If you’ve got eczema, the festive season brings its challenges, but we’ve got some tips to help you have a relaxing time while looking after your skin. This article was published in Exchange 186, Winter 2022.
Trees, lights and decorations provide lovely Christmas cheer, but the dust they harbour can play havoc with eczema. Try to go for options that are smooth and easy to damp dust. If tree sap is a trigger for you, you might need an artificial tree.
2. Pace yourself
Christmas is a time when everything we learn about looking after ourselves during the rest of the year seems to go out of the window. Back-to-back nights out, long shopping trips, travel and family get-togethers can all take their toll. Have fun – but remember, sometimes less is more.
3. Be honest
Living well with eczema means making some adjustments in life. If something isn’t going to work for you – whether a get-together or an event – just explain clearly, but kindly. If someone gets it wrong, that’s not their fault, but don’t put your needs second.
4. Stay cool
Central heating and crowded rooms aren’t great for eczema. Plan ahead, dress accordingly, and step out for fresh air if you need to.
After a late night it’s easy to skip the emollient ‘just this once’. But hard-won routines can quickly unravel – especially as other daily routines melt away over the festive period. Staying on top of things is the best way to prevent a flare.
6. Overnight stays
It’s lovely visiting others at this special time of year, although this presents a host of challenges. You might need to bring your own bedding, damp dust the room and turn the temperature down. Plan ahead and have a chat with them about what you’ll need.
7. Having guests
Hosting is great fun, but can be a lot of pressure. If the thought of pulling off a large party sends your heart racing, try something smaller. When it comes to catering, find some shortcuts if you need to. If anyone judges, maybe they don’t deserve an invite!
For many, the party season is all about looking glam. But it’s not always easy to find make-up that works for you. Look for products with as few additives as possible and test them in advance. Remember, products labelled ‘natural’ may contain all sorts of nasties.
9. Food and drink
It’s hard to avoid eating and drinking differently at this time of year – even if you wanted to. But if you have eczema, what you put into your body will have some effect on your skin. Try to earmark some days for staying healthy. Your skin will thank you.
10. Dressing up
Skin prone to eczema likes natural fabrics that let your skin breathe, layered for comfort. So when it comes to getting out the glad rags, you might need to compromise. But there are plenty of options. For example, can you invest in one silk dress or shirt for special occasions?
11. Stock up on meds
The only thing worse than a last-minute scramble to a 24-hour chemist is running out of medicines altogether. Find out about closing times well in advance. If you need to order your prescriptions earlier than usual, leave time for your prescriber to sign this off.
12. A word about presents
If you have eczema, over the years you may have received a sizeable haul of useless toiletries. If someone always gives you these, why not explain your doctor has told you to avoid them. If they’re really stuck, you could always suggest a donation to NES! Point them to eczema.org/donate.