Kate’s Middleton’s secret skin complaint led to ‘bullying’ in teens but is very common

She oozes good healthy glowing skin today (and having access to Britain’s finest facialists can’t hurt).

But the Duchess of Cambridge knows plainfully well the discomfort and self consciousness having a so-called ‘embarrassing’ skin complaint can bring.

Mum of three Kate, who turned 40, earlier this year, suffered from eczema in her teens.

According to an interview with the Duchess’s friend Jessica Hay in Celeb Now, the Duchess was bullied heavily while attending all-girls Downe House girls’ boarding school – which she attended in Berkshire from the age of 13 – before moving to Marlborough College, Wiltshire, after two years.

‘It didn’t help that she was so tall and self-conscious about her eczema,’ Jessica told the interviewer.

Meanwhile Kate’s former schoolmate, Emma Sayle, from her time at Downe House, Berkshire, told the Mirror that Kate was tormented by a group of mean girls during her time at Downe House.

“Everyone wanted to be the best, the fittest, the prettiest. I think Kate was miserable from the start."

Eczema at school can be tough to cope with. Studies have shown children with moderate and extreme atopic dermatitis are more likely to suffer from conditions like anxiety and low self-esteem, which has a knock-on effect on their school work and ability to make friends.

But it can strike at any stage in life. Eczema affects g approximately 1.5 million adults (3%) in the UK, yet it is often seen as a low priority health issue.

Superstar Adele, 33, has also revealed that her eczema flared up when she became a new mum. During a press conference in 2013 the singer said:

‘I am exhausted. That’s how [motherhood] changed me. I have eczema from boiling bottles.’

And Loose Woman star Nadia Sawalha admits that her condition got worse later in life. “I seem to be having more eczema flare-ups since I’ve gone through the menopause,” admitted he 57 old star.

“My skin flared up so badly I got eczema on my neck, jawline and then up around my eye. The eye swelled up too. It got so bad at one point that I had to go to A&E. It lasted for about a month before it finally cleared up.’

According to Dr Neil Gibbs, a leading Skin biologist and founder of pellamax, the world’s "first skincare supplement for sensitive and eczema-prone skin,” this unpleasant skin complaint affects many of us.

“Eczema is more common than you would think. It’s estimated that about 10% of adults in the UK have eczema and it’s estimated that 20% of young children are suffering from the condition, ” says Dr Gibbs.

“Skin problems are generally considered as less important than other conditions, but research shows that eczema can reduce quality of life as much as chronic heart disease or diabetes ”

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Why do we get it?

It isn't contagious.

“Eczema tends to run in families and there are strong genetic factors that determine the likelihood of having eczema and its severity," says Dr Gibbs. "For instance, the gene for the skin barrier protein filaggrin is known to influence eczema severity."

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Do people normally get better without treatment?

“Although children may ‘grow out’ of eczema it is currently an incurable condition and gives rise to a lifetime of long dry, sensitive skin.

"Eczema is itchy but scratching the skin only exacerbates the problem by further breaking down the skin’s barrier and letting in more irritants, which is known as the Itch-Scratch Cycle.”

What triggers eczema?

Everyone is different, but common triggers are:

  • Airborne allergens such as dust mites and pollen

  • Perfumes and toiletries

  • Stress or anxiety

  • Household chemicals, etc.

  • Cold weather

  • Some fabrics

  • The sun

  • Chlorine in swimming pools

What should we do?

“The best news for those with eczema is that there’s no need to suffer in silence," says Dr Gibb.

"There are now a variety of prescribed skin treatment options from ointments, creams to the development of new formats like medicated tapes such as Fludroxycortide tape, which is also waterproof to help deliver steroids within a different format that can be used for flare-ups and short periods of time (not prolonged time periods).

"Finding the most effective therapy is often a matter of trial and error, so it’s important to keep going back to your doctor, or dermatologist, for advice."

For more advice on this common skin complaint see Allergy UK.

7 tips to help manage eczema

The National Eczema Society have devised a list of tips to help:

  • To ease itching, try to keep your home cool – ideally around 18°C.

  • Whether its soap or perfume, anything with a strong scent could irritate your skin – try going fragrance-free.

  • In between application of emollients and topical steroids leave a gap of ten minutes – this stops the steroid from spreading to unaffected skin areas whilst preventing it from being diluted. The order of application does not matter.

  • Don’t be tempted to scratch your skin – pinch itchy skin instead, this avoids damaging the skin’s barrier.

  • Use your emollients at least twice a day or whenever it feels itchy and dry.

  • Basic is best when it comes to skincare – always check with a healthcare professional for advice concerning proper application of cream and how to manage eczema triggers.

  • Never cut food out of your diet without medical advice unless diagnosed with a food allergy – cutting foods without support could mean potentially missing out on important nutrients.

If you suffer from eczema, the National Eczema Society are happy to take calls on 0800 089 1122, Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm or respond to any queries through their email [email protected]

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