Help my skin is angry
September 22, 2020 10:10 PM   Subscribe

Extended heat and smoke conditions have caused an eczema flare-up. How do I get my skin to calm down?

I've had on and off eczema my entire adult life. It was the very worst when I lived in Southern California, I think due to the heat (lived somewhere without A/C) and the general poor air quality. I had an eczema flare-up in the beginning of September, coinciding both with a heat wave and terrible smoke conditions here in Northern California. Smoke and heat are gone temporarily, but in the meantime the eczema has extended past its normal areas, almost a full body flare at this point.

Things I have tried which seem marginally helpful at best: hydrocortisone cream, copious aquaphor, taking benadryl and claritin.

Things that seem to make it worse: literally every time we have a hot, smoky day, and we're due to have more of those until November.

We're planning on moving out of state soon, so stress is also definitely a possible eczema trigger, oh joy.

Any other get your skin to calmtf down tips? Would really prefer to avoid going to the doctor in these COVID times, but are stronger corticosteroids the only answer?
posted by Wavelet to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Hello, I am also a Northern Californian who has eczema flare-ups during fire season.

My own flare-up regimen is antihistamines, Cetaphil Restoraderm lotion (or Skinfix on hands), and topical corticosteroids.

What I mostly came here to say is that I’ve had a standing prescription for topical corticosteroids for years, and every new doctor has prescribed them for me without fuss based on my medical history. If that’s what you need, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask for them during a remote or telehealth visit, especially if you’ve used them before. Even if you haven’t, I think there’s a good chance you could get the prescription without an in-person office visit.
posted by findabair at 10:53 PM on September 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Maybe it's too basic but I still like oatmeal baths (like what doctors sometimes recommended when you had the chicken pox) when contact dermatitis flares up. Not those oatmeal soaps that Dove and Nivea sell, either -- actual bonafide oatmeal, either in milk or just in water. Yeah, it's soupy, but for some reason it's still soothing when I'm waiting for antihistamines to settle in.
posted by Kitchen Witch at 12:09 AM on September 23, 2020

Best answer: Two lists from Rio Viera-Newton, self-proclaimed "skin care obsessive" and writer for New York Magazine's The Strategist. She's a California native who also has eczema. (I don't have eczema, but her recommendations for sensitive, dehydrated skin have worked well for my aging, menopausal combination skin FWIW.)

Also, because of its topicality, your question might be a great one for Ask The Strategist: Email with the subject line "Ask The Strategist." (With Tembe Denton-Hurst, Rio answered an ER doc's Ask The Strategist question on treating acne from wearing an N-95 mask all day.)

Anyway, here are Rio's eczema lists:

The 6 Products I Use To Tame Brutal Winter Eczema Flare-Ups

What jumped out at me from this list:

Cicabiafine Moisturising Shower Balm: Both a body wash and a moisturizer; Rio says it adds a layer of moisture to her body so her skin isn't parched when she towels off. "The milky texture also feels really calming on the skin, perfect for when my skin is extra irritable."

Aveeno Naturals Eczema Therapy Skin Relief Balm: Rio uses it as needed throughout the day -- "it quickly rids my skin of tingling or painful sensations from eczema flare-ups."

The 5 Best Products For Eczema 2020

What jumped out at me from this list:

Eczema Honey Soothing Foot and Hand Soak: Rio uses this once a week for about 10-15 minutes to "take the edge off of any redness or itchiness I already have ... Consistent use has also helped keep future flare-ups at bay."

Skin care is so Your Mileage May Vary. Given the uniquely weird atmospheric conditions you're experiencing right now, I'd say that if you try this product and it works, use it as often as needed.

Gold Bond Eczema Relief Hand Cream: Rio always follows up a soak with "my beloved Gold Bond Hand Cream, which I have on me ... pretty much at all times. ... This cream is deeply hydrating and replenishing -- it uses oatmeal ... aloe vera ... and Vitamin E. Whether you're just a little dry or suffering from severe eczema or psoriasis flare-ups, this cream is major."
posted by virago at 5:28 AM on September 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

Take lots of baths in lukewarm water with bath oil. As soon as you emerge, pat your skin dry lightly and apply a good moisturizer. My derm recommended LaRoche Posay. Bathe twice a day minimum until your skin improves. Eczema is caused by your bosy attacking your skin's moisture barrier, so you need to restore moisture.

If you are itchy, take an antihistamine to stop the itching.
posted by sid at 7:50 AM on September 23, 2020

Best answer: I have had similar eczema problems in the past - it was worst, in fact, when I lived in central CA and we'd get Santa Ana winds - the dry dustiness was really rough on my skin.

I agree with others that holding in moisture and using products that offer intense barrier repair both help a lot. On my body, I've had good success with Aveeno Eczema Therapy lotions. On my face and also on particularly dry/irritated patches on the body, La Roche Posay Cicaplast has done wonders. Cicaplast is thick and protective, immediately calming, and excellent at barrier repair (it's honestly a bit of a wonder cream in my experience). If it was cheaper / came in a bigger tube, I'd use more of it for sure.

Also yes, applying creams/oils while the skin is still damp helps a lot too.
posted by marlys at 8:45 AM on September 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Everyone's got you sorted out on stuff, but I wanted to put in a plug for First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Cream. I cannot live without it, and it's saved my skin from some terrible issues, including recently a violently allergic reaction around my eyes. It works everywhere, face, body, hands. You can get it at Sephora or at the website linked; I'd be cautious about ordering it from Amazon unless it's a really trusted seller because it's clear they sell tainted or counterfeit product. This stuff is amazing.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 1:17 PM on September 23, 2020

but are stronger corticosteroids the only answer?

As a lifelong eczema-having person, prescription betamethasone cream has worked extremely well for me, and after getting it a couple of years ago, I was like, "Where has this been all my life?"

The downside is you can't use it for extended periods of time because it's a corticosteroid, but in my case it knocks down nasty flareups like nothing else, even when used more-sparingly-and-for-less-time-than-prescribed.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:09 PM on September 23, 2020

Response by poster: Thanks all! I bought eczema themed unguents based on some of the recs above, took an oatmeal bath, and set up a video visit with my doctor. She prescribed oral and topical steroids, and we both shared a laugh over the standard advice to avoid stress as an eczema trigger. HA!
posted by Wavelet at 3:18 PM on September 25, 2020

Wavelet, it's great that you have a care provider with a sense of humor about the standard "avoid stress" line. That would be tough to do given current events even if you didn't wake up every morning to a "hot and smoky" forecast.

Glad to be of help, and I hope that you feel less itchy and scratchy soon!
posted by virago at 2:13 PM on September 27, 2020

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