Monday, October 24, 2011

Relief From Eczema

Dry, red, itchy, swollen, cracked, scaly skin. Argh! Eczema!

Approximately 15 million Americans have eczema.
The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is chronic and usually affects babies and children but can affect adults.

Other types of eczema include contact eczema, allergic contact eczemastasis dermatitis, neurodermatitis, nummular eczema, dyshidrotic eczema, and seborrheic eczema.

How Do You Know if You Have Eczema
This disease causes an intense urge to scratch, and is often associated with skin irritations. If you have dark skin, the itchy, affected areas may be either darker or lighter than your natural skin color, and  if you have lighter skin, the itchy, affected areas may appear reddish or brown. Eczema can appear on your face, neck, scalp, hands, insides of the elbows, the skin behind the knees and even your buttocks.

What Causes Eczema
Atopic dermatitis is an allergic condition in which the immune system turns on itself and attacks healthy skin tissue. The exact cause of this disease is unknown, but it is believed to be more common in families that have other allergic conditions such as hay fever and asthma.

On the other hand, allergic contact eczema is a delayed reaction to an allergen such as nickel. Contact eczema is a reaction to an irritant such as a cleaning detergent, or other chemicals.

How Do You Prevent Eczema Flare-ups
Certain triggers may make eczema worse. Pay attention to when you have flare-ups. What did you eat? Foods such as peanuts, eggs, milk, fish, wheat or soy products are triggers. What did you touch? Soaps, cleaners, perfumes and cosmetics, mineral oil, dust or sand may be the issue. How were you feeling? Stress is a biggie. Keeping track of the flare-ups may help you identify the triggers and prevent attacks.

Other Tips
  • Take short (15 to 20 minutes) cool or lukewarm showers or baths using only mild soaps such as Dove, Aveeno, and Cetaphil.
  • Immediately after showers or baths, moisturize your skin. Keep a moisturizer handy to moisturize throughout the day. Use a plain, fragrance-free, thick moisturizer to  protect skin from allergens and irritants. Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream and Vaseline works wonders.
  • Over the counter barrier-repair creams such as CeraVe and TriCeram help rebuild the skin with an ingredient called ceramide. Prescribed ceramide-containing creams such as Atopiclair and Mimyx are also very helpful.
  • Corticosteroids, antibiotics, or antihistamines yield great results as well. 
If you have eczema, how do you control flare-ups?

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