Julie van Onselen's top skin care tips

Each year, 54% of the UK's population are affected by skin disease. From psoriasis and eczema to allergic reactions and skin cancer, over 2,000 skin diseases are recognised by healthcare practitioners. We know that lots of our members are affected by skin conditions, and because of the vast range of skin problems, you can find it hard to pinpoint your symptoms. 

That's why we loved picking Julie Van Onselen's brains on skin care tips to help you.

Having worked in dermatology for 30 years, it's safe to say that she has one of the firmest grips on the sometimes confusing corner of healthcare. On top of providing specialised clinical dermatology care, Julie also provides further education courses to healthcare professionals and supports skin-dedicated charities. 

Here are all of her top tips...

Julie shared her knowledge about was the of-the-moment natural alternatives for sensitive skin problems. With alternative treatments thriving, Julie says: "When companies use the word natural in skincare it is always very interesting. Although it is always your choice, remember that some natural products don’t necessarily treat your condition. In fact, there are some around that are very worrying because they don't go through the same regulation as pharmaceutical products." 

What's more, a lot of tested and regulated products for skin conditions contain moisturising factors that exist in your skin already, you can't get more natural than that. "Hyaluronic acid is a Natural Moisturising Factor found in the skin already but it is also added to good moisturisers to give the skin an extra boost," explains Julie. 

When people have problematic, sensitive or ageing skin, they have fewer Natural Moisturising Factors (NMF). These are the elements in the skin that keep the outer layer of the skin protected and well hydrated. Those with psoriasis have around 80% less whilst those with eczema have 20% less NMFs than people with healthy, 'normal' skin. The number of NMFs in your skin also reduces as you age and your hormones change, which is why people, particularly women, find that they need to moisturise more when they reach middle-age or menopause. 

On top of how to deal with dry skin, Julie warns against scrubbing sensitive skin: "In dermatology, there are two words we don't like: scrub and rub!" she explains, "The skin is a very clever organ for excretion. If you don't have a skin condition, your skin overturns every 28-days anyway and your pores work as a filtration system. So, scrubbing can cause damage to sensitive skin that's already clean."

Given the time of year, another hot topic of the coffee morning was insect bites and allergic reactions. If you have experienced increasing swelling around insect bites or have realised that your skin reactions to allergies are getting worse, this is common. Julie shares why this happens, saying: "Once you have had a series of bites and you meet another insect (or allergen) the reaction can build up and become a little bit worse every time. The most practical thing to do to stop this from happening is to stop the cause from reaching you by wearing suitable clothing or take antihistamines in preparation." 

Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.

Information written by the talkhealth team

Last revised: 15 September 2023
Next review: 15 September 2026