Photosensitive eczema is eczema that is triggered by the sun, its effectively a skin allergy to sun.

Emma Holloway, 25, is a physiotherapist from Rugby, Warwickshire who has been allergic to summer holidays for most of her life until she found Defensil.

Emma says:

"I have always had eczema, but on a recent summer holiday I discovered I had a particular type of eczema called photosensitive eczema. I was on holiday with my parents in Spain and decided to give my pasty white legs a bit of sun."

"My mum was really against it as she knew I had very sensitive skin but she felt so sorry for me never being able to enjoy the sun like everyone else so she thought it wouldn’t do much harm. The results were horrendous. That evening my legs swelled up like bright red sausages and blisters broke out and they were total agony and I couldn’t walk for nearly three days afterwards and had to stay in the villa in the dark while everyone else went out and enjoyed the beach and the lovely weather. My mum was really upset because I was in so much pain and also so depressed about my skin, it ruined her holiday as much as mine."

"In the past I have suffered from eczema flare ups when I have gone in the sun, but nothing like the one I had on holiday, I thought I was going to have to go to hospital. I used to always cover up as a kid because I didn’t really care but as I got older I wanted to show off my figure a bit on the beach as I was sick of wearing baggy trousers and long sleeved skirts, but the first time I did it my skin went crazy."

"I have been given steroids by my doctor for my eczema in the past but they didn’t work on my legs, which were still swollen and blistered by the time I got home from holiday so I started to look for alternatives to the steroids I had been using. I was not only concerned with the side effects of steroids such as skin thinning but really wanted to find something that wouldn’t irritate my already furiously red skin. The steroids were also becoming less and less effective the older I got, which was worrying because I was having to use them so often to get them to work."

"I literally tried everything I could find that was hypoallergenic and fragrance free. I tried gels, creams, mousses, literally everything that was available but nothing seemed to work and they all irritated my skin."

"I was embarrassed about my legs that seemed to have got permanently worse after the holiday flare up. Working in hospitals has been tough. I worry about what my patients and their families would say about the state of my skin. This is hard considering my hands are the tools of my trade. After the bad flare up on holiday I started covering up every inch of my skin, even in really hot weather while I was at work as even sun through the windows could set off a reaction."

"The clothes made me feel frumpy and dowdy but I had no choice. I just wanted to be able to wear a pretty dress for once and not dread the summer arriving."

"All I wanted was to find something that didn’t irritate my eczema and make it worse."

"So when I saw an advert at last year in the paper for a trial on a new natural gel for eczema called Defensil I thought-why not?"

"There was a lot of research behind the product and being partly medically trained due to my physiotherapy degree I knew that the research was impressive."

Emma's leg after the eczema flared up

"Some of the studies had shown that the ingredients in the cream could decrease skin sensitivity by 50% and skin redness by 35% just 15 minutes after application. The gel also contained an ingredient shown to inhibit the enzyme responsible for flare ups. It was the research that really convinced me to try it."

"After using the Defensil gel for two weeks I had already noticed a big improvement. My skin was much less itchy, far less sensitive and irritated and the red blistered patches were already beginning to decrease in size. I was so relieved."

"Defensil is the first thing I have tried that hasn’t irritated my skin. After three months of use and with the onset of summer last year my skin was looking the best it had since before I had the flare up on holiday two years ago. Even as the weather got hotter last summer my skin remained under control as long as used the gel twice a day religiously."

"I am so glad to have found something that doesn’t irritate my eczema and is actually clearing it up. Last summer I was finally able to wear a knee length skirt for the first time in my life without everyone staring at me, it was such a relief to just dress normally and be able to enjoy the lovely warm weather like everyone else."

"I am planning to go on holiday somewhere warm this summer and I am hoping I might even be able to wear a swim suit this year I feel so confident about my skin. The company that makes Defensil specialise in skin conditions and have just made a chemical-free sun bloc for people with really sensitive skin so I am hoping to use that this year and maybe I’ll actually be able to get out in the sun without suffering terrible consequences."

Read our review of Defensil here