Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a common skin problem that affects children and adults. It is caused by inflammation of the skin, which can be triggered by irritants, certain foods, bacteria, and viruses. Other potential reasons include high levels of stress, hormone issues, and impaired immunity. One also has a higher risk of developing eczema if he/she has a family history of allergy or asthma.
When it comes to symptoms, eczema usually appears on the folds of the elbows, knees, and neck. It may also appear on the hands, back of the knees, or feet. Areas, where there is a high number of sebaceous glands, are also places where one may have eczema. The skin may be dry, itchy, scaly, red, or have small blisters.
Tips on How to Treat and Manage Eczema
Eczema usually is not a serious condition as treatments are available. However, if you have been diagnosed with the condition by your dermatologist, you can consider doing many things to better manage your symptoms.
1. Identify Your Triggers
One of the things that you can do is to pinpoint your eczema triggers or those that cause flare-ups. It could be environmental conditions such as changes in the water, food, or chemicals in certain products that you use or come into contact with daily.
Determining triggers can be challenging, and it’s possible to have more than one trigger. In this case, work closely with your dermatologist, who will ask you a series of questions such as what happened before you develop eczema. Did you change a job or use a different product? What did you eat?
It will also help to maintain a symptom tracker or a food diary if you suspect that food causes it.
2. Consider Water Therapy
Science still debates on whether lukewarm or cold water is better for eczema. Some claim that lukewarm (not scalding) water is great, while others claim cold water provides itch relief.
What most agree upon is that water therapy can be amazing for the skin. For example, soaking in a bathtub with colloidal oatmeal, which functions as an emollient, retaining the skin’s moisture to prevent dryness.
You can also use the swimming pool, but it may need pH balance pool maintenance before you can use it. You might want it to be below 8 or not too alkaline to prevent bacteria from thriving.
3. Use the Right Skincare Products
Try to use a mild moisturizer as it can help soothe the skin and prevent irritation from occurring. Moisturizers containing oatmeal, aloe vera, and green tea are also preferred because these ingredients have anti-inflammatory properties that minimize itchiness and redness.
In addition to moisturizing, use antihistamines or creams that contain corticosteroids to decrease inflammation. Keep in mind, however, you should not overuse these medications to avoid dealing with a rebound.
Follow the instructions of the dermatologist. If the treatments are not working, the doctor will prescribe you with others.
If you think your skin is very dry, you may opt to use oil rather than moisturizing lotion, especially one that closely resembles sebaceous oil or the type of oil your body produces like jojoba.
4. Reduce Your Stress Level
Stress may actually harm your gut, which can trigger eczema. Your immune system weakens when you are under pressure too, so it’s best to reduce stress by practicing yoga or meditation.
Aromatherapy can also help ease tension and improve mood. Massage is another option that provides relief from stress.
5. Cover Up
If your skin feels extra-sensitive and needs to be protected from the sun or other external factors, wear long sleeves or clothes made of natural materials like cotton during summer. Avoid wool if it makes your skin itchy. You may also use hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen to cover sensitive areas such as ears and hands.
Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, especially if you are planning to be outdoors for an extended period.
6. Join a Support Group
Eczema can be very difficult to manage especially if you are not getting the help you need at home. It can also be distressing.
If you’re feeling stressed and anxious because of your eczema, consider joining support groups. You can meet people who know what you’re going through and can empathize with you. You may also learn tips on how they manage theirs or even get great referrals to specialists.
Dealing with eczema is not easy, especially since it doesn’t go away immediately. It may even recur. However, you can learn to manage it as support is already available.