Nobody likes to be burdened with problems on the skin. In our lifetime, most of us have probably stressed ourselves out looking for that perfect remedy to make our skin flawless. We probably have tried following every beauty regime that celebrities use to keep our skin healthy and glowing. There are already tons of skin and beauty products readily available in the market, and even some would resort to surgery or alterations to achieve that young and beautiful look. However, not many people can have that kind of privilege. Some people are unfortunate enough to be born with or have contracted specific serious skin problems. One of these skin problems includes Eczema.
What are the causes of Eczema?
Eczema is a chronic condition where patterned blotches would appear on the skin. These red blotches overtime would eventually get inflamed and would become cracked, dry, rough and itchy. Often, these red, itchy patches would even become painful blisters.
It is not known where the cause of Eczema was originated. However, eczema has been thought to be directly associated with an overactive immune reaction when our body is exposed to irritants. It means that when our immune system cannot identify the foreign objects that get into the body, the cells would mess up and cause a hyperactive reaction. The response is what causes the eczema symptoms. Also, people who are born from a history of families that have some form of allergies or asthma are more likely to be susceptible to eczema.
Eczema is a common chronic skin problem for a lot of people. This is especially for people who are sensitive and easily allergic to their environment. In America alone, it is estimated that about 35 million people are diagnosed with eczema. Out of the 35 million, roughly 3% of those affected are adults, and around 20% of them are children.
Some individuals may eventually grow out of the condition, especially if the symptoms are mild. Others, however, may continue to have eczema until they are adults and would eventually become incurable. Normally, the treatment of eczema would only involve treating the damaged skin and reducing symptoms. Eczema is also not a contagious disease. Not only is eczema a genetic factor, but it can also often be triggered by certain environmental factors. These environmental factors are commonly pollen and smoke.
Other related and surrounding factors that can lead to eczema include:
– Allergens like pet hair, dust mites, pollens, dandruff, mold
– Household products like soaps, shampoos, detergent, juices, disinfectants that contain irritants
– Certain types of foods that can cause Eczema flare-ups like dairy, eggs, soy, nuts and seeds and even wheat
– Microbes that include a variety of bacteria, viruses, and fungi
– Inconsistent temperatures like extreme cold or high humidity, and even sweating from working out can also cause eczema
– Some women who are experiencing changes in hormone levels, like during pregnancy, menstruation or menopause, can also experience eczema symptoms.
– Stress, although not a direct cause, can worsen eczema symptoms.
How Does Eczema Look Like?
Symptoms of eczema can occur differently for everyone. However, what makes it distinct are the constant itchy feelings and glaring blotches that appear on the skin. Some people may experience mild symptoms while other people may have severe symptoms. Often, the itchiness makes the ordeal worse as people would scratch incessantly causing it to bleed. These are some of the symptoms to search for to identify someone with eczema:
– Incessant itching at different spots on the skin
– Skin is dry, extremely chapped and tender
– There are patches on the skin that are discolored and dark
– Some parts of the skin are inflamed and reddish
– Skin lesions may also ooze or crust
– There are areas on the skin that would crust and flake
While a person with eczema would have rashes and sores all over the body, the part of the body where eczema is common is the:
– Back of the knees
– Behind the person’s ears
– Inside of the elbows
– The face and mostly on the cheeks
– Palms of hands
– Soles of feet
Risk Factors for Eczema
When eczema gets extremely itchy, a person will scratch it too much to the point of breaking the skin. When this happens, bacteria and other viruses are allowed to get inside leading to an infection. Also, taking too many medications to try and manage the itching of eczema may develop into other health complications if taken for a long time.
What are the types of Eczema?
There are many types of skin problems that cause eczema. However, the most typical of them all is atopic dermatitis. Eczema is derived from the Greek word that means ‘to boil over.’ Atopy is known to be there when a person is highly allergic and is usually paired with hay fever, asthma, and chronic dermatitis. It is usually hereditary by nature and would usually occur at the beginning of childhood. Other types of eczema include:
Statis Dermatitis – This type of eczema occurs when there is irritation at the lower leg because of problems in the circulatory system
Allergic Contact Dermatitis – This type of eczema occurs as a reaction of the skin when in contact with an allergen or substance which the body’s immune system cannot recognize.
Neurodermatitis – This type of eczema is characterized by scaly, itchy patches on the skin of the scalp, head, and forearms, upper and lower arms as well as the lower legs.
Dyshidrotic Eczema – This type of eczema is a skin irritation that usually appears on the palms of hands and soles of feet. This is the type of eczema that is usually characterized as blisters.
Nummular Eczema – This type of eczema usually appears as a circular patch of crusted, scaly and itchy skin irritation.
Seborrheic Eczema – This type is usually seen as yellowish, scaly and oily patches of skin that is irritated and would appear on the face and the scalp.
