Eczema is a non-contagious inflammatory skin condition characterized by redness, irritation, and dry or moist lesions. Otherwise known as dermatitis, eczema affects adults and children, and can appear on any part of the body but is typically found on the face, hands, legs, and in skin folds. Often itchy or painful, this condition can worsen over time leading to dry, cracked or blistered skin.
Eczema tends to flare-up upon exposure to certain triggers. Dry or cold weather, chemical irritants in skin care and household cleansers, food allergies, emotional stress, heat and sweating, and infections are all sources of irritation.
Diet is a good place to start when working toward a solution for eczema. Dairy and wheat can produce symptoms, as can eggs, citrus, nuts, and foods that are highly-processed or preserved. Become aware of which foods seem to trigger flare-ups and avoid eating and coming into contact with them. You may only need to eliminate the culprit from your diet for a few months to get skin under control.
Skin care is another important step in managing eczema. Chemical perfumes and dyes are known to cause skin irritation and are best avoided in those with eczema. Propylene glycol (commonly used to help a product retain moisture, i.e. skin moisturizers and hair conditioners) has also been found to cause skin sensitivity by rupturing skin cell membranes, even when used in small doses. Products containing harsh detergents, petro-chemicals, and sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) should all be avoided.
While conventional treatments for eczema can provide temporary relief symptoms usually return, often more severe than prior to treatment. Corticosteroids and other anti-inflammatory medications simply relieve the symptoms, failing to address the source of the problem.
Follow these tips for effectively treating eczema:
- Cleanse skin with a mild, fragrance-free cleanser
- Use skin care products made with pure natural plant oils. Evening Primrose oil is rich in gamma linolenic acid, an essential fat research shows those with eczema are low in, and is especially beneficial
- Keep skin moisturized. Eczema often causes dry, cracked skin which can lead to scarring and infection
- Avoid washing with very hot water and never scrub irritated skin
- Reduce your exposure to household chemical cleansers
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Manage stress
Managing eczema with natural skin care products, careful diet choices and a healthy lifestyle will address the root cause of the irritation, offering long-term relief.