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What is Eczema By Rabia Khan

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Eczema is a condition of the skin where areas of the skin if dry itchy and inflamed; these areas may be large or small depending on the person. Eczema is more common to appear on areas of skin that are often creased, this would include the back of the knees, elbow crease, neck and underarms. Eczema can affect all ages, however it is more prominent in children and adolescence. Often eczema eases up when going into adulthood, but flare ups may still occur on occasion.

Eczema is different from person to person, because of this causes vary. A few things that may cause eczema flare ups are irritants. These are irritants that are commonly used everyday, such use bath soaps, shampoos, scented lotions and disinfectants like chlorine. Most of these products contain harsh chemicals that strip the skin of its protective oils, leaving the vulnerable dryness and irritation. Also, allergens can cause a flare up of eczema. Some common allergens are pollen, dander, pets, dust mites and mold. Food allergens are also known to have been the cause of a flare up. Common food allergens are wheat, dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, and soy products. Also, stress and hormone changes have been linked to cause eczema. Lastly, genetics often come into factor. Dry and sensitive skin is genetic and is often seen in multiple family members.

Symptoms can vary depending on the person and how severe the eczema is. Due to this, some may show more acute symptoms, while another may show more prominent severe symptoms. General symptoms are: dry itchy skin, red inflamed areas, discoloration of the skin, rough leathery areas, and scaly areas. These are less severe symptoms, harsh symptoms include: swelling, a light burning sensation, and oozing from the skin. The light burning sensation or an oozing often occurs because of excessive itching. Itching the existing inflammation continuously will lead to a stronger sensation of itchiness, this is referred to as the itch cycle.

The diagnoses of eczema is often a simple process. By going to a doctor or dermatologist and showing the flared up areas of skin will result in a quick diagnoses. There are also spot tests were skin is exposed to an irritant to identify what causes the flare up.

While there are no cures, there are several methods of treatments that can ease the symptoms. One type on treatment is the use on ointments. The ointments that are often used to treat eczema contain hydrocortisone for low potency, and corticosteroids for high potency. Often a dermatologist with give a list of irritants to avoid that are found in shampoos and body washes. These are common chemicals that are recommended to avoid, one is Cocamidopropyl betaine which is found in most body washes and has known to cause allergic reactions. This is a chemical that can induce itching and inflammation. Avoid shampoos with sulfates such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate, this is the cause for dryness in the scalp and hair. Also avoid scented lotions and perfumes as some contain alcohol which dries out skin fast. Most products on the market contain these chemicals because they are cheap, a dermatologist can recommend what products to use that are gentle on skin. However they will be more costly.

To prevent eczema, the patent should avoid tight clothing, and moisturize often after taking a shower to lock in moisture. Also taking warm baths and showers aids in the prevention of eczema. To prevent further itchiness, applying ice packs to ares of irritation can help soothe the affected areas. It is recommended to avoid swimming pools, as the high concentrations of disinfectants in the pool is damaging to the skin and can cause a flare up. Also if spending long periods of time outside, it is recommended to apply as least SPF 30 sunblock to prevent dryness from the sun. Lastly, it is better to use more organic based soaps, shampoos and unscented lotions. These help prevent flare ups and provide for better long term relief. By taking these precautions, eczema is manageable and easy to live with.




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