What Is Eczema What Does It Look And Feel Like
Eczema is a condition that causes your skin to become dry, red, itchy and bumpy. Its one of many types of dermatitis. Eczema damages the skin barrier function . This loss of barrier function makes your skin more sensitive and more prone to infection and dryness.
Eczema doesnt harm your body. It doesnt mean that your skin is dirty or infected, and its not contagious. There are treatments that can help manage your symptoms.
In the word dermatitis, derm means skin and itis means inflammation. The word as a whole means inflammation of the skin. Eczema originates from the Greek word ekzein which means to boil over or break out.
I Exfoliate For Instantly Glowing Skin
Recently, Ive been able to use my Triple Action Exfoliating Cleanser several times a week because its formulation hits the mark for sensitive skin while also providing me a successful option for skin brightening. Only when eczema-prone skin is really controlled is this possible. For really glowing skin, I use my Bamboo and Clay Exfoliating Cleanser. It provides really good physical exfoliation in a hypoallergenic clay base that’s perfect for sensitive skin.
Whats The Difference Between Dermatitis And Psoriasis
Psoriasis and dermatitis can appear similar. Both cause patches of red skin. However, in psoriasis, the scales are thick and the edges of those scales are well-defined.
Discuss with your healthcare provider your questions about which type of skin condition you have. You can have more than one skin condition at a time. Treatments for one may not work for the other.
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But First What Is Eczema
According to Breana Wheeler, MSN, NP, at Facile Dermatology + Boutique, eczema is an umbrella term for a group of skin conditions that can cause the skin to become red, itchy, and inflamed. “The word eczema is often used when talking about atopic dermatitis, the most common type of eczema,” she explains. “It’s important to know that patients with atopic dermatitis have an impaired skin barrier, meaning their skin doesn’t hold water in like it’s supposed to, which is what causes the condition’s signature flakes and dryness.”
While eczema can have a genetic component, there’s a variety of things that cause or worsen it, such as our environment and the way in which our immune system responds. Cindy Bae, MD, also points out that while diet and certain foods don’t directly cause eczema, food allergies can often make atopic dermatitis worseanother reason to visit your doc ASAP if you know or think you might be suffering from eczema.
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Eczema
- How can you tell that I have eczema?
- If I dont have eczema, what other skin condition might I have?
- Is there a specific brand of moisturizer that you recommend?
- Is there a prescription cream that you can prescribe?
- How often should I see a dermatologist regarding my eczema?
- What soaps, lotions, makeup, etc. should I avoid?
- What medications do you recommend?
- What at-home treatments do you recommend?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Eczema is very normal, very common, and very, very uncomfortable. It can affect your quality of life. At its worse it can keep you from sleeping, distract you and make you feel self-conscious in public. See your dermatologist or other healthcare provider as soon as you start to see signs of it. Explore at-home remedies and prescribed treatments.
Youre not alone! 15% to 20% of people experience eczema or another type of dermatitis at some point in their lives.
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How I Healed My Eczema Starting With Food
The first thing I concluded: my diet was awful. I was just starting to learn about the human microbiome in-depth at LSU but there was so much not covered in class. The age of microbiome health was just beginning as I was graduating. Luckily, I graduated with a skillset in microbiology to understand what was going on in my own body. I was able to understand the complexity and importance of my own microbiome in my health.
So the first thing I changed was my diet. When I was in college, my roommate and I loved to eat hot wings, pizza, mac and cheese, corn dogs, and bagels. Wed eat this way after putting away a bottle of wine obviously not good for skin, gut health, or mental health. You live and you learn though right?
I tried to be healthy during my time in college, but I had a convoluted opinion on what healthy means. On top of the steroid cream and staph on my skin, I was exacerbating my symptoms by eating food I am severely intolerant to. My bowel movements were never optimal. I didnt want to believe I needed to give up my favorite foods: cheese and bread and hot wings. But I did over a span of three years.
Besides food, one of the hardest things I had to relearn is what true skincare really is. My main hindsight pro tip: if youd be poisoned from putting it in your mouth, dont put it on your skin.
Gentle Cleansing And Handling
Gentle handling of the skin is necessary because the outer layer of skin is already fragile and damaged.
It is fine to use mild cleansers just as long as its applied gently. Gentle application prevents the skin from further irritation or damage.
Use lukewarm water to rinse off cleansers, and dry the skin using a non-abrasive cloth. Avoid soaps and cleansers with abrasives as they can make the condition worse.
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Tend To Your No 1 Priority: Controlling The Itch Of Eczema
Keeping itching under control is the most important job of any eczema treatment. The first symptom of an eczema outbreak may be an itch, which a patient scratches, explains Jessica Wu, MD, a Los Angelesbased dermatologist in private practice and author of Feed Your Face: Smoother Skin and a Beautiful Body in 28 Delicious Days. The scratching stimulates nerve endings in the skin and causes inflammation in the area, which turns into a visible rash and triggers further itching. Controlling the itch is key to controlling eczema outbreaks.
