Your skin’s health is perhaps one of the most tell-tale signs of your overall well-being and attractiveness, and you have just about done everything you can — from brightening skin, sporting a healthy tan, preserving an even skin surface and even stocking up on all the essential supplements.
But perhaps there is one thing that you are helpless against. Eczema.
Eczema, contrary to popular belief that it is one singular skin condition, is actually a group of conditions that result in inflamed or irritated skin, with atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema. Atopic is a group of skin diseases that tend to also develop other allergies like asthma and hay fever.
In the United States alone, eczema affects about ten to twenty per cent of infants and about three per cent of adults and young children. Most babies who have the condition grow out of it before they are ten, while some continue to experience it periodically.
Symptoms Of Eczema
Skin inflicted with eczema is always itchy regardless of which part of the skin is affected. The onset of itch can happen before the rash occurs, and when the rash appears, it is most commonly on the face, wrists, hands, the back of knees or feet.
Eczema skin usually appears thickened, exceptionally dry and scaly. For those with fair skin, affected areas may appear to be reddish and then darken to brown, whereas for those with darker skin tone, the affected area can turn either lighter or darker.
In infants, eczema can look serious, producing a crusty and oozy skin that usually happen on the face and the scalp, although it can happen on other parts of the body.
Causes Of Eczema
It is unsure what the exact cause of eczema is, but it is believed that it is linked to an overactive immune response by the body’s natural immunity to a trigger; the symptoms of eczema are caused by this response. People with a history of eczema or asthma in the family have a higher tendency to have the condition although eczema can happen to anyone. The many breaks in the skin barrier of affected persons can open them up to skin infections as germs can enter the body more easily.
Certain substances and conditions can cause affected persons to experience eczema “flare-ups” in which the condition worsens. For some people, even touching a rough surface can trigger itchy symptoms. For others, it could be feeling too hot or cold, contact with certain cleaning agents or animal skin or fur.
There is currently no cure for eczema, but the condition is not contagious and its symptoms can be managed.
A general practitioner, paediatrician (for children) or a dermatologist can diagnose cases of skin conditions, including eczema. Although there are currently no tests for eczema, your doctor can tell by examining your skin and asking you some questions.
As eczema sufferers frequently have associated allergies, you may be asked to undergo allergy tests to find out what are some objects that can trigger your eczema.
Since there is no cure for eczema at the moment, the main goal of treatments is to alleviate the symptoms. Lotions and creams are recommended to relieve the dryness and itchiness of eczema, best applied on damp skin (e.g. after a shower) so that moisture can be retained. Cold compresses can also be used to relieve the itch.
There are various over-the-counter topical lotions and cream that can relieve the itch, reduce inflammation and disinfect open wounds caused by scratching to prevent infection.
For more severe cases, the doctor may prescribe some medicines to help you deal with the body’s response to the allergen or other more sophisticated treatment.
Preventing Eczema Flare-Ups
For some people, dry skin can cause or worsen itchiness. For some, dryness and itchiness are independent of each other. Regardless, moisturise affected areas frequently. Dry skin can become flaky and prone to damage by scratching or peeling.
Avoid Sudden Temperature Or Humidity Fluctuations
As eczema skin is sensitive, a sudden change in temperature or humidity can be a trigger for flare-ups. Try to avoid going in and out of the office too often by planning ahead what you need for the day and reduce errand-running.
We are not saying you should stop exercise forever; you can still counter the symptoms through other ways and still get your needed exercise. However, whenever possible, avoid perspiring as the salts and skin and microbial byproducts can trigger a flare-up.
Reduce & Manage Your Stress
While it is still not yet sure why stress and anxiety cause flare-ups, it has been observed that students and adults who are eczema sufferers experience them during high-stress periods such during exams season and when project deadlines are near. You can go for stress management classes, take up meditation or try making your office table or bedroom a more conducive environment for you.
Pick Smoother Fabrics
Choose non-allergenic and smooth fabrics like satin, silk, polyester and cotton to avoid getting triggered by rough textures. Try to avoid wool and other scratchy fabrics.
Avoid Harsh Detergents & Soaps
Harsh cleaning agents and unsuitable body washes can not only irritate the skin but also dry it up, causing your systems to become more serious. Try using non-allergenic latex gloves for washing dishes and laundry, and go for fragrance-free and neutral pH body washes and hand soaps.