Webinar: Managing eczema flare-ups and skin infections
Thursday 11 November 2021, 12.00-1.00pm
Webinar presented by Julie Van Onselen, Dermatology Nurse Adviser

It can be such a worrying time when eczema flares up and the skin becomes inflamed, itchy and painful. In this webinar we look at the best ways of treating flare-ups and what to do if the skin becomes infected. The webinar is being presented by Julie Van Onselen, Dermatology Nurse Adviser to National Eczema Society. There is no charge to attend.

Please click here to register for the webinar. We have limited capacity and places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

This is the latest in the current series of webinars run by National Eczema Society, covering a range of topics to help people self-manage eczema more effectively.

Our next and final webinar this year is on Contact Dermatitis, and is being held on Friday 3rd December 2021 at 1-2pm. Please click here to register for the Contact Dermatitis webinar.

Julie Van Onselen, Dermatology Nurse Adviser to National Eczema Society, introduces the concept of an eczema toolkit

Need advice on coping with one or more aspects of living with eczema? Have a rummage in our toolkit to find information on flare-ups, itch, sleep, relationships, parenting and more…

Eczema basics

Whether you’ve had eczema all your life or you were recently diagnosed – or you have a baby, child or teen with eczema – it can be helpful to get to grips with or revisit the basics, to make sure you’re using your treatments in the most effective way and reducing exposure to triggers where possible.

To find out how to use eczema treatments, reduce exposure to common triggers and manage flare-ups, take a look at the following pages:

Factsheets (for factsheets on Emollients and Topical steroids, and common triggers in the home – Household irritants)

Itching and scratching

Managing flare-ups

Eczema and relationships

If you or your partner has eczema, your relationship can come under pressure as a result. It’s important to be as open, honest and direct as possible, while staying sensitive to each other’s needs.

To give you more confidence in navigating the tricky realm of romantic relationships, please see our Relationships and eczema page.

Eczema and sleep disturbance

If you or your child has eczema, it’s likely that you or they will at some point have disturbed sleep. Waking in the night can lead to a relentless succession of broken nights over weeks or months, leaving you and your child exhausted and irritable.

To help you create the most eczema-friendly sleep environment and maximise your chances of a restful night, take a look at our Sleep and eczema page.

Eczema and school

Managing eczema at school can be daunting. The school environment has the potential to throw up many challenges: triggers, finding time and space to apply creams, self-consciousness and even bullying.

For tips on managing eczema in primary and secondary school, and on building relationships with teachers and other school staff, check out our Eczema and school page (aimed at parents/carers and school staff).

Eczema and mental health

Eczema can affect your mental and emotional wellbeing in a variety of ways. It might affect how you feel, or your mood. It might make you feel down or fed-up, and that might – but not necessarily – include depression. It can also lead to feeling stressed, worried or anxious, and impact upon your self-esteem and body image.

For advice on coping with the psychological aspects of eczema, please see our Mind-body connection page.

Eczema and stress

Stress is our natural response to feeling threatened or under pressure. Many people report that stress makes their eczema worse and increases the itch, and there may be both physical and psychological reasons for this.

For tips on managing stress, please check out our Stress and eczema page.

Information for parents/carers

Eczema affects 20% of children in the UK and around 1 in 20 have severe disease. Uncontrolled eczema has a huge impact on a child’s quality of life.

To help you support your baby, child or teenager with eczema, we have advice and resources on the following pages:

Babies and eczema

Children and eczema

Teenagers and eczema

Need further information?

Please contact our Helpline by email at helpline@eczema.org, or call us on 0800 448 0818 (Monday to Friday, 10:00am – 4:00pm, apart from Bank Holidays).