Ultimately, overcoming this itching can help prevent skin damage. According to the American Academy of Dermatology , skin infections are common in people who have eczema. Its a challenge to prevent eczema rashes from becoming infected, says Dr. Wu. Bacteria can enter the skin through scratches and other open areas. Ive seen increasing numbers of patients with eczema that becomes infected with staph and other bacteria.
What Triggers My Childs Eczema Or Causes It To Get Worse
Some of the most common eczema triggers include:
Even your babys stuffed animals may be a trigger for eczema
- Dry skin
- Allergens such as pet dander, pollen or dust
Your childs eczema may be worse in the winter when the air is dry. Saliva from drooling can also cause irritation on your babys cheeks, chin and neck.
The best way to manage your childs eczema is by getting to know their symptoms and triggers so that you can help keep it under control.
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When To Seek Medical Advice
See a GP if you have symptoms of atopic eczema. They’ll usually be able to diagnose atopic eczema by looking at your skin and asking questions, such as:
- whether the rash is itchy and where it appears
- when the symptoms first began
- whether it comes and goes over time
- whether there’s a history of atopic eczema in your family
- whether you have any other conditions, such as allergies or asthma
- whether something in your diet or lifestyle may be contributing to your symptoms
Typically, to be diagnosed with atopic eczema you should have had an itchy skin condition in the last 12 months and 3 or more of the following:
- visibly irritated red skin in the creases of your skin such as the insides of your elbows or behind your knees at the time of examination by a health professional
- a history of skin irritation occurring in the same areas mentioned above
- generally dry skin in the last 12 months
- a history of asthma or hay fever children under 4 must have an immediate relative, such as a parent, brother or sister, who has 1 of these conditions
- the condition started before the age of 2
Eczema On The Face Versus The Body
Even though all three experts agree that the general signs and symptoms of eczema will be the same regardless of where it appears on your bodyface includedthere are some key differences that are important to be aware of.
As Wheeler explains, eczema on the face can be more difficult to manage since the skin is more sensitive and we tend to apply more products that might trigger a flare-up. This, for example, would require a different treatment strategy than a type of eczema on the hands called pompholyx or dyshidrotic eczema which, Bae says, presents itself as deep-seated blisters.
“You can also get nummular eczema, which looks like a coin-shaped rash on the body. Plus, since many patients with eczema scratch and rub the areas affected, it’s not uncommon for the skin to appear thickened and/or sometimes darker in some areas of the body and face than others,” says Bae.
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Eczema Coping Tips Beauty Products
Suggestions for using beauty products include:
- Remember that even hypoallergenic cosmetics can irritate your skin. Whenever possible, keep your face free of make-up.
- Avoid perfumes, fragranced skin lotions and strongly scented shampoos.
- When using a new cosmetic, try testing it first on a small, inconspicuous area of skin such as your forearm. If you experience a reaction, dont use the product again.
Avne Soothing Eye Contour Cream
People travel the world to visit Avènes thermal springs in the south of France, known for having minerals that relieve skin conditions like rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema. Youll find the thermal water in this eye cream . Whats more, its formulated with hyaluronic acid, an ingredient that attracts water to the skin and locks in moisture.
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Effective Home Remedies For Eczema On The Face
Prescription or over-the-counter treatments, such as cortisone, can have negative consequences. An example is thinning of the skin. Medications provide temporary relief to the skin.
Natural remedies for eczema on the face should be the first items to try to prevent further aggravation of skin.
Here are some natural remedies to try first before prescriptions.
How Common Is Eczema
Eczema affects up to 15 million Americans. Infants are prone to eczema and 10% to 20% will have it. However, nearly half outgrow the condition or have significant improvement as they get older.
Eczema affects males and females equally and is more common in people who have a personal or family history of asthma, environmental allergies and/or food allergies.
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Beneficial Ingredients For The Sensitive Eczema Face
Now you know what ingredients you should run a mile from, here is the time to start learning about what ingredients are not only neutral or good for your skin, but can also aid in helping calm the sensitivities, inflammation and redness of eczema.
Please keep in mind, as I mentioned earlier, it is possible to have an allergy/sensitivity to many things which can include the ingredients I am about to list. But for the many, these ingredients are known heroes for the angry eczema skin.
1. Beeswax Its waxy coating over the skin forms a much needed, gentle moisture barrier to keep the skin better hydrated. Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory to help keep the eczema at bay, this wax is also laden with Vitamin A which has antioxidant and immune boosting properties.
2. Bisabolol Alpha-bisabolol is the isolated compound of the Chamomile plant which has wonderful anti-inflammatory effects, is deeply healing and moisturizing while inhibiting collagen-breakdown enzymes and even possesses anticancer properties.
