Interview transcription:

We interviewed Dr Penelope Pratsou to learn about the prevention of eczema.

How can you prevent eczema or at the very least prevent flare-ups from eczema?

Penelope Pratsou: It’s quite difficult to prevent eczema altogether in the vast majority of cases because it can be a genetic predisposition that we call atopy. If you’ve got eczema, it’s also common to have asthma and hay fever.

However, several things can result in a flare-up of eczema, and those are things that you can certainly avoid. These include things like irritants in your environment, lots of contact with water such as over-washing, or using lots of harsh soaps. I would always advise someone with eczema to avoid soaps altogether.

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Should you avoid products that remove oil from the skin?

Penelope Pratsou: Yes. You should avoid Anything that introduces irritation. Anything that lathers up is not great for your skin. I say that things that bubble are trouble. That’s a very, very important thing to avoid.

In addition to that, it’s essential to avoid certain types of fabrics. You should only have materials like cotton next to your skin rather than wool.

A cold, dry climate is also not great for your skin. That’s more difficult to avoid in the UK, but it’s important to be aware of.

People with eczema do tend to be more prone to contact allergies. By this, I mean things in your environment that you come into contact with. It is more difficult to know if you are allergic to something, but there are tests that we can do if I have a suspicion that you are allergic to a specific thing.

If you notice that you have any of the symptoms or conditions that we’ve just discussed, we invite you to book a consultation with Dr Penelope Pratsou. She’ll be able to assess your situation and give you a personalised treatment plan.

About the author

Dr Penelope Pratsou | Consultant Dermatologist

MBChB, MRCP (UK) (Dermatology)

I’m Dr Penelope Pratsou, a skilled independent Consultant Dermatologist based in Berkshire. I have specialist expertise in the diagnosis and management of all skin cancers, and in performing mole checks. I’m a trained skin surgeon and remove skin cancers, moles, skin tags, cysts and warts.

I also have invaluable experience in dealing with all skin conditions, from the common skin complaints of acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis, to the rarer and more complex skin problems, having seen it all through years of NHS work.

After I obtained my Membership to the Royal College of Physicians, I undertook rigorous specialist training in dermatology, before being appointed as a Consultant Dermatologist at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading. There, I helped set up and lead a busy clinic for the diagnosis and treatment of suspected skin cancer. I was also actively involved in supervising and training both dermatology and GP trainees.

Alongside my increasingly busy private practice, I have maintained an NHS practice in Oxford in order to continue to engage with challenging cases and to develop my specialist interest in skin allergy.