During National Eczema Week 2021, we shared a series of very personal, emotive and practical short videos of National Eczema Society members and eczema advocates across our social media channels. You can watch those videos here:

Nicola’s story: stress and eczema
Suzanne’s story: relationships and eczema
Phil’s story: family, school and eczema
Monica’s story: eczema itch
Yasmin’s story: childhood memories of eczema and managing the condition as an adult
Yasmin’s tips for managing eczema
Ellen’s story: mental health and eczema

Eczema is different for every person who lives with this debilitating long-term condition. The physical symptoms of eczema can be extremely difficult, including the torment of relentless itching and having to cope with raw, inflamed and bleeding skin. The hidden cost of eczema is the profound impact it can have on people’s emotional well-being. Among other things, eczema can significantly affect our relationships, social life, sleep, schooling and mental health.

In recognition of the many different eczema experiences, #MyEczemaStory is giving a platform for people to share their story of living with eczema. Through sharing experiences, ideas and top tips, we can help others feel they are not alone.

It is incredibly important to us to raise awareness of the realities of eczema, and also highlight the support networks and resources available to the millions of people who are living with eczema, a complex inflammatory condition for which there is still no cure.

Here at National Eczema Society, we have been supporting people living with this common – yet misunderstood – skin condition for more than four decades. To support the campaign this year, we introduced a range of information resources to help people manage their eczema as effectively as possible.

My Eczema Toolkit aims to empower sufferers to take control of their condition, rather than feeling that they are at the mercy of their skin. Created with input from patients and some of the UK’s most experienced dermatologists, My Eczema Toolkit offers practical advice to help support people with the many psychological and emotional challenges of living with eczema described so vividly by those sharing their eczema story.

The September 2021 issue has now been sent to members. If you are not yet a member, why not support a great cause and benefit from our quarterly magazine?

Our latest magazine is, as usual, packed full of news, advice on managing eczema for all ages and real-life stories from people living with eczema.

  • Mythbusters: Our new column tackles common myths and misconceptions about eczema and treatments.
  • Could food allergy be causing your child’s eczema? Dr Tom Marrs helps us separate fact from fiction.
  • Eczema at school: tips from a teacher with eczema. Secondary-school teacher Ana-Maria Fernandes explains how her own experience with eczema has informed the way she supports students with eczema today, and shares tips for parents.
  • …And eczema makes three. There’s no doubt that eczema adds a layer of complexity to any relationship, but how you manage the situation can make all the difference.
  • Q&A on eczema and babies: eczema is not unusual in babies, but there is a lot of conflicting advice out there. Julie Van Onselen answers 10 common questions about eczema in little ones.
  • ‘You are just as much an expert on your child’s eczema as the experts’: Shauntelle Carty describes the unique experience of each of her children with eczema.
  • Plus: members’ letters, news and Ask the Expert (covering eczema of the scalp, recurrent infections and seborrhoeic dermatitis and rosacea).

NHS England and NHS Improvement have produced a helpful video on taking photos of your skin to send to your GP before an appointment.

We have further information about preparing for a remote dermatology appointment here, which contains advice that you are also likely to find helpful for a GP appointment.

The following tips are taken from the video above. Some have been amended slightly to be more relevant for people with eczema.

Taking photos of your skin and sending securely to your GP

By sending in your photos, you are agreeing to the photos being saved to your GP records, and to the photo being sent on to other healthcare professionals, such as a dermatologist, for expert advice. Let your GP know if you do not want this to happen, or if you would like the photo to be deleted from your GP patient record after review.

It is not recommended to include photos of intimate areas of skin, such as the groin, breast or buttocks, either of yourself or of a child under 18-years-old.

How to take the best-quality photo

  • Try to find someone to help you, such as a family member or friend. It’s much better if someone else takes the photo. If not, you can take the photo yourself using a smartphone or digital camera.
  • Make sure the area to be photographed is held still, ideally by resting it on a surface. If possible, use a plain background against the skin. Avoid shadows and any background distractions.
  • Take the photo in a well-lit room with lots of natural light, but avoid direct sunlight. If this is not possible, you may have to turn the flash on to help light up the area.
  • The photos need to be sharp and in focus. To use auto-focus using a smartphone, tap the screen, which will create a yellow square or circle around the area of interest. Focus is more important than how close-up you can get.
  • Don’t edit or add filters to your photos, as this could affect diagnosis. The affected area of skin needs to look the same on the screen as it does in real life.

