Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Eczema: Cause, Symptoms & Skincare
Although in varying intensities, eczema is a highly common skincare ailment plaguing men and women all over the world. Worse than the unsightly patches are the bouts of relentless itchiness. The condition can affect your confidence as well as simple day to day functions. So, today, let’s understand the symptoms of eczema and how you can take care of your skin while dealing with this condition.
What exactly is eczema?
An overactive immune system, coupled with a defect in the skin barrier causes a difference in skin cells which leads to eczema.
There are six different types of eczema: atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), contact dermatitis, stasis dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema and nummular eczema.
In this blog, we’ll focus on the most common form i.e. atopic dermatitis. This condition is chronic. Some days you may not notice it all, but on other days, you’ll experience intense flare-ups. Either way, it’s always there.
What are the symptoms?
Eczema usually surfaces in childhood, and many people outgrow it by the time they hit adulthood. But that doesn’t mean adults aren’t likely to develop the condition.
Common symptoms of atopic dermatitis are scaly patches, redness, inflammation, swollen skin, in rare cases – open wounds, and crusting as a result of scratching. You’re most likely to notice flare ups on your elbows, knees, hands, feet, eyelids and nipples.
The triggers of eczema vary from person to person. It can range from an allergic reaction to pollen, dust, mould, foods like dairy, wheat, soy, peanuts, eggs, to skin infections to extra dry skin to stress, cosmetics, environmental factors and so on.
Eczema is also linked to the same genetics that causes asthma.
What’s the cure?
Unfortunately, there’s no cure yet, which means you can only suppress the condition but never fully get rid of it.
The main goal of treatment is to basically keep the itching at bay. It’s imperative to NOT scratch the area AT ALL, as it can stimulate the nerve endings, break open the skin and let bacteria enter, aggravating the entire situation. If the scratching persists, it can lead to other forms of eczema too!
What’s the best skincare for eczema?
Your skincare mantra should be to soothe your skin. Soothing counteracts itching. ONLY go for products designed for sensitive skin. Most importantly, master the art of reading product labels and ingredients (the fewer the better). Ideally though, you should get your skincare products directly recommended by your dermatologist.
Follow these basic practices:
- DO NOT pick the scabs, scales, flakes etc.
- Never let your skin go dry. Use products that’ll hydrate (Hyaluronic Acid is your best friend).
- Always choose products that are hypoallergenic and WITHOUT fragrance and ingredients like lanolin.
- NEVER forget sunscreen.
- Stay away from retinol, vitamin C and chemical exfoliants, scrubs and cleansers containing salicylic acid.
- Go for an emollient moisturiser & face wash that can soothe and nourish dry skin and protect your skin’s topmost layer. You’re looking for a thick moisturiser, so go for the ones that come in a tub/jar as opposed a bottle with a pump.
- Bathe in lukewarm water (hot water can dry your skin). But avoid spending too much time in the shower. And moisturise within 3 minutes of cleansing/showering.
- Use a soap to clean your skin ONLY when it’s visibly dirty. And even then, go for something fragrance-free and dermatologically tested. Opt for cleansers that have a neutral to low pH.
- If your skin flares up mostly during winter, invest in a humidifier to keep the air humid and your skin hydrated throughout the day, because it’s not a great idea to moisturise more than 4 times a day.
- Watch your stress levels as well as what you eat. Keep an eye out for triggering foods, if any.
- If you feel itchy, lightly slap the spot instead of scratching it.
Do not do anything to your skin without running it by your dermatologist. It’s not easy to live with this condition, but with a regimen personalised to your needs, it is possible for you to control it and find comfort.