Eczema – Causes, symptoms, and management tips
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that may affect infants, children, and adults. It is one of the most common skin disorders in the country with around 31 million people suffering from various types of eczema. There are many factors that contribute to the development of this skin condition. Although there is no cure for eczema, its symptoms can be managed with a combination of natural remedies, lifestyle changes, and treatments.
Causes, triggers, and risk factors
- Environmental exposure
Extreme changes in climatic conditions, including high heat, severe cold, or dry windy weather, may irritate the skin and cause eczema.
- Soaps and detergents
Soaps, shampoos, body wash, and facial cleansers that contain chemicals could cause different types of eczema. Laundry detergents, wash pods, and even fabric softeners are laced with chemicals that could trigger skin irritation.
- Cleaning products
Surface cleaning products and disinfectants used to sanitize areas around the home are also loaded with chemicals. Some may even cause a severe allergic reaction upon contact. Formaldehyde, isothiazolinone, cocamidopropyl betaine, and paraphenylenediamine are common chemicals found in disinfectants, adhesives, and even color dyes.
- Industrial solvents
Working in industrial areas and factories increases exposure to solvents and chemical solutions. Exposure to heavy metal fumes during certain manufacturing processes may trigger eczema symptoms.
Certain fragrances can irritate the skin topically and could lead to problems that may cause eczema flare-ups.
Symptoms of eczema
Itchiness, dry, cracked skin, inflammation, discoloration, scaly patches developing on the skin, oozing from pus formations, crusting skin, and multiple areas of swelling are the visible signs of eczema. The symptoms don’t develop uniformly and vary based on their severity affecting adults, children, and even infants.
- Eczema among infants mainly starts developing on the face and scalp. An itchy rash can lead to oozing and crusting of the skin if not treated in time. Infants may also develop these symptoms on their chest, back, arms, or legs.
- Young children and teens may develop a scalier and drier form of crusting once the first rash shows up. Also, these rashes appear in unusual places like on the wrists, ankles, behind the neck, behind the knees, and even on the bends of the elbows.
- Adults may develop a drier, thicker, and scalier form of eczema on the back of the wrists, hands, knees, or feet. Some show visible signs of rashes and skin formation on the face. Eczema among adults can be difficult to notice due to changes in skin pigmentation as the disease progresses.
Managing eczema at home
There are ways to get relief from persistent symptoms and prevent long-term complications.
Simple daily changes in cleansing techniques can help overcome discomforts linked to eczema. For example, experts suggest occasionally taking a mild bleach bath to cleanse and disinfect exposed wounds caused by eczema. Studies show bleach kills bacteria and helps restore the microbiome of the skin to prevent major infections from flaring up.
Colloidal oatmeal contains excellent skin healing properties extracted from grinding and boiling the oats. One may use topical lotions or try colloidal baths at home to get soothing relief after a long tiring day. These oats boost excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help speed up healing.
- Natural oils
Coconut oil has been long used to treat wounds and prevent infections from flaring up. Studies show natural cold-pressed coconut oil contains excellent fatty acids and helps combat inflammation flare-ups. It also helps moisturize the skin and creates a natural barrier over the exposed wounds. Cold-pressed sunflower oil also has the same effect but beware of the reaction caused by sunflower seeds. Always check with a specialist before trying out any remedies as it could trigger allergies.
- Alternative techniques
Stress and anxiety are among the most common triggers of eczema flare-ups. Stress-relieving techniques like yoga, qigong, tai chi, meditation, mindfulness training, and other traditional mind and body practices can help prevent flare-ups in the long run. Various wellness techniques are under careful study to determine how these remedies can improve the quality of life for people with eczema.
- Vitamin supplements
Often, immunity is compromised due to underlying illnesses, affecting the body’s ability to heal. Nutritionists suggest taking vitamin supplements to ensure the daily nutrient requirement is being met. For eczema, vitamin D, fish oil, prebiotics, probiotics, melatonin, turmeric, zinc, and selenium supplements may help lower inflammation and boost immunity and healing attributes of the body.
Skin exposure to extreme weather conditions and chemicals is a common eczema trigger. Avoid going out in the sun without proper protection. Wear multiple layers of clothing during harsh winters and protect the skin by keeping it moisturized. One must lower stress levels, avoid using chemical products, follow a healthy food regime, and make healthy lifestyle changes to help manage eczema.
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