Denise Van Outen: “It’s difficult when you don’t feel your best on camera”


by Emma Dodds |
Published on

Denise Van Outen opens up to Closer Magazine about her struggle with eczema and passing it on to her daughter Betsy

Glam Denise Van Outen always looks camera-ready, but all her life she has battled a secret war with eczema, the debilitating skin condition that can leave skin red, cracked, sore and itchy.

It made Essex beauty self-conscious: "I used to get it a lot on my face, and wearing make-up every day on TV would make it really sore," Denise, 43, says.

Denise has seven-year-old Betsy by her ex-husband Lee Mead (Credit: Instagram/ Denise Van Outen) ©Instagram/ Denise Van Outen

Denise continues: "It's difficult when you've got a camera in your face you're just not feeling your best.

"I discovered there were certain make-up products I couldn't use, particularly any containing nickel. I still don't use them."

Denise's battle with eczema started when she was a child: "I've always had it. I used to think it was because of the food I was eating, so when I was a teenager, when it was at its worse, I tried cutting out all different food groups like dairy.

"As I got older, I realised that my eczema is mostly to do with the weather – in winter it would flare-up quite badly on my hands and around my eyes or mouth. I'll get dry patches and my skin will occasionally crack if I don't get it under control."

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Denise admits she felt guilty when she realised she'd passed on eczema to seven-year-old Betsy, her daughter with her ex-husband, Holby City actor Lee Mead.

She says: "Even when Betsy was just a few months old, she had it bad - worse than I ever did. She'd cry when I'd put her in the bath and I'd take her out and realise it was because her skin was sore. And I could only cover her in a bit of thin muslin because bedclothes were so uncomfortable for her."

Her daughter Betsy also suffers from eczema (Credit: Instagram/ Denise Van Outen) ©Instagram/ Denise Van Outen

Denise scoured the net to find out how other mums were coping, and switched Betsy to soya milk to see if dairy was the culprit.

"It helped a bit, but later we were able to put her back on cow's milk," says Denise. Once Betsy could talk, she would tell her mum that eczema felt as if her skin were 'on fire.'

Denise says: "She gets it around her mouth and eyes and on her legs. She'll come home from school and say, 'My hands feel sore, Mummy,' and when she has flare-ups she can't go to her swimming club.

"It's hard to see her suffer but I always use Cetraben cream on her which really works. It's horrible to see your child in pain, but luckily there are things you can do to help."

Five Ways to Tackle Eczema

Moisturise: Use unperfumed creams to keep skin soothed. Avoid those with chemicals, additives and fragrances, which can all trigger eczema.

Wear cotton: Swap fabrics that can irritate the skin, usually wool and synthetics, with cottons. Wash clothes in mild, unscented detergent.

Bust stress: It can trigger eczema flare-ups. Learn stress-busting techniques like yoga, meditation and exercise.

Protect: Keep eczema-prone hands away from hot water and the cold outdoors – that means rubber gloves for the washing up and leather gloves in winter.

Know yourself: Figure out your triggers – could it be your washing powder, something you eat, changes in the weather? Keep a log, look for clues and take preventative steps.

Denise and her daughter Betsy use the Cetraben Cream to treat their dry and eczema-prone skin. Visit

Do you or a loved one suffer from eczema? How you do tackle it? Let us know over on Facebook and Twitter.


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