Health Conditions / Skin Health

6 People With Eczema Share How They Deal With Winter Flare-Ups

6 People With Eczema Share How They Deal With Winter Flare-Ups

Kayla started wearing sustainable and natural fibers for environmental purposes, but has found her skin tolerates them better too. “I wear more natural fibers in the winter, like cotton, bamboo, and wool, because I notice synthetic materials can really exacerbate my eczema,” she says. While some people experience skin irritation from wool in particular, it works well for Kayla. “I wear a fine merino wool base layer when it’s really cold. I perspire a decent amount—even in winter—so I need something that keeps me warm, is breathable, and dries quickly.”Kayla finds that being choosy about the fabrics she puts against her skin (including bedding, clothing, and sleepwear) can make a big difference. “I use soft microfiber sheets for sleeping,” she says. “I also wear soft, loose clothes and cover up outside, especially when the wind bites.”“I make sure to avoid the specific foods that trigger my eczema.”Despite the fact that eczema is so common, the things that aggravate it and cause symptoms to come on can vary among individuals. For Carolyn S., 39, avoiding her specific triggers is key for keeping winter flares at bay. She’s found that the dry, indoor heat aggravates the eczema on her face, while winter layers paired with indoor heat will cause her to sweat, which also triggers her eczema. Since she can only do so much to control the heating systems in the buildings she’s in, she focuses on the triggers she can control to minimize flares this time of year as much as possible.“I make sure to avoid the specific foods and ingredients that trigger my eczema, which include tree nuts—almonds, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts, as well as nut milks—shrimp, and American-made chocolates,” she tells SELF. “Avoiding those food triggers becomes more important this time of year because of additional triggers, as well as the fact that holiday foods, in general, incorporate all of them.”“I don’t leave the house without lotion.” Most people with eczema will emphasize how using specific skin care products as part of their daily routines is one of the biggest things they do to keep their skin calm and comfortable. Alyssa Bourne-Peters, 25, takes it a step further, making sure she’s never without her lotions.“I don’t leave the house without lotion at all. I will turn back home if I left and forgot to put it in my purse,” she tells SELF. “I just try to keep myself as moisturized as possible so that the dryness is less obvious.”Carolyn also makes sure her favorite moisturizer is always at the ready. “I keep my favorite lotion on hand in all the bathrooms and make sure to immediately slather it on after hand washing or showering,” she says.“I make sure to immediately shower and moisturize after workouts.”Like many other people with eczema, Eliza Gwendalyn, 35, is diligent about showering and moisturizing her skin after working out. As the AAD notes, sweat can be a trigger for eczema flares, and Eliza says she often experiences stinging and irritated skin if she sweats a lot.

How Often Do You Really Need to Wash Your Comforter?

How Often Do You Really Need to Wash Your Comforter?

