We all worry about our babies, and of course we do our best to keep them happy and healthy. Skin is the largest external organ of the body and therefore it’s often what we see first, so skin conditions can have a massive impact when it effects both mother and child. It’s instinctive to want to clear it up as soon as we can and avoid it recurring for a contented, comfortable family.
What are the signs of eczema? How can you best treat it and what are the best products to use that are readily available in Dubai’s pharmacies? Along with some trusted recommendations for great Dermatologists in Dubai, Dr Negin Hakim (née Afshar) helps British mums and their children suffering with eczema to cope by offering some practical advice.
Eczema is an inflammatory condition of the skin that can occur in various forms: acute / chronic, atopic and many more. It is often a reaction pattern to a variety of stimuli and is often undefinable from dermatitis (which can be acute or chronic).
When people use the term eczema they usually mean atopic eczema. Atopic eczema occurs in ‘atopic’ individuals, i.e. those who have a capacity to hyper-react to common environmental factors. They may also have asthma or allergies themselves, or in their family.
Contact dermatitis is caused by contact with an external irritant.This can range from make-up and cleaning materials to nickel jewellery.
Skin is the body’s essential barrier and the key in the management of the eczema or dermatitis is to repair the barrier and keep it secure.
What are the signs?
The usual signs are itchiness, dryness, red skin, crusting, scaling or fissuring of the skin but other visible signs can include oozing, weeping, or excoriation.
How can I best manage it?
1. Do not strip the skin of moisture – no soap or detergent should be used during a flare up. Soaps, shower gels and bubble baths all contain detergent that dries the skin up so if needed, wash with a moisturiser (emollient) or oil. This includes at school or nursery for children needing to wash their hands, and for adults in their workplace.
2. Moisturise LOTS – apply a cream (see below) to the effected area multiple times throughout the day, use oil in the bath, followed by oil or emollient after patting dry. Continue this for the long-term.
3. If needed, you can see your Doctor for a short steroid course – this should not be initiated without medical advice. For children or an adult’s face you should not use anything stronger than Hydrocortisone 1%. Use it when the skin is red and then STOP. Prevention is better than cure so it’s crucial to do 1 & 2 as often as you can to avoid flare-ups. Eczema / Dermatitis often leads to the itch-scratch-itch cycle and so eliminating the original itch can prevent initiating the cycle.
Avoid temperature changes, keep the fingernails short to avoid scratching to bleed, and avoid foods or contacts that make it worse. Use non-bio washing powder and hypo-allergenic/ unscented products where you can.
Sometimes eczema becomes more resistant to treatment because of a secondary infection. If the area is warm, hot, red, oozing or not getting better you should consider this possibility and see the doctor. They may start antibiotics (oral or topical) and they may send a swab for culture analysis. Always beware that self-treating with a steroid can make certain rashes worse, such as fungal infections and you should also be very careful using it on the face or genital area.
There are many skin rashes with a variety of causes. If you are unsure whether it is eczema/ dermatitis it is always best to check with the doctor because there are a number of other skin conditions such as guttate psoriasis that can look very similar.
For some children eczema will be a short-lived childhood problem. For others it may be a life-long condition. Similarly some children will suffer dermatitis multiple times and others will define the irritant, eliminate it and have no further recurrence.
We’ve all gone to the pharmacy here and been faced with millions of bottles (and price tags) to choose from. Here are some products that fellow British mums recommend, that they use on their own children:
Coconut paste or oil
Dr Negin advises that you can also choose a high quality emollient (moisturising cream) and bath oil, with no perfume and minimum preservatives and paraben free if possible. (Olive oil is also an excellent natural and inexpensive addition to baths).
Who to see:
If you suspect that yourself or your child, baby or even yourself has eczema, you should see a doctor (GP or dermatologist) to confirm the diagnosis and initiate treatment. Following this you will hopefully be armed with the vitals to treat (or ideally prevent) any future flare-ups. Here’s a list of some tried and trusted dermatologists as recommended by other British mums in Dubai:
Prof Khaled El Hoshy and Dr Irma: 14555 Levan Road, Suite 410 Livonia, MI 48154. Contact number: 734 462 9499
Dr Juliane Reuter: Koster Clinic, 3 26th St – Dubai – United Arab Emirates. Contact number: +971 4 3881 887
Dr Berger, Dr Suzana, and Dr Irena: Villa #977, Al Wasl Road, Dubai, UAE. Contact number: +971 4 348 7140
Dr Simin: 10 Jumeirah Center, Jumeriah Beach Rd, Dubai. Contact Number: +971 4 344 4117
Dr Christina Engman: 899 Al Wasl Road, Al Manara, Dubai, UAE. Contact number: +971 800 8254268
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