My daughter's had eczema since she was very little. It was all over her legs, arms, face and hands. I've always avoided using commercial products and opted for the most simple, natural alternatives where possible. When I became a mother, I realised even more just how important doing this was! Making the changes below helped her skin drastically and we still incorporate them to avoid flare ups. The key things to remember are to moisturise and hydrate the skin, and to avoid irritation.
Moisturise to heal and avoid dry skin
Natural, unrefined products are worlds better than most store-bought moisturisers or lotions, even some prescription ones in my experience. The rule is thicker creams or butters will do better at moisturising than thinner oils. Instead of moisturisers with a huge list of ingredients (many often drying or irritating) try using the alternatives below.
shea butter (buy here)
coconut oil (buy here)
Remember, being exposed to light and air will make the oils in these products go rancid, so don't buy them if they're in clear containers. Oat baths are another natural way to soothe and moisturise skin so that it's soft to the touch even before moisturising. Do this by tying a cup of oats in some muslin cloth (or something similar) and steeping it in the bath. You can use the oat-filled cloth directly on the skin, too.
Eliminate irritants to prevent inflammation
As well as avoiding ingredients you can't pronounce in moisturisers you use, apply that same logic to soaps and detergents. Generally you want to avoid perfumes and soaps, using soap free washes or just water where possible. You can try non-bio laundry detergents or even experiment with your own.
Home made detergents
soap nuts; use about 12 broken shells in a small drawstring bag straight in with your load; the inside of the shell releases a natural soapy substance that will wash your clothes (buy here)
soap flakes; simply melt 1/2 cup of soap fakes into 500ml of water and use 1-2 tbsp in your load, adjust as necessary (buy here)
soda crystals; this can be used by itself (1/2 cup) or added to other homemade detergent recipes to boost their washing power
bicarbonate of soda; for clothes that aren't particularly dirty, 1/2 cup bicarbonate of soda is an easy and cheap way to wash them, if you buy it in bulk
vinegar; adding 1/2 cup vinegar to your laundry will help kill bacteria and clean the clothes, the smell will dissipate whilst they're drying
essential oils; add essential oils to any of your homemade detergents to personalise the fragrance, just be sure to mix it in with your detergent first to avoid oil spots on the clothes
Take particular care when choosing hand wash and try opting for a sensitive option or making your own- don't use soda crystals for this though.
Remember to keep the skin hydrated and moisturised and to avoid irritants as much as you can!
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