WHAT IS ECZEMA?
Eczema can show up in many different ways on the skin. Most commonly known as itchy, red patches. However, some breakouts can blister, weep or peel. Alternately, eczema can be dry and scaly. The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. Atopic generally refers to the type that can be linked to heredity. Many times atopic dermatitis can be in combination with other allergic conditions, such as asthma and hay fever.
Eczema can be one of the most frustrating skin issues for estheticians because there can be so many reasons (internally and externally) for a flare up. Consequently, it can take a while to get the outbreak under control and begin to reverse the irritation. Many people who suffer from eczema become very frustrated and at times feel like living with eczema is just a way of life. This does not have to be the case. There is always a reason for the problem and always a solution that will work. Patience and having the correct remedy is the key. Causes are briefly discussed below. Keep in mind that symptoms and solutions can be different for everyone.
Skin problems are not always linked to something we put on our skin. Oftentimes, there is a deeper problem. What we put into our bodies is reflected in our skin. More than likely, this is the case with eczema. A breakout can be triggered by foods that your body may be rejecting. You may have an allergy to certain foods or perhaps an overload of processed foods, alcohol or medications (to name a few). Begin a diet full of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants. The more color the better! Avoid processed foods and excess sugar. Avoid soda pop and energy drinks that can be full of harmful ingredients. Read your labels! If you don’t know what the word means, such as maltodextrin, don’t buy it!
Eczema is a nerve related disorder. It is your body’s way of letting you know there is a problem. If you suffer from anxiety you may be more prone to an eczema breakout. If you believe this may be the reason for the problem, try to eliminate stress and take care of yourself, such as getting a massage, venting to a loved one, prayer, meditation or yoga.
Believe it or not, hormones can also play a role. Sometimes women will see a difference in their eczema around the time of menstruation. If you believe hormones are an issue, try to eliminate dairy products with rBST and buy organic. This may help. Organic milk and greek yogurt with no added hormones are best if you love your dairy products!
SKIN CARE PRODUCTS
Your personal care products can also cause problems when it comes to your skin. Many department store products contain harmful, and sometimes toxic, ingredients that can be very irritating to the skin. Even if you see results right away from a product, over time it can actually age your skin and cause more damage. Ever notice how certain extreme facial products give quick results but then several months down the road you feel like it quit working? Chemicals in products will eventually take a toll on your skin. Avoid products that have a lot of ingredients that are hard to understand.
Avoid harsh soaps at bath-time. Use natural soft soaps and cleansers. After the bath put a pure oil on your skin instead of a lotion. Here is an easy recipe for an amazing skin oil. Some helpful oils are organic sunflower oil or virgin, cold pressed coconut oil. HERE is a post on oils that can be helpful for eczema prone skin.
One thing that gets overlooked is your laundry detergent. Washing your clothes in a detergent riddled with chemicals and/or bleach can be very irritating to the skin. Try using a ‘free and clear’ detergent or make your own. Even some of the ‘free and clear’ detergents can be irritating. Also, wearing new clothes, scarfs or coats without washing them first can cause a breakout. Anything that touches your skin can bother your skin.
We love our pets, however if you have a pet allergy, playing with an animal can cause an eczema flare-up. You may try to lessen the amount of time your skin comes in contact with their fur. Also, if your pet(s) sleep on your bed or your couch this can cause irritation to your skin because that is where you spend much of your time. Try throwing a sheet over the couch or bed or no longer let them hang out there (easier said than done, I know!)
Those prone to seasonal allergies or have a family history of allergies are more likely to suffer from eczema. Sometimes being aware of things you need to avoid can help improve breakouts. You may find that once you have changed your diet and removed chemical-type products from your home, that you experience less allergy-type symptoms.
One of the worst eczema breakouts my son had as an infant was when he was in his carseat for a long car ride. The weather was very hot and even with air conditioning the car was not staying cool enough. I even took him to the doctor, afraid it was an allergic reaction to something and was told it was ‘just eczema’. He was miserable and that is around the time I made it a life goal to figure out how to help him with his eczema and others too!
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS
I recommend starting with personal care products and detergent since it is the easiest way to start. If that does not help, move to food and so on. When all else fails, get a blood test! There are rare occasions that an eczema outbreak, as an adult, is your body’s way of raising a red flag. There may be more going on inside than you know. Get a blood test and see a well-respected physician.
Keep in mind that many infants outgrow eczema and other unexplained breakouts like cradle cap. However, eczema in infants and children can be uncomfortable for them and cause bad sleep habits. Getting professional help is important if natural remedies do not help.
Eczema can be a very frustrating skin problem. But keep looking for solutions! Do not give up. Personally, natural remedies have been better for our family than the traditional medicine remedies I was given in the beginning. Keep searching for solutions and remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE!