I decided to start by cutting out Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLS) in my shampoo and shower gel - and within a week, every single patch of eczema on my whole body had cleared up. So for me, SLS is the number one place to start - check shampoos, shower gels and bath products, liquid hand soap, and so on. I found it on the ingredients list of my Aqueous Cream, which explains why it was no help to me. So, whilst the flare-up patches are gone, my skin is still dry and extremely prone to itching. This is where the second phase came in; I realised what this needed to be when I tried Sudocrem on a little patch on my elbow. Overnight, my skin flared up into a weeping, orange mess; Sudocrem and I are not friends. Through trial and error, I've established that it's the Paraffinium Liquidum which is the problem for me; products containing Paraffin dry my skin out really badly, so I've just had to stop using them. Petroleum (or Petrolatum) has a similar effect, and I'm starting to think I'm sensitive to Parabens, too - products with ingredients ending in -paraben (Propylparaben, Butylparaben, etc.) also seem to dry my skin out, leaving it itchy and uncomfortable. This rules out Vaseline, Nivea, Aveeno, E45, and the vast majority of similar brands which are marketed at and recommended for eczema. Thank you, difficult, contrary skin.
So, what do I use!?
It's also worth noting that if you have children, be careful what you're using to bath them and wash their hair - Johnson's Baby Shampoo contains SLS and if I use it to wash my stepdaughters' hair, my hands are not happy. Naked do do a range of SLS-free kids' shampoos which I'm intending to try out ASAP!
Liquid hand soaps are out for me, but solid bars are generally fine, as they don't contain SLS. I use solid soap at home and my eczema is now well controlled enough that if I use liquid soap when out and about, it generally doesn't cause me any problems. Washing up liquid and other cleaning products are also a problem, so I make sure I wear washing up gloves even to wash one pan, as well as whilst doing things like cleaning the bathroom.
In terms of moisturising my skin, trying to find moisturisers without Paraffin and Petroleum has been a nightmare, but generally speaking The Body Shop's Body Butters are very good (although some of their fragrances are a bit much for my skin), Naked Bodycare's Coco de Mer Body Butter is gorgeous, and I also really recommend Arora's Body Butter which is an absolute bargain!
So, whilst I wouldn't say my eczema is "cured" given all the special attention it requires, and whilst it is annoying that I generally can't wash my hair at a friend's house unless I've taken my own shampoo, it's worth the effort for the difference it's made to my life. It sounds silly, but unless the itchiness of eczema has literally kept you awake at night, you probably won't appreciate how much it's worth that I finally have it under control!
I hope you've found this post helpful, please do let me know if you have any tips or questions, I'd love to try and help!
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