Eczema- Ease the Itch!
It’s Eczema Week! But, what exactly is this skin condition that affects 1 in 12 adults and 1 in 5 children (making a total of more than 6 million sufferers) in the UK? The word eczema comes from the Greek word ekzein meaning “to boil out”. As the origins explicitly depict, eczema is a term for a group of medical conditions that cause the skin to be inflamed or irritated. Eczema usually develops from a combination of hereditary and environmental factors, with the most common form being atopic eczema (eczema caused by allergies and allergens). Eczema manifests itself most commonly through a red, dry and itchy skin that comes and goes.
A large majority of eczema sufferers cannot place the exact source of eczema flare-ups- Hence, don’t worry if you also you do not know exactly what triggers/worsens your eczema! Below are some of the triggers of eczema:
Individuals coming from families with a history of eczema, asthma and hay fever are more likely to suffer from the skin conditions
2. Environmental triggers
Stress, detergents, soaps, stress, health issues such as upper respiratory infections and the weather can worsen the condition. For example, eczema is known to flare up during winter. Allergens and microbes such as dust mites, mold and dandruff can also worsen the condition. (see more @ www.purelifestylewonders.com for high performing air purifiers and dehumidifiers). Some women might also experience eczema as a change in hormone levels, for example, during pregnancies. Foods such as dairy products and soy seeds can also trigger eczema.
Ease the Itch
While there are currently no known cure for eczema, unfortunately– (we know that you would love to wave goodbye to these red and itchy patches on your skin)- there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the discomfort of the affected skin area. These include:
1. Avoid soaps, shower gels and household detergents
These products can easily exacerbate your skin condition. Eczema sufferers usually presents a defect in their skin barrier that inhibits their tolerance to such products. Even products labelled as “suitable for sensitive skins” should be avoided. Sensitive skin does not necessarily mean eczema-prone skin.
Certain materials are also especially recommended for eczema sufferers, such as cotton, silk and bamboo fabrics which are gentler on the skin. (see firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of anti-allergy bedding suitable for eczema sufferers). Clothing made from wool should be specially avoided.
2. Moisturising and steroid creams
The mantra for an eczema sufferer is definitely moisturise, moisturise and moisturise. Emollients are generally perfect for an eczema patient. Available in the form of lotions, ointments, gels and creams, they keep the skin supple, soft and moist and thus, prevents cracks. Emollient soaps and bath oils can replace normal soaps and shower gels for eczema sufferers. For greater comfort, it is advised to apply emollients atleast 3 times a day and after baths also, where the water is still trapped in the skin for extra hydration. Contrary to cosmetic moisturisers, emollients are fragrance-free. DO NOT discontinue the use of emollients even after the skin has cleared.
Sometimes, when a flare up occurs, it is recommended to use a steroid cream along with emollients. Steroid creams make the skin less itchy and red, giving it a chance to heal. Particular care has to be given to the strength of the steroid cream- it should not be too weak nor too strong.
3. Ultraviolet Light Therapy
For more severe cases of eczema, doctors can also recommend ultraviolet light therapy- also commonly known as phototherapy. Phototherapy helps to ease eczema through the following ways:
- Reducing the itch
- Calming inflammation
- Increasing vitamin-D production, an essential nutrient for good skin health
Phototherapy has been cited by the British Association of Dermatologists as one of the potential treatments to calm eczema, psoriasis and other similar skin conditions. It is a non-invasive treatment that does not have any serious side effect when used for the recommended duration- phototherapy has been proven to have virtually no incidence of causing skin cancer. We have high quality German medical phototherapy devices that are suitable for eczema sufferers (see email@example.com). For the treatment to be effective, the person should respect the recommended exposure time- it should neither be too short nor too long to avoid skin burns. It is also to be noted that while it is very effective in causing skin conditions to clear, it is not a permanent solution.
4. Pay close attention to your diet and lifestyle
Cow’s milk, processed foods, eggs, sugar, soya and deep fried foods are absolute no-no’s for eczema sufferers. These foods are known to promote skin inflammation. However, eat plenty of oily fish, oats, apples and berries for a greater skin. With diet changes, eczema can radically be improved. You can also keep a diary of your diet in order to establish links between certain foods that might trigger your eczema.
Stress can also be a significant eczema trigger. Try adding aloe vera gel to your bath routine for some relief. Moreover, hot water during a bath exacerbates the skin condition and hence, it is preferable to use lukewarm water.