We spoke to consultant dermatologist, Dr Anthony Bewley and Dietician, Dr Sarah Schenker to find out their top tips for winter skincare
TOP 3 DERMATOLOGY TIPS
Regularly Apply Emollient
It’s important to get into a routine when it comes to bathing and applying emollient. “To reduce the severity or risk of flare-ups I suggest that my patients limit the frequency with which they take a bath or a shower,” Dr Bewley explains. “I also recommend patients use a moisturiser like Cetraben Cream or other emollients and apply them immediately after bathing or showering, and at other times of the day too.”
For an easy to apply emollient that can be taken on the go, try Cetraben Cream (£4.49, 50ml Boots). It provides effective and specialist skincare that rehydrates and protects the skin from irritants. The balance of ingredients work in perfect harmony for perfect hydration – replacing lost skin oils, forming a protective barrier on the skin’s surface and attracting moisture from the epidermis and air to the surface layers of the skin.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Winter can be a very busy and sometimes stressful time as we flit between work and numerous social engagements. But ensuring you stay calm and get a good night’s sleep is very important to managing eczema this winter.
“Stress can be a major trigger for eczema so practising mindfulness, meditation or relaxation techniques can really help de-stress and control of symptoms,” Dr Bewley says. “And lack of sleep has been shown to exacerbate eczema so I encourage my patients to get a good night’s sleep. Between 6-8 hours is highly recommended. And finally, I always advise that patients seek the help of a doctor if all the above advice is not enough to get the eczema under control.”
If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep in winter, try new Benenox Overnight Recharge (£9.45, Amazon). Benenox is a combination of honey, Sustamine® and Vitamin B6, which, when taken before bed, supplements your body’s stored energy levels to support good quality, undisrupted sleep.
Avoid Harsh Soaps
As all the lovely festive shower and bath sets come out, it’s easy to get carried away with using all sorts of soaps, shampoos and shower gels, however this could further aggravate the skin, as Dr Bewley explains: “Many soaps, shampoos and shower gels can make skin dry and further aggravate skin conditions such as eczema. But soap substitutes such as Cetraben Daily Cleansing Cream, as well as others, can be less drying on the skin.
It is also beneficial to shower in lukewarm water as opposed to hot and it’s important to remember not to scrub your skin too hard as this can irritate it further. It is also most effective to apply an emollient or moisturising cream as soon as you finish your shower to help protected the skin barrier function.”
TOP 3 DIETICIAN TIPS
Take a Vitamin D Supplement
With the sun less likely to make an appearance during the winter months, we are less likely to get as much vitamin D, which is not only important for overall well-being but also important for managing eczema. “Healthy skin depends on a well-balanced diet that provides enough of all the nutrients to meet the body’s requirements,” Dr Sarah Schenker explains. “Dietary changes that could help manage eczema include adequate intakes of vitamin D which can help to prevent inflammation and aids the healing of skin lesions. This can be found in oily fish which provides vitamin D and also ensures a good intake of omega 3 fats.”
In line with government health guidelines, try a vitamin D supplement, such as Fultium Daily D3 (£3.99, Capsules, Boots). Fultium is manufactured to the highest standards and available as both capsules and drops. Fultium is formulated in a high-quality oil, which unlike dry powdered tablets are easily and effectively absorbed by the body.
Learn About Probiotics
Having a healthy gut is a hot topic at the moment, and this can have a very big influence on why we get eczema and how it can be managed. Dr Schenker explains: “Your gut plays a role in why people develop eczema. The microbiota (friendly bacteria) in the gut not only promotes healthy digestion but also influence good immunity. The gut flora of eczema-prone sufferers often have higher numbers of problematic bacteria and not enough microbiota, therefore the potential for good immunity and allergy protection is reduced thus increasing the risk of developing eczema.
“Probiotics are defined as friendly bacteria that can improve the microbiota and benefit a person’s health. If allergy sufferers want to boost their healthy microflora, a strategy could be to use prebiotics, which are foods or supplements that selectively stimulate the growth and activity of the friendly bacteria.”
To increase your friendly bacteria, try ProVen Probiotics Adult Acidophilus and Bifidus – 25 billion (£13.95, 30 capsules, Boots) is a high-strength friendly bacteria supplement for adults containing Lab4 – the most studied group of friendly bacteria in the UK. It is supported by a body of UK-based clinical research and it is advised to take two capsules per day with food for a period of 1-4 months, depending on personal need.
Get Enough Omega 3
Eczema is an inflammatory condition of the skin, which can cause redness, skin cracking and blistering. However, getting enough omega-3 in the diet could be key to reducing the symptoms of inflammation. Dr Schenker says: “There is a small amount of evidence to show that the long chain omega 3 fats found in oily fish may help to reduce symptoms of inflammation. It is recommended that young women and girls eat between 1-2 portions of oily fish per week, while older women, men and boys can eat up to 4 portions per week. Oily fish include mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout and fresh tuna. A fish oil supplement may also be helpful in reducing flare ups.”
If you’re concerned you may not be getting enough in your diet, try Lloyds Pharmacy Omega 3 Fish Oil (£8.69, 90 capsules, LloydsPharmacy). They are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which helps contribute to the normal function of the heart, and circulation, which is important in reducing inflammation.