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Eczema is also known as dermatitis, which comes from the Greek word “derma,” which means skin, and “itis,” which means inflammation. Eczema is an inflammatory condition of the skin with increased sensitivities to allergens and irritants (most common triggers: soap, wool, and chemicals), but this does not mean it is contagious in any way. This skin disorder may also come with other skin problems, including itching and stinging when exposed to chemicals, irritating fabrics, and temperature extremes. In some cases, eczema might cause visible effects on the skin when it appears in blisters after scratching hard enough that they burst into a crusty lesion. Here is the detail about eczema:
What is eczema:
Eczema is a term used to describe several different forms of dermatitis. Some examples include atopic eczema, allergic contact dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis. Despite these differences in type, each form of dermatitis shares the exact basic mechanisms: inflammation and irritation of the skin.
How common is eczema:
Eczema affects as many as 20% of all adults and between 10-20% (up to 30%) of children.
What causes eczema:
There are several types of eczema; however, in general, eczema is caused by:
* Genetic factors;
* Overactive immune system;
* Irritants and allergens such as soaps, wool (especially if not properly prepared), chemicals, cigarette smoke, dust mites, and mold spores.
Eczema triggers include stress, seasonal allergies (pollens), and dry skin.
Symptoms of eczema:
- Eczema usually presents itself in the form of a red rash, which is often extremely itchy and can be dry and flaky. In addition to the skin symptoms, other symptoms associated with eczema may include:
- -Extremely dry, cracked, and thickened skin (in cases where the condition becomes chronic)
- -Hair loss (in adults)
- -Extremely itchy blisters that turn into crusty sores after scratching (rare but common in adults)
Types of eczema:
There are several types of eczema, with the most common being atopic dermatitis (also known as infantile or early-onset eczema). Other types include allergic contact dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis. These different forms of dermatitis share some similar symptoms, but treatment methods may vary.
- -Atopic dermatitis: This is commonly referred to as childhood/infantile eczema and is often associated with asthma and hay fever (allergic rhinitis). The main symptom of this type of eczema is the development of itchy rashes on the face, scalp, elbows/knees, and hands/feet. These rashes can become infected and can be extremely painful if scratched. Scratching these itchy rashes causes the skin to become thick and leathery and, in some cases, can lead to hair loss (especially on the scalp).
- -Allergic contact dermatitis: This type of eczema is caused by a reaction to allergens such as poison ivy, fragrances, nickel, or insect bites. As you might guess from the name, this type of eczema is often associated with specific allergies (allergies that come from contact with an irritant like poison ivy are known as atopic allergies, while others like fragrances and nickel are not considered atopic). The symptoms of allergic contact dermatitis include redness, swelling, and itching at the contact site with the allergen. In addition, these rashes may also appear in other areas where the irritant has been applied, for example, topical steroids or fragrances to the skin.
- -Seborrheic dermatitis: This is a term used to describe several different types of eczema and can be found in people of any age and with various levels of severity. Most common symptoms include red scaly patches on the face (often in or around the nose), scalp, and ears which frequently itch. Less frequently, it can affect the upper chest, lower back, and buttocks.
- –Other types: Less common types of eczema include dyshidrotic eczema (inflammation of the sweat glands under the feet that causes tiny blisters that may become infected), nummular eczema (round, coin-shaped rashes on lower legs, arms, and trunk), cholinergic urticaria (hives brought on by heat or exercise) and actinic prurigo (severe sunburn-like rash mainly found in older men).
Who can get eczema:
Eczema can affect anyone at any age and is classified as an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system becomes overactive and starts attacking healthy cells in the body, causing inflammation and rashes.
- -People with a family history of allergies or asthma: According to studies, there seems to be a genetic component to eczema with close relatives (parents, siblings, children) having a higher risk of developing the condition if they have already been diagnosed with it. Hereditary factors such as these do not guarantee that you will get eczema, but they increase the chances significantly. Some research even suggests that up to 90% of people with eczema may have at least one relative that suffers from allergies or asthma.
- -People with a personal history of allergies: Individuals who have had other types of allergies such as hay fever, atopic dermatitis, or allergic contact dermatitis in the past are more likely to get eczema than people without that kind of background.
- -Women: women may be slightly more likely to develop this condition than men. It is thought that estrogen levels may play a role in this increase since pregnancy and oral contraceptives contribute to increased estrogen levels. However, it’s not clear whether this increased risk is due to hormones themselves or something else associated with these conditions (pregnancy/birth control).
- -People living in urban areas: eczema seems to be much more common in urban areas compared to rural ones, and it is thought that this may be due to various factors such as exposure to food additives, pollution, smoking, and possibly the type of diet people are eating.
- -People with asthma or hay fever: Although eczema is often considered an autoimmune disease, it is also classified as atopic dermatitis, which means that it falls into the broader category of atopic diseases (other atopic conditions include allergies, asthma, and hay fever). One study found that around 25% of children with eczema have an allergy, while over 30 percent also have asthma or hay fever. A personal history of these other types of allergies puts you more at risk for developing eczema on top of your existing allergic condition.
