Knowing What Cream To Use

by Mel on October 10, 2011

Chronic, inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis cause an itchy rash and considerable discomfort which is often difficult to treat.

The difficulty comes in their individuality.  Eczema is a familial condition that is usually triggered by allergy.  It causes the skin to become dry, red, flaky, inflamed and very itchy.

Psoriasis on the other hand is the result of an overproduction of skin cells causing patches of thick, silvery scales that flake off revealing sore, red, raw skin that bleeds easily.

Whilst both eczema and psoriasis are different conditions they are similar in that their treatments are often the same and they are both difficult to control.

Eczema and Psoriasis Are Very Individual

Both eczema and psoriasis are very individual conditions where everyone experiences slightly different symptoms that are triggered by any number of factors.  Similarly they are difficult to treat because there is no single treatment for either that will help everyone.  It is a matter of trial and error finding the best cream to help each individual.

It can be a long, frustrating and expensive process searching for the treatment that best suits the individual.  This process can be made easier by following some simple rules.

So How Do You Know What Cream To Buy?

  • Always look at the ingredients. All ingredients should be listed.  Ensure the ingredients are ones you are familiar with and can use.
  • Check there is a preservative listed.  Natural eczema and psoriasis creams made from herbs need a preservative to enable them to have a shelf life.  Avoid products that do not list their preservative as you do not know what they have used.
  • Avoid products that claim to cure your condition.  There is no cure for eczema or psoriasis.  Products that claim to cure eczema or psoriasis are misleading you with false representations.
  • Avoid products with artificial colourings or perfumes as they are more likely to cause a reaction.
  • Be aware that products containing essential oils and alcohol may be more prone to irritate the skin.

Other Things To Consider

  • Treating eczema or psoriasis is a matter of trial and error.  If you find a natural product that you want to trial buy the smallest container available first to see if it suits your skin.
  • Always patch test a product being used for the first time on an unaffected area of skin before using it on the affected areas.
  • When using a cream for the first time it is a good idea to use it on one area (ie one arm) for a week or two.  This way you can compare its effects on your skin and your eczema/psoriasis by comparing that area to the rest of your body.  Also if a cream does not suit your skin and causes your skin to worsen it is better to find out on a small area rather than on the whole body.
  • There is no cure for eczema or psoriasis.  If the cream you are using stops working when you stop using it, it does not mean that the cream does not work it simply means that it needs to be reapplied.  Its effect is wearing off.  (Similar to how paracetamol controls pain for a short period of time but not permanently unless used repeatedly).
  • Eczema and psoriasis require constant attention to be kept under control.  Whilst choosing the right creams for your skin are important adhering to your treatment regime is equally as important. Success of a treatment will often depend on how compliant the patient is with following the instructions.  Dr Steven Feldman, M.D., from Wake Forest University School of Medicine wrote in an issue of Archives of Dermatology “non-compliance can explain why some skin conditions may seem resistant to treatment.”
  • The time frame for when a new treatment will be effective will vary from person to person and product to product. Treatments need to be used for several days before they can safely be ruled out as ineffective.
  • A person’s lifestyle needs to be considered.  Some people find applying creams several times a day difficult but are able to take oral medication without any trouble.  Others find that treatments applied only at bath time or bedtime are easiest to comply with.

Finding an eczema or psoriasis treatment that suits you is a matter of trial and error.  Don’t be discouraged if the first cream you try doesn’t give you the results you are looking for.

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