If your pets sleep in your bed with you, there’s a higher chance you’ll end up with outside invaders in your bed. “Dogs bringing in ticks [which then attach] to owners is a very real and not uncommon situation,” Dr. Russo says. “Likewise, cats go outside and may hunt and kill other animals with potentially dangerous infections, like tularemia, and can infect owners.” Allergens—particularly dust mites—are the biggest cause for concern.While bacteria and sweat aren’t likely to build up enough to make you sick, dust mites sure can. Obviously, not everyone is allergic to dust mites, but if you are, it’s more important to regularly clean your sheets and comforter.“The most common types of allergens found in mattress and pillows and comforters and blankets are dust mites,” Denisa E. Ferastraoaru, MD, assistant professor of medicine in allergy and immunology and attending physician at Einstein/Montefiore and Jacobi Medical Centers, tells SELF. “Dust mites are small, little creatures. They live wherever we live because they feed on our skin flakes.” And they’re most commonly found in the bedroom, she adds.It’s sort of impossible to rid your bedroom of dust mites—everybody has them, no matter how clean you keep the house, says Dr. Ferastraoaru.Other allergens can linger on your comforter, too. If you sit on your bed in your outside clothes, you can transfer things like pollen, grass, and ragweed onto your comforter. And if your dog or cat is running around outside and then sleeping in your bed, they can drag in these seasonal allergens, too. This may cause problems for you, depending on how sensitive you are, Dr. Steele says.How often should you wash your comforter then? You should generally aim to wash your comforter once a week. There are some logistical challenges that make it difficult to wash a large, bulky comforter this often, which is typically what experts recommend to keep linens fresh and minimize allergens. Another option: Slip your comforter into an allergy-proof cover, and wash that once a week, Ryan Steele, DO, board-certified allergist-immunologist and assistant professor of clinical medicine at Yale School of Medicine, tells SELF. “Adding an allergy cover, which might also be called a dust mite cover, will add an extra layer of protection to lock in dust mites and reduce the number of allergens,” Dr. Steele says.These covers work by basically locking dust mites inside the comforter so that they can’t get out and be inhaled, Dr. Ferastraoaru explains. “The fabric is very tight and will not let dust mites and dust mite allergens through.” Even better: If you’re in the market for a new comforter, put an allergy cover on it before you use it the first time to prevent dust mites from getting inside in the first place, she says.Dr. Steele recommends washing your sheets and all covers, including pillow and comforter covers, once a week on the hottest setting possible to reduce the number of allergens. If you have seasonal allergies, use the dryer. “A lot of people like to get that fresh scent on linens by drying them on the outside clothesline. That may be great for the smell, but that is a giant pollen trap,” Dr. Steele says. “Using the dryer is going to help reduce the load of the allergens.”If your allergies are acting up despite regularly washing your sheets and comforter cover, you may need to kick your pet out of the bed, Dr. Steele says. It could be a difficult transition if you’re both used to cuddling all night, but you’ll ultimately sleep more soundly if you eliminate all potential sources of allergens. No matter who’s in bed with you, it’s worth it to keep things clean.Related:

6 Ways Constant Anger Can Hurt Your Health Long-Term

6 Ways Constant Anger Can Hurt Your Health Long-Term

Here’s what you should know about the many ways anger can impact your body in the long run, and what to do if you’re concerned about how it might be taking a toll on your health. 1. Heightened inflammation A growing body of research suggests chronic stress, as well as the negative emotions associated with it, is strongly linked to higher levels of inflammation in the body and dysfunctional immune system responses. Your immune system is designed to attack potential threats to your body with inflammatory cells, Dr. Duijndam explains. “With chronic stress, including anger, these markers of inflammation increase as well.” So even if you don’t have, say, an infection brewing, these inflammatory cells may start to get rowdy and go after healthy cells instead if you’re a person who deals with lots of anger, she says. That, in turn, can set the stage for various health issues, especially as you age. For example, a 2019 study that followed 226 older adults for one week found that those who had higher levels of self-reported anger were more likely to have higher levels of inflammation and a higher risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, osteoarthritis, diabetes, and even certain cancers. On top of that, constantly feeling rage-y can also impact your everyday habits, some of which may lead to further inflammation, or simply damage your health in other ways. “The significant confound we have in any of this research is that people who are chronically angry tend to engage in lots of unhealthy behaviors,” Dr. Martin says, such as smoking, excessive drinking, and overeating or loading up on food that isn’t as nutritious as it could be. “Those unhealthy behaviors will have an impact too,” he stresses.2. Heart disease“The bulk of the evidence that we have on the health consequences of anger really has to do with the heart and [the rest of the] cardiovascular system, and we’ve known that for decades,” Dr. Martin says. Try to do a quick body scan the next time your blood starts to boil—that is, take a moment to notice how the various parts of your body feel, one by one—and it won’t be hard to understand why anger can do a number on your heart. “When you keep ruminating in a state of anger, it leads to poor cardiovascular recovery,” says Dr. Duijndam. Again, that’s because “it keeps you in a state of stress.” Anger can spike your blood pressure and heart rate, two factors that place immense pressure on your heart muscle and therefore heighten the risk of chronic hypertension. An influx of stress hormones can also boost your blood sugar levels and blood fatty acid levels, which can damage blood vessels and lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, respectively. That’s one reason why regularly getting and staying angry could potentially play a role in conditions like cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. 3. Reduced lung functionQuick and shallow breathing is one of the first physical effects anger triggers for many people. “When we need to ‘fight or flight’ from a situation that’s threatening, it makes sense,” Dr. Duijndam says. It’s your body’s way of trying to supply more oxygen to areas it perceives as essential, like the brain and muscles. It follows, then, that strong emotions like anger are a common trigger for asthma attacks in those who are susceptible. 

