September 27 2021
Eczema is a skin condition that is associated with inflamed, itchy, cracked and rough skin patches also called blisters in some cases. The most commonly found type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. The meaning of the word “atopic” is a collection of conditions involving an immune system of the body, hay fever and asthma; and the word “dermatitis” means inflammation on the skin. Some foods can trigger this skin condition, such as dairy and nuts. Smoke, pollen grains, soaps, fragrances, and some other environmental factors can also contribute to the development of eczema. This condition can be both short term and chronic.
Symptoms of eczema
The symptoms of this skin condition totally depend on the age of the person. It is quite common in newborn babies and is seen in the form of dry, itchy and scaly patches on the skin. Continuously rubbing or scratching the skin can also lead to various other skin infections. Eczema is not severe in most of the cases, it is associated with mild symptoms like dry, scaly skin, itching, open and crusted sores, skin flushing. Most of the affected people develop eczema before the age of 5, which usually goes by adolescence (in 60 per cent of the children).
- Symptoms are Seen in Children: rashes behind the creases of elbows, knees, neck, wrists, ankles and maybe in the crease between buttocks and lags, bumpy rashes, rashes becoming light and dark over time, thickening of the skin.
- Symptoms are Seen in Adults: rashes are usually scalier than children and commonly appear in the creases of elbows, knees or on the neck nape. The skin might feel permanently itchy with very dry skin, covering a larger area of the body.
- Symptoms are Seen in Infants: rashes on the scalp and cheeks are seen, which may bubble up before leaking and cause itching.
Types of eczema
- Allergic Contact Dermatitis: it is mainly a reaction in the skin that usually occurs following contact with a substance that is recognized as a foreign particle by the immune system.
- Dyshidrotic Eczema: dyshidrotic eczema refers to the irritation on the skin and palms of hands and feet, usually characterized by blisters.
- Stasis Dermatitis: stasis dermatitis is a condition in which irritation of the skin on lower legs is seen. It is usually related to problems in the circulatory system.
- Neurodermatatis: this type of eczema is associated with patches of skin on the head, forearms, lower legs and wrists. The main cause for this skin condition is a localized itch (for example, an insect bite).
- Discoid Dermatitis: in this type of eczema, people may experience circular patches of irritated, crusty, scaly and itchy skin and is also known as nummular eczema.
What causes eczema?
Specifically, the cause of eczema is not known yet. However, many healthcare professionals suggest that eczema develops because of some genetic as well as environmental factors. Children can also acquire this condition from their parents.
The environmental factors causing eczema includes:
- Microbes: bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus, and certain other viruses and fungi may cause eczema.
- Allergens: allergic agents like dust mites, pollen grains, mold can cause this skin condition, which is known as “allergic eczema”.
- Temperature: eczema can also be caused by very hot or very cold temperatures, high and low humidity, excessive perspiration.
- Foods: some particular foods like dairy products, eggs, seeds, soy products, nuts may cause eczema.
- Stress: Stress is not directly linked to eczema, but can cause the severity of symptoms making it worse.
- Hormones: increased symptoms of eczema might be experienced by women during hormonal imbalances, during pregnancy or menstruation.
How to treat eczema?
Other than medications used for the treatment of eczema, there are some natural remedies to reduce its symptoms, such as:
- Coconut Oil: extracted from the coconut meat, this oil is widely used as a natural moisturizer. The antibacterial properties of coconut oil are seen to remove staph bacteria from the skin, which prevents infection. This is why it is important for people affected by eczema, as the rashes turned inflamed patches may crack or ooze with bacteria entering it. Virgin and cold-pressed coconut oil are the best suited for this.
- Sunflower Oil: extracted from sunflower seeds, this oil offers protection to the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin), keeps the moisture in, hydrates skin, relieves itching and inflammation and inhibits the entry of bacteria. It can be applied undiluted directly on the affected parts of the skin after bathing.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a method of using fine needles, to insert in the different parts of the body to change the flow of energy. Acupressure, on the other hand, involves the usage of fingers or hands to pressurize points instead of using needles. However, more research is needed to conclude about this technique.
- Relaxation: Stress is often seen to worsen conditions like eczema and inflammation. Eczema may get better if stress management techniques are implied. Meditation, yoga, visualization, hypnosis, tai chi, cognitive behavioural therapy, deep breathing, listening to music are some of the techniques that can relax your mind and relieve symptoms of this skin problem.
- Witch Hazel: an astringent, it is basically made from the bark and leaves of the witch hazel shrub. It’s been used for centuries as a topical skin remedy for treating inflammation. It may calm the skin, dry up oozing areas and relieve itching. However, there is limited research about this remedy.
- Evening Primrose Oil: this oil comes from the evening primrose plant, and has been used for centuries for the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions like eczema. It contains omega-6 fatty acids as well as gamma linoleic acid which play a very significant role in reducing the inflammations in the body. It can also be taken as a supplement orally, like Alvizia’s evening primrose oil supplement, or Aleneve. It is available in a pack of 60 soft gelatin capsules and is also used to prevent skin and hair problems, like acne, hair loss, and is even effective in osteoporosis. However, the research is considered limited by healthcare professionals.
However, all these natural remedies must not be used in severe eczema and one must consult a doctor before using them.