What is Ezcema?
Have you ever experienced scratching your skin because it was really itchy and when you looked closely, there was a patch of skin turning red? Did you feel the same thing on your neck, elbow or chin? Did it get better with scratching or did it turn for the worse? If you went to see a doctor, chances are he told you that you have Eczema or Dermatitis.
The term Eczema may be familiar to some. However, for those who are not familiar with it, the name may cause the hairs on the back of their neck to stand on end. Some even may think that eczema is something that is incurable and may even be really contagious.
The thing is that Eczema is not an unusual disease. Even as it usually affects children more, eczema is something that about 30 million Americans suffer from. Yes, you read that right. It affects a great portion of the American population and even the rest of world. With that being said, it is safe to say that ‘you are not alone’—if ever that makes things a little better. But to really make things way better, it is good to know that Eczema is manageable, given the right and timely treatment.
And in order to be able to do that, it is important for you to know the following things about this disease.
- Eczema is also called Atopic Dermatitis
- In addition to the 30 million Americans having it, eczema also affects about 10 to 20 percent of Canadian kids.
- Eczema is chronic and may last a long time.
- It is usually characterized by a red patch or a scaly portion of the skin. Itching is very common and the skin is dry and easily irritated. However, it can also manifest itself in skin that weeps and oozes, as well as in skin that is thickened and crusted.
- It usually affects children and usually appears on the forehead, scalp and cheeks, as well as in the folds of the body and the elbow’s crook.
- It is easily developed among children who come from families with allergies, hay fever and asthma. However, it can also affect those who come from families that don’t have a history of the abovementioned illnesses.
- It has been found that around 60 to 70 percent of children will outgrow eczema as they enter their teenage years.
In a nutshell, Eczema is common and is not something that you should be scared of. It, however, needs to be looked at by a doctor in order to be given the right medication and prevent it from spreading.
As there are kinds of Eczema, it is also important to identify the kind of eczema experienced in order for the right treatment to work.
Symptoms of Eczema
Eczema affects a big portion of the population but it does not necessarily mean that everyone will exhibit the same symptoms. Factors like the allergen that the person was exposed to can have a bearing on the symptoms that will be exhibited. Moreover, these symptoms can also change over time.
However, here are the most common symptoms reported by those who have Eczema that you need to watch out for.
- This is the most common symptom of Eczema. And when it says itching, it means that the skin is really itchy.
- Burning sensation or pain. Usually, this burning sensation and pain are felt from all the scratching the person has done.
- Warm and tender skin. And this can be very sensitive to the touch.
- This is also a very common symptom and which appears on the area that was exposed.
- Thickened skin that may be raw or scaly. The affected part of the skin also turns red.
What Causes Eczema?
Nothing just happens without any reason at all. That too applies with Eczema. It is important to know that certain elements trigger the onset of such skin disease. And if you are not aware of these triggers, it may mean the difference of your Eczema getting better or worse.
The different triggers are not at all surprising because these are found everywhere around you. You just have to know what these are though not all of these will trigger an onset on you.
Needless to say, our environment is filled with irritants that we are usually aware of and try to steer away from. However, we cannot completely get rid of them as they have already become part of our daily routine. For example, a mum may need to spray insecticides in the corners of her kitchen and living room to get rid of those pests that thrive everywhere.
Or perhaps, the laundry detergent that you are using may be too harsh for you and your baby’s skin. Little do we know that there are also stuff that we use everyday that may also be considered irritants and are already causing Eczema in your kids.
These may include the juice from your fruits and vegetables or the shampoo and soap that your entire family shares.
2. Hot and cold Temperature plus sweating
You might say that these are natural occurrences and are therefore out of your control. But sadly, sweating is a huge cause of Eczema especially when you start scratching your skin when you feel that ‘prickly heat’ sensation.
The change in temperature from hot to cold and vice versa is also a trigger for Eczema since it can cause your skin to dry and become scaly. And when that happens, your skin becomes very itchy and may develop redness and patches.
