Eczema is a chronic and inherited skin condition that can appear on many areas of the body, coming and going over time. It's important to understand the causes of eczema to know the best way to prevent and treat symptoms.
What is eczema?
Often mistaken for psoriasis due to the red, inflamed condition of the skin, individuals with eczema have itchy skin that may change in texture and even crack and ooze. Those with extra sensitive skin may be more likely to suffer from eczema but it’s also related to the immune system.
Many children with eczema also develop allergic conditions or asthma, however, the condition itself isn’t labeled an allergy. Instead, eczema is viewed as a defect in the skin's protective barrier properties.
Eczema can be "triggered" by many different factors. The most common triggers to an outbreak or worsening of eczema are:
Overly hot or cold conditions in which the skin dries out excessively or sweats excessively
Emotional and/or bodily stress
Direct contact with irritants such as woolen fabrics or specific types of detergents/soaps
Paying attention to triggers is important for anyone with eczema, helping them identify ways to control their eczema. Remaining aware of weather conditions and keeping the skin cool and dry is a great way to start. It’s also essential to find ways to eliminate or reduce stress to the body both emotionally and mentally. Lastly, knowing the materials that tend to irritate the skin can lead to smarter choices when shopping for clothing and even home furnishings.
In addition to avoiding the triggers of eczema, there are also some very reliable natural and home remedies that can help get an outbreak under control:
Bathing -- It’s best to use warm rather than hot water or to soak in a lukewarm tub. Bathe daily, but alternate between showers and baths. Use a very gentle, mild soap instead of scrubbing the body with a rough cloth or bath brush. Be sure to rinse off completely.
Moisturize -- After bathing, pat the body dry. Never scrub with the towel. When the skin is still a bit damp, apply a gentle moisturizing lotion to cover the entire body. Avoid fragrances and artificial ingredients whenever possible.
Essential Fatty Acids -- Fish oil and evening primrose oil are rich in essential fatty acids, or "good" fats, and can supply anti-inflammatory precursors that are often lacking in people with eczema.
Probiotics -- Taking a probiotic supplement may be helpful in reducing the symptoms of eczema, particularly in infants and children.
Eczema can be a frustrating condition, but working with your doctor to develop good habits can reduce triggers and control the condition to the greatest degree possible.