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Winter skin: the low down on dermatitis
As the months have turned from cheerful to chilly, and you’ve found yourself wearing more and more layers, chances are that areas of your body (like your hands) may not have coped so well with the change in seasons. While for most it’s a simple case of scaly skin that can easily be sorted with a nourishing moisturiser, for others the itching, burning and chronically chapped skin – also known as dermatitis – isn’t so easily alleviated.
Find out more about the skin irritation that affects approximately 1.5 million Australians each year…
WHAT IS DERMATITIS?
Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin that occurs when the skin loses moisture and the surface begins to crack. It’s an itchy, annoying skin reaction that can often become chronic and painful. There are a few different types of dermatitis, and the effects can range from itchiness and redness to blisters underneath the skin.
WHAT CAUSES DERMATITIS?
Depending on the type of dermatitis you’re suffering from, there are different causes for each.
Contact dermatitis: this is the most common form of dermatitis and is caused by direct irritants and affects only the area of contact. Chemicals in hair dye, jewellery, perfume or plants are some of the most common causes of contact dermatitis – and itchy, red skin with raised welts is often the result.
Atopic dermatitis: this type of dermatitis often occurs within areas of pre-existing skin hypersensitivity. It’s most common in infants but can also run in families that have a history of other allergies, such as asthma, hay fever or eczema.
Seborrheic dermatitis: symptoms of this dermatitis include redness and flaking on oilier areas of the skin, such as the scalp, face, or near the ears and nose. Physical stress and neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease can be a trigger.
HOW DO YOU TREAT DERMATITIS?
Before treating dermatitis, it is integral to diagnose the correct form. However, those suffering should follow these simple steps:
- - Keep the skin as moisturised as possible.
- - Use topical medications to reduce itching and scratching.
- - Avoid products that include perfumes or detergents as they can dry out and irritate the skin.
OUR PICK OF THE BEST TOPICAL DERMATITIS TREATMENTS:
- Uriage Crème Lavante – this soap-free liquid cleanser contains one-third nourishing milk as well as 10 per cent Uriage thermal water, which has unique therapeutic effects on the skin. It’s suitable for even the most sensitive skins, as well as for use on the face and scalp.
- Kosmea Skin Clinic Rescue Balm – organic, soothing and multi-purpose. Contains 100 per cent organic rose hip oil, rose hip butter, calendula oil, lavender essential oil and shea butter to form a strong moisture barrier and nourish and soothe itchy, dry skin.
- Billie Goat Soap Plain Goat Soap – the formula contains a mix of goat’s milk with olive oil, sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, castor oil and palm oil. It’s also free from added colours and fragrances and is suitable for use on those with sensitive skin and eczema.
- Franc Essential Sensitive – containing anti-irritants and gentle emollients to soothe and hydrate the skin, this moisturiser is perfect for battling inflamed skin irritations. It’s also fragrance-free and contains apricot kernel oil to soothe irritations and inflammations.
- DermaVeen Eczema Ointment – if you’re after a product to instantly soothe, protect and nourish cracked, sore skin, then this pH-balanced ointment, which is free from all the nasties (such as parabens, dyes and fragrances), will be your saving grace.
- Avène Cold Cream Hand Cream – chapped, cracked hands won’t stand a chance against this hard-working hand cream that contains all the elements to help battle the effects of dermatitis. Avène Thermal Spring Water and Cold cream ensure that your hands are left feeling smoothed and soothed.
Treatments for atopic dermatitis can include oral or topical corticosteroids, antihistamines, or immune-suppressing drugs known as calcineurin inhibitors. Some of these can be purchased over the counter at your local pharmacy, but others require a doctor’s prescription. If you’re unsure which type of dermatitis you’re experiencing, or if symptoms persist, it’s best to see a healthcare professional.
TIPS TO HELP PREVENT DERMATITIS:
• - Use only hypoallergenic cosmetics.
• - After showering, pat your skin dry rather than rubbing it.
• - Avoid touching the problem area.
• - Avoid excessively hot baths and showers.
• - Try to use nourishing, fragrance-free soap substitutes.
Stockist: Kosmea Skin Clinic Rescue Balm, $29.95, 1300 320 130
How have you dealt with skin issues like dermatitis?
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