How can I fix my scaly dragon eye?
November 27, 2013 8:22 AM   Subscribe

I have eczema on my eyelid, and have been advised by my GP not to use the prescribed steroid/antibiotic cream for more than a week. What should I be using now to help it heal, and keep the rest of my face happy? Are there any brands/ingredients I should steer clear of?

Background: I'm in the UK, where one does not generally see a dermatologist unless referred to by a GP (or possibly privately?), so the GP is the first port of call for most skincare problems here. I've had mild to moderate eczema for years, so I've always gone off my GP's advice - prescribed steroid cream, and moisturising where necessary.

I've been given a 1% steroid/antibiotic cream, which has cleared up most of it, but I've been told not to use it for more than a week as steroids can potentially damage the eyes when used long-term. As with most steroid creams, the skin feels a little thin and dry, and I'm not sure what I can use to help things along. I did try some Kiehls Avocado cream before starting the steroid treatment, and it stung like billy-o. I'm wondering then what's best to apply to my eyes to help them along. (If nothing else, I have small eyes that I basically have to draw on every morning, and it would be nice to break out the glitter for the Christmas season....)

Other useful info:
- I'm not allergic to anything as far as I know, whether food or cosmetics, though certain types of water and cold tends to bring it on on my hands and the backs of my knees.
- The most common place for me to get eczema is on my right hand. I have no idea why this is and I can't think of anything that would affect one and not the other.
- I wear make-up at least five days a week, but have avoided it while my skin is healing. I should probably throw out anything old anyway, but I've been using the same brands/specific shades for years without a reaction - and it's only on one eye rather than both.
- I've been using Clinique 3-Step on the rest of my face, on the grounds that it is supposedly fragrance-free/hypoallergenic and all that jazz. My skin seems to be combination/dry, and I've never found a moisturiser that sorts out both at once. (I think the Clinique moisturiser is giving me a few wee spots.)
- I've started taking fish oils as these are supposed to help the skin generally.
- As I'm in the UK, I can't go to Sephora, but I do have access to a huge Boots a bus ride away from work, and am happy to order online too.

Thanks in advance!
posted by mippy to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I think I would go with straight up petroleum jelly. It will protect your skin and let whatever moisture through that can make it through, without scents or anything harmful.

I would also trust (to the extent appropriate for someone who is not a doctor that has examined you) Paula's Choice's information about eczema and her recommended products. I believe she has a UK site or at least ships to the UK.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:27 AM on November 27, 2013

I get the same thing.

A fairly common eczema routine is to apply the steroid cream, then top that with something oil-based that will act as a moisture barrier. You just continue the latter part of the routine when you stop using the steroid.

Your doctor could prescribe DiproBase, an emollient that comes in containers big enough to last you half a century. Or you could just use petroleum jelly. Oil-based things generally work better than water-based moisturisers, because they protect the skin from drying rather than attempting to put moisture back in (which often results in worse eczema, at least in my experience). I've also found that unrefined shea butter works pretty well (I ordered a massive tub online).
posted by pipeski at 8:37 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've always used Noxzema for this - I get eczema on my eyelid too. It works pretty well.

Fair warning: Apply carefully, and only use in the shower. If you're not careful, you will get Noxzema in your eye. Historically, I've found this to be pretty much harmless, but it's a really weird feeling.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:39 AM on November 27, 2013

Shea butter?

Or you could channel your inner Kardashian and get a breastfeeding friend to give you some breast milk for it. Kim swears by it.
posted by spunweb at 8:41 AM on November 27, 2013

I've had great success with Aveeno, specifically their heavy duty moisturising cream and the daily cream. It uses colloidal oats in suspension though, so if you have allergies it might not work for you. You can get it in Boots.

I tried dozens of different things before finding Aveeno and it's been an absolute lifesaver.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:41 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I don't know if Noxzema is widely available here. I'll head down to the big Westfield Boots tomorrow and have a look.

The GP did mention Aveeno, but from what I could tell their moisturisers and eye creams were more like cosmetic products (ie. like Nivea, Olay etc.) than the preventative creams they do for hands and body. What specific products did you use?

I have to admit I find skincare a bit confusing, especially with how it's marketed to women - there's the idea that the £50 cream is always better than the £5 one, and nothing is good enough unless it has x, y and z in it.

I'm not allergic to anything as far as I know, although silicone-based foundations and primers do make me break out in spots.
posted by mippy at 9:07 AM on November 27, 2013

I live in California so I have no idea what the medicinal cannabis situation is like over in the UK. But I'm a huge fan of cannabis topical balm for my psoriasis. Best stuff ever.

Best of luck!
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:08 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not sure of your insurance status, but you could ask your GP to prescribe Protopic 0.1% - a topical ointment that is usually prescribed by doctors in the UK and US for Eczema. The primary medical compound is Tacrolimus (just in case the brand name is different in your area).

You may find some old (2004-05) research that tacrolimus may cause cancer, but that is only when it is taken internally - apparently, it is prescribed for organ transplants to help the body accept the new organ without rejection. No such correlation has been found for topical applications.

It is safe for long term use, but is quite expensive (approx $350 for a 2-month supply in the US, to give you a reference point).
posted by theobserver at 9:24 AM on November 27, 2013

Aveeno actually makes a non-steroidal eczema cream now. It's expensive, but it works ok.

