Dry, combination, oily, acne-prone, the list goes on when it comes to problematic skin and while most of us have been indoors for the past few months due to the pandemic, many people are reporting a worsening of their skin condition. Stress, poor indoor air quality, lack of sun, and dramatic changes to our routine including diet and sleep are all responsible for the so-called ‘lockdown skin’ you may have been experiencing recently.
So whether your skin has taken a turn for the worse or you want to keep on top of a good skincare routine to prevent flareups, we have everything you need to know about skin, from the different types of skin problems to the best skincare products to treat these issues.
What do the different skin types mean?
Normal, dry, oily, and combination are the four basic types of skin, and there are many skincare products out there specifically targetted for each type. Here’s how each one is defined so you can work out what skin type you are:
Normal - normal skin is skin that it is considered healthy, it’s an even balance that isn’t overly dry or overly oily, it sits somewhere in the middle.
Dry - those with normal or oily skin can develop dry skin from time to time but some people naturally produce less sebum and their skin doesn’t retain enough moisture. Dry skin can often be sore, itchy, and cracked.
Oily - oily skin is that which produces more sebum than normal. An overproduction of sebum can make your skin prone to acne, blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, etc. You may notice your skin is always shiny around the pores.
Combination - this can be a tricky one to identify and a tricky one to treat as some parts of the skin can be dry and other parts oily, for instance, your T-Zone (forehead, nose, and chin) may be oily but you may have dry patches on your cheeks and other parts of the face.
So hopefully you’ve now identified which skin type you are, but throw skin conditions into the mix and you have a bigger problem. Many people also suffer from conditions that affect the skin and this makes using everyday skincare products impossible unless they’re targeted for your specific skin problem.
We’re going to be discussing 3 main skin conditions, eczema, psoriasis, and acne, all of which affect millions of people, plus how to treat these problematic skin conditions.
What is eczema?
Eczema is a common inflammatory skin condition that causes the skin to be itchy, sore, red, flaky, and blistering. It ranges from mild to severe, but eczema can be really uncomfortable and irritating no matter the severity. It usually develops in childhood and a lot of people will grow out of the condition as they get older, but for many, it can be a life-long condition. Eczema in adults may also cause some self-esteem issues as the appearance can be unpleasant, although children also suffer the psychological effects of having eczema.
Eczema can appear anywhere on the body but most commonly affects the knees, elbows, cheeks, hands, scalp, and neck. There are many causes of eczema, and sometimes you have to do a bit of detective work to find out what is triggering your eczema, and avoiding the trigger is often the most effective way to manage it. Stress, pollutants in the environment, the weather, fragrances, and chemicals in beauty products are all common causes of eczema, but for some, it’s simply hereditary.
If eczema isn’t treated it can lead to infection if you itch the broken skin, plus it can be painful, uncomfortable, unpleasant, and keep you awake at night. Fortunately, eczema can be treated.
First things first, get to know what sets your eczema off and this applies to many skin conditions. Knowing your triggers means you can avoid them as much as possible to prevent flare-ups.
For some people, their eczema may be caused by a food allergy, and making some changes to diet and lifestyle can help to reduce eczema.
Best skincare products for eczema:
The best skincare products for dry and eczema-prone skin are those that help to retain moisture in the skin as this is what is lacking in those that have eczema. There are many different ways of treating it but using a number of products can help to manage the condition long term and treat a flare-up. For instance, using an emollient daily will prevent drying of the skin and protect the outer skin barrier which in turn will prevent a full-blown eczema flare-up.
You’ll notice that some products are in the form of a cream and others an ointment, or lotion, all of these are effective at locking in moisture but there are some differences. Ointments are the ones that feel really greasy but this is good as they contain the most oil and are therefore the most moisturising. Ointments penetrate deeper into the skin trapping moisture and it lasts longer, but because they’re of a greasier consistency many people find them too messy and opt for a cream instead.
Creams are still very moisturising but they contain less oil and more water. Creams are very spreadable and are ideal for large areas of the skin but they are not as effective as the high moisturising qualities of an ointment.
Lotions are the most water-based of the three, they are mostly made up of water and contain the least amount of oil, so they may not be the best option for severely dry skin and eczema.
Here are some of the best skincare products for eczema available at Doctor 4 U:
1. Balneum Cream, from £14.00
Balneum Cream contains urea which is found naturally in the skin to help it retain water. Those with eczema lack this substance so this cream replaces some of the much-needed hydration. This can be used as a daily cream, simply pat it into the skin preferably after you’ve bathed or showered to lock in that moisture.
2. Diprobase, from £11.99
Diprobase is an emollient available in both cream and ointment form. Emollients are a great way to keep eczema under control as they can be used daily and topped up multiple times throughout the day. This emollient helps to moisturise the skin and soothe itchiness. Diprobase comes in a large pump which is great for storing at home and a small tube making it convenient to carry around with you should you need to soothe your skin when you’re out and about.
3. QV Bath Oil, from £12.49
If you suffer from eczema and dry skin we recommend having bath oils handy in your home. We don’t mean the types that are full of fragrances and chemicals, these kind of bath oils are gentle on the skin. Long baths can be very drying on the skin so you should limit this as much as possible and take quick showers instead, however, bath oils such as QV Bath Oil can actually treat your skin while you bathe. Add it to your bath to form a protective barrier over the skin and soothe and moisturise the skin.