How to Clean a Shower Curtain and Liner to Fight Mold

How to Clean a Shower Curtain and Liner to Fight Mold

When it comes time to clean your bathroom, it’s easy to just go ham on the hard surfaces with a bleach-based disinfectant and call it a day. But cleaning your shower curtain always feels like a separate, somehow more challenging task: It’s not hard and smooth. It’s made of fabric or plastic, or both. If you’re stumped about how to approach it to get it as clean as the rest of your bathroom, you’re not alone: I’m definitely guilty of just tossing a shower curtain or two because cleaning them felt like too much of a hassle. Turns out, it’s actually not that difficult! Here, a germ expert and a cleaning expert explain why and how to clean your shower curtain, the cherry on top of a sparkling-clean bathroom.Why is it so important to clean your shower curtain?A slimy shower curtain is generally not dangerous—just gross. “For people with normal immune systems, the shower curtain probably poses a relatively small threat,” Paul Pottinger, MD, professor of medicine and co-director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at the University of Washington Medical Center, tells SELF. Yes, even if it’s so dirty that there’s visible mold, Dr. Pottinger says it isn’t likely to cause any sort of infection or illness. As for that infamous pink gunk: That’s what’s known as biofilm. It’s essentially a buildup of microorganisms that stick together to form a visible film, commonly in a pink ring around the bathtub. These microorganisms can come from our bodies or the water we shower in, Dr. Pottinger says. They like moist environments, so if your shower curtain is wet, it’s really easy for them to stick and multiply there. “Anything that’s wet tends to breed organisms,” Dr. Pottinger adds.As SELF has previously reported, when foreign bacteria, fungi, or other microorganisms build up enough in the sticky biofilm, they can potentially cause skin infections like staph or bad acne breakouts. But chances are, you’re not rubbing your skin against the moldy edges of the shower curtain (and if you are, this is your sign to stop). The risk of getting a skin infection from your shower curtain itself is pretty slim. Still, it’s not exactly pleasant to look at!A caveat: People with weakened immune systems need to be more careful about potential exposure to harmful bacteria. If you have a healthy immune system, there’s really no need to worry about shower curtain slime. But anyone with a weakened immune system is at increased risk of acquiring germs and infections from the environment, Dr. Pottinger notes. “People with reduced immune systems may be counseled by their doctors to pay special attention to keeping the environment extra clean,” he says. “These people, in particular, may want to pay attention to the shower curtain,” Pottinger adds, “because it can be a source of microbial growth.”What’s the best way to clean a shower curtain?Aim to clean your shower curtain every three months. “This is usually enough to keep it in good shape and stay ahead of any mold growth,” Lauren Bowen, cleaning expert and director of franchise operations at the cleaning services company Two Maids & A Mop, tells SELF. If it hasn’t been three months, but you notice mold or discoloration or a funky smell, that means it’s time for a cleaning. You’ve got a few options for how to do it.How to clean a shower curtain in the washing machineIf you have a washing machine, you can wash both a cloth shower curtain and a plastic one in there. “If the curtain is made of cloth, put it in your washer on the warm water setting and use gentle laundry detergent. Make sure to choose the highest water level and the gentlest cycle to avoid damage,” Bowen notes. Hang it back on the curtain rod to dry.

