Woman who has been hospitalised by her severe eczema says £7.99 ointment changed everything

A woman with severe eczema has praised a £7.99 “miracle” ointment for giving her the confidence to go out make up free for the first time in adult life.

Hannah Hopkins first experienced patches of dry skin on her elbows and knees when she was just five.

The patches cleared up naturally but returned with a vengeance when she reached 16.

The 26-year-old has been hospitalised several times because of the condition and has been forced to take bandages with her everywhere.



Hannah’s skin
(Image: PA Real Life)

When Hannah, who works for a law firm and lives in Pontypridd, wrote down all the treatments she has tried, she filled three sheets of A4 paper.

“It was so traumatic that I’ve blocked a lot of it out,” said

“At its worst, eczema affected every part of my life. I could never be spontaneous with plans, as whether or not I left the house depended on how I looked and felt that day.

“I’d take bandages and gloves with me wherever I went and would even have to take extra bed sheets on holiday in case the ones at the hotel irritated my skin.”

Then, earlier this year, just as she was giving up hope of ever finding something to clear her skin, she found Balmonds Skin Salvation, a £7.99 ointment made from natural ingredients, on Instagram.

Although it is not a cure, she claims it has soothed her skin so much that she has been able to leave the house without wearing make up for the first time in years.

“I was sceptical at first, as I’d been there so many times, thinking I’d found my golden ticket product – the one that would finally help me,” she said. “But Balmonds is amazing. Where other creams have stung or burnt me, it hasn’t hurt at all. It’s done wonders for my confidence. It sounds cheesy, but it’s been life-changing.”

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Hannah’s hands
(Image: PA Real Life)

Hannah was only five when she first developed dry, flaky patches on her  elbows and knees.

With Great Ormond Street Hospital estimating that one in five children will develop eczema, at first her family assumed it was nothing to worry about – especially when it soon cleared up.

It was not until she reached 16 and she developed severe symptoms that signalled the start of a long and painful journey that would leave her confidence in tatters.

She recalled: “I went back and forth to the GP, but there’s only so much they are able to prescribe and do.

“Eventually, I was referred to a dermatologist and when they saw me, they were absolutely horrified.



Hannah’s arm during a good period
(Image: PA Real Life)

“They admitted me to hospital right away. By that point, it was so severe that every part of my body, from top to toe, was covered. My entire scalp was peeling and weeping. My skin was completely raw, like it had been scraped.”

She was prescribed a steroid cream, which worked initially, but her skin soon built up a tolerance to it, meaning she had to switch to a higher strength.

“I’ve tried every type of steroid you can think of,” said Hannah. “At one point, I was using three different strengths.”

But long-term steroid use can have adverse side effects, such as mood swings, diabetes, high blood pressure and thinned skin that bruises easily, according to the NHS, so Hannah was keen to find an alternative.



(Image: PA Real Life)

Meanwhile, with her eczema continuing to rule her life, her confidence was shattered.

She said: “I’d wake up each day dreading what state my skin would be in. I’d never make plans with people until the very last minute, when I knew how I’d be looking and feeling.

“Some days, I couldn’t stand to look in the mirror and others I’d go the other way  – constantly staring at my skin, scrutinising every part of it. As I’ve still not been able to determine my triggers, I’d never know when my next flare-up was coming.”

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When Hannah met Dan in 2012 at the University of South Wales, her skin was stable, meaning the eczema was not severe or noticeable, although she told him about it straight away.

And when, a year into the relationship with insurance worker Dan, 27, she experienced a major flare up, fortunately, she was so comfortable with him that she did not feel the need to hide away.

In the run-up to her 2019 wedding, she was terrified that eczema would overshadow her special day – but, miraculously, she woke up the day before with clear skin.

“It was so nice to forget about things for a day,” she said. “Really, Dan is married to my eczema as well as me. It’s almost like a third person we have to constantly consider.

“He does so much for me. He’d help me apply all my creams, or wash my hair when my skin was so painful that even water hurt.

“Over the years I got used to having to do so many things that other people didn’t. I’d have bandages, gloves and creams in my drawer at work, and take them with me wherever I went. I’d have to be so careful with the make up I wore, too.”



(Image: PA Real Life)

Though she went through periods where her skin was more manageable, Hannah remained desperate to find something that would ease her suffering long term.

“I’ve tried every steroid, cream and ointment you could imagine,” she said. “Recently, I wrote a list of all the products I’ve tried. It was three pages long.



Hannah now
(Image: PA Real Life)

“I’d try them for at least a month, and sometimes they’d work, so I’d think, ‘Finally.’ But then my skin would flare up again, which would break my heart. I’d think, ‘What’s wrong with me? it is working for other people. Why not me?”

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Then, in March this year, Hannah saw an Instagram post about Balmonds, a natural skincare range suitable for people with eczema.

After reading several positive testimonials, she decided to give their award-winning £7.99 Skin Salvation moisturiser a try – and was amazed with the results.

“Within a day, the redness on my skin was visibly reduced,” she said. “I haven’t had to use steroid creams since March, which is huge for me. I’ve even been out the house for the first time in years without make up.”

Now, Hannah takes her pot of Balmonds with her wherever she goes and has been waxing lyrical to friends and family about its benefits.

By sharing her story, she hopes to raise awareness of the emotional toll that skin conditions can take and offer hope to others living with them.



Hannah and Dan on their wedding day
(Image: PA Real Life)

She concluded: “Sometimes, I see photos of myself when my skin was awful and feel panic come over me. I’m desperate not to go back to how I was.”

“People can dismiss eczema as simple dry skin that will clear up with a bit of moisturiser, but it’s so much more than that. The mental health aspect can be worse than the physical pain,” she continued. “But I want people to know that it does get better, and that skin doesn’t define you.

“All the airbrushed, filtered pictures we see on social media are very damaging, and have skewed our idea of what normal looks like.

“The fact is, nobody’s skin is perfect, and there is far more to a person than what they look like.”