Eczema is a type of skin condition commonly characterized by dry, itchy, and red skin.
One of the main underlying causes of eczema involves a damaged skin barrier. Often, eczema sufferers will have a compromised barrier that causes a loss of moisture. This leads to dry and dehydrated skin, which presents itself as redness and flaky skin. The good news is that you can repair a damaged skin barrier, which can significantly improve your eczema symptoms.
The internet will tell you that you need to have a good skincare routine, moisturize, and take care of your skin. But in reality, a lot of people are unaware of exactly what type of ingredients they need to moisturize with, how they need to take care of their skin, and lastly, how to even formulate a gentle skincare routine.
The Role of Filaggrin
In order to heal the skin, it is important to understand the important role of filaggrin in supporting the skin barrier. Filaggrin is a protein that is present in the outer layer of your skin. It is heavily involved in the structure of the skin barrier.
What Ingredients To Look For in a Serum and Moisturizer
There are thousands of face and body serums and moisturizers on the market today. They all differ in terms of their formulation, consistency, and value.
Niacinamide is a type of B vitamin that can be found in a variety of lotions, creams and serums. It has a great ability to effectively penetrate the skin’s outer layer, delivering its exceptional properties to the skin.
Allantoin is a moisturizing plant-based ingredient that provides hydration to the skin. It soothes itchy and dry skin and is well-tolerated amongst most individuals. It also has wound healing properties.
• Shea Butter
Shea butter is a type of emollient that softens skin cells once applied to the skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties, increases hydration, prevents transepidermal water loss, and is also very soothing.
It has a thick consistency, which helps to protect the skin’s moisture barrier. It is also great to use as the last step in your skincare routine at night time, as the thick consistency locks in moisture.
Ceramides are a type of fatty acid that plays a large role in ensuring that the skin barrier is correctly structured, sturdy, and hydrated. Ceramides can be found in a variety of skin care products available over the counter. Once on the skin, it can penetrate the outer layer and soften skin cells.
• Jojoba Oil
While jojoba oil is not really an oil (it is a wax ester), many people are afraid to use oils on their skin in fear that it will break them out or clog their pores. Jojoba oil has been found to be very similar to our skin’s natural sebum production. Therefore, once applied to the skin, it can help protect the skin’s barrier and provide moisture and prevent skin dryness.
For an extensive list of what to look for in a moisturizer, you can read this blog post that I made compiling a list of ingredients to look for.
How To Formulate a Gentle Skincare Routine
1. Find a gentle cleanser.
2. Cleanse once per day.
While this may not work for everyone, it is best to cleanse the skin less often. In fact, every time the skin makes contact with water, it loses water content, and can become dry as the pH of the skin is temporarily altered. While it is extremely important to cleanse the skin, cleansing the skin once per day at night is sufficient.
3. Incorporate skin-barrier ingredients into your routine.
As mentioned above, you have to formulate a skincare routine that includes the barrier repairing ingredients listed above. While it doesn’t have to include all of those ingredients, it should include, at least, hyaluronic acid along with one of the other ingredients listed.
General Tips To Care For Eczema-Prone Skin
• Always Use Warm Water
While it is tempting to take a hot shower after a long day, hot water increases transepidermal water loss in the skin. It causes skin dryness and further irritates eczema. It is important to only use warm water when showering, washing your face, and washing your hands. This will help to prevent redness, inflammation, irritation, and excessive flaking of the skin.
• Avoid Using Towels To Dry The Skin
Towels are often abrasive on the skin. By rubbing or tugging at the skin, it increases redness and irritation. It is best to either pat the skin dry after showering, or to let the skin air dry if possible. This will help to prevent excess inflammation due to physical friction.
• Frequently Change Clothing, Pillowcases, and Bedding
Sometimes eczema can be triggered by laundry detergent, dust, or bacteria left on clothing, pillowcases, and bedsheets. When these items are not changed often, you can further cause flaking and inflammation on the skin.
Paller AS, Browning J, Nikolic M, Bodemer C, Murrell DF, Lenon W, Krusinska E, Reha A, Lagast H, Barth JA; ESSENCE Study Group. Efficacy and tolerability of the investigational topical cream SD-101 (6% allantoin) in patients with epidermolysis bullosa: a phase 3, randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled trial (ESSENCE study). Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2020 Jun 23;15(1):158. doi: 10.1186/s13023-020-01419-3. PMID: 32576219; PMCID: PMC7310548.