Here’s How Often You Really Need to Clean Your Bathroom

Here’s How Often You Really Need to Clean Your Bathroom

Cleaning the bathroom is my absolute least favorite chore. I’d rather do pretty much anything other than get on my hands and knees and scrub the gunk out of shower tiles or swirl a brush around the toilet bowl while praying that no human waste particles splash out and hit me. But… the alternative of a grimy, slimy bathroom is far less appealing, so I’m left wondering: How can I do the bare minimum to keep things pristine and sanitary? I talked with a few microbiology experts to figure out how often I really need to clean my bathroom—and a cleaning pro to get some tips for making the job a little easier. Here’s how to get it all done while spending the least possible amount of time hunched over the john.Clean your bathroom once a week as a good rule of thumb.Kelly Reynolds, PhD, MSPH, professor and director of the Environment, Exposure Science and Risk Assessment Center at the University of Arizona, recommends cleaning your bathroom at least weekly. More often than that might be overkill. “A lot of microbes grow slowly, especially when we’re talking about yeast and mold in the bathroom,” Dr. Reynolds says. “That can take days or weeks to grow.” Cleaning hard surfaces—toilet, counter and sink, bathtub and shower—weekly with a cleaner that’s labeled as a disinfectant will kill germs and keep the number of pathogens low.If someone in your household is sick, do your best to clean the bathroom once a day.The exception to the weekly-regimen rule: If someone in your household is sick with an infectious illness, like the stomach flu or COVID, they should try to clean the high-contact surfaces in the bathroom they use daily, Dr. Reynolds says, including the toilet, sink, shower knobs, counters, and doorknobs. “Try to not share the bathroom with them, but if you must, clean it daily.” Especially if the illness causes vomiting or diarrhea, it’s best to get in there and clean thoroughly before someone else uses the same space—and even better if the sick person is well enough to clean it themselves.Find the difference between “untidy” and “unsanitary.”Known infectious illnesses aside, a less-than-sparkling bathroom isn’t likely to impact your health in any meaningful way, Paul Pottinger, MD, professor of medicine and co-director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at the University of Washington Medical Center, tells SELF. “It is unlikely that someone with a normal immune system would be at risk of catching a dangerous infection in the bathroom from one of their housemates via hard surfaces such as the floor or the toilet seat,” Dr. Pottinger says. That’s because we’re already exposed to the microbes that our housemates have on them, and vice versa. That’s even truer when it comes to an intimate partner, Dr. Pottinger says. Even visible mold in the shower probably won’t make a person with a healthy immune system sick, he says.Clean your shower and bathtub to avoid skin infections.One big exception? The fungus that causes athlete’s foot, Dr. Pottinger says, which can be extremely contagious. “The world is covered with germs, and there’s always fungus and mold around us, but it tends not to be a threat unless it settles in a damp area, and that’s where it can then grow,” he says. “You can absolutely catch this superficial fungal infection of [the] feet if it’s in the shower, and that’s why it’s so common.” And the spores can lurk in the bath and shower even if a surface looks clean to the naked eye, Dr. Pottinger notes.Bathtubs can also grow what’s known as a biofilm, or a buildup of microorganisms that stick together to form a visible film—the infamous pink ring—around the tub or drain. As SELF has previously reported, foreign bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms can build up in this biofilm and cause skin infections like staph, or just really bad acne breakouts. The wet environment of the bathtub also creates the perfect environment for them to multiply. Since there has to be enough of an organism for it to cause a problem, this type of environment increases the chance that these bugs could cause a problem.

