Kate Middleton, Nicole Kidman, Brad Pitt and Jade Jagger are just a handful of the celebrities that suffer with eczema and figures have revealed that an estimated six million others will be itching and scratching their way into National Eczema Week.
It is estimated that one in 10 adults and one-fifth of children are affected by the skin condition and some people find that it's often affected in different ways depending on the weather and the season.
There might be some good news for sufferers though; filaggrin is the name of a protein usually found in the skin and scientists have found that a defect in the gene that makes this portein can be the cause of eczema. They hope it may hold the key to a cure.
Seasons of change
Summer usually offers some relief, as the UV light from the sun eases the condition, although it can sometimes make some forms of eczema worse. Autumn is usually considered the worst time for most, as central heating goes back on sucking moisture from the air. Applying extra cream at this time of year will help to make skin feel more comfortable.
Winter can also be a tricky time because if you get to close to heat sources this can irritate eczema, its better to sit back from the fire and opt for loose fitting cotton jumpers to keep warm.
Pollen levels during spring can worsed symptoms for some allergy sufferers, including those with eczema, so avoid sitting in grassy areas when the pollen count is high.
Is there an edible cure?
Certain foods can make eczema flare up in some people. The most common culprits include eggs, seafood, soy, fruit, nuts, wheat, milk and dairy products. Rather than attempt to cut them all out at once, keep a food diary. You can then look back at what you have eaten around the time of a flare up and see if cutting it out helps to ease your symptoms.
The itchy myth
People get eczema because they don’t wash properly.
In fact, washing too much can trigger dry skin and eczema. Sufferers should wash with mild soap and water and take care not to scrub too hard.
Dress for success
Wool and wool-like fibres - like cashmere and mohair - can cause rashes and itching. Polyester fibres penetrate the skin’s surface, causing irritation as well as causing the wearer to sweat, which can exacerbate symptoms. Other man-made materials, such as nylon can make symptoms worse, and fabrics like denim and leather may also be too heavy and rough for skin. Opt for cotton and silk where possible.
A common irritant is dust mites - even if you keep your home clean they are everywhere. Another frequent cause of flare ups is pet fur, particularly cat hair. In fact, research has shown that babies exposed to cat fur soon after birth were more likely to get eczema. Reduce the risk by keeping pets out of bedrooms and living spaces, wrapping your mattress in plastic sheeting, regularly changing pillows and blankets, and getting carpets and upholstery properly cleaned.
Efamol Evening Primrose Oil
Barefoot SOS - Advanced Natural Therapeutic Formula (including expert comment from Dr Chris Steele & Jo Fairley of the Green Beauty Bible)
Eau Thermale Avène (including celeb fans)
Eumovate Eczema & Dermatitis Cream
Dr Chris Steele, Resident Doctor on ITV’s This Morning says: “I see more and more patients suffering nasty reactions to chemicals in their everyday skin care products. Beware of products that contain lanolin, sodium lauryl sulphate, parabens and artificial fragrances, as they have a tendency to irritate the skin.
"Even substances like paraffin can be problematic for people with sensitive skin. It's not all bad news though as there are some effective products on the market, with natural ingredients such as chickweed, evening primrose, borage, squalene and vegetable glycerin, which soothe the skin, and if used regularly help control eczema and other dry skin conditions."