Anecdata: I use hydrocortisone like it's freakin' hand lotion all over my body for months at a time and have never had any issues. It's the only way I'm not covered in flaky skinbubbles all winter.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:32 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

About 15 years ago, my dermatologist gave me a prescription for a blend of Acid Mantle (sorry, can't really find an actual web site for it) and hydrocortisone. The drug store mixed this up for me. I use the tiniest dab daily, and it keeps all my dry patches at bay. I had a huge tub for 12 years and only used about half of it - I'm only on my second tub now because I figured after 12 years, the original may have lost some of its effectiveness.

For regular facial and body moisturizers, I will second the recommendations of Aveeno products. But for those specific dry, flaky patches, that Acid Mantle/hydrocortisone cream is amazing.
posted by LolaGeek at 9:38 AM on November 27, 2013

Response by poster: Insurance status - thankfully irrelevant, I don't have to pay more than my monthly £10 to cover any prescriptions I get, as I have a pre-payment certificate (usually it's £7.60 for a single prescription, I have three a month). However, it depends whether the individual GP wants to prescribe. Drugs here tend to be prescribed on the medical name rather than brand-name - the medical name is what's printed on my prescription and sometimes I get branded meds, sometimes generics - because you can't advertise prescription drugs here. So it's dependent on whether the GP, or the local health board, is happy to prescribe a drug or not. (Some drugs like Herceptin are available in some regions and not others due to funding concerns.)

Cannabis - I don't think there is such a thing as medicinal cannabis here, and even if there was, I have bipolar disorder so they might be iffy about prescribing. I'm not sure it would be viable for me to order from the US!
posted by mippy at 9:53 AM on November 27, 2013

The one thing that's helped keep my eczema at bay is taking a daily antihistamine (Cetirizine).
posted by kbuxton at 10:16 AM on November 27, 2013

I have had the most success with May Kay Extra Emollient Night Cream for outbreaks. It is thick and a tiny dab will go a long way. It appears that you can order it from the website in the UK.

I also highly recommend Aveeno products. They don't leave my skin feeling even more dried out like other lotions. I have not tried the eczema specific lotion, but I can definitely vouch for the daily lotion.

Another thing to consider is that eczema can be a manifestation of allergies to pollen, grass, pet dander and/or other environmental things... In my case, being able to successfully manage the allergies has gone a long way in controlling the eczema outbreaks. I finally sucked up my fear of needles, got tested and started allergy shots over the summer in the long term hope of being able to stop the eczema altogether.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 10:19 AM on November 27, 2013

Seconding unrefined Shea butter. Rub it between your fingers to melt it first, since it's really thick.
posted by Fig at 10:22 AM on November 27, 2013

Seconding the petroleum jelly suggestion. I have eczema in a delicate area as well and try not to use the steroid cream more than necessary.

At night, wash face with gentle cleanser. (The last thing you want is infected eczema on your eye.) Barely dry the lid. Like, really, just get the water off your eyelashes. Then apply plain old petroleum jelly over the eczema. This is really the best way to just keep moisture in, because the petroleum jelly is a barrier bar none.
posted by cobaltnine at 10:32 AM on November 27, 2013

It appears that there is a UK Lush. I have incredibly sensitive skin and have been using this for ages: Dream Cream. When my niece was a baby she suffered from horrible eczema on her wrists and this was one (out of the 15 or so products we tried) that showed a noticeable effect. Aveeno was one of the other products we tried - it didn't work as well as the dream cream.
posted by valoius at 10:51 AM on November 27, 2013

The Aveeno stuff recommended for eczema has ceramides in it. My son's pediatrician recommended another ceramide-containing cream, CeraVe for his eczema and I've also used it on a small outbreak on my earlobe. Worked great. CeraVe is thick & stays put like petroleum jelly, but is supposed to help with the healing, not only act as a barrier.
posted by morganw at 12:45 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Coconut oil is said to be good for eczema.
posted by moira at 2:40 PM on November 27, 2013

Here to second Dream Cream. It's worked on my eczema, my dad's psoriasis, a friend's eczema, and on and on and on. Plus it smells good, feels indulgent and it's just plain yummy. (There's also a shower cream.)
posted by mibo at 2:48 PM on November 27, 2013

mippy: "
The GP did mention Aveeno, but from what I could tell their moisturisers and eye creams were more like cosmetic products (ie. like Nivea, Olay etc.) than the preventative creams they do for hands and body. What specific products did you use?

I mainly use Aveeno Skin Relief when my skin is very dry and flaring up (it instantly stops me itching, it's like magic, honestly). Recently I've been switching to the lighter Daily stuff as my overall skin condition has improved. I believe you can get it on prescription, though I've never bothered as my eczema has reduced massively so I use a lot less than I used to.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:06 AM on November 28, 2013

I have eczema around my eyes, and use Elidel / Pimecrolimus (which I think works on the same principle as the Protopic/Tacrolimus suggested above).

For me, this cream keeps the eczema at bay (and is basically the only non-steroid stuff that does). It's definitely on the expensive side (the insurance process for getting this one in the US was lengthy; in Canada it wasn't an issue at all), and I have never had it prescribed by a GP -- only dermatologists.

That said, I wouldn't even imagine putting makeup on this piece of skin 5 days per week as I think it would totally wreak havoc on the very fragile balance I have going there.
posted by yonglin at 8:40 AM on November 28, 2013

I've found Eucerin creams to be very effective in clearing up my scaly eyes and face (and hands, and feet.....)
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 3:04 PM on November 28, 2013

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