Eczema is a long-term condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked, according to the NHS. It most often appears in children before their first birthday, but could also develop in later life. Symptoms vary between small patches of dry skin, and large areas of red and inflammation skin all over the body. You could lower your risk of eczema flare-ups by regularly applying emollients, it’s been revealed.
Emollients are moisturising creams or lotions that are applied to the skin to lock in moisture and prevent dry skin.
But, you should stop using the emollients if you’ve been using them for a long time, because they may lose their effectiveness, warned LloydsPharmacy.
If you continue to use the same emollient, it could even lead to skin irritation, it warned.
“Some people may find that by merely adapting their lifestyle [e.g. avoiding certain triggers or allergens, changing their diet] and using emollients, they can avoid bad flare-ups of eczema,” said LloydsPharmacy.
“Emollients are the standard eczema treatment, typically used by all eczema sufferers.
“There are many different emollients available, and a huge number can be bought in pharmacies without a prescription.
“The purpose of emollients is to keep the skin soothed, and prevent inflammation, which is why they should be used regularly.
“However, after using one emollient for a long period, it may become ineffective, or may even start to irritate your skin.”
If you decide to use an emollient, you should use a large amount, and reapply it every two to three hours.
You should avoid sharing the same emollient, as you could risk spreading infections, added LloydsPharmacy.
To get the most benefit from your creams, avoid rubbing it in. Instead, simply smoothes into the skin in the same direction as your hair grows.
There’s currently no cure for eczema, but treatments aim to reduce symptoms.
Speak to a doctor if your eczema symptoms won’t go away. They may prescribe a topical corticosteroid cream to reduce swelling.
It’s crucial that patients avoid scratching, as it could damage the skin and make symptoms worse.
Wearing light clothing over the affected areas, and keeping your nails short, could help to reduce damage from habitual scratching.
Speak to a pharmacist if you’re worried about the signs of eczema, or for advice on the best over-the-counter treatments.