Atopic Dermatitis and the Symptoms, Causes and Treatment for Eczema
Find out all about this skin condition that is almost defined by itching - and the need to scratch...
What are the symptoms of eczema?
Almost always, an adult or child’s skin will itch before a rash appears in eczema. Then, patches of chronically itchy, dry, thickened skin can appear - usually on the hands, neck, face and legs (but it can occur anywhere). In children, the inner creases of the knees and elbows are more usually affected.
If scratched, dry patches of skin and open sores with crusts may develop and may get infected.
What are the causes of eczema?
While it is not known exactly what causes eczema, researchers believe a combination of genes and triggers are involved.
People with eczema tend to have an over-reactive immune system that when triggered by a substance outside or inside the body, responds by producing inflammation, leading to the red, itchy and painful skin symptoms.
Research has also shown that some people with eczema have a mutation of the gene responsible for creating filaggrin.
Filaggrin is a protein that helps our bodies maintain a healthy protective barrier on the very top layer of the skin. Without enough filaggrin to build a strong skin barrier, moisture can escape allowing bacteria, viruses and more to enter. This is the reason why many of those with eczema have very dry and infection-prone skin.
What are the risk factors for developing eczema?
Dryness and eczema go hand in hand - and it is this dryness that makes it so important to keep on moisturizing when you have the recurring symptoms of eczema. Add in heat and sweat, and the skin becomes even more irritated and itchy, with valuable water and moisture being lost from the skin.
A warm daily bath for 15 to 20 minutes helps by using a moisturizing aqueous cream rather than ordinary soaps for cleaning. Avoid any excessive scrubbing. The skin should be dried by gently patting with a towel to remove excess water. For an additional soothing treat, add colloidal oatmeal like Aveeno to the bath, and even use oatmeal as a soap substitute. For the bath, pour 2 cups of colloidal oatmeal into the lukewarm water. This oatmeal is a fine powder that will remain suspended in water. For use as a soap substitute, wrap colloidal oatmeal in a handkerchief, place a rubber band around the top, wet it, wring it out and use as you would a normal washcloth.
After patting dry, and while the skin is still damp, apply a moisturizer and preferably one that is more greasy than creamy.
A moisturizer is even more important to use if you are working or living in an air conditioned or heated workplace or home. Use twice a day and more often on the hands.
Our own Simply Face Oil provides the perfect moisturizer whatever your skin type.
More eczema home remedies
One is the simple use of water. Apply cold compresses or cold water. Cold, wet dressings can help soothe and relieve the itching associated with eczema. You can even use cold milk instead of water for an extra soothing experience. Apply the dressing to irritated skin for a few minutes. Re-soak the cloth and reapply, continuing the process for about 10 minutes several times per day.
Some regular sunlight and the vitamin D it produces in your system are a healing combination. Not being deficient in Vitamin D (the feel good hormone) is imperative when treating any condition so it is always worth while to be tested for your levels so that, if you are unable to get sufficient sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes (closest to noon) several times per week to as much as your body as possible, you can top up with a vitamin D3 supplement.
Eczema is aggravated by dehumidified air - especially during winter months when forced-air heat circulates in the home. As this heat is more drying than other types, a good humidifier is an excellent home remedy for eczema. Make sure your humidifier covers a large area of the home to be beneficial. Also put one next to the bed of anyone suffering from eczema so they benefit as they sleep.
Essential oils have been used down the centuries as a successful home remedy for eczema and other skin conditions. Now H-Eczema Formula is specially formulated from pure essential oils to provide the perfect healing eczema home remedy that is gentle, safe and successful to use for treating the symptoms of eczema.
What can happen when you keep on scratching?
Scratching can actually trigger eczematous rashes
Some eczematous rashes completely disappear without any treatment if you can just stop scratching. By finding the perfect combination of keeping the skin moisturized and eczema home remedies, you can manage this uncomfortable skin condition.
