Beauty Dictionary: E for Emollient

Most common in children, eczema or atopic dermatitis is marked by dry, scaly skin that’s often very itchy and would sometimes result in blisters or bleeding when skin is broken from scratching. Most children outgrow eczema by the age of 10 but some do carry it into adulthood. In uncommon instances, some people do develop eczema in adulthood.

The exact cause of eczema is unknown but it’s known to be the body’s overactive response to an irritant. There are certain things that trigger an eczema flare up; stress, hot or cold weather or dust can worsen the itch and make it unbearable or even painful for those suffering from it.

In the case of serious flare-ups, oral antihistamines may be prescribed to relive itching and make it easier to fall asleep. Steroid creams like hydrocortisone are also prescribed for topical application on affected areas, they should however not be used as a preventative measure against flare-ups.

In order to keep eczema flare ups to a minimum, the amount of irritants you are exposed to should be controlled. Avoid extreme changes in temperature if you find that hot or cold weather triggers itching. Soothing and emollient products should be used to soothe dry skin and restore skin’s moisture barrier. Avoid using products that are scented as they are known to be an irritant for sensitive skin. Opt for soap-free body wash or use moisturising body milk in place of regular body wash. Shower with lukewarm or cold water as hot water can cause skin to lose more moisture and worsen skin dryness. Allergens like dust mites and dust in the home can be kept to a minimum by cleaning regularly.

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