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what is eczema?

Eczema, also known as dermatitis is a common skin condition where the symptoms include inflamed and itchy dry skin. This can appear in a number of ways including itchy rashes, which can be dry and scaly or blistered skin, which can be oozy and crusty. It tends to occur in those with dry, sensitive skin. 


 Eczema is often found around the knees, elbows, neck and hands. It can worsen when it becomes itchy, making it hard to resist scratching.Most people develop eczema before the age of five and half of those that do continue to have symptoms as an adult.   


Eczema can cause a lot of problems for sufferers as it can be very uncomfortable. This complex condition is becoming more prevalent, with cases having risen quite dramatically over the last decade. Approximately 11.5% of the population will suffer from eczema at some point in their lives.

types of eczema and symptoms

The two most common types of eczema are atompic eczema and contact eczema.  


Atopic eczema usually occurs where the skin folds.  Symptoms include dry, red, itchy, scaly skin and rashes. 


Contact eczema usually occurs on the hands and feet. Symptoms include red, itchy, dry skin, blisters and cracks.  

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what causes eczema

There is no specific cause of eczema and it may appear as a result of stress, genetics, food and chemical sensitivities, allergies, a clogged liver, a lowered immune system, reactions to household products and environmental factors.


As everyone has their unique trigger to eczema it requires you to undertake a process to find what your trigger is. Once you have found the trigger it’s simply a case of cutting it out of your life to keep the eczema at bay. However, to truly heal eczema you have to treat the root cause not just the trigger. 

Food intolerance

Eczema can be triggered by an allergic response to food. If we eat a food that the body can’t tolerate the allergenic substances can work their way to the skin where they can cause a reaction.


People react to foods in different ways, a food that can be tolerated by one person might not be tolerated by another. For those with eczema it is important to gain an understanding of your personal intolerances and the effects different foods have on your body so that you are able to make the right choices and eliminate the required foods from your diet.

Hormones

Hormones are chemicals produced by the body and when there is an imbalance it can affect our skin. 30% of women find their eczema flares up in the days before their period.


Hormonal imbalance can be caused by multiple factors so getting an understanding of these will help you keep your hormones balanced and your body and skin in good health.

Digestive problems

Our gut is lined with a single layer of cells that, this is the barrier between the inside of our gut and the rest of our body.


When we have digestive problems toxins, bacteria and unwanted food particles can enter our body and cause inflammation throughout the body and trigger a reaction in our skin.


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what can trigger eczema

The key to treating your eczema is to get to the bottom of what triggers it. Possible triggers include:

Stress

Stress is a common trigger for eczema, the stress hormones released into the body can play havoc with both your internal health and skin. Reducing your stress levels can help you manage your eczema breakouts. Read more here

Clothing

Clothes that have rough and scratchy material or are tight fitting can easily irritate eczema or further damage the skins barrier making it more inclined to infection.  

Soap

Soaps can remove the natural oils from our skin and make it increasingly dry so use of these should be minimised. Coconut oil is a good alternative to soap as it has antibacterial properties.  

Pollen

An allergy to pollen can trigger eczema to flair up.  If you notice your eczema flaring up in the spring it may be due to the increased pollen in the air.  The pollen can also cause the skin to itch leading to increased scratching further irritating the skin.

Temperature

High temperatures cause us to sweat and lose moisture from our skin affecting it's barrier. Heat can also cause our blood vessels in the skin to dilate which can attract inflammatory cells to the skin.

Alternatively a cold air conditioned room can also dry out the skin causing irritation.

Sweat

Sweat consists mainly of water but it does contain other substances including sodium, potassium, calcium and toxins. Some of these substances can irritate the skin and make the eczema worse.  In humid conditions the sweat doesn't evaporate which can lead to a gradual build up of these chemicals.

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how to care for eczema

An important part of caring for eczema is to minimise the amount you trigger or irritate it. 


Knowing what can cause eczema to flare up will help you make the right decision to avoid them and keep the eczema as calm as possible.  

Do not itch or scratch

Although eczema can cause the skin to be itchy, scratching your skin can further agrravate and damage the skin barrier making it more likely to get infected.  

Moisturise daily

It is important to keep your skin moisturised so use a moisturiser daily.  It is especially important to apply a moisturiser after having washed as the water can dry your skin.

Luke warm baths

Make sure that the water you wash with is not too hot and moisturise within three minutes of washing to lock moisture into the skin.  

Bandages and wraps

If you have a bad breakout use a wet wrap to help keep the skin moisturised. 

Air dry

Rubbing your skin might irritate the eczema so air dry or gently pat your skin with a towel. 

Use emoliants

Emollients are substances that look moisture into the skin.  It is important to keep your skin moisturised as it stops it cracking and helps maintain the skins barrier and avoid infection. 

Clothing

Avoid clothes made from rough and scratchy materials or are tight fitting. 

Soaps

Use mild soaps or a non-soap cleanser when washing. Avoid soaps with alcohol or that contain fragrances as these will dry out your skin.

Humidifier

If the air is dry use a humidifier in rooms where you spend a lot of time.  This will reduce the moisture loss from your skin.

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hot to treat eczema

As everyone has their unique trigger to eczema it requires you to undertake a process to find what your trigger is. Once you have found the trigger it’s simply a case of cutting it out of your life to keep the eczema at bay. However, to truly heal eczema you have to treat the root cause not just the trigger. 


 The below outlines what you can do to start addressing your eczema.

Detox

Eczema can be caused by toxins or irritants in the body irritating the skin so a detox will help flush these out of your body. Draining your body of toxins will allow you to do a ‘system reset’ for the body fast tracking you to improved health. Checking your methylation pathways is also important to support your body with the right nutrients to better help the organs of elimination to remove toxins. Read more here.

Elimination diet

An elimination diet is an eating plan that eliminates foods that the body might be intolerant to and causing symptoms. These foods are then reintroduced back into the diet one by one to see how the body reacts to them. Read more here.

Mindfulness

Stress is a common trigger for eczema, the stress hormones released into the body can play havoc with both your internal health and skin. Reducing your stress levels can help you manage your eczema breakouts. Read more here

Skincare Routine

The skincare products you use should be gentle to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.

Tread carefully with medication!

There are a number of medications prescribed to treat eczema including topical corticosteroid creams, antibiotics and antihistamines.  While these may help ease the symptoms they do not address the underlying cause of the eczema.   


The danger with taking these medications is that the symptoms of the eczema reduce, but because the underlying cause hasn’t been addressed the symptoms can come back in full force at a later date.