Sarah Brown, founder of organic skincare brand Pai, shares her tips on how to treat Eczema naturally.
Curing yourself – and your family – of eczema might be easier than you think. Forget petroleum-based creams – it might be as simple as giving up detergent and turning the heating down. Sarah Brown, founder of natural skin care brand Pai, has eliminated eczema (and its associated petrol-based “deterrents”) from the lives of many of her friends – and their children – with a menu of natural, easily applied remedies. Having recently launched an online personal consultation service to help customers with any number of skin battles, she’s given us a playbook for ridding your children – and yourselves – of the dreaded eczema. “Eczema can be a baffling and distressing condition that you can feel powerless to fix,” says Sarah. “I battled chronic urticaria for years in my 20s, but it didn’t compare to the frustration I felt over my two-year-old’s eczema. It developed when his little brother was born so I’ve always been convinced stress was a major factor in its onset.”
Here are some of her tips to help you navigate through the fog, stay calm and in control, and work on a strategy to improve things:
1. Know your triggers
Eczema in one person can be different to eczema in another. That goes for all skin conditions, so get to know your skin. The best way to do this is to keep a skin diary. Jot down diet, sleep patterns, products you’ve used on your skin and anything else you think might be relevant. Had a particularly stressful day? Write it down! Try to do for a minimum of one month. If certain skincare products appear to be worse than others read the ingredient lists and make a note of any ingredients that are common across them.You will start to see patterns emerge and get a more informed understanding of the things your skin loves and loathes. Knowledge is power.
2. Ditch detergents
It takes five water-only washes to remove all detergent residues from clothes – so it’s worth trialling a new washing machine regime that doesn’t include detergent at all – you may miss the “fresh” smell but your skin may well respond almost immediately once freed from constant contact with the chemicals that produce it. Try a few weeks without and then slowly reintroduce detergents to your laundry habits. Opt for Eco washballs if you can; or use a non-bio version and a third of the recommended amount. Choose a longer rinse cycle and don’t overload the machine.
3. Keep skin cool
Eczema means to ‘boil over’ in Greek. So finding ways to take the heat out of the skin can be hugely helpful, especially at night. Bathe in water that is warm, not hot – it helped me to have a bath thermometer on hand; ours was the shape of a duck which made the whole thing a game. And sleep in a cool, well ventilated room. Turning off bedroom radiators can have a very positive effect.
With childhood eczema try shortie cotton pyjamas as they help to prevent sweat forming in the creases of the arms and legs, where eczema can be most prevalent. And remember to allow their skin to fully dry before you dress them – let them run around with nothing on for as long as you can – playing hide-and-seek with their PJs works, if you have the time and energy at the end of the day*… (*not always true for most of us)
4. Resist the itch
Almost impossible to do of course, but hugely helpful if you can find a way. Prolonged scratching causes the skin barrier to break down – which intensifies irritation and inflammation and leaves skin prone to infection. Applying cool compresses to the itch can help to suppress it. Keep finger and toe nails as short as possible to prevent inadvertent night-time scratching.
5. Keep skin hydrated from within…
High grade fish oil (Omega 3) was game changing for us. For children it often comes flavoured with lemon so they will take it happily (especially if followed by a spoonful of honey). Bare Biology’s Super Hero is a great option and sustainably produced. A visit to a nutrionist might give you good diet advice and suggest potential supplements to support your immune system or tackle any deficiencies. Often advice for eczema is to exclude dairy – I would never advise cutting out whole food groups without expert advice, however – particularly in children as it can be hard to wean them back on to them.
6. …And without
Keep your favourite rich body cream in the fridge and reapply it regularly – at least twice per day; ideally three – to help the skin stay hydrated and supple. Our Pai Comfrey & Calendula Calming Body Cream is lovely applied cool from the fridge. It has been clinically tested as suitable for eczema prone skin.
7. Keep calm
Stress is a key trigger of eczema. It can quickly become a vicious cycle as flare-ups can cause anxiety and upset which in turn prolongs the eczema. It becomes impossible to break the cycle until you tackle your mindset and emotional wellbeing. Again everyone is different here – switching off the brain by getting into a great book works for some. A long walk or a yoga or meditation class works for others. Find your calm space and happy place and spend some time in it!
8. Be patient
We have a culture of ‘instant-ness’ – we want things immediately. There are no quick fixes with eczema; working out your triggers and then taking steps to manage them is a marathon not a sprint. If you look upon all of the above as a project, rather than a quick fix, you will hopefully find the right combination of changes for your family.
All Pai products have been independently patch tested and suitable for eczema-prone skin.
Pai’s team of skin coaches give FREE 30 minute skin consultations – you can book online here.
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