The sad thing about allergens is that these are oftentimes too small to be seen that you might thing that you are safe from them. For example are the pollens during springtime and the dust mites which are present all year through.
Then, there is the dander from your pets. Yes, dander refers to your dog’s skin, saliva and urine and hair that are left behind but are also carried everywhere by the wind.
Staphylococcus Aureus or “Staph” is the most common bacteria that can trigger Eczema. Other bacteria include the herpes virus, molluscum virus and other fungi that can certainly aggravate an attack as well. So stay away from these bacteria and keep your Eczema at bay.
Who today is not aware that stress triggers practically anything and everything? That means it causes Eczema too. As far as science is concerned, doctors cannot fully explain the direct relationship between Eczema and stress; however, a lot of people complain that their Eczema gets worse when they are stressed out.
Sometimes, just even stressing over having Eczema can cause the disease to flare up.
6. Dry skin
A lot of people suffer from dry skin. Others’ are just worse when their skin gets scaly and patchy. But this can easily be addressed by keeping your skin moisturized using a moisture-rich lotion.
The following videos will help you understand the Causes of Eczema:
Video Credit: ehowhealth
Video Credit: skinexpertstalk
Types of Eczema
So what are the kinds of Eczema? It is equally important to be familiar with these so that you can easily spot and do a firsthand examination to determine what type it is.
Currently, there are 11 known kinds of this skin disease and these are the following:
1. Atopic Dermatitis
Known to be the most common kind of Eczema, Atopic Dermatitis is genetic and tends to appear early in a person’s life. Though it is not known to be related to allergies, people who have a predisposition to inhalants are the most common victims.
Usually, the affected areas of the body include the chin, neck, elbow, cheeks, and ankles.
2. Irritant Dermatitis
Such kind happens when the skin is continuously exposed to certain toxic substances. If you remember reading earlier, these irritants are a very good trigger for Eczema.
So you need to watch the products you are using including your personal hygiene products.
3. Fungal Infection
This kind looks typically like the other kinds of Eczema. However, upon taking a closer look at a scraping under a microscope or at a cultured scraping, a fungal infection may be determined.
Again, going back to the causes of Eczema, infection caused by fungi can trigger an attack.
4. Allergic Contact Dermatitis
This happens when your skin is repeatedly exposed to a toxic substance. Eventually, the immune recognition system of your body gets activated and will produce eczema on the area that is continuously exposed.
In this case, your skin is trying to protect itself by activating its immunity responders in the form of an Eczema attack.
5. Stasis Dermatitis
This kind commonly attacks on the swollen lower leg of individuals whose blood circulation in the legs is not good. Therefore, even the things that you think are harmless like sitting for longer periods and wearing extremely tight and uncomfortable pants can actually cause Eczema.
This kind is manifested in the person’s hands and feet in the form of an itchy rash that is characterized by blisters. A lot of people experience this which can be very uncomfortable and even embarrassing.
This is characterized by a patch of skin that oozes because of pathological dryness. This may not be very common but it can be very uncomfortable when the fluid from your hand’s sores ooze.
8. Seborrheic Eczema
This kind of Eczema occurs both in adults and infants. Among adults, it usually occurs on the face, ears, scalp and mid-chest area. As for infants, the weepy and oozy affected skin can affect the ears and even the entire body.
9. Nummular Eczema
If you see plaques of coin-shaped scaling skin on the lower legs, that that is Nummular Eczema. Not many people can identify it but it does occur commonly.
10. Lichen Simplex Chronicus
This usually affects the neck and shins and appears liked thickened parts of the skin.
This is a more familiar kind as it is usually caused by a mite. As mentioned in the causes section, one cause of Eczema is dust mite.
How is Eczema Diagnosed?
The moment you start to think that you have Eczema based on the aforementioned symptoms, it is important to seek medical advice so that it will be properly diagnosed and then the right treatment will be applied.
