rich emollient used in the management of eczema, psoriasis and other dry skin conditions.


Dear E45

I have eczema. I might be your perfect customer had I not already tried E45 and found it made my skin worse due to presence of lanolin.

Lanolin, a known skin irritant, yet it’s found in E45 for dry, sensitive skin. Why is that?

So what are the ingredients of E45? Why might it give my skin a worse reaction and irritate my eczema? E45 contains: Contains Anhydrous Lanolin 1.0% w/w, White Soft Paraffin 14.5% w/w, Light Liquid Paraffin 12.6% w/w as actives ingredients and also Glyceryl Monostearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Sodium Cetostearyl Sulphate, Carbomer, Methyl Hydroxybenzoate, Propyl Hydroxybenzoate, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid Monohydrate and Purified Water.

Last week I was chatting about eczema in the media and was reminded of your latest advert. Well all of your adverts actually.

I look at your adverts and I want to laugh. Your adverts show totally unrealistic images of women with no visible sign of blemishes, dry skin or eczema.

I want to shout at the TV, “Those women wouldn’t know eczema or dry skin if it bit them on the bottom” Hey you know what, if I was on gogglebox you would actually hear me screaming this at the TV.

Adverts like this for E45 for dry skin

With a family who all have the most perfect skin – skin people with eczema can only dream about, make me hiss at the screen. Look at her face, she is positively ecstatic.. that is not what my face looks like when I peel off my emollient and blood soaked pajamas to smear on more thick greasy emollient so I can get on with the day.

We don’t get a delicate pea sized dab of cream and gently massage it in, we need great dollops of the stuff to grease ourselves with, often more than just twice a day.

This is what eczema looks like.

Eczema on face

Doesn’t quite capture the tightness, soreness or rawness…

Not going to work on advert though is it?

We have to find a secret place during the day and reapply, sadly this is often a public toilet. Not hygienic, but needs must.

I also find the latest E45 advert with the twins doesn’t really hit the mark for me. Laura and Emma, both dressed in flowing white gowns and both of whom have eczema look radiant, happy and glowing. To prove one has eczema she absent mindedly itches her arm during the advert. The voice over happily tells the story about these two smiling happy twins, one who is using E45 and the other one who doesn’t. It all ends happily ever after when Emma finds the tub of E45 and presumably her eczema is cured too!

It’s just not that honest.

Because dry skin, eczema and dermatitis are usually a condition people live with. There isn’t a happy ending with eczema. Those of us who have eczema do learn which products work best and daily work hard to forget that it hurts and try not worry about how our skin might look.

Seeing advertisements for dry skin and eczema featuring models, employed to take part in the advert because they are slim, blond and have lovely skin is a little galling. I understand why you do this, because images of pretty women in nice dresses with great skin are far more likely to sell products.

Maybe they do have sensitive skin but take it from me, they are not the face of eczema as we know it.

It reminds me of adverts for sanitary products and Tena Lady. They make me howl with laughter. Most of them are so far off the mark it’s ridiculous because lets face it, for starters, our blood is red, just like everyone else, not blue. And we don’t suddenly find the energy to prance about, smiling and happy all of a sudden because we discovered a new tampon. Sorry, we have had years living with periods, we just get on with it. Tampons do not give us a spring in our step. A new sanitary pad with wings does not fill is with delight – but it just might mean that blood doesn’t soak through our knickers in the night and all over the bed clothes. It might mean our favourite trousers don’t get blood stains on them either or worst of all, we might get up from a seat to discover blood has leaked out in public onto the fabric. That is what we really worry about.

I LOVE this response from the CEO of BodyForm after a man complained his girlfriend was not all happy and smiley during her period, but instead crazy, angry and premenstrual.

Tena Lady adverts SHOULD say, “For ladies who piss themselves a bit when they laugh.”
Watch this brilliant spoof TenaLady advert – if only all adverts could be so honest and funny.
Apologies for this advert but it made me laugh out loud.

Back to the eczema coverage on TV…

When did you ever see anyone on TV with anything but normal skin? And if they have bad skin they are usually drug addicts, pimply teenagers or tramps. Because in real life, normal people presumably don’t have eczema? Right? WRONG!

“In the UK, one in five children and one in twelve adults have eczema while eczema and contact dermatitis account for 84-90% of occupational skin disease.” The National Eczema Society.

Why not ask the eczema community what they think? I would love to join a focus group like that because quite frankly, it is not helpful to those with visible eczema to see products aimed at us portrayed with such idealistic perfect skinned beauties. Eczema and dry skin is not nice to look at. Try that in your advert and see how it works.

Because what we worry about is the pain, how we look, how our clothes might get stained with blood, how dry our skin might get, how often we will need to apply our chosen emollient. We worry whether people will judge us because of the scabs on our legs, or comment or ignore us. We worry that we can’t wear make-up to mask our facial eczema. We just want to get on with our lives like everyone else.

This picture shows how much my skin was improved after using Protopic for my facial eczema. I couldn’t explain this better than the picture.

How Protopic healed my facial eczema

How Protopic healed my facial eczema

My skin is by no means perfect, it still has the odd flare up, at the moment the only bit without eczema is my face, but I find no matter how bad the eczema elsewhere is, if I can cover it up, I can live with it and forget it a whole lot more easily than a face full of red angry burnt skin.

So you see, the thing is E45, your adverts don’t really look like they are aimed at real people with real ugly dry flaky skin and real red blotchy patches.

We don’t really want to be bombarded with more images of people who look like they don’t even know what eczema is.

The inspiration for this blog post came from fellow eczema survivor Rebecca who writes a blog about how she kicks her eczema into touch at If you have eczema it’s worth a read, she is so positive and upbeat and has a great attitude. She wrote about this subject and chatted with me on a blog post of mine about discrimination recently and it got my eczema senses alive and boiling. Read, This is what the British Press thinks eczema looks like for a brilliant review of how eczema is portrayed in the media. Do you think you’ll see one single picture of someone with eczema?

PS. Dear E45, I hope you do read my letter and would love to hear what you think. Ever thought of running adverts with pictures of your real customers? The ones who actually do have dry skin and eczema?



An allergy and health writer and freelance copywriter, Ruth is passionate about helping those with allergies and food intolerances take control, embrace their condition, and learn to live with and love who they are. It can be very lonely finding you have allergies and discovering what helps you can be a life long journey. What works for one person won't work for another, so after trying nearly every allergy treatment under the sun and finding hours of research necessary to keep abreast of what's going on, Ruth started writing her blog, What Allergy? in April 2009. Ruth has life threatening allergies herself to all nuts, all diary, tomatoes and celery and knows first-hand what it's like to have an anaphylactic attack. Voted in the Top 5 UK allergy blogs by Cision UK in 2011, What Allergy is packed full of interesting articles, hints and tips and product reviews which are a must read for anyone with allergies, food intolerances or sensitivities, asthma and eczema. From subjects such as "What is celery allergy?" to "Surviving a holiday abroad with allergies", it's packed with useful and interesting information. You can register free for a weekly newsletter by visiting her website and also keep in touch by following her on Facebook and Twitter.

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