnt (it is OK to use it to blow bubbles, though).
Many clients ask why we at Skin Actives don’t use fragrances or essential oils in most of our products. Fragrance is a “luxury” many of us can’t afford because we have a tendency to develop allergies. Essential oils may be natural but natural has nothing to do with allergenicity: it all depends on how the chemical structure of the chemical interacts with your body. If there is a perfume you know is OK for you, you can add a few drops to your Skin Actives products. Even better, just use it as a perfume so you don’t complicate your life unnecessarily.
When we at Skin Actives use an essential oil, like in our UV repair cream, it is because one or more of its chemical components has a particular benefit.
If you are in the middle of an eczema episode, stop making things worse. Avoid harsh soaps, and apply a good barrier cream. When you wash your clothes, use a washing detergent without enzymes (proteases) and the double rinse cycle. An over the counter allergy medication like Zyrtec (cetirizine) can also help.
When eczema, diaper rash, or periodontal dermatitis happen is a good time to use your common sense and stop trusting advertising and cartoons depicting cute babies. Read the ingredient list and if you see Peruvian balsam oil, ran and take your baby with you.