The good news is that there is no need for any laboratory tests to confirm if you have Eczema. The doctor will basically need to ask questions that will range from determining your family’s history of having Eczema to knowing more about:
- Your allergies, if you ever have, to pollens, mites, dogs and other pets, as well as to certain foods
- Reactions to irritants like perfumes, detergents, soaps, fabric softener, etc.
- Recent bouts with stress and stress-related activities
- Other skin problems and their treatments and medication
The doctor will also have to ask about when the symptoms started appearing and how long it has been bothering you. Depending on the amount of information she gets, she may confirm or rule out Eczema.
What are the Treatments and Cure for Eczema?
Once you are confirmed to have Eczema, the doctor will kindly give you the right medication or treatments to address it and foremost minimize the itching. There are usually two kinds of treatments—natural and the non-natural.
Of course, natural would mean treatments that do not use medicines and chemicals. Meanwhile, non-natural would be otherwise. Either of these will work but on which one to use largely depends on your doctor’s assessments and the case at hand.
Natural cures for Eczema
1. Sea Spray
The most common response that people with Eczema do is to moisturize their affected skin even if there is fluid oozing from it. However, the better thing to do is to dry the skin as it relieves from itching.
At home, you can just mix your own salt and magnesium spray and when you have it, head to the beach and get some Vitamin D. It is believed that these two work together to let your skin feel better.
2. Coconut Oil
As they say, the Coconut is the tree of life as it has so many advantages not only for your skin but for your overall health as well. And as for your Eczema, you can apply a small amount of coconut oil onto your affected skin.
You can even use those that come in lotion bar forms which are also as amazing. However, do make sure that you are not allergic to coconut oil!
3. Magnesium Baths
By now, you would already have known that magnesium is very effective on treating Eczema. And it is a good alternative to water since some people react adversely to water.
Magnesium Flakes or Epsom Salts may be added into the water for your bath. But if you don’t have the time for this, you can just apply Magnesium oil on your skin.
4. Cod Liver Oil (Fermented).
This treatment is one of those that prove that not all things that sound nasty taste nasty too. It is not only wonderful for your teeth but also for the developing brains of young children. This certainly works for Eczema too.
5. Gelatin-Rich Food
You can get this best from bone broth which is great for your skin, nail and hair health. And you don’t even have to buy it because you can certainly prepare this at home.
Check out your leftover chicken, duck or turkey or you can even call your local butcher to save some of the meat’s bones for you.
Non-natural Cures for Eczema
Sometimes when the Eczema is severe and no natural remedy can cure, then your doctor can advise you on what to apply or take orally to relieve the itching and pain and stop Eczema.
1. Over-the-Counter Treatments or Medicines
This is perhaps the easiest, fastest (in terms of access) and most convenient way to cure Eczema. The medicine may not necessarily be a straight Eczema med but can be certain products that address rash, itching and redress.
Others also moisturize the skin and clean it to prevent infection.
There are a lot moisturizing products available over-the-counter. If those home remedies do not work or are not easily accessible, you can always rely on commercial moisturizers.
2. Prescription Creams
With a doctor’s prescription, you can go to the pharmacy and buy topical creams or ointments that help cure Eczema. Examples of this are corticosteroids as well as topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs). Simply apply the topical on the affected skin and feel the relief in minutes.
3. Vitamin D
Remember that Vitamin D is essential to healthy skin as well as to the treatment of Eczema. With a special machine that emits UVB light, your skin’s itching and inflammation will improve and Vitamin D production will also be increased.
The substance present in your blood that is called histamine causes your skin to itch. By taking antihistamines, the itching is reduced by blocking the histamine.
5. Wet Wraps and Bandages
These do not just mean the ordinary wrap or cloth that you can buy at stores but those that are medicated and created mainly to relieve itching and pain.
How can Eczema be prevented?
The old adage, ‘prevention is better than cure’, still holds true up to today, even with the advancement of science and invention of a lot of medicines.
Here are some ways to Prevent Eczema.