The Potential Benefits of an Epsom Salt Bath, According to Experts

The Potential Benefits of an Epsom Salt Bath, According to Experts

A “detoxifying” skin care treatment, a relaxing act of self-love, a pampering practice for your pet—if TikTok is to be believed, the benefits of an Epsom salt bath are practically endless. But, trendy as they are, the chemical compounds are old as hell: The salts are named after the English town of Epsom where they were discovered in the early 17th century, and they were subsequently extracted and studied for their potential medicinal properties.1Though they were once considered a high-society luxury, Epsom salt is now super accessible to the masses—it’s sold in bags or boxes at most drugstores and supermarkets, usually for less than $10, and your mom probably has some under her bathroom sink. And while Epsom salt has been connected to all sorts of wellness benefits, it’s probably most known for its alleged pain-relieving properties. You may have seen a fitness influencer suggest an Epsom salt bath to relieve muscle aches after a tough training day or long run, or perhaps your pregnant friend has been trying an Epsom soak to soothe their sore feet.But just because a wellness practice is trendy doesn’t make it legit. Below, experts explain what you should know about the potential benefits of Epsom salt baths (and Epsom salts in general)—and which claims you should take with, ahem, a grain of salt.What is Epsom salt? | Benefits of Epsom salt baths | Epsom salt for sore muscles | Benefits for skin care | Potential risks | How to make an Epsom salt bathWhat exactly is Epsom salt?Epsom salt is a form of magnesium called magnesium sulfate, Chris D’Adamo, PhD, associate director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, tells SELF. Magnesium plays a role in more than 300 enzyme reactions in the body that affect muscle and nerve function, blood sugar and pressure regulation, bone growth, electrolyte function, energy production, and more. The primary source of magnesium for most people is food—leafy greens, fish, legumes, and whole grains are all high in the important mineral.In terms of its medical applications, hospitals sometimes use Epsom salt to treat patients, Dr. D’Adamo says. Doctors may inject intravenous (IV) magnesium sulfate for pain and blood pressure regulation, for example, particularly among pregnant people with preeclampsia, he says.2 And health care practitioners also sometimes use IV and oral magnesium sulfate supplements to treat chronic pain conditions, including migraine, or to address magnesium deficiencies, he adds.3Considering that magnesium in general is extremely important for keeping your body running in top form (and there’s research to suggest that a good proportion of people have lower-than-optimal levels of the mineral) and magnesium sulfate, specifically, is commonly used as a medical treatment, it’s not a stretch to think that an Epsom salt bath may do your body good. Which leads us to…Back to topAre there any proven benefits of Epsom salt baths?First, it’s worth knowing that there are some benefits to taking any bath. It can help your sleep, for one thing, and not just because it’s soothing and de-stressing (which it can be). Warm water also increases your core body temperature, so when you get out of the tub (or shower), your body temperature begins to drop, which signals to your brain that it’s time for rest. (That’s also why sleep experts recommend snoozing in a cool room.) In fact, research suggests that a 10-minute soak in the tub (or warm shower) one to two hours before bedtime can help you fall asleep faster and feel as if you’ve had a better night’s rest.4But what about the benefits of an Epsom salt bath, specifically? To reap any potential perks—beyond the soothing nature of the warm water—you’d need to be able to get the magnesium into your body in some way, where it can then create physiological changes. That could be either by absorbing the magnesium in the bathwater through your skin or inhaling it from the steam of the hot water, says Dr. D’Adamo.

7 Tips to Try If Your Eczema Makes You Feel Self-Conscious

7 Tips to Try If Your Eczema Makes You Feel Self-Conscious

“Each time I attended a meeting, and it went well—or at least not badly—I unlearned something, and it turned out that I was unlearning my own thoughts about myself. As it often is, I was my own worst critic,” Ashbridge says. “People still booked meetings with me with or without makeup. I built my business when my eczema was at its worst. The reality was that no one was devaluing me or what I had to say because I had dry, cracked skin on my face. The negative thoughts were all coming from within.”5. Focus on what your body can do.For Doris Espejo, 40, who was diagnosed with eczema five years ago, living with the condition has been especially tough with her career as a nurse.“As nurses, we use our hands for everything, and the constant washing of hands and glove-wearing can aggravate flare-ups,” she tells SELF. “Also, if patients see them they sometimes think it’s something contagious, or will ask what it is.” The thought of making a patient feel uncomfortable or concerned about her cleanliness does a number on Espejo’s self-esteem.Focusing on self-care so she can feel her best overall—which ultimately gives eczema less power over her—has helped a lot. “Exercising has helped me overcome those feelings by focusing on what my body can do rather than its imperfections and just accepting it,” she says.6. Be patient with yourself.For Kira West, 29, who was diagnosed with eczema around age 10, coping with the skin condition as a teen and young adult was tough on her self-esteem. Figuring out what her triggers were, dressing in a way that made her legs comfortable, and, more importantly, recognizing that her flares were temporary, was crucial. She learned to manage her anxiety around flares by reminding herself that they would always pass.“That mental approach helped me to maintain my overall confidence even amidst a flare-up,” she tells SELF. “Flares are not who I am…Managing it and just giving it time and patience honestly helped a lot.”In addition to her doctor emphasizing how common eczema is, as well as having supportive parents, West found peace in realizing she’s not alone. She got to this point by doing online research and engaging in online forums, which helped her feel a lot better about her situation. “As an adult, [I know] no one is going to judge my value as a person on how my skin looks,” she says. “I had to really internalize that and realize it’s true.”7. Lean into positive self-talk.Yuma Haidara, 33, has dealt with eczema on her face and the rest of her body since she was in high school. Haidara covered her body breakouts with clothes, but the eczema on her face was harder to hide.“I hated it. I had so much hyperpigmentation. I kept constantly scratching these bumps on my face, and there was no way to cover it up,” she tells SELF. “Back then there weren’t even shades of foundation dark enough for my skin tone. I hated people looking at me and just knew they were thinking, ‘What’s wrong with her face?’”Haidara, who created her own skinc are products when she couldn’t find anything that worked, has found positive mantras and self-talk to be extremely effective. She keeps a list of 10 positive affirmations on the home screen of her phone, regularly changing them to keep them fresh and relative to where she is in life. Each day of the week has a different affirmation, such as “‘I accept myself unconditionally.’”“No matter the kind of day I’m having, when the affirmation pops up, I stop and repeat it to myself until I no longer feel uncomfortable with saying that statement out loud,” Haidara says. “The words we speak to ourselves are so powerful, even when some days or weeks are harder than others to accept. But over the years, even on my worst days, [they help me to] know I’m beautiful, worthy, and deserving with all my imperfections, eczema included.”Related:

