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Managing eczema during exam time

Have exams coming up? GP Dr Pauline Clerkin has some tips on preparing for them

  • Ensure you are proactive with your medications

If you have hay fever, start daily, non-sedating antihistamines early in spring (especially if tree pollen is a trigger) to avoid developing severe symptoms while sitting exams in June. It's hard to concentrate when you are sneezing all the time!

  • Keep up with your emollient and topical steroid regime (if using topical steroids)

Supermarkets sell a wide range of SLS-free emollients, if you run short, but ensure prescriptions are requested in time and will be authorised without need for review by a healthcare practitioner. You may need to step up the frequency of emollient use and switch from cream/lotion, which has higher water content, to a greasier gel or ointment version of your preferred brand.

  • 'Go bland' or back to basics

Avoid using soaps and fragranced creams which are irritants containing SLS or methylisothiazolinone. Use a soap substitute and avoid washing hair when taking a bath, as the shampoo may irritate the skin.

  • Take study breaks

Switch off by listening to music or doing exercise - even a walk, especially outdoors in nature (if you're not highly pollen allergic), is instantly calming. There are a wide range of podcasts and apps that help soothe the mind. Try doing yoga via an app or YouTube video - even 20 minutes helps hugely to focus the mind.

  • Aim to get 7 or more hours of sleep

Avoid using screens for up to an hour before bed, as this stimulates the brain.

  • Diet can make a huge difference

Try to avoid high sugar content and choose foods rich in omega 3, such as oily fish or milled flax, which help maintain skin repair and boost brain power. Coloured vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin C are also important.

  • It may seem obvious, but allow enough time to prepare for the exams themselves!

If the task seems overwhelming, try to break it down into manageable chunks. Rather than thinking 'I have so much to do for the history exam', approach each section one at a time, and before you know it, the course will be covered. Having a study partner works for some subjects - someone to compare notes with or quiz you on what you have learnt.

  • If it all gets too much, just go and talk to someone about it

No-one expects perfection and most families accept that if the effort was made, then at least you've given it your best.

Good luck!

Managing eczema during exam time...