Health Tips: Coping with Eczema
by Karen Rollins Mar 25, 2019
If you are one of the millions of people all over the world who suffer from eczema then you know how uncomfortable this condition can be, and how difficult it can be to live with it.
Eczema affects children and adults, and although the exact cause is unknown, it has been linked to genes, hormones and various allergens.
Yello has put together these tips to provide more information on what eczema is, how it can be treated, and some of the best ways to deal with flare-ups.
What is eczema?
Eczema is a term used to cover several non-infectious skin conditions that cause red, scaly, itchy, dry, bumpy or thickened patches of skin. These patches of rough skin commonly appear on the face, hands and feet, or in the creases behind elbows and knees.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema. It usually affects children before their first birthday, although it can occur in adults, and is usually a long-term condition. There are also several sub-categories of eczema which include:
*Contact dermatitis: When the skin comes into contact with an external irritant such as detergent or chemicals.
*Dyshidrotic eczema: Involves small itchy blisters on feet, toes, fingers, and the palms of the hands, which can be triggered by moist hands and feet and metal plated jewellery, such as nickel.
*Seborrheic dermatitis: A type of eczema where red, scaly patches develop on the sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears and scalp. The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown, although genes and hormones are believed to play a part.
*Varicose eczema: Most often affects the lower legs and is caused by problems with the flow of blood through the veins.
What causes eczema?
The exact cause of eczema is unknown but it’s believed to occur when the immune system goes into overdrive in response to an allergen or irritant inside or outside the body – ‘atopic’ means sensitivity to allergens.
Recent research has found that eczema seems to affect more women than men, as well as people in developed countries and those living in cold climates.
Some common triggers include:
*Irritants: Such as shampoos, soaps, fabric softeners and detergents; disinfectants such as chlorine and juices from certain fruits and vegetables.
*Allergens: Environments that cause allergies can also cause eczema to flare up, these include dust, mould, mildew, animal fur, and pollen.
*Food allergies: Many people with eczema also have a food allergy that can trigger the condition. Common food allergies include dairy, nuts and seeds, soy, wheat and eggs.
*Hormones: Women can experience fluctuations in their eczema linked to high and low levels of hormones.
How is eczema treated?
Some of the most effective treatments for atopic eczema are moisturisers, known as emollients. Emollients, which stop your skin from drying out by covering it with a protective film to trap water and provide relief from itchiness, should be applied at least twice a day for the best results.
Topical creams and ointments, or corticosteroids, reduce swelling, itching and redness during flare-ups. The weakest type (1% hydrocortisone) can be bought from pharmacies, but stronger ones have to be prescribed by a doctor.
What else can I do?
Some other steps you can take to relieve eczema symptoms including:
*Bathing in lukewarm, not hot, water. Add fragrance-free bath oil, baking soda or a commercial oatmeal bath preparation to soothe irritated skin.
*Wearing loose clothing that enables your skin to ‘breathe,’ like cotton and other natural fibres. Avoid woollens and acrylics if possible.
*Don’t scratch eczema as this will spread the rash and could cause an infection.