Can You Have Eczema and Psoriasis at the Same Time?

Can You Have Eczema and Psoriasis at the Same Time?

If you have painful skin symptoms that just won’t quit—you know, dryness that leads to obvious cracks, inflammation that just feels awful, or intense itchiness—and you’ve traveled down a rabbit hole via Dr. Google, then you’ve probably come across information on either eczema or psoriasis.These skin conditions are different and complex in unique ways, but their respective lists of symptoms can overlap quite a bit, making them difficult for the average person (read: anyone who’s not a trained dermatologist) to tell apart.If you think that suspicious rash could be a sign of eczema, psoriasis, or maybe even both, here’s some information to help you navigate what you’re experiencing, straight from dermatologists.First, a little bit about how psoriasis is defined.At its core, psoriasis is an autoimmune condition, meaning it’s caused by a glitch in the immune system that causes the body to mistakenly attack healthy skin cells. Because of this immune malfunction, the body overproduces skin cells, which then accumulate and pile up on the skin’s surface, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).Plaque psoriasis, the most common form of the condition, causes raised lesions—often with a scaly appearance with a silver-to-gray plaque, depending on your skin tone—that can manifest anywhere on the body and feel itchy, tender, or even painful.There are various forms of psoriasis, so the symptoms can vary widely. But plaque psoriasis often appears on areas like the elbows, knees, trunk, and scalp, Esther Kim, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center, tells SELF. You may even start to feel pain in your joints: When inflammatory arthritis occurs alongside psoriasis, it’s called psoriatic arthritis, Dr. Kim says.Many people with psoriasis experience flare-ups, or periods of time when symptoms become more active. These flares can last anywhere from weeks to months, and there is a range of triggers that can set them off, from infections and illnesses to skin stressors (like cuts and scratches) to changes in weather and stress levels, per the AAD.Like other autoimmune conditions, the root causes of psoriasis aren’t well understood, but researchers believe that both environmental and genetic factors are at play, Dr. Kim says.…and here’s a little eczema 101.Eczema is an umbrella term for a group of skin conditions in which the skin barrier (the outermost protective layer) is damaged, leading to itchy, dry, and inflamed skin, per the AAD. Eczema is broadly referred to as atopic dermatitis, the most common form of the condition, but there are various types of eczema that have different triggers. An eczema rash can look and feel different from person to person but may include small raised bumps, dry or cracked skin, itchiness, and oozing or crusting, among other symptoms that generally signal irritation. “Intense itch is a hallmark of eczema,” Dr. Kim notes. “Because of the itch, patients often suffer from a persistent itch-scratch cycle that can lead to thickening of skin and scratches that render the skin prone to superficial skin infections.”

What Is Your Skin Barrier and How Do You Repair It?

What Is Your Skin Barrier and How Do You Repair It?

