DR MARTIN SCURR on how bleaching baths can relieve dry, cracked skin

My granddaughter has fairly serious eczema on her face and body. She is 26 and has always used prescribed steroid creams, which only improve for a short period. She cannot stop itching and does not sleep well, and I fear it will bring her down. Is there anything else that can help?

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Eczema is clinically known as atopic dermatitis and is characterized by dry, itchy, red areas of the skin.

Your granddaughter is unlucky, because although most people with this condition develop symptoms as children, it usually decreases in adulthood (presumably due to age-related changes in the immune system).

There is a widespread belief that eczema is often due to a food allergy. But a number of factors may be involved.

Eczema is clinically known as atopic dermatitis and is characterized by dry, itchy, red areas of the skin

Eczema is clinically known as atopic dermatitis and is characterized by dry, itchy, red areas of the skin

People with eczema have a less stable epidermis – the outermost layer of skin, our first line of defense against allergens, bacteria, viruses and irritants. This makes it susceptible to inflammation and dryness.

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Moreover, people with eczema (usually a hereditary disorder) often also have allergies. Therefore, exposure to chemicals, including soap, cosmetics, perfumes, wool, dust and tobacco smoke, can aggravate the condition. But that also applies to cold and dry conditions, emotional stress and even sweating.

Unfortunately, as you know, there is no & # 39; cure & # 39 ;.

It is important to first remove aggravating factors, such as low humidity environments that remove moisture from the skin, stress, anxiety and contact with solvents, soaps, and detergents.

Regular use of a soothing agent – a medical moisturizer – is also vital. Apply at least twice a day, and after each shower. This must be a lifelong strategy for your granddaughter. No prescription is needed for such creams, examples of which are Eucerin, Doublebase and Cetaphil daily lotion.

There is a widespread belief that eczema is often due to a food allergy. But a number of factors may be involved

There is a widespread belief that eczema is often due to a food allergy. But a number of factors may be involved

There is a widespread belief that eczema is often due to a food allergy. But a number of factors may be involved

Research shows that soothing agents containing glycyrrhetinic acid from licorice root have anti-inflammatory effects that help with redness (for example, Atopiclair, available without prescription).

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Suppressing the inflammatory response is essential – this is what the steroid creams you call for, and even the mildest are more powerful than glycyrrhetinic acid. But they can cause permanent skin thinning, so they should only be used intermittently for acute flare-ups.

The face and skin folds are the areas most likely to be damaged by dilution, so strong steroids should be avoided at these locations. There are newer, non-steroidal preparations that dampen the inflammatory response in the skin, but without the thinning effect. These are known as calcineurin inhibitors, but are only available on prescription. Tacrolimus is an example.

Bleaching baths (half a cup of non-perfumed bleach in a full bath with warm water) can reduce the symptoms by killing bacteria. It may be worth trying several times a week for four weeks. Stock photo

Bleaching baths (half a cup of non-perfumed bleach in a full bath with warm water) can reduce the symptoms by killing bacteria. It may be worth trying several times a week for four weeks. Stock photo

Bleaching baths (half a cup of non-perfumed bleach in a full bath with warm water) can reduce the symptoms by killing bacteria. It may be worth trying several times a week for four weeks. Stock photo

However, these drugs do not work as quickly as steroids, long-term use must be limited and your doctor's advice has been followed.

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I can give two more suggestions. The first is reference for ultraviolet light therapy. Courses of these three times a week have been proven to provide relief.

Secondly, staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium often found on the skin of people with chronic eczema, seems to determine its severity to some extent.

Bleaching baths (half a cup of non-perfumed bleach in a full bath with warm water) can reduce the symptoms by killing bacteria. It may be worth trying several times a week for four weeks.

IN MY OPINION: Acupuncture can also prevent migraine

Acupuncture is sometimes recommended for pain, but when I look at new evidence, I think that those who regularly have migraine may also be well advised to consider it.

With & # 39; regular & # 39; I mean anyone who has four or more migraines a month and who uses preventive (prophylactic) treatment.

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The danger is medication dependence and end up in the vicious circle of the medication itself, which causes a withdrawal headache while the drug wears off.

A meta-analysis (a combination of the findings of a number of research studies), recently published in the Journal of Neurology, suggests that acupuncture is superior to drug treatment. The drug treatment in these studies was beta-blockers – one of the standard preventives.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine needles, in this case in the face and head, during treatments. They are thought to reduce pain by releasing endorphins or affecting nerve pathways.

If you have frequent migraine, consider acupuncture – if only as a supplement to current preventive medication. It may not always be available on the NHS, so make sure you choose an acupuncturist who is a trained and ethical physician willing to read the study.

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