4. Fucibet, from £15.99
If eczema becomes severe and infected, medicated creams such as Fucibet can reduce symptoms of eczema and clear the infection as it contains an antibiotic to kill the bacteria. Corticosteroids such as this are only used occasionally in cases of infection or severe eczema.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a long term, autoimmune condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches on the skin that may resemble silver scales in appearance. These patches can be sore and itchy and can appear anywhere on the body including the elbows, knees, and commonly the scalp. There are many types of psoriasis and it ranges in severity from person to person. Like eczema, psoriasis can be a debilitating condition as not only is it painful, itchy, and uncomfortable, it can also cause self-esteem issues because of the unpleasant appearance.
This skin condition is the result of the speed at which skin cells are replaced being faster than normal and this then causes a build-up and forms these thick patches on the skin. Why this happens is not fully understood but there is a range of genetic and environmental factors that may play a part. Like eczema, there are a number of triggers that may cause a flare-up of psoriasis, including smoking, drinking alcohol, changes in hormones, etc.
As tempting as it may be, it’s important not to scratch psoriasis, and instead treat the skin condition properly to prevent complications. Although there is no cure, there are treatments to help keep psoriasis under control and reduce the symptoms.
Emollients are often the first step in managing this condition, they can be used alone on milder psoriasis, or in combination with other treatments such as corticosteroids for more severe cases. Your GP will be able to help you with other treatments if these aren’t working, phototherapy is one treatment that has proved successful and involves exposing the affected area to artificial light, although this needs to be done under the supervision of a dermatologist.
Best skincare products for psoriasis:
As with eczema you want treatments that retain moisture and prevent drying. Some psoriasis treatments may also slow down the speed of skin cell renewal to stop the build-up which causes these patches.
Here are some of the best skincare products for psoriasis available at Doctor 4 U:
1. Eltrivex, from £24.99
Eltrivex shampoo is used to treat scalp psoriasis. It’s not your average shampoo as it’s medicated with a corticosteroid to target scalp psoriasis. Scalp psoriasis is a common form and Eltrivex is applied topically to the scalp to reduce inflammation and the appearance of the patches.
2. Silkis, from £45.99
Silkis is an ointment that is applied topically to psoriasis. It contains derivatives of vitamin D to regulate the speed of skin cell growth and reduce the patches of psoriasis.
3. Betnovate RD, from £19.99
Betnovate in its stronger and milder form is used to treat a range of skin conditions including psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. Betnovate RD is a topical steroid but it’s less potent than other corticosteroids, it’s used in milder cases and as a way of keeping the condition under control.
What is acne?
Unlike the previous skin conditions we’ve covered, acne is more common in those with an oily skin type. Although acne is very common and can happen to anyone. The condition can cause oily skin, with spots, pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts appearing most commonly on the face, chest, and back. For some people this can be chronic, and there are lots of self-esteem issues tied to this condition. It’s a condition that’s often associated with teenagers as hormones are known to be a big factor in acne.
Those with acne produce more oil in the sebaceous glands than the average person, and this oil, dirt, and dead skin cells can clog pores and create a bulging spot on the surface. If bacteria also get into the pores then the spots can become infected.
Acne is often triggered by hormonal changes which is why it’s more common in women as they go through more hormonal changes in their life compared to men. There are many things that can trigger an outbreak of acne including cosmetics that contain perfume and alcohol, some medications, and it may even be hereditary.
Treatment depends on the severity of your acne, milder acne may be treated with some over the counter topical treatments, while severe acne will need stronger medicines prescribed by a GP. Some prescription medicines contain retinoids and antibiotics to exfoliate and soften the skin and reduce bacteria.
Here are some of the best acne skincare products available at Doctor 4 U:
Best acne skincare products:
Most treatments are topical, they’re applied to the affected area, however, medications in the form of tablets may also be used. The combined contraceptive pill has a number of uses, one of which is to control acne and many women are put on the pill to control hormone-related acne.
1. Zineryt solution, from £24.99
This topical solution is applied to the affected area to clear up acne in a matter of weeks. It contains an antibiotic known as erythromycin to reduce bacteria on the skin, and zinc acetate to promote skin cell renewal so the skin can heal and repair.
2. Duac Gel, from £27.99
Duac is a topical gel that contains an antibiotic to fight bacteria as well as benzoyl peroxide which acts as a peel to reduce blackheads and clear the skin.
3. Differin, from £29.99
Differin is available in a cream or gel and contains anti-inflammatory ingredients to reduce redness, swelling, and irritation. It also contains vitamin A to promote skin cell renewal and unblocks pores.
4. Lymecycline, from £19.99
Lymecycline is a type of antibiotic in the form of capsules. It destroys the bacteria that cause acne known as Propionebacterium acnes and stops it from multiplying on the skin. Lymecycline is suitable for bacterial infections and acne that hasn’t been controlled using other methods.
The right way to carry out your skincare routine
The way you apply your skincare products really determines whether you get the most from the product.
For instance, with eczema, topical medications should often be applied after you moisturise, but always apply as directed, you may have to leave some time between applications. To lock in moisture after a bath it’s most effective to apply your moisturiser within 3 minutes of getting out the bath or shower. With any skincare product you use try and use a clean applicator rather than your fingers to avoid germs and bacteria contaminating the product and therefore making your condition worse.
Ensure that any emollients or moisturisers you use are free from fragrances and dyes as these will irritate the skin further. Apply any products gently and avoid rubbing aggressively so you don’t break or aggravate the skin even more. And finally, give the product time to soak in and work its magic!