Skincare survey reveals ‘perfect storm’ onset of seasonal eczema triggers

A new study by Irish skincare company Elave reveals the stresses experienced by parents of children suffering from eczema during the winter months.

One in five children in Ireland suffer from this dry, itchy skin condition, which becomes worse over the winter due to a combination of central heating and cold weather.

Parents who responded to the Eczema Winter skincare survey by Elave Skincare from Gardiner Family Apothecary shared their anxiety, advice and tips on how to cope.

Parents said their stress levels were highest when eczema interfered with their child’s sleep, followed by the challenges flare-ups imposed on their child’s emotional development and social life.

Well over half of parents said that soap and fragrances were the most frequent triggers of flare-ups and caused the most serious reactions, with nearly nine out of 10 stating they used sulfate-free soap and apothecary solutions.

Respondents confirmed that other frequent triggers, particularly when sufferers move from warm houses to the cold outdoors, are scratchy wool and synthetic fabrics, tight clothing and dust.

However, four out of 10 parents were unaware that cold air and polyester clothes can trigger reactions and 8 out of 10 were unaware of, or did not use, humidifiers, wet compresses and clinifast garments to counteract symptoms.

Many emphasised the importance of constant moisturising and using a Food Diary to identify triggers like nuts, eggs and dairy, which can be removed from the child’s diet and lead to potentially significant improvement.

The Irish Skin Foundation confirms that in winter time central heating and very dry air indoors can intensify skin dryness, which can in turn be aggravated by exposure to a range of environmental allergens.

“Common irritants include soap, bubble bath, shampoo, laundry detergents, fragrances, clothing that feels ‘itchy’ next to the skin, changes in temperature, or allergens like animal dander, the house dust mite or pollen.

“Emotional stress can aggravate eczema and finding ways to reduce stress may lessen the frequency and, hopefully, the intensity of the flare-ups. While stress is associated with flares of atopic eczema, it is not yet fully understood,” the Irish Skin Foundation commented.

Skincare expert Joanna Gardiner, CEO of Gardiner Family Apothecary, makers of the Elave and Ovelle skincare ranges, said that cases of eczema had doubled in Irish children over the last 20 years, due mainly to environmental pollution.

“Central heating, which is the norm in modern Irish homes, keeps us warm in winter, but it also dehydrates the skin and triggers outbreaks of itchiness and rashes,” she explained. “Then, when you go out into the cold and wind, you have the perfect storm of adverse conditions.

“Other irritants like polyester, wool, tight clothing and diet also play a role in triggering flare-ups, while soap and fragrances are huge irritants and should be avoided at all times by using free-from body washes, shampoos and creams.

“Our pure formulations never, ever use nasty irritants like soap, scent, sulfates, parabens, MIs, dyes and formaldehyde. Using them from top to toe, along with constant moisturising, as part of a daily skincare regimen will help keep attacks to a minimum,” skincare expert Joanna Gardiner, CEO of Gardiner Family Apothecary, remarked.

Elave Skincare provides expert advice on coping with eczema, psoriasis and other dry skin conditions at


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