How many photos should you take?

Please take two to three pictures to show the shape and size of the area. This will enable an accurate diagnosis or assessment.

The first photo should establish the area on your body from a distance. The second photo should be a closer photo of the area of concern. If this is a rash/area of inflammation, take a photo of the worst affected area. If different areas of the body are affected, photos of the different areas will also be needed, for example, on the face, as well as on the body.

Do a check before sending the photos

  • Be sure to review your photos before you send them to your GP. Make sure they are the best quality possible and represent your skin condition clearly without any distractions.
  • Next, check the file size. The ideal size per photo is between 500KB and 1MB, and the total file size for all images sent in must be less than 5MB, as NHS uploads are restricted to 5MB.
  • You will have been told where to send the images, which may be by responding to a secure text message sent from your GP practice, or through the GP practice website, or a secure practice email address.
  • Remember to include your own or your child’s name and date of birth in the email.

By sending a photo to a healthcare professional, you must be aware that no communication system can guarantee complete security, and there is a small possibility that the message could be intercepted by a third party.

Last updated 01.06.21

We will continue to update this page as new information that may be relevant to people with eczema comes to light. For more general information on Covid-19, please see the NHS website.

Do Covid-19 vaccines affect eczema?

To date, there is no robust evidence to indicate that Covid-19 vaccines make underlying skin conditions, including eczema, worse.

We have heard from a number of people who have told us that their eczema has worsened or re-appeared after receiving a Covid-19 vaccine. If you experience a side effect after receiving one of the vaccines, including worsening of your eczema, we encourage you to report it to the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)’s Coronavirus Yellow Card reporting site. Alternatively, report it to your GP. By doing this, an evidence base can be built up regarding the vaccines and eczema.

SECURE-AD Patient Survey – how does Covid-19 vaccination affect people with eczema?

The SECURE-AD research team is running a survey to gain more insight into how the pandemic affects people living with atopic eczema. They are very interested to find out how people living with atopic eczema feel about and experience Covid-19 vaccinations. More information on the survey can be found here. To complete the survey, please go to the SECURE-AD website. Thank you!

Can people on treatments that affect the immune system take Covid-19 vaccines?

People taking systemic treatments that affect the immune system (for example, prednisolone, azathioprine, ciclosporin, methotrexate, mycophenelate mofetil and dupilumab) are advised to avoid ‘live’ vaccines. The three Covid-19 vaccines that are currently being rolled-out in the UK are not ‘live’ vaccines and have no Covid-19 virus in them. This means that people on treatments that affect the immune system can take them.

We don’t have enough information at the moment to know whether being on an immunosuppressant or biologic treatment will reduce the effectiveness of the vaccines.

People taking systemic treatments that affect the immune system are unlikely to need to stop taking their treatment (or delay starting new treatment) in order to take one of the Covid-19 vaccines. Check with your doctor if you’re unsure.

For more information on eczema, treatments that affect the immune system and the Covid-19 vaccines, please see the British Association of Dermatologists’ Covid-19 Provisional Guidance on Vaccination and the Government’s Green Book Covid-19 Provisional Guidance.

Which types of face coverings are the most eczema-friendly?

Face coverings made from 100% cotton that can be washed regularly are probably the most eczema-friendly type of covering. Cloth ear loops are less likely to irritate the skin than elastic ones. Also consider coverings that tie around the back of the head. ‘Mask headbands’ or hats with buttons are another option. With these, the elastic loops around the buttons rather than your ears. ‘Neck gaiters’, ‘buffs’ or ‘tube scarfs’, which are basically a tube of material, might suit too – if 100% cotton.

