Although it’s still winter, the warm spring is just around the corner, and many people eagerly anticipate the transition between these two seasons.
However, for some, this season brings both love and hate. Why? Because it signifies the onset of a season when eczema tends to flare up!
Being unwell in a foreign land is already challenging, and now you have to schedule an appointment (RDV) without knowing when it will be. When seeing a doctor, you must articulate your symptoms in French, fearing that the doctor may not fully understand your condition.
This is especially true for eczema, a seemingly minor ailment.
Eczema, also known as “eczéma” or “la dermatite atopique” in French, is a common inflammatory skin disease affecting the epidermis and superficial dermis. Seasonal eczema often occurs during the transition from spring to summer or autumn to winter, making its presence more prominent during these times. In dermatological consultations in France, up to 30% of the cases annually are related to skin eczema(sources from therapeutique-dermatologique.org).
The main characteristics of eczema are persistent and recurrent redness, swelling, itching, and dry skin. It is often accompanied by crusting, peeling, blistering, cracking, and even bleeding.
Itching, in particular, significantly affects people’s normal lives when it flares up. The intense itching can disturb sleep, causing individuals to unknowingly scratch their skin even in the middle of the night. Therefore, timely protection and treatment are essential!
To prevent and treat eczema, it is crucial to understand its nature and address it accordingly. The characteristics of eczema may vary slightly for different age groups.
Characteristics of Infant Eczema: Infant skin is more fragile than adult skin when dealing with the external environment. Eczema can start to appear as early as a few weeks after birth, characterized by dry, red, and swollen skin, often occurring on the forehead, cheeks, chin, or thighs. Itchy sensations can make it difficult for babies to sleep.
Characteristics of Childhood Eczema: In children over two years old, eczema is characterized by dry, red, and scaly skin. Attention should be paid to skin folds, such as elbows, knees, the back of the ears, wrists, ankles, and hands.
Characteristics of Adult Eczema: In adults, eczema looks very similar, but it can affect various body areas, including the neck, head, shoulders, and chest.
Characteristics of Elderly Eczema: With aging and skin aging, the elderly’s skin becomes more sensitive. The symptoms of eczema in the elderly are similar to those in younger individuals but may cause more severe damage.
Eczema can occur at any age, and research suggests that it may be caused by allergies or through chronic or acute episodes. Regardless of direct or indirect exposure to this condition, it is essential to gain a better understanding of its manifestations.
Acute Eczema Acute eczema has four main stages:
- Affected areas covered with red and swollen vesicles.
- Clearly defined light red and bright red patches appear.
- Vesicles release exudate.
- Scabs fall off, leaving behind pink scars.
This type of eczema is usually a reaction caused by intolerance to a specific substance or due to psychological changes, environmental factors, skin infections, or inappropriate clothing. Secondary infections are possible in such cases, requiring prompt treatment.
Chronic Eczema Chronic eczema manifests in three main forms: dry skin at the affected area, skin covered with red and hard plaques, and scales adhering to the affected area. The skin becomes wrinkled and thickened, and ruptured vesicles may invade nearby areas, commonly seen on the sides of the fingers. This type of eczema most commonly affects individuals with a family history of allergies.
Contact Dermatitis Eczema caused by sensitivity to external allergens can result in a long list of potential sensitivities and types. Even products used for several years may eventually trigger contact dermatitis, which is best diagnosed through patch testing by a dermatologist.
However, unless it is an emergency, people usually do not seek specific treatment from a doctor. Currently, there is no cure for eczema. Therefore, routine interventions mainly focus on reducing inflammation and alleviating discomfort caused by eczema.
In France, with or without a doctor’s prescription, what products can we buy to treat eczema?
- Locoïd Cream – La crème Locoïd
Locoïd Cream is a prescription medication listed under Category II. It cannot be dispensed without a prescription from a dermatologist or an approved online pharmacy. The recommended approach is to consult a dermatologist for allergy assessment.
- Cortisone-Based Cream (Hormonal Cream)
To effectively treat eczema, pharmacists may suggest the use of cortisone or topical corticosteroid creams. These creams, highlighting anti-inflammatory properties, can relieve inflammation and alleviate symptoms of itching, swelling, and exudation.
⚠️ It is not recommended to use such creams on the face without a doctor’s permission. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as infants, should avoid use or consult a prescribing physician(quotes from therapeutique-dermatologique.org).
In severe cases, doctors may also administer these medications through injection or short-term oral therapy.
- Plant-Based Creams
Creams containing plant ceramides have good moisturizing and skin-protective effects. However, they should not be used on open wounds.
- Vaseline Cream
Vaseline cream, available without a prescription in pharmacies, is commonly used for treating and preventing eczema. It is a potent moisturizer for dry or irritated skin, preventing dehydration, dryness, and repairing scaly skin.
While the most effective treatment is the localized use of corticosteroid hormones, it is advisable to avoid using hormonal drugs if the moisturizing effect is sufficient. If severe itching occurs, cautious consideration of antihistamine drugs may be taken.
For over-the-counter creams, individuals can visit pharmacies to make their purchases. Since different pharmacies may carry different brands of creams, here are some keywords to help inquire or purchase eczema-relief creams in the future.
- Soothing Repair Cream (Crème réparatrice apaisante)
Soothing repair creams can relieve and cleanse the epidermis, equipped with moisturizing active ingredients to provide long-lasting relief.
- Lipid Replenishing Cream (Crème relibidante)
Lipid-replenishing creams are used for very dry skin, especially for skin prone to atopic eczema and itching.
- Epidermal Repair Activator (Activateur de la réparation épidermique)
An activator for skin repair, usually containing shea butter, borage oil, and aloe vera, can strongly repair damaged skin due to dryness, dehydration, or external aggressions.
- Anti-Scales Cream (Crème anti-squames)
Anti-scales creams can soothe and purify the skin, relieving symptoms of redness and scaling.
Of course, the article showcases only a portion of eczema-relief products, but many well-known brands offer relevant products, such as La Roche-Posay, Uriage, SVR, and more. You can also explore online stores.
Although spring is not here yet, once eczema flares up, it may last for a long time and leave difficult-to-heal scars. With temperatures gradually rising and the season for showing skin approaching, don’t let eczema affect your sunny day outings! ☀️