5 Gentle Facial Tips for Clients with Eczema

During the winter months, it’s common for spas to see an influx of clients complaining of dry skin. Harsh weather and low humidity levels can leech the skin of essential moisture, leaving it itchy, flaky, and dehydrated. In some cases, however, itchy dry skin has nothing to do with the changing seasons.

Atopic dermatitis or eczema is a chronic skin condition characterized by dry, red, and itchy skin. An estimated 15% to 20% of the American population experience eczema or other forms of dermatitis at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, there is no cure but that doesn’t mean it can’t be managed.

Regular facials to gently exfoliate, repair, and rehydrate the skin can go a long way in managing chronic eczema. As a spa owner, it’s important to make sure your staff understand the condition and how to adjust facial treatments to minimize reactivity and maximize results.

What Estheticians Need to Know About Eczema

The first and most important thing to understand about eczema is that it is a medical condition. Estheticians are not trained or licensed to make medical diagnoses, so clients should always be referred to a physician for a diagnosis and first-line treatment recommendations.

For clients who have already obtained a diagnosis and are undergoing treatment for eczema, there are plenty of ways a professional facial can help. Before administering any kind of treatment, however, it’s essential to ask questions. Eczema affects people in different ways and your client may know exactly what triggers a reaction, or they might not. Some doctors recommend eczema patients keep a skin diary to track their triggers – if your client has one, you might recommend they bring it with them.

Whether you have information about your client’s specific triggers or not, it’s important to avoid harsh products that might irritate, damage, or further dry out the skin. Harsh, daily scrubs should be avoided and if you use chemical exfoliators, start with the gentlest option to see how the client’s skin responds.

Gentle Facial Treatment Tips for Clients with Eczema

 

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Some of the biggest issues for clients with eczema are itching, dryness, and redness. Household irritants, certain skincare and cosmetic products, and environmental allergens can trigger a flare-up. Itching is often the first symptom of a flare-up and scratching the itch often leads to inflammation. That inflammation then turns into a rash and further itching, continuing the cycle.

The goal of a professional facial for eczema is to soothe itching and irritation while reducing redness and restoring hydration to better protect the skin from future flare-ups.

Here are some simple tips to administer a gentle facial for clients with eczema:

  1. Start with a gentle cleanse. Any facial treatment should start with a cleanse, but it’s important to choose a gentle cleanser for eczema-affected skin. Stick to fragrance-free, non-foaming cleansers that support hydration.
  2. Focus on relieving irritation and itch. When it comes to relieving itch and irritation, focus on moisturizing flaky areas of skin rather than trying to remove them. Dryness makes symptoms of eczema worse while hydration may help prevent symptoms like itching.
  3. Make moisturization a priority. Focus on humectant ingredients that draw moisture into the skin and help build up that protective barrier. Clients with eczema can benefit from moisturizing masks and other intensive hydration treatments designed to balance the skin’s microbiome and repair its barrier.
  4. Choose the right exfoliator. The last thing you want to do in a facial for clients with eczema is make their skin more irritated, so you may want to skip the scrub. Dry brushing or using a natural brush with very gentle bristles can lift dead skin cells without causing irritation.
  5. Work in some extra massage. Because skin affected by eczema can be incredibly reactive, you may need to skip portions of your typical facial routine. Replace these portions with extra facial massage – not only is it great to work in hydrating products but it may help relieve itching.

When administering a facial treatment for a client with eczema, you may need to make adjustments to the typical routine. It’s important to avoid ingredients that might aggravate symptoms such as retinol, vitamin C, and alpha hydroxy acids. While these ingredients are great for anti-aging, they can make eczema symptoms worse, so it’s best to focus on repairing and hydrating the skin.

Education is Key for At-Home Management

Eczema is a chronic skin condition for which there is no cure. While your clients may not be able to completely eradicate their eczema, they can manage it with a daily skincare routine and the right products. Education is key for at-home management and it’s a major component of any professional skincare treatment. The more your clients understand about their eczema and how to manage it at home, the better. Future treatments will be geared toward maintenance rather than skin rescue.

Here are some important points to hit during the education and product recommendation portion of the treatment process for clients with eczema:

  • Suggest clients keep a skin diary or to make note of triggers for their eczema symptoms. Avoiding these triggers can reduce reactivity and give the skin time to heal.
  • Inform your client of the potential for environmental triggers. Some people with eczema react to pollen, for example, so you may want to recommend products to help protect against environmental aggressors.
  • Encourage your clients to watch for signs on other parts of the body. On the body, eczema patches can become thick and discolored, particularly after extended periods of scratching.
  • Highlight the importance of hydration, especially for the hands and face. Frequent washing can weaken the skin’s protective barrier, so it’s important to moisturize after cleansing.
  • Recommend cosmetic and skincare products that are “fragrance free” and “dye free” rather than simply “unscented.” These are the least likely to contain irritating ingredients.
  • Suggest products that contain hyaluronic acid to promote hydration and improve the skin’s ability to hold moisture.
  • Inform clients of the potential for certain ingredients to aggravate eczema. These include things like retinol, vitamin C, alpha hydroxy acids, and salicylic acids.

On top of any education and recommendations you provide for your client, make sure to reiterate that their doctor is the best person to consult for medical advice and treatment options. Daily skincare can help minimize reactivity and keep the skin healthy, but some cases of eczema require stronger daily treatments to control itching and irritation.

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