If you live with a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, you might flinch at the very thought of going to a spa. While it’s true that some treatments could trigger a reaction, the good news is that a tailored spa treatment could actually be beneficial for your skin. In this article, we take a look at eczema and psoriasis in more detail and at some spa treatments that anyone suffering from these skin conditions might enjoy.
Eczema and psoriasis are both skin conditions that can occur anywhere on the body. The main symptoms are patches of itching and redness. Neither condition is contagious and both can be treated with topical creams and other medications.
While eczema and psoriasis have similar symptoms, there are some key differences.
Eczema is caused by a hypersensitivity reaction. It is most common in babies and young children, with many people outgrowing eczema by the time they reach early adulthood. Eczema can flare up anywhere on the body, including the face and hands, but often affects areas close to joints, such as behind the knees and on the wrists. Certain triggers, such as soaps, fabrics and allergens, can cause a flare-up.
Psoriasis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune condition that causes an overproduction of skin cells. This leads to patches of white, raised scaly skin which can become inflamed. Common areas on the body that can be affected include the face, neck and scalp, as well as the hands, elbows and knees. Psoriasis is most likely to occur from mid-teenage onwards. As well as itching, psoriasis might also cause the skin to burn and sting.
If you experience symptoms of eczema or psoriasis, it is important that you seek medical advice. There are treatments available that can offer relief from the symptoms. It is also important to avoid anything that could aggravate your condition.
When it comes to the spa, there are some treatments that could soothe and potentially improve your condition. As stress is one of the potential triggers for flare-ups, a relaxing spa day might also help to control your symptoms.
In particular, any treatments involving minerals and mud can be beneficial for problem skin. Also, don’t rule out a massage. Some of the carrier oils and essential oils can really help to soothe psoriasis. However, it is important to tell the therapist beforehand, so they can select massage oils that will improve, not irritate, any areas of sore skin. There’s no definitive ‘safe’ list of essential oils. However, bergamot, clary sage, tea tree, lavender, chamomile, geranium, and rose are a few potentially calming and soothing oils to use in a treatment. Shea butter is also often used in massage treatments for those with dry and inflamed skin.
It’s a good idea to pop in for a patch test a couple of weeks before your spa day, to see how your skin reacts to the products. Most spas offer personalised, tailored treatments, so your therapist can adapt the treatment to accommodate your condition. If you’re really uncertain how your skin will react to the spa’s products, bring your own tried and tested products.
If you fancy a swim, be aware that chlorinated pool water has the potential to aggravate eczema symptoms. However, many people with the condition experience no adverse effects at all. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that the very diluted levels of chlorine used in swimming pools can help to kill bacteria that cause eczema or psoriasis flare-ups.
Before heading poolside, rinse yourself in the shower and apply your usual emollient or moisturiser, to give your skin a protective barrier, paying particular attention to any flare ups or bad patches of skin. The National Eczema Society recommends applying more than you usually would before entering the pool, especially on severe patches.
For home use, some people with skin conditions swear by Dead Sea minerals and mud. Two popular ranges are the Finders Dead Sea Spa Magik range and the Moor Spa range. The Finders range includes the Dead Sea Spa Magik Skin Softener, which is designed for those with eczema or psoriasis. Another good product is Moor Spa herbal bath liquid. This is black in colour and looks rather muddy. However, it is fragrance-free and won’t stain the bathmat! It leaves skin feeling soft and rehydrated. Again, it’s always a good idea to test a new product on a small patch of skin first to ensure it won’t cause a reaction.
If you’re searching for a luxurious spa treatment which won’t irritate your eczema or psoriasis, the Thalgo range of products may be a good option for you. They contain natural marine ingredients and are marketed as being good for skin conditions. For example, a Thalgo algae wrap is a soothing treatment which is packed with skin-nourishing minerals and also helps to relieve aches and pains.
Thalgo treatments are available at Grayshott Hall in Surrey, and Old Thorns Golf & Country Estate. The products are also available to buy online and at some salons and spas. Just one word of caution, though – the algae treatments are made with seaweed, so while you’ll come out with gorgeously glowing skin, don’t expect exotic scents! Think more Bognor beach on a warm day…
The spa treatments you should avoid will depend on the severity of your eczema or psoriasis, the parts of your body which are affected and the factors that could trigger a flare-up. As a general rule, body scrubs are probably best avoided, as they could irritate the skin. Likewise, hot tubs are likely to exacerbate your symptoms as they have a drying, aggravating effect on the skin. It’s also a good idea to give steam rooms and saunas a miss. Getting hot and sweaty can contribute to the skin becoming very itchy and inflamed.
When your spa day comes to an end, be sure to wash off any chlorine or sweat that might be sitting on your skin. Then layer up with your usual moisturiser to keep your skin protected and nourished.