Beauty Clinic: What can I do about facial eczema?
Q I have occasionally suffered with eczema-type patches on my hands and body but now it has flared up mildly on my face, particularly around my eyes. Could you suggest a way to soothe it and what to do about make up?
A The National Eczema Society (NES) has a helpful Factsheet titled Eczema Around the Eyes, which you can find on their website. It explains that eczema (also called dermatitis) may well flare up around the eyes, particularly on the eyelids, and is common in adults with eczema elsewhere on the face. Because the skin barrier is thin and fragile in this area, it is tends to be very sensitive. Your doctor may prescribe mild topical steroids for the face, including the eye area.
As you sometimes suffer eczema elsewhere, this may be an allergic reaction to a substance. Or it may be irritant contact dermatitis caused by an irritating substance in your make up, skincare, or in detergents. If you think facial skin care products or make up are having a negative effect on your skin, the NES (eczema.org) recommends not wearing make up for a few days to see if that helps. If there is an improvement, reintroduce products one by one to identify if there is a culprit.
It could also be something that you touch or apply to your hands, then transfer to your face and particularly the eye area. A common cause of contact dermatitis is allergy to nail varnish or varnish remover. Hair dye may also cause eyelid problems, particularly if you use it (or another dye) to tint your lashes, or brows. Some products that are marketed to help lashes grow contain compounds similar to those used in glaucoma medication. Both may have side effects including skin sensitivity.
It’s vital to apply plenty of emollient, which you can also use to remove eye make up when/if you wear it. Keep facial skincare simple and avoid washing your face with soap or using scented face creams. Your doctor may suggest a medical skincare brand. Otherwise, pharmacist Shabir Daya at Victoria Health recommends Botanical Therapeutic Skin Cream Plus, £22 for 250ml, which contains plant extracts and oils to help soothe inflamed dry skin.
People vary widely in their individual responses to products for eczema but some tell us that Thyme Out, a natural tincture with thyme and aloe vera, also helps with mild eczema, £18 for 200ml. A colleague with very touchy skin swears by Avène skincare, a French pharmacy brand especially formulated to hydrate dry and extremely dry skin.
Now to make up: a new Danish natural mineral range called Miild has been launched in the UK by two young make up artists, Tine and Tanje, both of whom suffer from severe contact allergy. Miild claims to be the first cosmetics brand certified as eco friendly, organic and allergy friendly (its parent company has been involved in allergy research since 1923).
Tine and Tanje say the top three things to avoid are perfume, nickel (often found in mascara via iron oxide) and animal hair (in make up brushes). They also caution against camouflaging eczema with layers of conventional make up, rather than getting it assessed by a doctor/dermatologist and using specially formulated make up.
The Miild make up range includes mineral powder foundation in six shades, blush, bronzer, concealer duo as well as eye make up – with a Mineral Mascara, £22, wonderfully called ‘Volume Bulbous’ because it adds volume and oomph to your lashes. We haven’t tried the eye make up but the foundation, blush and bronzer are fab. They also do a good range of synthetic brushes. Find Miild online at uk.klarify.me.