Maggie O’Farrell: A follow-up to her articles on eczema
May 31, 2016
I have been amazed and touched by responses to the articles about my daughter’s eczema in the Guardian and Financial Times.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to get in touch with me, via the comments sections, email and Facebook.
It has been very moving to read accounts of other people’s struggles with this exhausting and debilitating condition. The advice and support given to me and my daughter has been wonderful; it is so heartening to know you are not alone.
Due to the volume of responses, I am unfortunately unable to reply to you all individually. All the eczema sufferers and carers of eczema sufferers who have written in are very much in my thoughts, and I wish you all relief from the misery of this disease.
Many people have asked for details on what has worked for my daughter’s skin. I am happy to share these, below.
I should point out that I am not medically qualified and that I cannot make any promises for the regimen I devised for my daughter. Eczema is, as you will all probably know, a highly individual disease and what works for one person may not work for another. Please don’t suddenly ditch any medication you might be currently using. Switching over my daughter from steroids and NHS-emollient to my own creams (and a detergent-free household) was a carefully calibrated process that took place over a period of several months. Any changes to your current medication and routine should be made slowly and carefully and under the supervision of your doctor.
Here are the changes we made to our house:
- Banned all detergent-based cleaning and laundry products. These included ostensibly ‘green’ and ‘natural’ ones. We now use only natural soap products for cleaning and laundry: I buy them all from a company called Violet’s Home Scents (http://www.homescents.co.uk/).
- The whole family uses only pure olive-oil soap or castile soap for washing: check the fine print for any surfactants or chemicals that may have been used. Many things are labelled as ‘natural’ but are in fact far from it. Only buy the pure soap. For shampoo, I buy the solid bars from Funky Soap (http://www.funkysoapshop.com/), and we use a Dr Bronner’s rinse called Organic Citrus conditioning Hair Rinse (necessary, as washing your hair in soap can leave it feeling a bit sticky).
- Sleeps with anti-allergy bedding covers, washed at a high temperature twice a week.
- She uses a range of clothing and sleepwear from Cotton Comfort (http://www.eczemaclothing.com/).
- The dermatological gloves which saved her skin when she was affected by severe eczema were from Skinnies (https://www.skinniesuk.com/). We also used their body suits over wet-wraps. These are available on prescription.
- She bathes once a day in tepid water with a mixture of magnesium or Dead Sea salts and a tablespoonful of olive oil. A sock filled with oatmeal is also soothing.
- We use 99.9 per cent aloe vera gel on any breakouts. I grow my own plants but also order big tubs from a company in South Wales called Naissance, which is also where I get the ingredients for my daughter’s homemade emollient (https://www.enaissance.co.uk).
- My daughter takes daily supplements of omega oils, multi-vitamins, aloe vera juice, chlorella powder, and probiotics.
Heartfelt thanks once again for your responses. I wish you all the very best of luck.
Maggie O’Farrell, May 2016