Those who have sensitive, eczema-prone skin will tell you just how unpredictable things can be. You simply never know which bodycare product will trigger a reaction and send you off in waves of unbearable itchiness.
To make matters worse, external aggressors such as heat, pollution, UV damage, as well as stress can cause redness and dry, scaly patches. Securing an appointment at the dermatologist’s on the same day can be difficult too, and it can prolong the immense discomfort.
If you’re itching at your skin this very minute or slathering on a steroid cream, fret not. You’re not alone on this journey, and there are still viable ways to manage sensitive, eczema-prone skin.
Ahead, I invited two other Daily Vanity team members to share the struggles they’ve faced as well as their top tips on how to soothe the itch and dryness.
How having sensitive, eczema-prone skin affects our daily life
“Since my teens, I’ve been plagued with a combination of eczema and hives. Rashes, dry and flaky patches, red flare-ups – you name it, I’ve had it.
If I’ve used a heavily fragranced product or if I’m feeling really stressed out, an extreme itch will be conjured. It’s almost like a dormant volcano – peaceful for a few days, weeks, months, then all of a sudden it erupts, and all I can do is hope that it doesn’t cause too much damage.”
“In fact, 2021 kicked off with full-body hives that sent me straight to the A&E. The doctors weren’t able to figure out what caused it, but they gave me three injections and sent me home with a few weeks’ worth of antihistamines.
The first couple of days were the worst – I couldn’t sleep on my back or on my sides due to the itch, pain, and swelling from the hives. I woke up and found bloodstains on my sheets from the wounds on my legs too. That was a particularly traumatising experience.
While my skin has healed from the incident, my sensitive skin still affects my daily interactions. When people cut me off in the middle of a conversation to ask about my red, scaly patches, it makes me want to leave and hide.
A stranger I shared an elevator with even asked me if I was contagious. It only made me feel more embarrassed and self-conscious. After that particular incident years ago, I started covering up with long-sleeved shirts and lightweight outerwear pieces, afraid of a new wave of flare-ups.”
“My skin is quite sensitive to temperature and dries out quickly when I’m in an air-conditioned environment. Unfortunately, Singapore is way too hot and humid without resorting to air-conditioning from time to time, so my skin ultimately pays the price. It’ll start to get itchy and my skin will become red and even start to feel rougher.”
“My eczema has led to discolouration and darker patches on my legs, which has made me feel quite self-conscious about showing them. Sometimes, my legs would look dry and scaly no matter how much moisturiser I apply. I would have to constantly slather it on but my skin would start to dry out again.
When I was in polytechnic, I started carrying a small tub of body butter with me to class so I could moisturise my skin with it whenever my eczema started acting up. My friends would laugh at me when I opened the tub to apply the moisturiser on my skin. It became something my classmates knew me for, and it made me feel embarrassed.”
“My skin is particularly sensitive to fragranced body soaps, hand washes, as well as seafood. I get red, itchy patches, and thick, rough skin when met with those triggers.
As my eczema appears on my hands, they look at least 30 years older than my actual age. People often comment on how dry my hands look too. There were a couple of occasions I appeared on camera for videos that went up on social media, and all I could think of was how my hands would look on camera.”
“I have considered using hand masks, but those have irritating ingredients that could also trigger my eczema. Living with eczema-prone skin has also been inconvenient at times, especially now when we’re sanitising our hands more than ever – even that could sometimes hurt due to the high content of alcohol present in hand sanitisers.
This definitely triggers my stress level, which causes me to scratch more in return. It causes a domino effect and triggers even more flare-ups. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s daunting to know this is something I have to live with permanently.”
How we manage our sensitive, eczema-prone skin
Jade: Respect the skin barrier and avoid triggers
“Over the years, I’ve been offered plenty of unsolicited advice and solutions for my skin condition, which have brought about some adverse effects. While a handful of them hold merit, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.
However, the thing that has worked for me is using fragrance-free, colour-free products that soothe, hydrate, and strengthen my skin barrier, like QV Gentle Wash and QV Cream.
QV Gentle Wash has been my go-to body wash for about three years now, ever since it was recommended to me by someone who also has eczema-prone skin. I decided to make the switch since most body cleansers leave my skin feeling taut and dry.
Infused with 15% hydrating glycerin, it has a creamy consistency that nourishes and cleanses my skin at the same time, and it never leaves my skin feeling dry or tight after rinsing. This was also what helped heal my skin when I experienced full-body hives earlier this year.
QV Cream, on the other hand, is a new product that I tried recently. I expected a heavy cream upon cracking the tub open, but it actually felt really lightweight as I applied it on my skin. It sinks in fast without leaving a greasy, sticky residue – something all of us who live in sunny Singapore would appreciate.
It’s fragrance-free, colourant-free, and doesn’t contain common irritants, so my sensitive skin could breathe. It also provides lasting moisture of up to 24 hours, so I don’t have to keep reapplying throughout the day.”
“After using these products for a month, I literally feel more comfortable in my own skin. My skin doesn’t appear as flushed or irritated as it used to. Red blotches on my body used to stand out starkly on my chest and arms, but after using the two products for a month, they’ve been significantly reduced.
My confidence and self-esteem definitely received a much-needed boost. I don’t have to cover up my limbs as much now, and I don’t feel as self-conscious around others.
Managing flare-ups has been a breeze since I added the QV Cream to my body care routine. With continued use, it has calmed my skin and stopped me from constant scratching. I’m so glad to have discovered QV thanks to a fellow eczema sufferer.
