Friday, September 23, 2011

My Eczema Skin Triggers

I have noticed that there are a few things that trigger my eczema and I thought I'd share it with all of you. For those with eczema, or any kind of skin sensitivity, it is important to identify triggers that set off the skin irritation so as to reduce the likelihood of eczema. Ultimately, I would like to be able to stop topical steroid creams.

1. Alcohol
A very common ingredient found in so many skincare products/cosmetics. It is difficult to avoid it but it is do-able. Alcohol stings my skin and makes my skin turn red. After a few hours or by the next day, my skin will start to itch. It is a common skin irritant but cosmetic companies still include alcohol as it has it's uses - helps product absorb faster, leaves a refreshing feel for those with oily skin, etc. My advice is always look through the ingredients list and avoid products with alcohol featuring prominently on the top of the list.

Problem is, so many skincare products have alcohol within their first 10 ingredients. In most products, alcohol is the second ingredient after water, which means there is a lot of alcohol to potentially irritate your skin. I can't avoid alcohol a lot of the time. The 2 serums I use - Shiseido Whitening serum and Kose moisture serum - both contain alcohol. What I do is a mix it into my Avene Skin Recovery Cream. Yes, I know serums should go first before cream so work at it's best. But given my skin condition, the only way for me to get whitening benefits is to mix the serum into the cream to make it a whitening cream. I mix by rubbing the cream and serum (sometimes both serums) together in circular motion between my palms. After doing this, I feel that a lot of the alcohol evaporates with the heat generated by the rubbing. I then gently spread then pat the cream into my skin. So far, this works for me.

2. Exfoliants
Manual scrubs and chemical exfoliants like AHAs and BHAs irritate my skin but I do have blackhead and clogged pore problems to deal with. What I do now is I only use AHA cream (Avene Cleanance K Cream-gel) only at my t-zone area where I don't get eczema flare-ups. To deal with my cheeks, I use a very mild AHA face wash but only once a week or once in 2 weeks.

3. Harsh chemicals
Chemicals like retinoids and sometimes even Vitamin C makes my skin red and itchy.

4. Some natural skincare products
Since I'm working on this list I thought it would be good to debunk the myth that natural skincare products is safe on sensitive skin precisely because it is natural. Not.True. Don't fall for these irresponsible sales tactics the sales staff use. I've gotten burnt many times by natural skincare products that turn my face red and burns my face like mad. When you buy natural skincare, it is very important to know what goes into it. If you read websites like environmental working group's you'll know how much harsh non-natural and natural ingredients are used. In general, I am wary about natural skincare products, especially if you cannot by sure the ingredients are truly natural or just chemical derivatives of it. I prefer to use skincare brands specifically developed for sensitive skin instead.

5. Dry skin
The moment I don't have sufficient moisture/oil on my skin, it will start to itch. I have to layer on my moisturiser immediately after cleansing before allowing the skin's moisture any chance to evaporate. Immediately after cleansing, I pat dry my skin, use toner and follow with my moisturiser mix (as described above). The Avene Skin Recovery Cream works for me as it is oily enough to counter my dry skin. Creme de La Mer also works but it is also very expensive. Although strictly speaking, I do not have dry skin, but more combination skin. However it is important for me to use products for dry skin as products for normal to combination skin do not provide enough oil/moisture balance for my skin.

It is important to know your skin well. If you have eczema-prone skin like mine, try to identify your skin triggers. It is likely that your skin triggers are different from mine as sensitive skins tend to be a mystery. Just observe how your skin reacts to certain products and if the same reaction occurs repeatedly and results in skin irritation, that might very well be your eczema/sensitive skin trigger.

Share your skin triggers with us so we can all get to know our skin better!

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