Here’s a little riddle for ya: What has more than 1.7 billion (yes, with a “b”) views on TikTok, plays a role in conditions ranging from acne to eczema, and is currently all the rage when it comes to skin care products? If you guessed the skin barrier—congratulations, you are correct.Unlike some other trending skin care topics, the skin barrier is a very real thing, and one that plays an integral role in healthy skin function, according to the experts SELF spoke with. We’ll get to the specifics in a moment, but the skin barrier is well, exactly what it sounds like—a protective layer that’s responsible for keeping the good stuff in and the bad stuff out.A variety of factors can take a toll on this skin shield of sorts—it’s why #skinbarrierrepair videos are also racking up millions and millions of views on TikTok and allegedly barrier-repairing products are all over the place. Here, top dermatologists explain exactly why you should care about the skin barrier and how to tell if yours needs a little extra TLC.What is your skin barrier, anyway?“In the simplest terms, it’s the skin’s protective layer,” Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine, tells SELF. “Our skin is what protects our body, and the skin barrier is what protects the skin.” Technically speaking, this protective layer is called the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis.1To get a better sense of how the stratum corneum functions, it might be helpful to picture a brick wall: “The ‘bricks’ are cells called corneocytes, which are held together by the ‘mortar,’ a mix of lipids including fatty acids, cholesterol, and ceramides,” Robyn Gmyrek, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Derm in New York City, tells SELF. This “brick wall” creates a barrier that prevents harmful bacteria, chemicals, irritants, and allergens from getting into the skin, while simultaneously locking in necessary hydration, Dr. Gmyrek explains.What kinds of things can affect the skin barrier?Really, the question should be what doesn’t affect it. A bunch of internal and external factors can damage or weaken the stratum corneum, according to the dermatologists we talked to. For example, some people are naturally deficient in filaggrin, a protein that strengthens the skin barrier, making them more predisposed to dryness and irritation, Dr. Gohara says.2 (More on other signs that your skin barrier isn’t in great shape in a sec.) Externally, many grooming and skin care routines can also change and damage it, such as using harsh soaps, over-exfoliating, taking extra-hot showers, and waxing, she adds. “Environmental factors can also weaken the skin barrier, including low humidity and dramatic temperature changes,” Naana Boakye, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Bergen Dermatology in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, tells SELF.3 All of the above can alter and deplete those aforementioned lipids, that “mortar” in between the cells. Essentially, that brick wall that was once solid can start to develop cracks and crevices.

5 People Share the Emotional Side of Living With Severe Eczema

5 People Share the Emotional Side of Living With Severe Eczema

Whether you’ve experienced it or know someone who has, chances are you’ve heard of eczema, a group of disorders that can cause painfully dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. That’s because eczema is extremely common—an estimated 10% of people in the US are impacted by some form of it.Those who have suffered through severe eczema know that living with the condition can go well beyond the physical side of things. Dealing with unrelenting eczema—the constant pain, the anger at your own body, the stress of trying treatment after treatment, and, ultimately, the stigma tied to visible skin symptoms—is often accompanied by an emotional burden that can trigger the development of anxiety and depression.1To shed light on what this can really feel like, SELF asked five people to share the emotional side of living with severe eczema—and how they’ve been able to relieve it on some level, even if they’re still working on finding a treatment plan that works for them.“When it was at its worst, it was incredibly hard for me to deal with the anxious feelings.”Pam Moore, 43, experienced severe eczema from when she was a toddler until she was in her 30s. If her eczema was acting up in places that were more visible, such as her upper lip, it made her feel a swirl of embarrassment and shame. (She hasn’t experienced an eczema flare in a while and partially credits moving to a cooler, drier climate.)“When it was at its worst, it was incredibly hard for me to deal with the anxious feelings it would bring up, wondering what other people thought, if it looked like something was really wrong with me, and if I just looked gross,” Moore tells SELF.The emotional stress Moore experienced as a result of her eczema symptoms also trickled into other aspects of her life, such as being physically active, which Moore, who is also a certified personal trainer, is especially passionate about.“Once I was driving to the trailhead to do my long run when I was training for a marathon in my 20s and was so excited to run in new, beautiful scenery. But I remember [feeling so anxious and] distracted because the eczema on the backs of my knees was itching so badly and the heat and the sweat were making it worse.”To help her get through the feelings of self-consciousness, Moore has tapped into coping tools she has learned in therapy over the years. “One thing I try to remember any time I’m self-conscious of anything related to my appearance is that whatever I’m worried about is absolutely not the most important thing about me,” she says. “I can have the thought ‘I wish X,Y,Z thing about my appearance were different and now I’m moving on’ or ‘I wish X,Y,Z thing about my appearance were different and I’m not focusing on that right now because I am so much more than that one thing about my appearance.’”“It’s never fun to rearrange my schedule at the last minute for this.”For Amy Gorin, 40, who was diagnosed with eczema as an infant, her severe eczema has made certain aspects of life that would normally be fun and carefree actually quite stressful.

PHP Code Snippets Powered By : XYZScripts.com