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Eczema SOS

Natural approaches to soothe and calm the symptoms of eczema

Anyone who has experienced the skin condition eczema will know only too well the discomfort and self-consciousness it can cause.

“Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is a non-contagious, long-term dry skin condition,” explains Alice Lambert, Head of Services at the National Eczema Society ( . “It’s an individual condition, varying from person to person, and comes in different forms. Atopic eczema, which is inherited, is the most common type of eczema. Other types include asteatotic eczema (very dry skin that resembles crazy paving), contact dermatitis (caused by irritants or allergens), discoid eczema (coin-shaped patches), pompholyx eczema (itchy, watery blisters), seborrhoeic dermatitis (white or yellowish scale caused by a yeast species) and varicose eczema (affects lower legs, usually seen in middle-aged or older people).”

Signs and symptoms

“Atopic eczema can affect people of all ages but is primarily seen in children,” says Alice. “It is estimated to affect one in five children and one in 10 adults in the UK. People who ‘grow out’ of eczema during early childhood may see it come back in later life.”

The main symptoms of eczema are dry, itchy skin and during a flare-up the skin can also be red or darker than an individual’s skin tone, depending on skin colour and how sore and raw it may be. In more severe cases there may be weeping, crusting and bleeding. Constant scratching causes the skin to split and bleed and leaves it open to infection.

“Itchiness is one of the most challenging aspects of eczema,” says Alice. “It can make it difficult for people to focus on tasks or activities, cause them to feel self-conscious in social situations, and lead to sleep loss. Eczema can also make people feel self-conscious about their appearance, especially when it’s on the face or hands, and reluctant to leave the house.”

If you think you might have eczema, Alice recommends seeing your GP for a diagnosis. Conventional treatments for eczema include emollients, or medical moisturisers, as well as topical steroids. Treatments for more severe eczema include light therapy and different types of medication, which would be initiated by a dermatologist. Dietary changes, supplements and lifestyle changes may help too.

Nutrition and supplements

“It’s important to have a diet full of vitamin D-rich foods such as eggs and omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon or an omega-3 supplement,” says Holly Zoccolan, a nutritional health coach and founder of The Heath Zoc ( . “A vitamin E supplement is also great at helping to reduce eczema flare-ups too. Avoid added sugars and refined processed foods, as these can make eczema flare-ups much worse. Focus on ‘eating the rainbow’ which means a wide range of different coloured fruits and vegetables to get antioxidants and nutrients into your system. In addition to this I’d recommend eating a diet high in fibre, with lots of healthy fats from avocados, nuts, seeds and extra virgin olive oil.”

Aliza Marogy, a nutritional therapist and founder of Inessa ( recommends identifying any food triggers which may be driving an inflammatory response which manifests itself in the form of eczema. “There’s no one diet that fits all for eczema,” says Aliza. “One person may find that oranges cause a flare-up, and for another it may be red wine. The gold-standard for identifying food triggers is an elimination diet, which should be followed under the supervision of a qualified nutrition professional.”

Aliza also recommends trying a probiotic complex. “It’s now firmly established that the health of our gut is linked to that of other body systems, including the skin,” she says. “Specific probiotic strains have been shown to reduce inflammation both within the gut and skin and are now more widely used in the management of eczema and psoriasis.”

Coping with eczema as the seasons change

“The turning of the seasons can have a profound effect on your skin, particularly with inflammatory conditions such as eczema,” says Lucy Gulland, Community and PR Manager with Balmonds Skincare ( . “That’s because eczema involves a compromised barrier function, and when the epidermis isn’t working well environmental changes such as a drop in temperature and humidity can cause it to drastically lose moisture, which in turn triggers inflammation, and dry, cracked skin.”

Try Lucy's tips for managing your eczema through the changing seasons:

What’s your story?

National Eczema Week is a campaign organised by the National Eczema Society which runs from 11 to 18 September 2021. The theme this year is My Eczema Story, and the society is encouraging people to talk about the profound impact eczema has on all areas of their lives. Things like relationships, work and career, sleep and schooling can all be affected by eczema, and this impacts on our mental health and emotional wellbeing. Look out for #myeczemastory on social media or visit

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