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Eczema is one of the most common skin conditions in the United States. According to the National Eczema Association, more than 10% of the country's population suffers from some form of eczema.
At Bodewell, we want to help you better understand this condition so you can manage it effectively. In this article, we share common causes of eczema, the best ways to treat it, and how to prevent eczema flare-ups so you can enjoy more good skin days.
Table Of Contents
What Is Eczema?
Eczema is a group of skin conditions that may cause your skin to become irritated, itchy, red, and cracked. You may also experience a rash and crusty or scaly-looking skin.
There are seven different types of eczema. The most common type is atopic dermatitis, but other kinds of eczema include allergic contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis.
Because so many variables can affect eczema, we recommend consulting a doctor with experience treating eczema. This way, you can ensure your condition is properly diagnosed and then treat it effectively.
What Causes Eczema?
Although the exact cause of eczema is unknown, researchers believe that allergies, environmental irritants, and genetics all play a role. Let’s take a look at each of these factors.
Scientists have discovered that allergies and eczema are closely connected. In fact, up to 80% of children who have eczema also develop allergies or asthma.
Why does this happen? When you're exposed to an allergen, your body might overreact when trying to fight it. This overreaction can cause your eczema to flare up.
Some common allergens include:
- Pet dander
- Mold spores
- Dust mites
If you suspect that your eczema is being triggered by allergies, it may be worth asking your doctor about an allergy test to determine what you are allergic to.
In addition to allergies, certain triggers in the environment can cause your eczema to flare up. These environmental factors can include everyday irritants you're exposed to or even the weather.
While the exact triggers that cause an adverse reaction may vary from person to person, some common triggers include:
- Cleaning products
- Animal dander
Changes in the environment are also connected to eczema. For example, some people experience flare-ups when the weather is hot and humid or when it's cold and dry.
While not everyone who suffers from eczema has a family history of it, there is a strong genetic component to this condition. If someone in your family has eczema, you're more likely to develop it yourself.
Scientists are still studying the connection between genetics and eczema, but many believe the genes you inherit might make you more sensitive to environmental triggers or make your skin less effective at protecting you from allergens.
How To Treat Eczema
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for eczema. The treatments that work for you will depend on the type of eczema you have, the triggers that cause it, and how severe your symptoms are.
However, some common treatments are available for all types of eczema. These include medications, wet dressings, therapeutic products, light therapy, and home remedies. Let’s take a closer look.
Dermatologists can prescribe topical and systemic medications to soothe inflammation and help alleviate your symptoms.
Common topical medications include:
- Calcineurin inhibitors
- Topical antiseptics
Topical medications often come in the form of creams, ointments, lotions, or gels, and you simply rub them on your skin.
Systemic medications, on the other hand, are taken by mouth or through a shot. They can help control your body's overactive response to allergens.
If your eczema is itchy and inflamed, a doctor may recommend wet dressings. To make a wet dressing, simply soak a cloth in cool water and apply it to the affected area. Then, leave it there for about 15 minutes.
This treatment can cool down your skin and help soothe inflammation. It can also help any topical medications you're using penetrate your skin better.
If you suffer from eczema, the good news is there are a variety of over-the-counter options that can help reduce your symptoms. These moisturizers, creams, and lotions often contain natural ingredients, such as colloidal oatmeal, to soothe and calm your skin.
We recommend our Eczema Daily Calming Cream to moisturize and soothe your skin. Uniquely formulated with colloidal oatmeal and a proprietary blend of clinical-grade botanicals, our cream relieves eczema itch and irritation, is fragrance-free, and is gentle enough for daily use.
If you have moderate to severe eczema, your doctor may recommend light therapy. This treatment uses ultraviolet (UV) light to help heal your skin.
You'll likely need to go to a clinic or hospital to receive light therapy, as it’s not something you can do at home.
Home remedies are another great option for treating eczema, especially if your symptoms are mild.
Some people find relief by using cool compresses or taking an oatmeal bath. Others find that drinking plenty of fluids and eating a balanced diet helps keep their skin from getting red and itchy.
Here are other effective home remedies you can try:
- Put a dab of raw honey on places where you itch
- Apply diluted apple cider vinegar to irritated areas
- Run a humidifier in your home
While you may still need additional treatment for your eczema, the remedies above can improve your symptoms and help you feel more comfortable.
How To Prevent Eczema
Your eczema may never completely go away, but you can take steps to reduce the number of flare-ups you experience. Here are some of the most effective preventative measures for eczema symptoms.
1) Moisturize Your Skin
Eczema is often aggravated by dry skin.
2) Stay Away From Triggers
If you know that certain things trigger your eczema, try to stay away from them. For example, avoid pollen by staying inside during allergy season, steer clear of pets you’re allergic to, or avoid harsh soaps and detergents.
3) Manage Stress
Stress can make your eczema worse. So, if you're feeling overwhelmed, take some time for yourself every day to relax.
Practices such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help calm your mind and body and, in turn, relieve eczema symptoms.
4) Take Short Showers And Baths
To care for your skin, practice good shower hygiene. Instead of taking a long, hot shower, take a five- to 10-minute shower with warm or cool water. This will help seal in your skin's natural moisture and prevent dryness.
If you prefer baths, keep these same principles in mind. Stick to cooler, shorter soaks in the tub. Your skin will thank you!
5) Watch What You Wear
Certain fabrics may aggravate eczema. Try to avoid clothes made of wool, synthetic fibers, or other irritating materials. Stick to natural fabrics, such as cotton and linen, instead.
Avoid tight-fitting clothes, too. Clothes that are too tight can trap moisture and heat against your skin, leading to a flare-up. If possible, wear looser clothes that allow your skin to breathe.
6) Stay Hydrated
Dehydration can aggravate eczema symptoms, so stay hydrated from the inside out by drinking plenty of fluids. A hydrated body is a healthier body and can reduce the likelihood of skin irritation.
7) Don’t Scratch
One of the worst things you can do for your eczema is scratch it. Scratching causes pain and discomfort and can damage your skin and make your symptoms worse.
If you find yourself scratching a lot, wear gloves or place a bandage over the affected area to resist the urge. You can also try to distract yourself by keeping your hands busy or using a cooling gel.
Clearer-Looking Skin Over Time
Eczema is a challenging condition that can be caused by a number of things, including allergens, environmental irritants, and genetics. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to find relief.
Medications and therapeutic products are a good choice for minimizing eczema symptoms, but you can also avoid flare-ups by eliminating environmental factors and taking shorter, cooler showers or baths.
To soothe and moisturize your skin, try our Eczema Daily Calming Cream. We recommend using it daily to help prevent irritation so you can live more freely from the limitations of skin conditions.
With the right tools and skin-friendly remedies at your disposal, you’ll have smoother, clearer-looking skin in no time!