Dr. Jean-Marc Chavigny
Dermato-allergologist, NANTES Atopy School
During this difficult period, it is unsurprising that everyone’s attention should be firmly fixed on the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we must remember that, unfortunately, other conditions have not gone away, in particular atopic eczema. This condition is heavily influenced by environmental factors which, as we know, have been significantly affected by recent events.
A number of eczema aggravation factors are particularly prevalent at the moment. Let’s take a look at them below.
Irritation factors, particularly handwashing and hydro-alcoholic gels
Irritation comes primarily from soap rather than hydro-alcoholic gels. You should therefore opt for hydro-alcoholic gels whenever possible, and when washing your hands, use soap-free cleansers (dermatological bar, syndet, cleansing oil) with warm water (avoid hot water), and rinse your hands well before applying a hydrating cream (emollient).
Irritation is also caused by tap water, which is frequently modified during health crises, with increased levels of bleach. Take short, lukewarm showers using soap-free cleansers, and consider opting for longer intervals between showers. Always try to keep your skin well hydrated, even more than usual.
Unsurprisingly, stress may be increased by the current situation and is a real issue at the moment
Almost all chronic diseases can be worsened by stress, and eczema is no exception. To help, try switching off the news, playing with your kids or doing breathing exercises (cardiac coherence). For this, there are a number of free apps that you can make the most of such as "ma cohérence cardiaque" on Android or "Respirelax" on Apple. Meditation can also be a valuable aid. Another good tip is trying to get as much fresh air as possible, whether in your garden, on your balcony or simply with the windows open. You might choose to read, meditate, get some exercise or just relax and breathe. Finally, getting creative is a great way to pass the time and reduce your stress levels: learning a foreign language, painting, writing, sewing, sculpting, singing, and making music are all good ways to cope.
Loss of bearings leading to poor treatment compliance
We sometimes function a bit like robots, with our habits and rituals. This works rather well for many things like getting dressed, brushing our teeth, setting the table and emptying the dishwasher, but also for taking care of ourselves and sticking to treatments. When our rhythm is disrupted, all those things we do without thinking about them risk being disturbed. Consider setting up a routine during the lockdown in order to regain your bearings and not aggravate your skin’s condition by forgetting your treatment.
Is now well and truly upon us and, although we are shut up at home, pollen is still everywhere, bringing with it its share of rhinitis, conjunctivitis, asthma and eczema for allergic patients. We therefore advise everyone to adapt their treatment to the new season, which is not likely to spare us its inconveniences simply because of the current pandemic.
Please note that infections can make eczema worse, whether they are caused by viruses or by bacteria. Similarly, Covid-19 alone can exacerbate eczema. If this is the case, we strongly advise consulting your doctor.
There is no doubt that these are testing times but remember that the best way to keep your immune system healthy is to stay in shape and look after yourself.