10 Things You Might Not Know About Eczema
Dry, itchy and patchy skin? You might be suffering from eczema. Photo: 123RF

#1 Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis

Dermatitis is a general term for inflammation and usually involves an itchy rash on red, swollen skin. Those who suffer from eczema often have skin that’s broken from scratching, which leads to their skin secreting a clear liquid that will thicken over time.

#2 Eczema often develops when you’re a child

90 per cent of people who suffer from eczema develop symptoms before age five and it is also estimated that it affects at least one to three per cent of adults and 10 to 20 per cent of children in industrialised countries.

#3 Eczema is not contagious

Atopic dermatitis is not contagious, so there is no need to worry about catching it or giving it to someone. It’s a complex skin disorder which encompasses several different factors like immune systems, genetics, environmental factors even lifestyle. However, eczema does tend to run in families, and often affects those who also have asthma or are affected by hay fever and allergies.

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#4 Eczema has a number of different symptoms

If you suffer from any of the following, it’s likely you have atopic dermatitis: moderate to severe itching skin, recurring rashes (usually on the face, hands, neck, inner elbows, ankles and back of the knees) that result in dry, red, patchy or cracked skin, skin that oozes a watery fluid, leathery, rough, thick skin; and lesions that are infected by bacteria.

#5 The exact cause of eczema is unknown

Eczema is linked to internal factors like a family history of eczema, asthma or hay fever, some foods (most notably dairy and wheat products, citrus fruits, eggs, nuts, seafood, chemical food additives, preservatives and colourings), alcohol, and stress.

External factors like irritants (tobacco smoke, chemicals, weather, and air conditioned environments) and allergens (dust mites, mould, grass, plant pollen, food, pets, soap, shampoo, washing powders, cosmetics and other toiletries) are also speculated to be linked to eczema.

#6 You can’t cure eczema

Due to how complex the disorder is, it is necessary to treat the whole body instead of just the skin. Those who suffer from eczema can also opt to look into alternative therapies like reflexology, acupressure and aromatherapy.

#7 Eczema sufferers should avoid damaging their skin further

As the skin barrier is already weakened, those who suffer from eczema should steer clear of ingredients which further irritate the skin — artificial fragrances, alcohol, scrubs or any exfoliant that uses friction, glycolic acid, products that are alkaline like soap and shaving foams, and highly active products should be avoided. Physical sunscreens are the best for an irritated, sensitised skin, so look out for those which contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

#8 You can avoid an eczema outbreak

Keeping your skin moist by apply a hydrating cream can help avoid an irritating outbreak, however, it’s also recommended that you wear fabrics that are soft or 100 per cent cotton to avoid abrasion. Don’t take hot showers and baths, and pat your skin dry instead of rubbing and wiping it.

Pay attention to what triggers your eczema — it can range from stress level, extreme changes in temperature, dusty carpets to dirty bed sheets. Knowing what sets off your eczema outbreaks can help you prevent it.

#9 There are many ingredients that soothes eczema-prone skin

Look for products that contain the following ingredients, as they repair the skin barrier and reduce inflammation: oatmeal, evening primrose, avocado, sea buckthorn oil, borage oil, lactic acid, ginger, chamomile, liquorice, lavender, and raspberry.

#10 Eczema sufferers should adopt a minimalist skincare regimen

Limiting the number of products used on your skin will reduce the possibility of a reaction and help prevent your skin from becoming even more sensitised. Choose nourishing products that are fragrance free and abstain from using abrasive scrubs. An emollient milk cleanser will do well to clean your skin and keep it hydrated at the same time.

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