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Topical Tip #12 Dry skin: prevention is better than cure.
The treatment programme for The Combined Approach places considerable emphasis on the part played in atopic eczema by dry skin. This diagram is used to explain the relationship between dry skin, eczema, itching and scratching:
Dry skin with atopy makes acute flare-up eczema more likely. Both dry skin and acute eczema are itchy. Itch leads to scratching. The damage caused by scratching leads to further itching as the skin tries to heal. If the damage fails to heal through continuing scratching, chronic eczema is the result, increasing the likelihood of further acute flare-up eczema.
In assessing atopic eczema an important question to ask is:
"How often do you use your moisturiser?"
Usually the answer is:
"As soon as I can, when I see the skin is dry".
It is best to use moisturiser often enough to prevent the skin from drying, rather than as a treatment for dry skin. If the skin dries, it will itch, and itch leads to scratching, and so on as explained above.
If the frequency of moisturiser use is kept ahead of the drying process, and therefore dry skin never puts in an appearance, eczema is much less likely to appear, and the requirement for other treatments may be avoided.