Teen Eczema Q&A with Dr Lynn Chiam – Skincare & Shaving

Dr Lynn Chiam, a consultant dermatologist who subspecializes in paediatric skin conditions

This blog has covered lots on children with eczema, but as they grow older, eczema may present a different set of challenges and in a different form (for instance, due to puberty). MarcieMom is privileged to have Dr Lynn Chiam of Children & Adult Skin Hair Laser Clinic, a consultant dermatologist who subspecializes in paediatric skin conditions at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Medical Centre, Singapore. Dr Chiam is a mum to three young children and is expecting her 4th child at the end of the year.

More on Dr Lynn Chiam – Dr Lynn was formerly the head of paediatric dermatology at National Skin Centre, Singapore before leaving for private practice. She has vast experience in childhood atopic dermatitis and childhood birthmarks. Apart from paediatric dermatology, her other subspecialty interests include adult pigmentary conditions and laser dermatology. She has published numerous articles and has contributed articles to various magazines and newspapers. She helped set up the Eczema Support Group for both children and adults and is currently the Medical Advisor to the group.

Marcie Mom: Teenagers may start to use (i) cosmetics, (ii) hair gel, (iii) anti-perspirant or (iv) wax arms/legs or shave. What would be your advice to a teen with eczema who wants to do the above (i) to (iv)?

Dr Lynn Chiam:

  1. Cosmetics contain fragrances and preservatives which may lead to allergic contact dermatitis (a rash due to allergy to the ingredients). A person with eczema has poor skin barrier function and may be more prone to skin irritation caused by cosmetics. If a teenager’s eczema flares with the use of cosmetics, it is important that she sees a dermatologist to do a patch test to check if she is allergic to the ingredients found in the cosmetics. If so, she will need to avoid that particular ingredient by reading the product labels of the cosmetics she uses. Always do a test spot by placing a small amount of the cosmetic on the inner aspect of the wrist. If there is no reaction after 1-2 days, then the cosmetic can be used on the face. Try to avoid using cosmetics over the areas affected by eczema. Cosmetics with a high water content are at a risk of being contaminated by bacteria and can pose a health risk to the user.
  2. If a teenager’s eczema affects the scalp as well, it is advisable not to use hair gel when there is a flare of the eczema. If the scalp is not affected, it is recommended that a small amount of the hair gel is placed on a small area of the scalp first and to watch for any reaction. If there is no reaction after 1-2 days, then the hair gel can be used on the whole scalp. Always wash away the hair gel at the end of the day.
  3. Anti- perspirant contains fragrances and preservatives can lead to allergic contact dermatitis. Again, do a test spot on the inner aspect of the wrist. Do not use the anti-perspirant if he develops any reaction.
  4. Shaving and waxing of unwanted hairs can lead to micro-tears in the skin. Patients with eczema have an impaired skin barrier function and can easily get skin infection through these micro- tears. It is not advisable to shave or wax your hair if there is a flare of eczema. Laser hair removal, which does not cause micro-tears in the skin, is a more suitable way of removing unwanted hairs for patients with eczema.

For previous posts in this series, see

Puberty

Acne, oily skin and warts

Sweat and Sports

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