This section is about getting the most from your emollient. Creams, lotions and ointments can help keep skin protected and hydrated. For best results, use them to wash with and as a leave-on moisturiser. Experts agree that ongoing daily application of emollients will help treat and prevent further irritation to sensitive skin. Give the following ideas a go and hopefully you’ll notice a positive difference.
Stop using soaps
Foaming agents like soap and shower gel can contribute to further damage to the skin due to the presence of ingredients like fragrances. Using an emollient to wash with will work just as well to cleanse your skin and keep moisture locked in. Using an emollient instead of soap is key to improving dry skin – try it and see how your skin feels. Also try carrying a small amount of emollient with you for hand washing when you’re out and about, to avoid soap dispensers. Some emollients come in handy 50ml pump packs, perfect for use on the go.
Step up your use of emollients
Many of us underestimate the quantity and frequency of emollient applications we may need. The British Association of Dermatologists advises that adults requiring emollients for their whole body should be using 500g of emollient per week, equivalent to one large tub or pump-dispenser of emollient. So, if required, apply your emollient more liberally for a week and see how your skin feels.
Apply using downward strokes
When applying your emollient, follow the direction of hair growth with long, downward strokes to prevent aggravating the hair follicles and causing further irritation. Avoid rubbing the skin as this will lead to itching and potentially trigger the itch-scratch-itch cycle, and may cause your hair follicles to become blocked, resulting in further irritation.
Apply regularly and daily
If you don’t already, then apply your emollient at least twice a day to keep your skin hydrated and protected. It might be tempting to stop when your skin feels better, but stop-start cycles only increase the likelihood of making the condition of your skin worse over time. Where possible, three or four applications over 24 hours will be even more effective at preventing your skin from drying out during the day.
“Some people may feel an emollient isn’t making much of a difference, but very often it’s simply that they’re not using enough, or not using it regularly enough. I always urge people to stick to regular, liberal applications to make the most of their emollient.” Dr Brian Malcolm, GP specialising in Dermatology
“I tried all four of these actions. For the first few days, I didn’t notice much of a difference but then after that the redness and inflammation really started to settle down. Now I find there is next to no itching!” Summer McGregor