As mentioned above, the exact cause of eczema is not yet known, but a possible factor is an abnormal function of the immune system. It is also known to be linked to family history.
Sometimes the swelling can flare up for no reason at all, but it can also be set off by the following:
- Soap, shampoo, and detergent
- Cosmetics, clothing, and jewelry
- Inhaled irritants like dust mites and pollen
- Food allergies
- Dry skin
- Changes in hormone levels (i.e. a few days before menstruation)
- Weather changes
- Psychological stress
Symptoms of Eczema
There is no particular part of the body where eczema occurs, but it usually occurs on the face, neck, wrists, ankles and the insides of knees and elbows in children and adults. On the other hand, it typically manifests on the scalp, forehead, cheeks, neck, and legs of babies. Eczema is a possibility when you experience the following symptoms:
- Intense itching
- Dry and scaly skin
- Crusting, flaking, and cracking of the skin
- Oozing lesions and blisters
Healed lesions may sometimes cause temporary skin discoloration, but scarring is unusual.
If you have been diagnosed with eczema, the doctor will tell you what type of eczema it is and will brief you with the suitable treatment plan. This plan is based on the type and severity of the eczema, and your medical history, among other factors. In general, the medications that the doctor will prescribe aims to reduce itching, lessen skin inflammation, remove and decrease lesions, and clear up infections, if any.
It is very important to understand that there is no cure for eczema. Treatment only aim to lessen the symptoms. Also, one treatment alone will not be effective in most cases of eczema. Studies show that the most effective treatment for any type of eczema involves a combination of different therapies.
Today, there are hundreds of effective over-the-counter products and prescription medications used to deal with eczema. With the proper treatment, you are sure to control the said skin condition.
Dryness of the skin can worsen eczema. Thus, moisturizing is an essential self-care step in those with eczema. But not all products labeled as moisturizing can be used, especially those that contain soap and other harsh ingredients. These will only strip your skin of its natural oils and cause it to dry out even more. Instead, use emollients that smoothen, soothe, and hydrate the skin. Emollients come in different forms: creams, lotions, and ointments. It is best to use thicker emollients like ointments on extra dry skin since light ones like aqueous creams might not have any notable effect on it. The best time to use tem is after a shower while your skin is still damp.
Mild steroid creams may also be used. They control your bodyís inflammatory response, thus reducing flare-ups. For mild to moderate eczema, a weak steroid like hydrocortisone may be used. Prescription higher-potency steroids, such as clobetasol propionate, are recommended for severe cases. Steroid creams must be used sparingly because of their possible side effects, such as causing the skin to become more fragile and thinner. Once the desired result has been achieved, it would be better to discontinue its use and switch to using emollients.
If the milder over-the-counter treatments did not work out for you, your doctor can prescribe other treatment options.
As mentioned above, stronger steroid creams may be prescribed. They should be used sparingly because of their side effects. Oral steroids, like prednisolone, may also be taken in tablet form.
Immunosuppressant drugs, such as cilosporin and azathioprine, may also be prescribed. These may alter your immune systemís response and hence reduce the inflammation of your skin. Like steroids, they pose the risk of harmful side effects so you should not take them without consulting your doctor.
Antibiotics, such as erythromycin and flucloxacillin, will be prescribed by your doctor if you have skin infections.
Eczema is a very stubborn skin condition. You have to make a lot of effort in order to help reduce its symptoms. Drugs and medications are only one side of the treatment. Dealing with eczema also involves avoiding the things that trigger your skinís flare-ups, such as stress, certain types of food, and dust. In other words, a change in lifestyle is also necessary.
Donít Scratch Your Skin
Scratching would only create an itch-scratch cycle: the skin starts to itch, the person scratches it, and the skin becomes itchier. Excessive scratching might affect your skin reaction. It sometimes results in thicker skin which feels leathery. Scratching might also affect the healing process since it can break the skin and cause an infection to occur.
In order to minimize itching, moisturize your skin frequently and resist the urge to scratch it. You can ask your doctor regarding medicines that can relieve itching.
Take Good Care of Your Skin
In order to lessen the frequency of eczema flare-ups, it is vital that you make it a habit to care for your skin. Aside from preventing and reducing outbreaks of eczema, taking good care of your skin may also help you avoid getting bacterial infections.
Avoid long and hot showers. Shower quickly using warm water instead. Avoid using soap as this will only strip your skin of its natural oils; use non-soap cleansers instead. Gently pat your skin dry with a soft towel. Excessive rubbing will only aggravate your skin condition.
Make it a point to moisturize your skin. It is best to use skin moisturizers, such as emollients, after a bath with your skin still damp. Thick emollients like ointments would work best on extra dry skin. Lighter emollients, such as aqueous creams and lotions, are not as effective.
Keep Away From Skin Irritants
There are many chemicals and substances that would only irritate your skin and cause eczema outbreaks. Some of them are the following:
- Soaps and detergents
- Wool and other scratchy fabrics
- Skincare products with alcohol
Maintain a Stable Temperature
As much as possible, stay in places with stable cool temperature and the right humidity levels. Avoid exposing yourself to excess moisture, such as in saunas or when sweating can be excessive.
Relax and Unwind
Stress is one of the primary triggers of eczema, so you should maintain emotional balance. Try to relax more often.
Eczema is a medical condition that involves the inflammation of the skin. It is usually characterized by redness, inflammation, breaking, flaking, cracking, and dryness of the skin. Blisters and lesions may also be present so infection is a possibility.
A lot of people worldwide are afflicted with this hypersensitivity of the skin. In search for the perfect cure for eczema, they have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on commercial skincare products, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and alternative herbal remedies. Majority of these people experience disappointment and frustration with the negative results that they got, while some are blessed with a little improvement in their skin condition. The few who think they got completely cured of eczema become devastated upon finding out it just recurred.
A good and thorough understanding of eczema and its treatment is vital in dealing with it. It would have saved a lot of people from being discouraged and depressed had they known that there is no cure for eczema. No one in the medical field has found the one thing that would totally eliminate it. The treatments for eczema currently out in the market can only reduce its symptoms. Thus, it would be better to just prevent it from flaring up. This can be done only when we know its causes.
It is common sense that skincare products with harsh chemicals may cause allergies and skin irritations, causing eczema to set off. Thus, one of the first things that you should do is to discontinue the use of such products. Switch to something milder Ė those that are soap, alcohol, and fragrance-free. These chemicals may strip our skin of its natural moisture.
Another major cause of eczema is our exposure to allergens. Eczema is often an allergic reaction of our body to certain substances that it deems foreign. These substances range from drugs to pollen to food. It is virtually impossible to isolate yourself from these allergens because most of them can be found almost everywhere. A good example would be dust. Since they canít be avoided, the only thing we can do is to minimize our exposure to them. For instance, you can keep your pets away from particular rooms, such as your bedroom. Avoid hanging heavy curtains and get rid of other things that will just collect dust. Keep your windows closed if youíre allergic to pollen. If youíre allergic to mold, avoid going to damp areas and keep the rooms in your house clean and dry. These are just a few of what you can do depending on what you are allergic to. Eliminating allergies is just a matter of avoiding allergens.
Excessive sweating is another factor that can trigger eczema. If you can, refrain from engaging in activities that you know will make you perspire a lot. If this is not possible, make sure to take a quick shower after these activities and dry your body thoroughly but gently.
Eczema has other causes, such as dry skin and psychological stress. There are a lot of measures that you can take in order to avoid them. There might not be a real cure for eczema, but at least you can do something to avoid it .