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More than skin deep: Managing eczema and its symptoms

Regulating stress levels and using skin-friendly products can help bring relief to eczema-prone skin, say experts.  

Dr Tay noted that itch is the most debilitating symptom for most eczema patients. “Besides causing poor sleep, intense itch also affects performance at work and in school, reducing one’s quality of life.”

There are several medical treatments available for eczema, said Dr Shanna Ng, dermatologist, The Dermatology Practice @ Orchard. Topical steroids and topical non-steroids can help to reduce symptoms like inflammation and swelling while oral antihistamines may alleviate itching. Immunosuppressants and immunomodulating treatments may also be prescribed to inhibit the body’s immune response to allergens like dust or pet fur. 

However, relying on oral antihistamines and topical steroids may not suit all eczema patients. “Improper understanding and use of medication may cause side effects in the long run,” said Ms Jianny Tan, a pharmacist in the product development and marketing department at Orendapharma.

She cites how improper use of topical steroids may lead to reactions such as skin atrophy, easy bruising, and in serious cases, topical steroid withdrawal resulting in burning, reddened skin and other symptoms

Ms Tan added that not all eczema-related skin conditions can be treated with antihistamines: “Sedating antihistamines may help to induce sleep, but they don’t stop eczema flares and may not be effective in treating eczema-related itch.” 

According to Ms Tan, Orendapharma’s team of researchers gathered in-depth feedback from dermatologists, who surfaced the difficulty of sourcing an effective, convenient and safe product that eczema sufferers could use on a daily basis for itch relief, especially in hard-to-reach areas such as the scalp, back and legs. 

“That’s why we created the AweMed Spray, the first product in the AweMed series, to serve as a temporary reliever for acute itch with its ‘cooling’ effect,” said Ms Tan. 

The AweMed team managed to stabilise natural menthol, which targets the body’s cooling receptor, in a liquid formulation without alcohol and harsh solvents, thus creating a product that would target itch while being gentle on skin. Ms Tan said the spray format makes it easy and convenient to apply.

Its cooling formulation is also a boon for eczema patients living in tropical Singapore, where a combination of heat and humidity can adversely affect the skin, she added. 

As menthol has a strong cooling sensation, Ms Tan recommends first-time users to spray the AweMed Spray onto their palms and use their fingers to dab the product onto affected areas in order to establish their level of comfort, before spraying it on directly.

A SALVE FOR DAMAGED SKIN

With eczema, the skin barrier is damaged, causing the skin to lose moisture and become inflamed, allowing allergens to enter. “Secondary bacterial infection often results in ‘weepy’ eczema skin rashes,” said Dr Tay. 

To protect and repair the skin barrier, Dr Ng advises that patients increase their moisturiser use as soon as eczema itch sets in. She recommends moisturisers with clean formulations that are free of fragrance, sulphates and parabens. “Moisturising adequately and frequently throughout the day, even when there are no flare-ups, is of utmost importance,” she said. 

According to Ms Tan, the AweMed Repair+ Daily Moisturiser is a therapeutic moisturiser that tackles the three main symptoms of eczema – damaged skin, itchy inflammation and bacterial infection risk. 

She explained that the moisturising formula replenishes both the intercellular and cellular barriers of the skin, reduces inflammation and uses the natural compound zinc pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA) to reduce secondary bacterial infections. 

“AweMed Repair+ is free from harsh ingredients such as steroids, ethanol, fragrances and parabens, so it doesn’t irritate the already weakened skin barrier,” said Ms Tan. “Users are recommended to apply it liberally to their skin two to three times daily or when necessary, to reduce the recurrence of acute or chronic eczema flare-ups.” 

Beyond medical treatment and therapeutic products, Dr Tay underscored the importance of stress management in treating eczema and preventing flare-ups. He said: “Engage in activities that promote relaxation, such as social interactions with family and friends. Eating a healthy balanced diet, getting sufficient rest and sleep as well as exercising regularly could help.”

For eczema patients, the right combination of products, lifestyle adjustments and doctor-prescribed treatments could mean sweet relief from the itch. After all, there’s no time like now to lead your best life. Said Dr Ng: “Don’t wait till you’re eczema-free to do the things you love.” 

AweMed Repair+ Daily Moisturiser and the AweMed Spray can be purchased online on the AweMed website, Lazada, Shopee, and at selected hospitals and clinics. Follow AweMed Series on Instagram or Facebook for video tips on how to deal with eczema.

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