1. Lock in water to your skin with a moisturizer
Using a skin lotion after bath is not enough. Immediately after stepping out of the shower, pat dry your skin with your towel and while it is still damp, apply a generous amount of moisturizer and spread it evenly over your skin.
This helps seal the moisture that has penetrated your pores while taking a shower.
2. Choose your Soap
Maybe your usual idea of a good soap is that the more fragrant it is, the better it works on your skin. This is not the case since strongly perfumed soaps can be irritating on your skin.
It is best to choose the non-irritating soap that is mild and gentle especially on baby’s skin. And do not overdo soaping your body. It is even better to just rub the soap and let it lather on your hand and then apply that lather onto your skin.
3. Free from Fragrance
Have you ever wondered why most moisturizers don’t have much fragrance? That is because perfume can irritate your skin. So go for those moisturizing products that smell mild.
4. Wash your Clothes well
If possible, rinse your clothes 3 to 4 times before actually drying it in order to wash away the detergent which can cause irritation. Furthermore, choose a laundry detergent that is also mild and non-irritating.
5. Wear Gloves
This is especially true when doing the household chores because the substances that you use can also irritate your skin. The dishwashing soap and laundry detergent can be irritating. However, try to use cotton gloves as these don’t tend to be hot and they absorb the sweat from your hands.
6. Bathe in water with comfortable Temperature
You may not like cold or room temperature-water. But water that is too hot for your skin can also cause it to dry. So make sure to bathe in lukewarm water that is more comfortable and refreshing.
It is not just what you use that matters when you suffer from Eczema. Not eating right kind of food may decrease your chances of breaking free from the disease as much as eating food that can trigger Eczema. So here are the foods to eat to control Eczema.
This root crop has a lot of Vitamin C and is alkalizing. Also, it is rich in potassium and fiber.
2. Rice Milk
This is not very common but it is the best type of milk for those who suffer from Eczema since it is low in chemicals and allergens.
This fruit is so amazing as it is not only rich in potassium but also in nutrients that help reduce histamine in your blood. Apart from that, it is also rich in vitamin C and magnesium.
4. Green Onions
Just like the banana, green onions are rich in nutrients that help reduce histamine in your blood. Additionally, it is also rich in Vitamin K that is necessary for healthy skin.
Eczema can be very bothersome that sometimes you just want to skip going to the doctor and just scratch it like crazy. However, you don’t have to always head to the doctor’s office or scratch your skin till it bleeds since there are home remedies that you can try.
1. This remedy needs you to stack up on ice cold milk and some clean dry cloth.
When the itching attacks, soak the clean cloth in your milk and apply it on the affected area for several minutes. Do this until the itching eventually goes away.
Also, repeat this several times a day until the Eczema is completely gone. It may be expensive but you don’t have to pay your doctor’s consultation fee anymore.
2. Use a Moisturizer.
Even if your Eczema is not disturbing you, make it a habit to use moisturizer right after stepping out of the shower, while your skin is still damp. It will help seal in moisture to your skin.
3. Minimize Bathing.
It’s not that you shouldn’t bathe at all. But if you have Eczema, it tends to worsen when you bathe a lot because too much bathing can cause your skin to dry. So if you don’t really have to bathe, skip it. As long as you feel clean, that should not be a problem.
4. Don’t Scratch.
I know this can be hard especially that Eczema is really, really itchy. But the more you scratch it, the itchier it will get. In fact, scratching can worsen your Eczema.
Furthermore, you will only be hurting your skin when you do that as it may bleed and become crusty.
Eczema is a disease that can be controlled. It is manageable if you have the strict discipline to follow your medication and right diet. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to an Eczema-free body.
Also, do not feel embarrassed to seek help when you have Eczema because this is not something uncommon anymore. And science has come up with the right medication and treatment to make sure that it does not have long term effects on individuals like you who suffer from it.
It is also important to stay away from the allergens that you think can trigger your Eczema. Though you may not always know if it is there, believe your instincts when it says it is possibly around you.
Most of all, take care of your skin. That is the only skin that you can have so love it.