How To Support Your Clients With Eczema

Ahead of World Atopic Eczema Day on 14 September, we got expert advice to help you and your clients dealing with eczema.

Dealing with skin day in and day out, you’ve likely come across clients with a wide variety of skin conditions. One that’s increasingly seen is eczema. Australia is amongst the countries with the highest prevalence of eczema or atopic dermatitis with approximately 10 to 15% of the population experiencing it in some form.

The scale of severity is wide and for some the condition can seriously impact their quality of life. So, anything you can do to help clients that present with eczema can really help to change their experience.

For a quick overview, eczema is a chronic health condition that affects the skin, causing redness, dryness, itching and sometimes infections. When eczema worsens it’s called an eczema flare and usually there’s no single factor for an eczema flare. One can be triggered by a range of irritants or for no obvious reason.

Melanie Funk is the founder of Eczema Support Australia and has personally experienced the effects of eczema.

“My boys suffered with eczema from a young age and it was like a nightmare for us in those early years,” shared Melanie, who founded Eczema Support Australia in 2016 to raise awareness and provide support to others like her. 

“Many people believe it’s just a minor skin condition, but it’s so much more. The impacts are far reaching and can be debilitating for sufferers and their families.” 

Eczema Support Australia is an Australian registered charity organisation with a vision to support Australians living with eczema and their families to overcome difficulties and thrive through connection, support and understanding. Melanie has shared her best advice with us to help you support your clients who present with eczema.

What advice do you have for dermal therapists whose clients present with eczema? Can they still safely perform facials and device-based treatments?

MF: First and importantly, dermal therapists should advise the client to see a medical practitioner or dermatologist (if not already seeing one) for a medical assessment, particularly for those with more than mild eczema. It is generally recommended that the client avoid facials and treatments on red/inflamed/broken skin until skin is fully healed, and after consultation with a dermatologist prior to treatment.  

What topical solutions are best for management and which ingredients should be avoided?

MF: As clients with eczema suffer from dry and sensitive skin, regular application of a moisturiser is recommended—one that is free from fragrance or colouring. In general, clients with eczema should avoid products with fragrances, additives or colouring. Clients should also avoid products with sodium lauryl sulphate, which has a negative effect on the skin barrier. 

Some clients with eczema may have or develop sensitivities to plant/food-based products. It is important to check with the client and have the client check with their medical practitioner. And, clients with eczema should test any new products on a small area of skin first and monitor for signs of redness and irritation before regular use.

Where can dermal therapists go to learn more about eczema and how to help clients dealing with it? 

MF: New resources are being developed through Eczema Support Australia for information and awareness of the complexities and management of eczema. And, an Eczema Awareness eLearning course will soon be available for the wider health sector through Eczema Support Australia. Dermal Therapists may also seek information through the Australasian Journal of Dermatology. One article of interest is, Atopic Dermatitis In Adults: An Australian Management Consensus.

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