La Roche-Posay consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Hextall explains, “There are three main features of eczema. Firstly, your skin barrier function - how good your skin is at holding in water and how sensitive your skin is. Then there’s the tendency for your skin to be irritated, so the immune system that sits within the skin. Lastly, the microbiome - the balance between good and bad bacteria. When this starts to become disrupted, eczema can develop.
Usually, those with atopic eczema have a parent who also suffers from eczema, asthma or hay fever. Dr Hextall explains why; “The structure of the outer layer of the skin and its ability to hold moisture can be dictated by genetics - if the skin is dry and less able to hold moisture it can be more vulnerable to irritation, inflammation and allergy.
First and foremost, look for moisturisers that have been tailor-made for sensitive skin and avoid perfumes and preservatives. Dr Hextall suggests Shea Butter as an ingredient to look for “as it’s similar to the natural oils and fats in skin. Ceramides are important for protecting the skin barrier too”.