Make sure the covering fits snugly around your nose and mouth but isn’t tight.

Avoid applying ointment emollients to the face shortly before you put on a covering, as they might make the face too hot.

Supplier suggestions:

  • Greenfibres sells 100% organic cotton face masks.
  • PeopleTree sells 100% organic cotton face masks.
  • Pure Cotton Comfort sells organic cotton face masks for adults and children.
  • Skinnies sells viscose face masks with cloth rather than elastic ear loops.
  • Spirit of Nature sells 100% cotton face masks.
  • Etsy has lots of different types of face coverings for sale. Search for the type you’re interested in.
  • ‘Handybands’ from Seasalt have been recommended to us by a Facebook follower. They can be used as face coverings as well as head bands. Organic cotton face masks are also available from Seasalt.
  • There are lots of guides and video tutorials showing you how to make different types of face covering, for example: BBC, YouTube.

If you have severe facial eczema that is made worse by wearing a face covering, the Government has exemption badges and cards on its website that you can print out.

How can I mitigate the effects of frequent hand-washing?

We recommend that people with eczema follow the government guidance to wash hands with soap and water, rather than an emollient soap substitute, as much as practically possible. Soap is considered to be more effective than emollient at breaking the lipid envelope surrounding coronavirus particles, and removing the virus from the skin.

Frequent washing of hands with soap can, however, cause problems for people with eczema, including dry skin and hand eczema. It is very important people find ways of managing dry skin and hand eczema that may be caused or worsened by frequent washing with soap.

Strategies for this include:

  • After washing hands with soap and water, re-wash using emollient to help protect the skin.
  • Use emollients to moisturise the hands after washing and at other times during the day when the skin feels dry and sore.
  • Dry hands well after washing by gently patting them dry, not rubbing. When drying your hands, take special care between the fingers where the skin is more prone to dryness and cracking, and build-up of soap residue.
  • Rehydrate sore dry hands overnight, using an ointment and wearing clean cotton gloves.
  • Wear nitrile gloves if you need to handle detergents or other cleaning products that can irritate the skin. These provide a physical barrier for the skin and can be purchased from chemists or from online shops.
  • If you develop more severe hand eczema or suspect your skin is infected, you should contact your GP and may need prescription medicine to reduce the inflammation.

If you feel you need to use sanitising gel (which may irritate your eczema), apply your usual emollient afterwards to minimise any irritant effect.

In public places where you can’t avoid touching surfaces, try not to touch your nose, eyes or mouth (or your child’s) because the virus gets in through mucous membranes.

What are the most eczema-friendly soaps?

We asked our followers on our social media channels which soaps they would recommend. Not all products will suit everyone, but people with eczema have said the following brands/products have worked well for them:

We don’t recommend applying olive oil to the skin as it can damage the skin barrier, but olive oil soaps seem to be well-tolerated by many people with eczema who responded to our request for soap recommendations.

How can I see a GP or dermatologist?

Please don’t delay in getting healthcare. If you need urgent medical help and it’s not an emergency, contact your GP or NHS 111 online or telephone NHS 111 first. Your GP practice should offer online, telephone and video consultations. If you are invited in for a face-to-face appointment, infection control measures are in place to keep patients and staff safe.

The Covid-19 NICE guidance says that dermatology departments should ‘optimise the use of teledermatology, such as telephone and video consultations’. If your dermatology appointment has been cancelled due to the crisis, try to find out whether a telephone or video consultation would be possible instead.

Does Covid-19 pose a higher risk for people on systemic treatments?

For more information about systemic treatments for eczema and Covid-19 risk, please see the British Association of Dermatologists’ Risk Stratification Grid. It gives information about Covid-19 risk relating to systemic treatments and other factors.

Am I more likely to develop Covid-19 as a result of having eczema?

There is no evidence to suggest that people with eczema are more likely to develop Covid-19 or to experience a more severe form of the condition if they do develop it.