Bisabolol also increases the penetration capacity of other ingredients within the cream to further enhance the healing properties of the product which is why its important to make sure your product only contains good ingredients!
6. Natural honey You may have already heard of the virtues of honey for eczema, but it seems that its benefits continue to amaze us!
8. Oils Certain essential and carrier oils in cream/salves can be very beneficial for the skin.
I Use A Botanical Face Oil At Night
I always top my anti-aging night routine with my Omega Enriched Oil. I apply a few drops in my palm, pat my palms together then pat my face with the oil. On the rare night when Im giving my skin a rest from anti-aging products, I apply my Daily Face Cream boosted with a few drops of my Omega Oil. My dry, sensitive skin loves the botanic oil formulation of my Omega Enriched Face Booster Oil.
I actually made my Omega Enriched Face Oil for my dear Australian friend Lorraine who has similar skin to mine. Its been so popular with my sensitive skin patients that I decided to make it available to everyone. I blended organic kukui, rosehip, pomegranate, argan and other oils with borage and sea buckthorn key ingredients to heal and support sensitive skin barrier.
Mineral oil and petrolatum, both time-honored dermatologic moisturizing ingredients, also work well as a heavy moisturizer for eczema-prone skin. But they lack the other attributes of botanical oils such as fatty acids that mimic skin lipids, antioxidants and vitamins known to benefit skin health. I prefer hypoallergenic eczema-friendly botanical oils.
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What’s The Bottom Line With My Personal Skin Care Routine For Eczema
Youll notice that my products sound custom designed for someone with dry sensitive eczema-prone skin – like me. Youre right! I, like my patients and so many others, need exactly this mindful level of skin care.
I am a dermatologist who knows sensitive skin from the inside out. Add to that my 35+ years caring for people with the same problem but unique product preferences and lifestyles and I’ve had a lot of experience solving sensitive skin problems. Dry sensitive skin is common – over 60-70% of women and 50-60% of men have it – this is skin care for us!
Hanifin JM, Reed ML Eczema Prevalence and Impact Working Group. A population-based survey of eczema prevalence in the United States. Dermatitis. 2007 Jun 18:82-91. doi: 10.2310/6620.2007.06034. PMID: 17498413. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17498413/
Thomsen SF. Epidemiology and natural history of atopic diseases. Eur Clin Respir J. 2015 2:10.3402/ecrj.v2.24642. Published 2015 Mar 24. doi:10.3402/ecrj.v2.24642
Farage MA. The Prevalence of Sensitive Skin. Front Med . 2019 6:98. Published 2019 May 17. doi:10.3389/fmed.2019.00098
Proper Skin Care For Eczema Focuses On Hydrating And Soothing While Minimizing Irritation
Hydration is the operative word when putting together an eczema skin-care routine. We know that in eczema the skin barrier is not working the way it should be, so it is important to maintain skin hydration, says Dr. Zeichner.
Soothing is the other operative word. Look for products that are specifically made for sensitive skin, says Wu. These are usually free of fragrance and other ingredients known to aggravate eczema, including lanolin. Skip unscented products, which may contain a masked fragrance and could irritate your skin, and opt for a product labeled dye-free, notes the American Academy of Dermatology.
Also, avoid retinol, vitamin C, and alpha hydroxy or salicylic acids, as these can aggravate eczema, advises Wu. The National Eczema Association, for example, says that while retinol is beneficial for anti-aging, it can trigger eczema flares. One beneficial ingredient to look for is hyaluronic acid, which holds moisture against your skin without being irritating. Past research shows that a hyaluronic acidceramide foam may help improve the symptoms of mild to moderate eczema.
Another note: You can wear makeup if you have eczema just do your best to look for products that are fragrance-free, adds Zeichner.
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How Do I Take Care Of Myself
Reducing your stress is very important. Try these tips:
- Count to ten as you take a deep breath.
- Exercise daily.
- Try not to drink as much caffeine and alcohol.
- Sleep eight hours a night.
- Eat healthy.
- Try to have a positive attitude.
- Journal every day.
- Talk about your life with friends, family and a therapist.
What Causes Facial Eczema
This is where it gets a little complicated. There are several types of eczema, Shah says. Atopic dermatitis is the most common form, and often when people say eczema this is the condition they are referring to.
Atopic dermatitis is chronic, meaning that it comes and goes over a long period of time, according to the National Eczema Association. It’s generally caused by genetics, and can flare up in the face, arms, legs, and other parts of the body.
Another type of facial eczema: contact dermatitis. This is a form of eczema that is triggered by one specific irritant, like extreme weather, super-hot showers, skincare ingredients, laundry detergents, fragrancesthe list goes on. What triggers eczema in one person may not irritate another persons skin at all.
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