Straight Talk On Eczema
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Eczema is a skin condition that is estimated to affect one in ten adults and one in five children. The most commonly suffered type of eczema is known as Atopic Eczema. This type causes red and sometimes incredibly itchy bumps on the skin. Dr. Rapaport will be helping us to get some insight on the condition of eczema.
How do you know if your skin condition is eczema versus some other kind of skin condition?
According to Dr. Rapaport, since eczema is a term that is often attached to various conditions of the skin that cause flaking, redness, inflammation, itching or dryness, it is important for your doctor to identify what type of eczema you suffer from. Symptoms can be very mild to severe. How uncomfortable you are and what type of eczema you have will help your doctor decide on the best course of treatment.
Can my child or I catch eczema and what causes it?
Since eczema is not any type of infection it cannot be transmitted from one person to another. Eczema flare-ups are unpredictable and can be brought on by nothing at all. Other causes may be stress or humidity, as well as allergens and food intolerances. Atopic eczema is thought to be genetically predisposed. Seborrhoeic and Allergic Contact Eczema are both caused by a natural occurring yeast on the skin reacting to allergens you rub up against and get on your skin.
Is there a cure? How man I manage my or my child’s eczema?
As of today, there is no known cure for eczema. However, according to Dr. Rapaport, there are many things you can do or avoid doing to keep your or your child’s eczema under control. These include:
- Eating well and living a healthy lifestyle, which has been scientifically proven to boost the immune system. It is thought that a healthy immune system helps lessen the severity of flare-ups.
- Avoiding soaps, detergents and other allergens or other things that may irritate the skin such as wool and other coarse fabrics or even shampoos.
- Make sure you use a good moisturizer often, as skin affected with eczema can dry so much it may actually crack. Cracked skin can lead to infections of the skin, which can become very serious and even fatal if not treated.
- Cut down on stress if possible. This isn’t always easy, but it can help the amount of flare-ups you experience.
- Avoid extreme temperatures; hot or cold. Very hot temperatures and very cold temperatures can dry the skin quickly. Also humidity can breed infections in skin that is cracked. Windy conditions will dry skin fast as well, so it is important for someone with eczema to be prepared and properly covered.
By simply changing you or your child’s diet can also help control eczema. There are a variety of foods that have been found to trigger flare-ups, mostly in children with the condition. These foods include; eggs, wheat, milk and nuts. If these foods trigger a flare-up of eczema in your child or yourself, simply try alternatives like soy milk and alternative flours that are gluten free. A majority of children will out-grow this type of food intolerance and be able to eat the foods that bother them now later in life.
Scientists have also found that pregnant women who take a probiotic or consume foods containing probiotics (i.e. yogurt) can reduce the chances of their child not being affected by eczema. So much so, it decreases the chances by forty percent. Even if the child is born with the condition, and the mother had consumed probiotics during pregnancy, her child’s case will be less severe than that of a child’s whose mother did not take a probiotic.
A daily struggle for people with eczema is the sometimes very intense itching. It becomes almost unbearable and the hardest part is to not allow yourself or your child to scratch at this skin. This can be very difficult, especially for children. Scratching and digging the itchy skin can cause skin damage which, in turn, could result in scarring of the skin or serious infection. In addition, many people are embarrassed of their skin and wear clothing to cover it up. For some people having eczema can cause low self-esteem, difficulty forming intimate relationships, anxiety about social events and other social obstacles and self-image problems.
Dr. Rapaport suggests that eczema sufferers avoid using laundry detergents that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. This chemical can actually make skin weaker and can then cause eczema symptoms to worsen. Make sure your laundry is thoroughly rinsed (even if you have to use an extra rinse cycle) to make extra sure your clothing, sheets and towels are free from any extra soap and/or soap residue.
Ever put on a pair of earrings only to find after a while your earlobes itch, are red and have become swollen? This occurs in some people when they wear earrings containing the metal, Nickel. Some people have an intolerance to this metal and it causes an allergic variety of an eczema breakout. If this occurs with any of your earrings, simply change to earrings made of some type of hypo-allergenic metal such as silver or gold.
Lastly, hard water may also contribute to eczema flare-ups. Although the official results of a study performed at the University of Nottingham, in England, have not yet been released, current research seems to confirm that using a water softener may decrease the frequency and severity of eczema flare-ups in all of those who suffer from it.
Eczema is becoming more and more common. According to Dr. Rapaport, Dermatologists are seeing a sharp influx of patients with this skin condition. The reason for this is not known, but poorer diets and more chemicals in products we use may be contributing factors.