What is eczema?
Ever had times where your skin becomes itchy, dry and cracked? Well you may be suffering from eczema! It varies from person to person some people only have small patches of dry skin in certain places such as the hands, inside of the elbows, backs of the knees and face region, whilst others may experience widespread, aggravated and sore skin everywhere. Symptoms usually include itching, dry skin, inflamed/discoloured skin, rough/scaly patches of skin, bumps that start oozing or crusting when scratched and areas of swelling amongst other things. On lighter skin tones it is usually a red/pink colour, however on darker skin tones it may be harder to spot as it appears brown/purple/grey.
What are the causes?
There is no exact cause of eczema as it could be due to a multitude of things- usually genes and environmental triggers. However it is prevalent in people with asthma, hay fever, coming into contact with certain substances, dust, sweat, extreme temperatures or allergies (even food!). This is due to eczema being related to a variation in your gene which reduces your skins ability to retain moisture and protect you from irritants, allergens and bacteria. Thus making your skin more susceptible to these factors.
How should we treat it?
- avoid scratching, if you do this unconsciously at night clip your fingernails, try wearing gloves and covered clothes or even cover the areas with bandages
- keep a food diary and monitor your triggers, making sure you avoid them, common triggers include egg, milk, soy, wheat and nuts
- topical corticosteroids to help reduce redness, swelling and itching
- moisturise your skin at least twice a day, keep a eye out for products containing ceramides, hyaluronic acid and cica
- try skincare brands such as CeraVe and Aveeno
- take antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Benadryl or Allegra at night
- choose mild soaps and cleansers which are fragrance-free, dye-free and alcohol-free
- avoid rough, tight and scratchy clothing especially during exercise or hot weather
- be careful when drying yourself after a shower ensuring you pat lightly instead of rubbing
- take shorter baths or showers in lukewarm water
- avoid using AHAs and BHAs
- try an oatmeal bath