Besides using topical products, I always try to keep myself calm. When I get really anxious, my skin flares up, and I get even more anxious about it, so taking care of my mental and emotional state is really helpful. I try my best to seek shade instead of walk in the sweltering heat as that can trigger flare-ups too.”
Mia: Always keep your skin moisturised
“Before I tried the QV Gentle Wash, I actually had a red inflamed patch on my forearm from an eczema flare-up and was quite apprehensive about using the body wash because I expected it to sting. I also expected my skin to feel dry and tight after, but instead, it gently soothed the area and left it feeling nourished and smooth.”
“As someone who has dry, sensitive skin, QV Cream was great for easing eczema flare-ups and itching with continued use. The cream spreads easily on the skin and absorbs quickly without leaving any streaky lines or greasy residue.
The fragrance-free cream boasts five moisturising ingredients to soothe eczema-prone skin, including squalane – a natural component that’s found in the skin’s sebum. Ingredients like fragrance and colourants may trigger skin irritation, which is why this pH-balanced formula is free of fragrance, colourants, lanolin, and propylene glycol.
A little bit goes a long way, and just one application can last for hours unlike other body moisturisers I’ve tried. I first used the cream when I was a little kid, but I’m not sure why I ever stopped using it in my teens – I can’t be without it now.”
“My experience with the two QV products has been a huge confidence booster. I can actually see a difference in the eczema patches on my arms and calves. The discolouration and rough texture were very obvious, but now they’ve actually started to fade.
I feel much more confident now about the appearance of my legs and I’m definitely less anxious about wearing shorts, which makes me feel good. After all, I do have nice legs that deserve to be shown off!”
Elizabeth: Maintain a proper diet and use the right products
“While there isn’t a cure for eczema, I’ve kept it under control with a proper diet and using the right products. I was introduced to QV’s skincare products in 2012 by my dermatologist and they’ve really helped to manage the eczema symptoms.”
“The QV Gentle Wash is indeed gentle, and most importantly, it doesn’t leave my skin dry after a shower. It has a slight foamy texture that produces a creamy lather, unlike other dermatological body washes I’ve tried.
Though I enjoy hot showers (I know it’s a huge no-no), QV Gentle Wash always keeps my skin’s moisture levels balanced. It doesn’t strip away my skin’s natural oils, and it seems to rehydrate my skin with every wash too.
This time, I got a chance to try out QV Cream too. After a month, my skin feels a lot calmer and I like that it doesn’t leave a greasy residue on my skin. Throughout the day, I’ll use it on drier areas, mostly on my hands and legs.
My hands don’t look as red and I don’t experience as many flare-ups now, which is an amazing confidence booster. They look a little younger and smoother too, so I’m definitely going to continue using the QV products to moisturise my skin and ease the itch.”
Choosing the right skincare range for our skin type & condition
The first step to managing sensitive, eczema-prone skin is to understand your skin a little better, just like how we started out. Knowing your triggers, seeking advice from a dermatologist, and reading up more on the skin condition can help immensely.
By doing so, we discovered QV Gentle Wash and QV Cream, which helped us end our search for suitable products. QV comes highly recommended by dermatologists, so it’s no surprise that it’s the number one brand in Singapore hospitals*.
QV Gentle Wash is pH-balanced and doesn’t contain soap, colour, fragrance, and other common irritants, so having less may be better. It also contains 15% glycerin, which helps to rehydrate your skin with every wash.
After showering, reach for QV Cream. It’s packed with five nourishing ingredients that help relieve the itch caused by dryness as it moisturises the skin. Likewise, it’s free of fragrance, colour, and other common irritants, which makes it suitable for those with dry, sensitive, or eczema-prone skin.
If you’re feeling frustrated and helpless, you’re not alone. Here’s how Priscelia, Ursula, and Edwin learned to manage dry, sensitive, eczema-prone skin. Click on the videos to watch.
Priscelia, Mediacorp Artiste
When Priscelia was found to have eczema-prone skin in the middle of her busy work schedule, she felt like she had lost everything. Ever since she discovered the QV Gentle Wash and QV Cream, her skin has stayed more moisturised and hydrated than ever before. She loves how non-greasy and comfortable the QV Cream feels on her skin.
Ursula, Founder of Eczema Support Group Singapore
Waking up and seeing her bed covered in skin flakes left Ursula Soh demoralised and sad. Living with such discomfort can be an emotional struggle. By knowing which skincare products to use and how to take care of herself, however, Ursula kept her skin hydrated and moisturised throughout the day.
Since she discovered QV, her skin has never felt more moisturised and hydrated. Her skin absorbs QV Cream well and doesn’t get as irritated when she experiences flare-ups.
Click here to learn more about Ursula’s journey.
Edwin, Eczema-Prone Skin Warrior
After years of suffering with eczema-prone skin, life turned around for Edwin when he decided to understand his skin better.
He uses gentle skincare products like the soap-free QV Gentle Wash, which is free of fragrance, colourants, and other common irritants. Plus, it even hydrates his skin during showers. He applies QV Cream regularly to moisturise his skin as well as help prevent itching and flaking caused by dryness.
Try the products today and see the visible difference yourself.
Even better, you can take S$5 off your order** when you shop on QV’s Lazada store. Click here to redeem the promotion.
QV Gentle Wash retails for S$21 (500g) S$33.50 (1kg) and QV Cream retails for S$38.30 (500g) and S$65.70 (1kg) at leading pharmacies, supermarkets, and online at Shopee and Lazada. View the full list of retailers here.
*IQVIA NSA for D02 Emollients & Protective Market, Hospital channel, MAT Mar 2020 – Sales Values
**Terms & Conditions apply
This article is brought to you by QV.
Featured image credit: Engin Akyurt/Pexels