When a child is suffering from severe eczema, parents often have to treat them with steroid creams. One woman decided to look for something different.

Bedtime used to be a painful and stressful experience for Natalie Balmond and her daughter Lula.

The youngster would scream and cry as her mother put cream on to her skin and wrapped it in bandages.

As a chronic-eczema sufferer, doctors said little else could be done but her mother was determined to find another way to help her.

The term eczema is used to describe a number of skin conditions which share symptoms such as inflammation, flaking and blistering.

At its mildest, it can be a tendency toward patchy skin but severe cases can affect the whole body.

The skin becomes itchy and hot and areas of hard, thick skin develop because of continual scratching.

These can then crack and become infected although eczema itself is not infectious or contagious.

Ms Balmond, from Brighton, had always made sure her daughter avoided food with preservatives but was worried about the chemicals contained in the steroid creams going on Lula's skin.

She wanted to nourish and treat her daughter's skin by using only pure ingredients.

She says about 60 per cent of what is put on the skin is absorbed into the body so it was important to check what was being used.

She says: "When my daughter developed chronic eczema, it concerned me that all the products available contained chemicals and preservatives.

"Even so-called natural creams contain petrochemicals and it seemed logical that someone with extremely sensitive, sore skin should use only the purest creams."

Ms Balmond read about various old-fashioned recipes for soothing creams that used natural ingredients such as beeswax, herbal tinctures and essential oils and got to work preparing her own ointments.

Eventually, she hit upon a recipe for a lotion that had an immediate effect. She called it Skin Salvation.

Ms Balmond, 36, who has three children, says: "It worked so well for Lula that my family and friends wanted to try it out and it worked really well for them, too.

"It was they who told me this was going to be really big. I am amazed at just how big the whole thing has become. The response has been so huge I have now had to form a company with two partners to keep things going.

"The feedback has been tremendous with many people letting us know how happy they are with the results.

"However, I should stress this is not a miracle cure. There may be some people who have reactions to even the gentlest herbal preparations.

"It is also worth remembering eczema usually has an underlying cause such as food intolerance, environmental factors or allergies.

"However, the ointment can alleviate some, if not all, of the symptoms of eczema and other distressing skin conditions such as psoriasis."

Ms Balmond says eczema affects the lives of thousands of children and adults and there are many different approaches to managing the condition.

But whatever approach is taken, eczema-sufferers' skin needs a large amount of moisture and nourishment.

Skin Salvation can be applied liberally as often as needed and a thick layer applied before bed can relieve night-time itching.

Ms Balmond says: "I never dreamt it would end up like this. I was only looking for something that would help my daughter and now it has turned into a business."

Her company is called Pure Potions. It has about150 customers locally and more than 500 from across the UK.

The company distributes a small range of creams and oils by mail order although a handful of shops in Brighton and Hove are now stocking them.

For more details, write to Pure Potions, PO Box 230, Brighton BN2 9TX or email purepotions@hotmail.com