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About Eczema

What is Eczema?

Eczema is a form of Dermatitis. It is a non-contagious skin condition which causes inflamation to the top layers of the skin. It is characterised mainly by redness, dryness and itching. With skin lesions or sores that blister, crack, bleed, ooze and discharge, becoming scaly and encrusted and sometimes infected.

Types of Eczema

There are many different types of eczema from mild to severe. The most common being Atopic Eczema, Contact Dermatitis, Xerotic Eczema and Seborrhoeic Dermatitis.

Atopic Eczema

This is believed to be hereditary and often runs in families who may also have asthma and hayfever. Common in infants and children, often beginning around the age of two to six months. It is an itchy rash that is particularly noticeable on the face, scalp, neck, behind the knees and on the inside of the elbows.

Contact Dermatitis

There are two types of contact Dermatitis, irritant and allergic.
About three quarters of contact eczemas are of the Irritant type, it is also the most common occupational skin complaint, coming from a direct reaction to a solvent or substance like detergent.
Allergic eczema is a delayed reaction to an allergen, suck as nickel or poison ivy.
Contact dermatitis is curable, if you can avoid the offending substance.

Xerotic Eczema

This is dry skin that becomes so bad it turns into eczema. It is very common amongst the older population and worsens in dry winter weather. The tender, itchy skin looks like a cracked, dry riverbed. With the limbs and trunk most often affected.

Seborrhoeic Dermatitis

Known as cradle cap in babies. Causing scaling of the scalp and eyebrows. Red patches and pimples sometimes appear in other parts of the body.

How can Eczema be Treated?

Moisturising

This is probably the most important part of trying to treat eczema. Keeping it moistened promotes skin healing, restores the normal barrier of the skin, giving relief from its symptoms.

Soap Substitutes and Bath Additives

Avoid bubble baths and soap. They tend to wash off the natural barriers of the skin and will make your eczema worse. An aqueous cream is a good alternative to soap, or use a soap that has an oil or fat base. Also bathing daily, with a moisturing bath additive is a good idea, an emulsifying ointment is an effective and cheap alternative to use when its whipped up into a lather with some hot water!

Steroid Creams and Ointments

These are used when moisturising and bath and soap substitutes are not enough to keep eczema under control. They are prescribed by your doctor and should be applied once or twice a day to the affected area, as directed by your doctor.

Antibiotics

When the skin is cracked, sore and itchy it is easy for bacteria to get in, causing infection. Scratching can spread it from one area to another, causing even further irritation to the skin. Antibiotics may then be required.

Nutrition and Diet

Its been reported that some foods may trigger eczema in some people. These include dairy products, nuts, eggs, wheat, soybean products, sweet corn and even coffee (both caffeinated and decaffeinated).

Other Ways to Relieve Eczema

Keep the nails short to reduce the damage done due to sctratching.
Avoid overheating, getting hot and sweaty can aggravate the skin.
Don’t wear wool next to the skin as it irritates, most people prefer to wear cotton.
Protect your hands with gloves.
Try to avoid stress as eczema can flare up when you are stressed and anxious.
Keep your home environment as dust free as possible.

 

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