Eczema is a form of dermatitis, and we all know how much I love anything skin related. The skin fascinates me; I’ve spent many days learning about the skin and the problems that can affect it. If you’ve been in for an appointment, you’ll know I like to check the skin on your feet thoroughly whilst you are on the treatment couch.
Back to eczema, it’s National Eczema Week in the UK 13th – 19th of September, a chance to increase awareness of its signs, symptoms and treatments to help people manage it and not be embarrassed by their skin. Eczema affects 1 in 5 children and 1 in 10 adults, so that’s 2 out of the patients I see every day.
There are many forms of eczema, and the degree to which people are affected varies hugely. However, two types affect the feet most, pompholyx and varicose.
Pompholyx eczema is common on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. A flare-up will often start with an itchy, burning sensation, and it moves on to a patch of small blisters, which worsen and can become infected. Finally, the blisters will dry out, causing the skin to become dry and red and likely to crack.
Varicose eczema develops in people with high blood pressure who have had a deep vein thrombosis, cellulitis or varicose veins. The skin on the legs will be dry, flaky and itchy, and it may also change colour. Injuries or insect bites will cause much more significant problems like ulcers developing.
In the whole scheme of things, there are worse conditions to live with, but I want everyone to live without being embarrassed by their skin and without the relentless itching, inflamed, often bleeding skin. I have seen all varieties of eczema over the years, so please do chat with me if you want advice on reducing the effects.
Here are a few simple things I advise my patients.
- Know your triggers. Limit stress (I know that’s often not easy).
- Keep your skin moisturised.
- Check your skin regularly; it’s better to catch things early.
- Wear bamboo socks during the day as they move sweat away from your feet.
- Wear silk socks overnight; if you moisturise your feet before bed, the silk helps more cream be absorbed.
- Always wear footwear to reduce injuries from occurring.
- Avoid wearing rubber or plastic shoes as these cause your feet to sweat more.
- Book an appointment with me if you have blisters, cracks or fissures forming. I can help with dressings.
Anyone who has lived with eczema knows how frustrating it is when they have a flare-up, don’t let it stop you in your tracks. The National Eczema Society have so much helpful information for anyone wanting to read more. https://eczema.org/