Saturday, 21 February 2015

Keeping your eczema and psoriasis under control

Up to 20% of children are said to suffer from eczema, one of the most common skin disorders
Wellbeing / Body

By Feriha İbrahim

Skin is the largest organ of the human body and it serves multiple functions. The most important of these is as a protective barrier, keeping the body away from noxious external elements. It also keeps the internal system intact. Other functions of skin are:
  • UV light protection
  • Thermoregulation: helping the body to maintain a regular temperature even in varying external temperatures
  • Control of water loss

Skin disorders can occur when a layer of cells start losing their main properties. There are many types of skin disorders but the two most common ones are eczema (dermatitis) and psoriasis. Both these conditions can flare-up at any time, but with the right treatment can go into remission.

Eczema is also called dermatitis, which means ‘inflammation of the skin’. It is a long-term chronic illness that can affect all ages. Up to 20% children can suffer from eczema, however many grow out of it by their mid-teens.

There are different types of eczema, the most common being atopic eczema. The condition can appear on any part of the body, from the head down to feet. The main symptoms are:
·         Skin feels dry
·         Some areas of skin become red and inflamed
·         Itchy
·         Skin can become cracked

Ask your pharmacist about the most suitable over-the-counter treatments for your skin disorder
There are many factors that can trigger eczema, from genetic inheritance, to a change in climate, through to allergies, diet, or infections. Keeping skin moisturised using emollients (medical moisturisers) is key to managing all types of eczema. Topical steroids containing corticosteroids (hormones) are used to bring major flare ups under control. The steroids reduce the inflammation (redness and swelling), suppress the immune system and narrow the blood vessels in the skin, which in turn curb the irritation.

Those living with this condition should:
·         Avoid irritants to the skin and other factors that trigger the disorder
·         Use emollients regularly
·         Use topical steroids for severe outbreaks

Psoriasis is another common skin disorder. This auto-immune condition, which triggers the rapid growth of skin cells, is said to affect up to 3% of the population, affecting both males and females equally.

Red, scaly skin typical symptom of psoriasis
Essentially psoriasis suffers find that their skin replacement process takes a few weeks instead of a few days, which results in a build-up of excess skin cells. The excess then forms into patches (plaques) of red, scaly, flaky skin. It can affect any part of the body, including the scalp, hands, feet and genitals.

Factors that cause psoriasis are stress, infections, drugs, sunlight, hormone changes, alcohol and smoking. There are many applications that can be prescribed to treat psoriasis too.

The key to treating skin disorders is keeping the skin soft and moist. If your regular skin cleanser and moisturiser for dry skin are not working, ask your local pharmacist about medical emollients. Their properties tend to be milder, avoiding colours and fragrances that often cause irritation, while helping to nourish and rehydrate the skin, and restore the balance of essential oils.

Popular treatments you can buy over-the-counter include creams, ointments, lotions, shampoos and shower gels. Some are more suitable than others, depending on where on the body the symptoms are and the severity of your condition. For example creams are great for moisturising, but ointments are more effective if you are suffering a flare-up. Talk to your pharmacist, who can advise on the ideal emollient therapy for you.
Each person’s skin disorder is unique to them and it can take a few attempts before your pharmacist, or in more serious cases, GP or specialist consultant finds the right treatment for you. These can also include steroids, antihistamines, Ultra-Violet (UV) light therapy, bandages and wet wraps, immunosuppressant tablets and biologic injections.

For more information, visit the National Eczema Society and the Psoriasis Association or NHS Choices  

About the author: Feriha İbrahim is a fully qualified pharmacist who, together with her family, runs Woodside Pharmacy – both branches are located in Leytonstone, London E11.


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  2. My husband suffers from eczema and has been using foderma serum twice a day. It took him 3 weeks to try it because he is very traditional and stubborn and thinks that oatmeal cures all. Even though it never cured his eczema. He humbly admitted that his eczema is gone!!! He'll never switch and the Mrs. has new cred.

  3. I have suffered with severe eczema my entire life. I am use to trying new product and am usually disappointed. I let foderma serum chill in the fridge before using and it felt amazing when I applied. Foderma helped stop the itching and inflammation.

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