Eczema: The Itch That Rashes
Many of us have either heard of eczema, know someone with eczema or are dealing with eczema ourselves. This skin condition which once had the same stigmata attached to it as AIDS, today affects 10% to 20% infants in the US alone. This is why it is important for us to learn how to prevent eczema!
What is Eczema?
Eczema is a skin condition which starts with redness and itching and could turn into a weepy rash that eventually becomes scaly and hard. Because it starts with the itchiness before the rash, it has earned the title “The Itch that Rashes”
What Causes Eczema?
The exact cause of eczema is unknown though it is largely an allergic reaction and is hereditary. Children whose parents have a history of allergies, asthma or eczema are more likely to contract it than others. Contrary to popular belief, eczema is not contagious and contact with another person who has it will not place you in any harm.
What Triggers an Outbreak?
Eczema has a number of triggers and it varies from person to person. Some of the triggers are pollution, stress, hot and cold temperatures, certain foods, chemicals, pollen, and even hormones can trigger an outbreak. The environment also plays a huge role in triggering eczema. Therefore eczema is largely an allergic reaction. This is why it best to prevent eczema from taking over!
Who can be Affected?
Eczema can occur in both adults and children.
Infants who develop it most often outgrow it by their teens. If it continues past the teenage years it is considered a lifelong condition.
In children, the rash mostly appears in the folds of the skin for example behind the elbows and knees and even armpits. Once they outgrow it they will still experience dry and sensitive skin.
In adults, it can cover most of the body but will be prominent on the neck and face and is a lot itchier than in children. It can also lead to other skin infections.
How To Prevent Eczema From Taking Over?
Since eczema has no cure, the best a person can do is prevent an outbreak. The first thing to do to prevent an outbreak is to find your individual trigger and prevent it. People with eczema need to alter their whole cleansing routine to ensure there are no outbreaks.
Right from bathing to the clothes they wear and the foods they eat everything need to be thought about and done carefully to prevent the skin from drying.
Prevent Eczema from taking over with these methods:
Bathing is one of the skin’s ways of replenishing the water in it. Using lukewarm water prevents the skin from losing natural oils.
Another way to prevent losing natural oils is by making sure that the person is not exposed to water and soap for longer than ten minutes. The soaps need to be mild and fragrance-free.
One of the first rules of eczema is to MOISTURIZE as this is a dry skin condition. Even though moisturizing is important, a person with eczema cannot use any moisturizer as they tend to be sensitive to chemicals, perfumes, fragrances and scents present in ordinary moisturizers.
Moisturizers without fragrance and harsh chemicals are the best when dealing with eczema. Keep in mind to do this immediately after a shower or bath, while the skin is still damp to seal in the moisture.
The wearer needs to be cool enough but not cold and warm enough but not in clothing that overheats as extreme temperatures can lead to an outbreak.
The laundry routine also plays an important role in preventing eczema. Unknown to most people, detergents do not contain the right pH levels for our body and also cause residue build up on the clothes.
These two things put together can lead to severe itching for people with sensitive skin, therefore, it is best to use mild detergents and rinse the clothes a couple of times to avoid the ill effects of detergents and build up.
Another thing to avoid is fabric softeners and dryer sheets as scents, perfumes and fragrances are another leading cause of outbreaks.
As eczema is largely an allergic reaction, diet plays a large part in controlling it. Some of the common triggers are eggs, dairy, nuts, and gluten.
Having said all this eczema is different from person to person. What may work for one person may not work for another. The triggers are also different for each one.
The best thing to do is find what triggers it and the best methods to prevent eczema from spreading all over your body. Remember, you are the best judge of what works and what doesn’t work for your body.