Does eczema appear in children?
Eczema can be such an itching, irritating and incredibly uncomfortable condition. Children can really suffer when you have to try to prevent them from scratching at their eczema rash.
It is particularly difficult to stop children from scratching their eczema outbreaks when they are so itchy, but keeping the areas heavily moisturized will help. In addition, keeping your child's nails cut very short and putting on mittens when your child is sleeping.
The almost unbearable itchiness of the skin causes the child to scratch, which in turn worsens the itch and so it goes on...
What are the complications that can arise from eczema? When should you see a doctor?
- If you develop an itchy rash and have a family history of eczema or asthma.
- If the inflammation doesn't respond within a reasonable time to treatment.
- If you develop yellowish to light brown crust or pus-filled blisters over existing patches of eczema. This may indicate a bacterial infection that may have to be treated with an antibiotic. During a flare-up of eczema, you are exposed to anyone with a viral skin disease such as cold sores or genital herpes. Having eczema puts you at increased risk of contracting the herpes simplex virus.
- If you develop numerous painful, small, fluid-filled blisters in the areas of eczema. You may have eczema herpeticum, a rare but potentially serious complication caused by the herpes simplex virus.
You can find lots more information on the subject of eczema if you follow this link.
How can eczema be treated?
Identifying and avoiding your triggers, keeping your immune system healthy by reducing stress, avoiding illness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, are paramount in keeping this skin condition under control.
Too much heat and sweat can make the skin even more irritated and itchy. When the body sweats, valuable water and moisture is lost from the skin. Keeping the skin moisturized is key to controlling this affliction. It is vital to establish a skin care routine.
A daily bath helps to moisturize the skin, using moisturizing aqueous cream rather than ordinary soaps for cleaning. The temperature should be warm and it is helpful to soak for 15 to 20 minutes so that the skin’s outer layer can absorb moisture while avoiding any excessive scrubbing. After bathing, the skin should be partly dried by gently patting with a towel to remove excess water while still leaving the skin damp.
Our own H-Eczema Formula works with your body to heal your symptoms as opposed to harsh over-the-counter and prescription eczema creams which can have adverse effects.
Remember too, when dealing with eczema, that it is an autoimmune disorder and not just dry skin. It is worthwhile to investigate and treat underlying causes
How can eczema be prevented?
Working to keep your symptoms under control is important to staying healthy and comfortable while living with eczema. When trying to identify potential triggers, keep in mind that an eczema flare-up can appear some time after exposure. This lag time can make some triggers challenging to detect.
Eczema affects everyone differently. One person’s triggers may not be the same as another’s. You might experience eczema symptoms at certain times of the year or on different areas of your body.
Here are some of the most common triggers to help you identify your own possible trigger:
- Dry skin. When your skin gets too dry, it can easily become brittle, scaly, rough or tight, which can lead to an eczema flare-up. We have already talked above about the importance of moisturizing skin to manage eczema flares.
- Irritants. Everyday products and even natural substances can cause your skin to burn and itch, or become dry and red. These can include products that you use on your body or in your home or even natural liquids like the juice from fresh fruit, vegetables or meats which can irritate your skin when you touch them.
- Other common irritants include metals (especially nickel), cigarette smoke, soaps and household cleansers, fragrances, certain fabrics like wool and polyester, antibacterial ointment like neomycin and bacitracin, formaldehyde, which is found in household disinfectants, some vaccines, glues and adhesives, isothiazolinone (an antibacterial that is found in personal care products like baby wipes), cocamidopropyl betaine (which is used to thicken shampoos and lotions) as well as paraphenylene-diamine (which is used in leather dyes and temporary tattoos).
- Emotional stress can be an eczema trigger with some people's symptoms becoming worse when feeling stressed. Others might find that just having eczema in the first place can cause stress, worsening flare ups.
If you would like to see further images of eczema and other skin conditions, you will find them here.