While most of us may have had minor skin issues at least once in our lifetime, a chronic skin disease can be hard to deal with. This is why you should know about eczema, a chronic skin disease that is linked to immune system responses.
Keep reading to find out its prevention and treatment techniques.
What Is Eczema?
Eczema is a skin condition that can be characterized by itchy, red and inflamed skin. You may also notice the development of papules on the affected patch of skin.
There are different types of eczema, the most common one being atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is linked to a weakened immune system. It usually affects young children who tend to outgrow the skin condition.
Atopic dermatitis can also trigger asthma problems and hay fever. Although common among infants and children, adults may also experience regular flare-ups.
What Causes Eczema?
The exact cause of eczema is unknown. Research suggests that the condition can be linked to a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Here are some possible causes that can trigger flare-ups:
1. Harsh Chemical Products
Eczema fails to protect your skin from irritants and reacts to almost anything it touches. Skincare products containing harsh chemicals and artificial colors can trigger eczema flare-ups.
Certain bacteria, viruses and other microbes like Staphylococcus can trigger a flare-up.
Dust, mites, dandruff and other such allergens can contribute to eczema flare-ups.
4. Certain Foods
If you have a tendency to react to certain foods like nuts and seeds, dairy products or any other food items, avoid consuming them. These can contribute to eczema flare-ups.
5. Changes In Temperature
Extreme temperature changes can lead to an eczema flare-up.
Stress is not directly linked to eczema. However, it may be a contributing factor during an eczema flare-up.
7. Hormone Changes
Hormonal changes can trigger eczema symptoms. Women who have been a victim to this skin disorder in the past or who still experience flare-ups may notice symptoms during pregnancy, menopause or periods.
Symptoms Of Eczema
Symptoms vary depending on the type of eczema. Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema that usually affects children below 5 years. Almost half of these children continue to experience symptoms throughout their adulthood.
However, symptoms are usually different in adults. People with eczema also notice phases in which their symptoms worsen and phases in which they get better.
1. Symptoms In Infants
- Rashes on scalp and cheeks.
- Inflamed, pus-filled bumps.
2. Symptoms In Children Above 2 Years Until Puberty
- Rashes behind elbows and knees.
- Rashes on the neck, ankles, buttocks, legs.
3. Children May Notice These Changes In Their Rashes Over Time:
- Lightening or darkening of a rash.
- Bumpy rashes.
- Thickening of rashes due to a condition known as lichenification. Lichenification can cause permanent thickening of the skin due to constant itching.
4. Symptoms In Adults
- Prominent rashes on the neck and face.
- Rashes around the eyes.
- Permanently itchy rashes.
- Extremely dry and sensitive skin.
- Rashes may cover large areas of your body.
- Thickening of rashes due to a condition known as lichScaly rashes.
If you experienced eczema as a child and don’t notice symptoms as you age, it is likely that your skin is still extremely dry and sensitive. There is also a possibility that you may experience recurring hand eczema symptoms or eye problems.
Treatments For Eczema
The objective of treatment is to reduce inflammation and relieve the skin of itchiness. Eczema sadly has no cure. However, symptoms can be reduced with the right forms of medication. Your dermatologist may recommend topical and oral medication to relieve you of eczema symptoms.
1. Corticosteroid Creams
Corticosteroid creams help reduce inflammation and itchiness. These are applied directly to the skin. Corticosteroid creams are effective in soothing the skin and relieving it of feeling itchy and dry (1).
Oral antibiotics may be prescribed to you alongside other medication. Antibiotics have anti-inflammatory properties and help kill bacteria. Your dermatologist may recommend these if your eczema occurs due to a bacterial infection (2).
3. Systemic Corticosteroids
These oral medications are effective in reducing inflammation and itchiness. If your topical corticosteroids don’t work, your dermatologist may prescribe these to help improve eczema symptoms. Prolonged use of systemic corticosteroids is not encouraged, unless during certain circumstances (3).
4. Antiviral And Antifungal Medications
These are given to treat fungal and viral infections that may contribute to eczema flare-ups.
Antihistamines are prescribed to reduce eczema symptoms and relieve pain (4). When your body comes in contact with a substance it considers foreign, it triggers immune system responses. This can aggravate eczema symptoms.
Phototherapy is used to treat moderate eczema. It uses UV light to reduce eczema symptoms. The use of artificial sunlight can relieve your skin of itchiness. Phototherapy is, however, linked to skin cancer. Talk to your dermatologist to decide if you can go ahead with this process (5).
If you constantly scratch your rash, it can worsen your symptoms, resulting in an itch-scratch cycle. It can also contribute to inflamed skin.
How To Prevent Eczema Symptoms
1. Use Lukewarm Water
Eczema is a dry skin condition that causes skin-sensitivity. Dry skin means your skin lacks moisture. Hot water can damage your skin’s barrier and strip its moisture and necessary oils, aggravating eczema symptoms. It is recommended for you to use lukewarm water while bathing.
2. Apply Moisture As Soon As You Aat Yourself Dry
Applying moisturizer as soon as you are out of the shower will lock-in moisture. This will keep your skin feeling smooth and relieve it of itchiness and dryness.
3. Wear Loose Clothing
Tight, scratchy clothes can trigger eczema flare-ups. These constantly rub against your skin, making it feel uncomfortable. They can also contribute to inflammation of your skin.
4. Use A Soap-Free Cleanser
Soaps can dry up your skin further and eradicate your skin barrier. This can result in a loss of moisture. Use soap-free cleansers to wash your face.
5. Avoid Certain Foods
If your body easily reacts to certain foods like dairy products, nuts, seeds or any other eatables, avoid consumption.
6. Pat, Don’t Rub
Don’t rub your towel against your skin while drying yourself up. This can aggravate flare-ups.
7. Invest In A Humidifier
Cold weather may fail to keep your skin hydrated due to a lack of humidity. Humidifiers add moisture to your surroundings that can help keep your skin’s moisture levels intact.
Types Of Eczema
1. Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema, usually affecting infants and children aged below 2 years. Atopic dermatitis occurs when the skin comes in contact with a substance that the body’s immune system recognizes as foreign.
Flaky patches of skin on the forehead, wrists and soles of the feet can indicate a possibility of neurodermatitis (6).
3. Nummular Eczema
Nummular eczema can be characterized by flaky patches of skin around the mouth area, forearms, wrists and lower legs. It usually occurs in men and is a chronic skin condition (7).
4. Dyshidrotic Eczema
This type of eczema affects the palms of your hand and soles of your feet. It can be characterized by inflammation and tearing of the skin every now and then.
5. Stasis Dermatitis
Problems with blood circulation can cause stasis dermatitis. If you have stasis dermatitis, you are likely to be prone to skin irritation on the lower parts of your legs.
It is always a good option to visit your dermatologist in case of recurring flare ups. Your doctor will recommend the right medication for you based on the severity of your condition and skin type.
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