Q: I have mild to moderate eczema that sometimes flares badly on my face. This is especially the case for my eyelids, which can flake badly. Any suggestions for what to do?
Dr. Skotnicki: When you are genetically predisposed to eczema, your skin will react more easily to skin-care products.
I like the analogy to smoking and asthma. With asthma your airways are reactive, and when they inhale smoke, it could trigger an asthma attack. But smoke is not an allergen. Rather, it’s an irritant. Skincare products can act like smoke for reactive skin, setting off eczema flares.
Irritants in skincare are detergents, fragrance and many botanicals.
The eyelids are the thinnest skin, and therefore the most reactive. If you use multiple skin products, the dose of irritation goes up and voilà – your eyelids get red and scaly. So it’s not one product that’s to blame – it’s your shampoo (which usually goes over the eyelids), your cleanser, your foundation, your moisturizer, etc.
Big issues are the accumulation and the combination of irritants. These are then compounded by factors such as low humidity or a cold day.
I suggest you start by cutting back to using nothing on your face. Use only a fragrance-free shampoo (I like Ducray Sensinol), and your cleanser and moisturizer should also be fragrance-free.
Then try adding one product per week after that to see when your reaction returns. This way you can begin to identify products that agree with your skin.
Related: How Scented Beauty Products are Wrecking Our Sensitive Skin
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