How do I know if I have eczema?:
If you are experiencing any of the following, then you should visit your doctor for a diagnosis:
- –Skin rashes that don’t go away with over-the-counter treatments. These often last for more than 6-8 weeks or keep frequently occurring in the same area.
- -Scratching and redness, particularly after contact with an irritant such as soap, chemicals, or sweat.
- -Stiffness in the skin, especially when scratching, has occurred, leading to thickened areas of skin known as lichenification (thickening of the skin due to repeated damage).
- -Itchy patches present on the body that come and go may appear in different shapes/areas and change color slightly over time depending on the irritant.
- -Rashes that leave bumps or blisters behind which may become infected.
- -Skin color changes, particularly darkening of skin after repeated scratching, can lead to discoloration known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (brownish discoloration), which is more commonly found in people with darker complexions.
- -Redness around nails and mouth/lips which are common signs of atopic dermatitis or contact dermatitis.
What are the possible treatments for eczema?:
While you won’t find a cure for this condition anytime soon, there are options to help control your symptoms so long as you remain committed to finding ways to manage it properly. You should consider seeing your doctor if you have not been able to find any relief from your symptoms.
- -Lifestyle changes: these are often the first things you will be advised to try before taking medications or considering alternative therapies, so it’s best to get started early, even if you have been suffering for a while.
- Your doctor may recommend that you switch up your skincare routine and possibly avoid using products with certain ingredients such as fragrance, alcohol, harsh detergents, and dyes in favor of more gentle alternatives.
- It would help if you also took care not to let the condition worsen through excessive scratching and always use warm water (avoid hot water) when bathing/showering since this can further dry your skin. It is essential to keep cool in warmer weather by keeping windows open when it’s safe to avoid hot weather.
- -Avoiding irritants: you should always avoid anything that your skin reacts negatively to. It’s as simple as that! It includes soaps, perfumes, insect bites/stings, extreme temperatures (hot/cold), certain foods (chocolate, nuts, dairy, etc.), and even some fabrics such as wool or synthetics. It would help if you were also wary about exposing your skin to harsh chemicals in household cleaning products or wearing clothes made from these materials since they can irritate the skin.
- -Moisturizing regularly: applying moisturizers frequently is vital for keeping eczema under control, especially when the condition flares up severely. Always use a thick cream with natural ingredients such as shea butter and avoid perfume or alcohol, which can irritate. You should also avoid using moisturizers that contain lanolin, urea, or any other harsh chemicals.
- -Topical steroid treatment: these are only available on prescription from your doctor and will help reduce itching and inflammation when used correctly and for the right amount of time.
- Antihistamines: if you suffer from severe itching, your doctor may prescribe antihistamine medications that can help reduce itchiness in some people.
- -Immunomodulators/biologics: these drugs work by suppressing parts of your immune system (TNF-alpha interleukin-12 and 13).
- Light therapy is available for people who suffer from eczema affecting the face or scalp but works best when combined with other treatments.
Consult your doctor before using any steroid cream (over-the-counter or prescription-strength) since they can cause skin thinning if used frequently, particularly on the face or groin areas. They also carry a potential risk of abuse, especially if you end up using more than advised by your doctor. You should only apply these creams to affected areas without rubbing them in so that you don’t spread any cream around your body.
How to stop eczema from reoccurring:
In most cases, this is not possible, but it can be minimized so long as you use an effective moisturizer regularly and avoid all irritants as much as possible. If the condition occurs on a specific part of your body, such as your hands or face, you should avoid touching that area (especially with dirty hands) since doing so will only spread the bacteria further.
- Use mild soap-less cleansers instead of harsher products, moisturize regularly, and always wear gloves when taking care of messy chores like housecleaning or gardening.
- Avoid hot water bath: It’s also essential to take cool showers/baths rather than hot ones, which will only dry out your skin even more.
- Avoid Scratching: You should also avoid scratching since this will only worsen the condition and make it harder to treat in the future.
- Choose homeopathy treatment for eczema over conventional treatment:
- As mentioned earlier, the main difficulty in treating eczema is that there is no single medication or method which can be used to treat all cases. Many people who suffer from this skin condition also have to try several different combination treatments (which can be very costly) before they find something that helps. Even then, their symptoms may still return once treatment has stopped.
- This is why homeopathy offers such an effective alternative to other methods since it uses natural remedies containing diluted forms of certain herbs and minerals to stimulate your immune system and prevent you from developing any further outbreaks.
- Since homeopathy treatment for eczema is an entirely safe and natural treatment option, there are no reports of side effects associated with its use. As with most homeopathic remedies, the only way you would be able to tell if they are working is because your symptoms will gradually improve over time, which means there’s no need for constant monitoring.
Your homeopathic doctor will be able to provide you with a personal treatment plan which will help you get your symptoms under control in the shortest possible time without any further assistance required. You can book an appointment with a registered homeopathy doctor now through OHO Homeopathy’s online doctor service and start enjoying all of the benefits this treatment method offers.