If you suffer from eczema, you are not alone. Roughly 32 million Americans are affected by the “dry-skin” condition. What happens is the skin cannot produce enough essential oils, which trap water and hold in moisture to keep the skin soft and supple. Without enough moisture, the skin dries, tightens and becomes itchy, red and irritated. The dry cracked skin creates gaps between cells that can trap dirt, fungi, viruses and bacteria that can lead to infection, weeping and breakouts. Even though the symptoms are similar, eczema affects each individual very differently, which can make managing eczema a bit tricky.
Eczema generally appears as one of three types of skin conditions:
1) Atopic Dermatitis – The most common form of eczema is chronic and inherited. It often appears along with other medical issues like asthma and hay fever. Triggers for atopic dermatitis include infections, allergies, aggravated skin and emotional stress. The triggers can cause a flare up, which may lead to further skin irritation, in a vicious cycle.
2) Contact Dermatitis – Also known as Allergic Contact Dermatitis, is caused by a reaction to a material or substance. Some of the most common types of contact dermatitis are allergies to nickel, latex, silver and exposure to poison ivy.
3) Dyshidrotic Eczema – The reaction is specific to hands and feet, which can become dried and cracked or develop blisters that may become weepy. These flare ups can make walking and engaging in basic functions of life, like brushing your teeth or washing face and hair, difficult.
Eczema treatments can vary from person to person depending on the nature and severity of their individual symptoms. Treatments can include changes in diet, use of protective gloves, steroid creams and/or emollients like Diprobase to manage symptoms and help prevent flare ups. But since people are affected differently, eczema can become difficult to manage.
These quick tips for managing eczema may help:
- Know your triggers. Since eczema affects people differently, identify and avoid the things that trigger your skin to flare up. Triggers can include dietary issues, like food allergies, exposure to environmental allergens, extreme temperatures, exposure to excessive amounts of water and stress.
- Dietary changes may help control flare ups. Ingesting foods that cause allergic reaction or that irritate the skin in some manner, like rash or itchiness, can also trigger eczema flare ups in some people. Certain foods have been identified as more likely to have this effect than others. The most common offenders are foods containing soy, eggs, peanuts, dairy, wheat and even fish.
- Control stress. Stress is a known eczema trigger, though doctors and researchers are unsure how stress affects eczema. Try to reduce unnecessary stress. Meditation and low impact exercise may be helpful methods for managing environmental or emotional stress.
- Avoid extreme Extreme cold or heat can lead to skin irritation, cracks in the skin, and infection. Sweat also can cause flare-ups from the excessive water on hands and body. Try to avoid temperatures that are very hot or very cold. If you must be in these types of environments, be sure to wear protective clothing, such as loose, breathable, absorbent articles in excessively hot conditions, and items that retain heat and protect from wind, water and chill in cold environments.
- Excessively dry skin is one of the most common eczema triggers. Since the skin cannot produce enough natural oils to remain moisturized and soft, activities that cause the skin to dry out even more can make the problem worse. Moisturizers can help replenish needed oils. Before, during and after flare ups, try to useemollientsfree ofsodiumlaurylSulphate(SLS), parabens andfragrancesthat can irritate skin. Using topical steroidsthroughoutflare ups can also be helpful for more severe cases of eczema.
- Don’t scratch. Dry, itchy skin begs to be scratched. Resist the urge! Scratching dry skin can further irritate it and create cracking that in turn leads to more eczema symptoms, like itchiness, rash and even infection. If skin is itchy, try using topical medications designed to reduce itchiness. These topical creams often contain Benadryl, cortisol and other anti-itch/anti-inflammation properties.
- Wear gloves. Exposure to excessive amounts of water, like when washing dishes, cleaning work tools or similar activities, can dry out hands, which are particularly susceptible to eczema symptoms. Wear gloves whenever possible to protect your hands from too much exposure to water
Do you suffer from eczema and found tricks that have helped you manage eczema and control flare ups?
Please share your experiences in the comments below.