Scabies – This type of eczema occurs when there is an infestation of the human itch mite. This would usually result in a rash that is somewhat similar to eczema.
Fungal Infections – This type of eczema is usually seen as a scraping under the microscope or culturally grown.
Lichen Simplex Chronicus – This type of eczema occurs when there is a thickening plaque of skin that is usually seen around the neck and shins.
Xerotic Eczema – When this type of eczema happens, an excessive dryness will cause the skin to crack and ooze.
How Eczema Affects Our Life
Living with eczema can have a drastic effect in our lives as it makes daily living an uncomfortable and challenging one. There is always a frequent and extremely intense urge to scratch the itchy areas, and this usually results in getting days off of work. For children, they would have to miss many days of school. There’s also that significant change in lifestyle as a person with eczema would have to avoid outdoor activities for fear of rash flare-up. There’s also a certain way that you need to wear clothes to avoid getting exposed to the environment as well as to cover up how it looks. Often, a person with eczema would avoid social interactions and family gatherings. This is because some are embarrassed and are self-conscious of the way people would stare at their appearance. Children can also become more agitated about the severe itchy and uncomfortable feeling that is associated with eczema.
Eczema can also compromise a person’s physical health as well. This is because having this condition would make it so hard to concentrate as well as to sleep at night. This can lead to behavioral problems due to feeling fatigued and tired.
How Is Eczema Diagnosed?
There are a lot of creams and medicines available over the counter to help reduce symptoms and itching of the eczema rashes. However, a visit to the doctor is usually the best method to diagnose eczema. Usually, the doctor would ask:
– If a person has allergic reaction certain foods like dairy, eggs or shellfish
– If a person is asthmatic and sensitive to things like pollen or dust
– If a person has a reaction to household substances that can irritate the skin like soap, shampoos or even cosmetics
– About the family history of the patient; whether he or she is born from a family of asthma and allergic
– If a person has experienced a lot of stress
– Where the symptoms started showing and when
– If a person has had past experience in treating other skin conditions
While there’s no cure for eczema itself, there are various ways to treat the rashes and reduce the itching. There are over-the-counter remedies, antihistamines, prescription medications or antibiotics depending on the severity and age of the patient with eczema. However, this may not always be effective 100% of the time. Over time, an excess intake of drugs can have adverse effects on a person’s health. Often, doctors may even refer a patient to a person who specializes in skin problems like dermatologist or allergist. Treatment for each eczema patient comes differently.
However, it is essential to be familiar with the kind of environmental factors that can trigger eczema or produce an allergic reaction. In that case, try avoiding those triggers to lessen the chances of irritating skin outbreaks and allergies. Below are some natural methods you can use to manage eczema and potentially reduce the symptoms and itching.
Home Treatments for Eczema
Take baths regularly
This can potentially hydrate skin and removes the excess crust and flakes of the affected areas. Taking regular showers can also remove dirt and germs. It also provides relief from all the itchy areas. When taking a bath, it is advisable to use a mild, fragrance-free wash that does not produce too many bubbles. Also, be sure to take a bath in lukewarm water. When drying off, do not scrub off with roughly or aggressively with a towel. It is better just to pat, or air dry the body after taking a bath.
Alternatively, you can soak yourself in an essential oil bath for a better relief and relaxation.
Use a moisturizer
Applying moisturizers three minutes after bathing helps preserve moisture and hydrate the skin. Make sure to use a moisturizer that is gentle and fragrance-free to prevent irritating the skin. Make sure to apply a moisturizer daily as this helps lock in the moisture.
Another type of natural moisturizer you can alternatively is coconut oil. It can help heal the damaged skin from rashes and keeps your skin from drying out.
Wear comfortable clothes
Try avoiding skin-tight fabrics with scratchy fibers or wool as it would trigger the urge to scratch. Instead, use cotton or soft fabric clothing. For a person who cannot get exposed to the sun, try using soft fabric long-sleeved clothing and a hat to cover the head.
Keep your nails short by cutting them frequently to avoid breaking the skin from scratching.
If the air is too dry, it would also help to dampen a soft fabric towel and wipe your body gently with the wet cloth to relieve the itching.
Humidifiers are your friend – During dry or cold weather, use a humidifier to create and maintain moisture in the air.
Learn Eczema triggers
As much as possible, avoid activities that would make you sweat. Avoid places that carry excess dust, pollen, and smoke to avoid an allergic reaction. Also, try avoiding foods that could potentially trigger a reaction and a skin breakout. It helps to know what the weather would be so you can appropriately prepare yourself in case of a reaction. It is essential to know what type of external factors that would prompt an allergic reaction which would cause eczema.
Although not directly linked to Eczema, it is also important to avoid situations that would give you stress. Stress can have a chemical effect on our body which would disrupt our cells causing a breakout.
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