The itching and burning of eczema can be excruciating, and it is a reality that affects one in 1next British adults.
Some have had it all their life – a fifth of children develop eczema, usually before their first birthday.
For others, it comes on suddenly later on in life.
Either way, understanding how to control flare-ups is difficult.
With eczema, your skin cannot produce enough essential oils to form and maintain its natural protective barrier.
This drop in moisture causes skin cells to shrink, as would a dehydrated piece of fruit.
Normally, when your skin is adequately hydrated, it is full, bouncy, and the skin cells are pushed together to form a protective wall.
By shrinking, the cells leave gaps between one another, causing the skin to become dry and cracked, creating gaps for dirt, bacteria, viruses and fungi.
But there is not one set trigger for this happening – and therefore not one set treatment.
Eczema is a catch-all term for three kinds of skin conditions: atopic dermatitis (the most common; chronic; inherited), contact dermatitis (a reaction to material), and dyshidrotic eczema (specific to hands and feet).
All three are characterized by patches of sore, irritated, red and itchy skin, but have different triggers that cause them.
Advice on how to handle flare-ups has see-sawed wildly over the years.
Some doctors insist on steroid cream as the only viable option. Others may advise changing your diet.
Emollients, such as Diprobase, are another treatment option that can help manage the symptoms as well as prevent flare-ups.
As the chair of the Dermatology Council for England, Dr George Moncreiff has seen and heard it all when it comes to eczema.
Here, he shares his wisdom on how to handle your flare-ups: