Many of us have probably been prescribed some type of steroids at some point in our lives but are we aware of their possible detriment to our wellbeing?
Ok, so sometimes they may be necessary and for some they do work BUT when it comes to the crunch, for many people they come with side effects and, for those who may appreciate their efficacy, this is for the majority only a short term gain as their continued use tends to throw up a fresh set of problems or even exacerbate the original issue that they were prescribed for.
Not to mention that we know from our chats with you lovely followers that you would much rather plump for a natural, harsh chemical free solution to any skincare frustration. An extremely common dermal challenge amongst our customers is eczema and they are not alone - it’s one of the world’ s most common skin conditions for which steroids, topical and oral, are often prescribed as a treatment.
With this in mind, this month we have decided to dive into the reasons why you are right to consider saying no to steroids and flag up some natural alternatives, so you can rely on more than just calamine lotion, a great anti itcher but which has the tendancy to dry the skin.
We want to bring you natural solutions that can help you or your loved ones manage eczema and - our favourite buzzing part - how, thanks to the bees, we can help you ease eczema with pure, natural, harsh chemical free ingredients.
Don’t just listen to us – read on for real people real results revelations where our lovely customers have come forward to share their stories of how our honey skincare has eased their experience of living with eczema – one lady has even been brave enough to share some before and after pics – thank you Jo!
What is eczema (also know as dermatitis)?
Itching, swelling, irritated skin anyone? Ok, so we know many of you will be familiar (all to familiar in some cases) with this skin challenge, but we thought we would briefly clarify for those of you who may have heard the term ‘eczema’ used without fully realising how it may affect a person’s well being and skin, or for those of you that would like a deeper understanding to help a loved one, friend, or colleague with their eczema journey.
Eczema comes from the Greek meaning ‘to boil over’ (how we can feel on the daily when living with eczema!), and is also known as chronic dermatitis or atopic dermatitis. We don’t know EXACTLY what causes it but The American Academy of Dermatology describes it as, ‘a complex skin condition caused by an interaction between a person’s environment and their genes. People with eczema tend to have an overactive immune system that responds to topical irritants or allergens by producing inflammation.’
This skin challenge affects millions of people across the world and can occur on both the face and various other parts of the body, affecting children and adults.
What does eczema look and feel like?
- bumps on the skin
- extremely dry patches
- scaly skin
- cracking skin
- inflamed skin
- irritated skin
- skin rashes
- most commonly found on hands, knees, face and scalp
- accompanied by feelings of low self esteem and confidence
Is it hereditary?
Yes it can be: research does show that some people with eczema have a mutation of the gene responsible for creating filaggrin, a protein that helps our bodies maintain a healthy protective barrier on the outermost layer of our skin. Without enough of this protein to maintain and build a strong skin barrier, moisture can escape and bacteria, viruses and allergens can infiltrate. This compromised skin barrier can then lead to extremely itchy, dry scaly skin, blisters, skin infections, redness, spots and other symptoms.
What tends to trigger it?
Frustratingly the triggers of eczema can be endless and include:
- hormonal changes – any one experiencing eczema thanks to menopause? Have look at our ‘M’ bundle to offer relief through natural skincare
- certain ingredients (usually those in harsh chemical and fragranced skincare/makeup/household products)
- skin becoming too dry – keep it moisturised as a prevention technique with one of our Dry Skin Care Sets and by maintaining a good skincare routine
- cigarette smoke
- extreme heat
- extreme cold
- dry or humid weather
- non- organic clothing and bedding materials such as polyester
- covid 19
- dust mites
What treatment is there?
If you live with eczema, chances are you are familiar with topical steroids, aka corticosteroids, as they are one of the primary treatments for eczema prone skins.
After all it makes sense doesn’t it – symptoms like redness, irritation and itchy, flaky skin are annoying, painful and you want to stop them as quickly as possible! Cue the strong steroid cream. But, that’s just the problem with topical steroids, they may help short term but they’re hardly a treatment. Instead, ‘steroid creams act as a band aid with a number of side effects that most doctors won’t even mention and can make your rash worse.’ (How Steroid Creams Make Your Skin Rashes Worse (skinterrupt.com))
Hidden Drawbacks to Topical Steroids
As a case in example a lady called Tammy's ezcema journey with steroids was very similar to many others we researched. She tells us: 'Steroid creams (cortisone) were worsening my eczema and wellbeing, because they were addictive. I was addicted to these creams and ointments that were being prescribed to me. So, if I went two days without the cream, the eczema came back because the itchiness and rash were withdrawal effects. All the chemicals and preservatives in the steroid creams also threw my skin microbiome off balance, exacerbating my symptoms.’ (Natural Ways to Cure Eczema – Cultured Guru). Sounds like a viscous circle doesn’t it?
Read on below for more details on 7 adverse effects of steroids:
As Tammy experienced, this is a particularly unpleasant side effect of using a steroid cream. It’s an addictive drug so if you are already using steroid cream be sure to consult with your doctor before you stop and prepare yourself for the skin of a sun weary lizard in the driest dessert. Common reports are of constant itchiness, dryness, rashes and chills. However this will subside and you will notice the drastic improvement in your skin following steroid cessation.
This happens when the epidermis and the dermis of the skin starts to thin as a result of using steroid creams. Skin on affected areas appears and feels noticeably thinner, often with visible spider veining (Common Side Effects of Topical Steroid Use (verywellhealth.com).
Prolonged use of steroid cream on the face (Common Side Effects of Topical Steroid Use (verywellhealth.com) can cause intense facial redness and the formation of pustules (fluid filled bumps). Aren’t these symptoms of eczema that the creams are meant to be helping with?!
Repeated use of steroid creams on the body in areas where skin touches skin can result in stretch marks which are permanent and irreversible even after stopping use of a steroid cream. Oh, and ironically they can be very itchy!
Topical steroids can inhibit the skin’s ability to fight off bacterial and fungal infections, making them spread quicker and manifest as itchier and redder if you pick one up (Common Side Effects of Topical Steroid Use (verywellhealth.com).
There are reports of people developing glaucoma after long-term use of topical steroids around the eye area. It is believed that this is caused by steroid being absorbed into the surrounding tissue and leaching into the eye.
Long term use of steroid creams has been shown to increase risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
So what are the natural alternatives to managing your eczema?
Keep a handle on food allergies or intolerances and cut back on gut inflammatory foods . Keep a food diary and try to cut down or limit sugary, fatty foods and alcohol or fizzy drinks. Try eliminating food groups for several months at a time to see what works – go vegan, try being gluten free or dairy free.
Eat enough gut friendly foods such as miso and olive oil. You could also start taking a daily probiotic supplement to increase your healthy gut flora and, in turn, help your eczema.
Commonly used successfully to help manage eczema are vitamin D, fish oil, zinc, selenium, prebiotics, probiotics, turmeric and CBD. Always check with a healthcare provider before trying a new vitamin or supplement and make sure they’re aware of everything you’re taking or administering to a loved one with eczema.
Traditional Chinese medicine is the ancient wellness practice of bringing all aspects of human health into balance as imbalance is believed to lead to illness or disease. For eczema this can incorporate several treatment options that might include acupuncture, massage techniques like acupressure and cupping.
From China we journey onto India and the practice of Ayurveda which translates from Sanskrit as ‘knowledge of life’ and, like traditional Chinese medicine, also seeks to bring the body into balance through dietary changes, massage, herbs and yoga. Using raw honey for healing is also an Ayurvedic practice.
A known eczema trigger, try techniques that have worked for some such as hypnosis or biofeedback – a technique whereby you learn to control some of your body’s functions, such as your heart rate.
Try a mental exercise that involves concentrating on a particular object, thought or activity in order to ‘train your brain’ to stay focused in the present moment. With no judgement, in order to achieve mental clarity and a state of emotional calmness known to quash the stress and emotional anxiety associated with living with eczema and that constitutes a trigger for flare ups.
Use a natural and pH balanced shampoo and conditioner packed with nature’s plant oils and butters with gentle ingredients and without any harsh chemicals that could strip your hair and irritate your scalp. Have a look at our 100% natural range HERE.
Try applying evening primrose oil topically - it has high levels of linolenic acid and omega-6 fatty acids which help repair the skin's barrier (Get the Facts: Evening Primrose Oil | National Eczema Association). Our Busy Bee face oil contains bountiful quantities of this amazing oil.
Try adding some apple cider vinegar to your bath - it will help rebalance the pH of your skin.
Opt for a topical application of a raw, unfiltered, unpasteurised honey like our Raw Welsh Honey as a solution to ease flare-ups and provide relief.
Fostering a gentle skincare routine with natural ingredients is a must – skin prone to eczema is typically very irritated and dry so it’s vital not to make this worse by using harsh, drying chemical cleansers and skincare products. Have a look at our all natural collection for eczema and psoriasis for nourishing relief for reactive skins.
Listen to Bec introducing you to the range!
Here are some other quick eczema skincare hints!
- Steam your face before moisturising - how about trying green tea leaves steeped in hot water?
- Dry brush eczema patches on the body – try a soft bamboo bristle exfoliating brush
- Use cleansing balms instead of foaming cleansers – have peak at our Senstive Bee creamy cleansing balm HERE.
- Use natural face and body oils for easily absorbed, effective hydration.
- Use natural barrier balms such as our Nurse Bee Balm or Sensitive Bee Balm to lock in moisture and keep dry affected areas nourished which will reduce irritation and chronic itchiness
- Keep the moisture in with our Bathing Bee body oil - apply after bathing to keep any eczema patches happy and hydrated.
- Use a natural honey and beeswax soap for gentle moisturising face and body washing.
- Avoid hot water directly on your skin - boiling hot baths and showers will only serve to further dry out your skin in the long run. Opt for lukewarm water instead for your body and for your face – using hot water on your face will also just exacerbate any dry patches and redness.
- Look for coconut oil in your skincare: this fatty oil has the natural ability to penetrate the skin quickly and effectively which aids hydration, improves skin elasticity and fights the itch. In fact results of a study revealed that when coconut oil was applied topically to the skin for 8 weeks it improved skin hydration for those with ezcema and was proven to reduce the amount of staph bacteria on the skin, thus limiting chance of infection from ezcema. (Complementary Therapies and Eczema | Eczema.org ). We use coconut oil in our daily cleansing balms and our barrier balms. Have a look at our cleansing balms HERE.
- Always be sure to apply SPF!
How our Bees can take the Sting out of Eczema
For those living with eczema we have our very own skin hero to the rescue here at HBB – our multi award winning Nurse Bee Balm! It’s a firm favourite with us here, being one of our earlier formulations and one that still has some of the best performance feedback for solving our lovely customers dry, sore, red, itchy, eczema prone skin. Did you know it is also great for bites, stings and burns – it really is a magical healing pot of goodness from the hive.
As a natural alternative to steroids for managing eczema we and our ‘bee-utiful ladies could not recommend it enough – give it a try and you won’t be disappointed.
What is it though that makes it the perfect salve for eczema we hear you ask? Scroll down to see!
Why will it work for my Ezcema?
The natural ‘secrets’ behind our Nurse Balm’s performance are thanks to our amazing bees as it contains all the magical ingredients from the hive:
Raw Welsh Honey acts as a natural nourishing, antibacterial, antifungal and antispectic moisturiser for ezcema prone skin in our Nurse Bee. It will help keep sore cracked skin free of infection, moist but not oily, and will aid rejuvenation and renewal of depleted skin cells.
Propolis is the magical ‘bee’ glue produced by honeybees as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive so that the colony can control airflow. When a colony is sick, the clever bees will collect extra propolis to fight off infection in their hive. So clever! Propolis is also antiseptic and anti inflammatory – it will calm the skin and has been shown to be effective against fungal, constitutional, atopic and chronic eczema.
Beeswax acts as a humectant in Nurse Bee balm – not only keeping moisture in to ease dry, sore skin but also it attracts moisture from the air into the skin. Perfect for avoiding clogging pores or trapping germs on the top of your skin as it will stop moisture evaporation off the skin (which causes dryness and irritation) whilst still allowing sweat and oil through. Pop a thin layer on your skin at bedtime to let it really work its magic as an overnight treatment!
How do the other ingredients in Nurse Bee help my Eczema?
Sunflower oil boosts the skin’s barrier function and helps dry skin patches retain moisture.
Essential oils known for eczema relief are added into our Nurse Bee balm. Lavender for helping reduce redness, to soothe and calm the skin and to heal rashes. In cohorts with the lovely lavender is pure mandarin essential oil, working as a rejuvenation power house to help replenish and renew dull uneven skin tone whilst offering a citrus antibac and anti inflammatory blast.
Is your skin intolerant to essential oils? Don’t worry, we have you covered with our eczema fighting Sensitive Bee universal balm which contains all the wonders of the hive but is completely free of fragrance and essential oils. Check it out HERE.
Sweet almond oil is an emollient in our Nurse Bee which helps the skin lock in moisture – critical for people with eczema to help relieve and repair flaring skin. Did you know it also contains linoleum acid which plays a direct role in helping maintain skin barrier function which can be easily compromised by eczema?
Shea butter is nature’s plant based moisturiser for ezcema prone skin, will prevent water loss from the first layer of skin as well as penetrating to enrich the deeper layers.
Calendula oil known in herbalist circles as the ‘mother of the skin’ and for your eczema it will help increase collagen and elastin in the skin making it useful in preventing the formation of scar tissue from scratching. It’s a welcome double edged eczema fighting sword too as it will also soothe the itchy skin to help prevent that insatiable need-to- itch - feeling in the first place. Hooray!
Real People Real Results
So now we know why the ingredients making up the magical Nurse Bee (and Sensitive Bee Balm minus the essential oils) work for ezcema prone skin but what about getting a feel for the texture, relief, and feeling of well being it brings to those living with eczema?
Over to our ‘bee-utiful' ladies to tell us more!
Nurse Bee has been ‘a lifesaver’ for Joanne who uses it on her eczema prone skin. She explains:
"Nurse Bee really soothes the area and moisturises flaky dry eczema afflicted areas, which for me are my ankles, lower legs, elbows, wrists and hands. I am thankful for finding Nurse Bee balm and grateful a little goes a long way."
Thank you so very much Joanne for sharing with us – you're a star - and it’s so useful for customers to know that you only need a little for results in this crazy time when we are all trying to look for products which will work hard for us and our pockets.
For Pam Nurse Bee, ‘effectively deals with eczema at the very first sign.’ But what really made us smile even more is when she said that her two lovely dogs think it’s ‘scrummy yummy’ to lick off her ankle!
So happy that Nurse Bee can help Pam’s skin without worrying that any chemicals would be harming her Briards (who obviously also have great taste!) Thank you Pam and doggies!
‘Bee-utiful’ Karon chatted to us about how Nurse Bee ‘has been an absolute wonder’ for her, her daughter’s and her two year old granddaughter’s eczema flare-ups. She says ‘it’s a jar of magic’ for the whole family and even helps her son who is a welder with his heat irritated skin.
So fab to hear Karon – thank you so much for sharing with us lovely.
For Beccie Nurse Bee is the perfect natural alternative to soothe her eczema: "doctors kept giving me steroid cream and saying there was nothing they could do but this didn’t seem good for my skin in the long run. So I decided to try this product and I’m so glad that I did!" Beccie tells us it’s a lovely alternative to prescribed creams and keeps the itching at bay and helps soothe her skin when flare ups happen.
Thank you so much for sharing the ‘bee’ love Beccie!
The lovely Gloria ordered our Nurse Bee for her husband who had been going through a rather painful and upsetting time - having been diagnosed with diabetes, he had developed sores to his facial skin and scalp which had oozing centres turning into itchy and sore scabs.
Gloria explains that he was using a designated eczema cream to treat them but it was simply not working. He started to apply Nurse Bee balm instead, three times a day, then twice a day a few days later and within a week or so his face was already clear with a just a few sores retreating rapidly on his scalp.
Gloria says, ‘there is nothing else out there like this and thank you to the honey bees for this magnificent natural cure, managed so well by HoneyBeeBeautiful. My husband is a different man, I cannot tell you how upsetting and painful it was for him. What a relief not to have to worry about it any more, knowing I will have the universal Nurse Bee balm to hand.'
Thank you to Gloria and her husband – we are so happy Nurse Bee has helped you both, at the end of the day it really is why we do what we do :)
Jo was so very pleased with her results from Nurse Bee balm that solved her sore dry flare ups that she got in touch with us to share some pictures of her before and after - this is after just one day of application! Big thank you Jo!
More Real Life Inspiration
Living with eczema can be crushing on our self esteem and mental well being, for inspiration, help and advice we picked out these Instagram accounts worth a follow:
@eczemapodcast (6 years of interviewing experts on how to heal eczema)
Over to you….
We really do love to help people so if you have any queries or stories to share about your eczema experience or any other skin matters please please do get in touch and see how we can help or spread the ‘bee’ love onwards.
We would be delighted to receive any photos of your skin before or after using our products or, embracing the summer spirit, perhaps a snap of the HBB products you take on your summer hols – we would love to see some weird and wonderful snaps of your honey goodies in different locations around the country (or world!)
Now all that’s left to do is say another big thank you to our lovely customers for helping us with this blog and a huge ‘we love you’ to the bees for enabling our Nurse Bee Balm to shine its magic on any skin challenge we face – especially eczema.
Much love for a sunny, peaceful month ahead,
Cath, Bec & the Bees