Eczema, or Atopic Dermatitis, usually onsets in early childhood as red itchy skin, similar to a rash. Eczema is a type of skin inflammation, and is often related to having allergies, or a family history (of either allergies or eczema). In particular, those with asthma or hay fever are more prone to eczema.
Eczema is not contagious, and symptoms usually subside in adulthood. Eczema can still be triggered in adulthood by stress, allergies, and other triggers that may have set it off in childhood. In adulthood, eczema can sometimes be confused with other skin infections such as psoriasis, so be sure to see a doctor for a proper diagnoses.
Symptoms of Eczema include:
- A red itchy skin rash
- Flaky Skin
- Cracks in the skin
- Skin lessions
Although eczema is allergy related, it can also be caused by an immune system malfunction. For this reason some medical eczema treatments may include medications designed to change the immune system. If you are seeking a natural solution, look for supplements that do the same thing.
Other eczema treatments include temporary use of skin creams that contain ingredients like anti-histamines and steroids. Long term use of these may cause other skin problems (like thinning). For a natural remedy, try rubbing on calamine lotion, calendula, taking a cool bath with either of these, or with baking soda or uncooked oatmeal–see which of these works best for you, and consider alternating among them. UV light may help skin suffering from eczema, so consult with a dermatologist about spending time in the sun. The amount of time necessary is comparable to that which you should be getting to ensure Vitamin D production.
Itâ€™s important not to scratch your skin, so if these natural remedies donâ€™t work, try using a cool compress, and covering hands to avoid temptation.
Eczema is often worsened by:
- Extreme Temperatures
- Low Humidity
- Allowing skin to dry out (not drinking enough water, not using lotion or oil to lock in moisture after washing)
- Allergens (See a doctor or acupuncturist to determine what you are allergic to)
- Irritants such as sweat, dust, sand, and smoke (particularly cigarette smoke)
To help manage your eczema symptoms, choose foods and soaps that do not contain irritants. Choosing organic foods, particularly organic dairy products during breastfeeding, may help prevent eczema. Itâ€™s important to know what you are allergic to and avoid those foods. Making sure you get enough essential fatty acids, including those found in evening primrose oil, may help with the inflammation. Other anti-inflammatory foods, like bright colored fruits, may also be helpful. Soaps (laundry detergent, shampoo, etc.) should be mild and/or hypo-allergenic, and you should be cautious about scents. Also consider the sort of material your clothes are made of to avoid skin irritation.
Infection (cellulitis or impetigo) is a dangerous complication of eczema, especially if your eczema is a product of a malfunctioning immune system. Itâ€™s important to protect any cracks or lesions from infection by keeping them clean–natural bacteria, including Staphylococcus, live on the skin and present a danger. A natural antibiotic may be useful.
Taking care of your skin is important when you have eczema, so that you can avoid scarring, skin discoloration, severe pain, and symptoms that interfere with your life. If your eczema worsens, or an infection develops, seek medical help.