What is Eczema?
Eczema is a skin condition that creates a dry and scaly patch of skin on certain areas of the body.
It is usually itchy and makes the affected area of your skin turn red, especially when your skin is light. On brown or black skin, however, eczema tends to look darker brown, purple or ashen grey in color.
Eczema is caused by allergies or skin irritations. There are different kinds of eczema. Each varies based on the cause and location of the infection. They include:
- Atopic Dermatitis: usually forms around the knees or elbows. It is triggered by environmental factors.
- Contact Dermatitis: occurs when you touch something that irritates your skin such as latex, detergents, bleach, paint, poisonous plants, etc.
- Dishidrotic (or Dyshidrotic) Eczema: makes blisters form on your feet and hands. This occurs if your feet and hands have been exposed to chemicals.
- Hand Eczema: only occurs on the hands, especially if they have been exposed to irritating chemicals.
- Neurodermatitis: occurs on the back of your neck, feet, arms, feet and scalp.
- Nummular Eczema: causes coin shaped spots to form on your skin. It is usually caused by allergic reaction to insect bite or metals.
- Stasis Dermatitis: causes varicose veins in the legs. This happens when fluids that should be in your veins get to your skin.
Though it is mostly common in babies, eczema can also occur in teens and adults. And it is not contagious.
The symptoms of eczema vary and occur in different parts of the body. Symptoms that might occur on a person’s skin might differ from the symptoms on another.
General symptoms to look out for include: dry skin, an inflamed skin, which is usually red/brown/ash, consistent itching, scaly skin patch and sometimes swelling.
Eczema can be treated in different ways but the first thing to do is see a doctor.
See a Doctor
This is very essential because there are different kinds of eczema.
A doctor, especially a dermatologist, would be able to ascertain what kind of eczema you have, what triggered it and the best way to treat it. Doctors could prescribe over the counter drugs or Ultra Violet radiation depending on how critical your skin condition is.
Ways to Ensure your Symptoms Don’t Flare Up?
Before you go to see the doctor, there are some rules you need to follow to ensure that your symptoms don’t flare up. Even after going to see the doctors, these tips work hand in hand with whatever treatment the doctor might prescribe:
1. Always keep your skin hydrated
Since eczema is a dry patch on your skin, it is important that you keep your skin hydrated. This means your skin needs to stay moist at all times. This might be a little tricky because though water helps to keep your skin moist, too much water makes your skin dry.
So, whenever you decide to take a bathe, try not to stay under the shower for too long. Five to ten minutes is okay.
2. Avoid itching
It is important that you keep your fingers away from the affected area. This might seem hard to do because eczema itches a lot, but it is necessary.
Constantly itching the skin irritates your skin and would eventually lead to open sores. This complicates things because an open sore is prone to infection.
If you must scratch, then make sure to keep your fingernails short. Putting a cold compress over the affected area reduces the itchy sensation.
3. Use moisturizers
It doesn’t have to be a fancy or expensive moisturizer. All you need is a good moisturizer. It is advisable you use an oil-based moisturizer. Moisturizers keep your skin moist and help to speed up the recovery process. After taking your bathe, apply moisturizer on your skin while it is still damp, to seal in moisture.
4. Stay away from anything that would irritate your skin
It is harder for your skin to heal if it is constantly irritated. It might worsen things.
Here’s a list of things you should not do, to avoid irritation:
- Do not use detergents to wash. They might irritate your hands and also, clothes washed with detergents might irritate your skin.
- Keep away from scented products. The fragrance within might irritate your skin and make your conditions worse.
- Do not wear jewelry on the affected area of the skin.
- Do not use harsh soaps to bathe. Avoid antiseptic and antibacterial soaps. Regular bathing soaps that are not heavily scented are just fine.
- Stay away from anything that might cause allergies.
5. Do not wear synthetic fabrics
Synthetic fabrics only further irritate the skin. Fabrics like wool, polyester and the likes should be avoided. Stick to cotton fabrics till the eczema is properly treated. This also extends to blankets, bed sheets, stockings and any other piece of clothing that comes in contact with your skin.
Also avoid tight clothes that would constantly rub against your skin.
6. Avoid harsh weather conditions
This is not only limited to hot weather conditions. If an environment is too cold, it affects your skin. Environments with extreme temperatures are no good.
Try not to take your bathe with hot water or cold water. Doing this will only dry out your skin. Instead, use lukewarm water.
7. Watch out for food allergies
It is no news that what we eat greatly affects our skin. Eczema can be caused by food allergies. It is important to know what foods you are allergic to. If a particular food is the reason you have eczema, then treatment could be as easy as avoiding such food!
Since there are different kinds of eczema, it is not advisable to adopt the “one fixes all” approach. Just because a person used a particular drug and it worked for them doesn’t mean it would work for you. Go see a doctor who would prescribe the best medications for you.
With the doctor’s prescription and the tips above, eczema is bound to disappear completely.