Things People With Eczema Want You To Know
What do you think when you imagine eczema? A red rash, dry skin?Or perhaps even an issue that mostly impacts kids? But what many people don’t realize is thateczema can be a painful, devastating condition. According to the National Eczema Association, 30 million people in the United States are currently living with some form of eczema. There are different types of eczema, so theres no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. The most common type is atopic dermatitis, which can occur in people from allergy-prone families, and is related to an underlying immune reaction that affects the skin.
People with the condition can experience flare-ups at any timesometimes for no reason at allalthough eating the wrong foods, coming into contact with an irritating substance, or experiencing a bit too much stress can increase the likelihood. What’s more, the symptoms often go beyond red, dry, itchy skin eczema can disturb your sleep, impact relationships, and wreak havoc on all parts of a persons life. Chances are, you already know someone with eczema. Heres what they want you to know about their day-to-day struggles.
Other Types Of Eczema
Eczema is the name for a group of skin conditions that cause dry, irritated skin.
Other types of eczema include:
- discoid eczema a type of eczema that occurs in circular or oval patches on the skin
- contact dermatitis a type of eczema that occurs when the body comes into contact with a particular substance
- varicose eczema a type of eczema that most often affects the lower legs and is caused by problems with the flow of blood through the leg veins
- seborrhoeic eczema a type of eczema where red, scaly patches develop on the sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears and scalp
- dyshidrotic eczema a type of eczema that causes tiny blisters to erupt across the palms of the hands
Page last reviewed: 05 December 2019 Next review due: 05 December 2022
Eczema Coping Tips Reducing Skin Irritation
People with eczema have sensitive skin. Irritants such as heat or detergents can easily trigger a bout of eczema.Suggestions for reducing skin irritation include:
- Avoid overheating your skin. Wear several layers of clothing that you can remove, as required, instead of one heavy layer. Dont put too many blankets on your bed and avoid doonas.
- Dont use perfumed bubble bath or bath products labelled medicated.
- Wear soft, smooth materials next to your skin, preferably 100% cotton. Avoid scratchy materials, such as pure wool, polyester or acrylic. You could try a cotton and synthetic mix material this is fine for some people with eczema. Remove labels from clothing.
- Always wear protective gloves when using any type of chemical or detergent. You may want to wear cotton gloves inside rubber or PVC gloves.
- Avoid chlorinated pools. If you have to swim in a chlorinated pool, moisturise your skin well when you get out.
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Causes Of Atopic Eczema
The exact cause of atopic eczema is unknown, but it’s clear it is not down to one single thing.
Atopic eczema often occurs in people who get allergies. “Atopic” means sensitivity to allergens.
The symptoms of atopic eczema often have certain triggers, such as soaps, detergents, stress and the weather.
Sometimes food allergies can play a part, especially in young children with severe eczema.
You may be asked to keep a food diary to try to determine whether a specific food makes your symptoms worse.
Allergy tests are not usually needed, although they’re sometimes helpful in identifying whether a food allergy may be triggering symptoms.
Things To Know If You Have Eczema
Dermatitis is a very common skin disorder that affects many people. If youre trying to keep flare ups under control and successfully treat your eczema, make sure you understand these helpful tips:
You dont need to wash every day. When you take a shower or bath, limit your time as much as possible. If you want to take a longer shower, dont stand directly under the water. Bathing less often is always okay.
Apply moisturizer when your skin is wet. By doing this, it will lock in moisture and protect your skin. It is recommended that you apply a thick layer of moisturizer within three minutes of bathing.
Oolong tea may help. The anti-allergenic properties of this tea can help relieve irritation and soothe your eczema.
Keep your nails short. This way, you cant scratch as much and will prevent further damage that long, sharp nails may cause to your skin.
Distract yourself from scratching. When you have the urge to scratch, try to occupy yourself with something else that is done with your hands. The urge will decrease if you can distract yourself.
Drink more water. Aim to drink eight glasses of water each day to prevent irritation. And if you are active, make sure you are drinking even more.
Avoid sugars. These pro-inflammatory foods should be avoided if youre trying to clear up your eczema.
Avoid fragranced products. Cosmetic products containing alcohol, perfumes or preservatives tend to cause more eczema flare ups. Carefully check labels and look for fragrance-free.
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Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations
If your childâs illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.
Eczema Is Not Just A Rash
“I’ve been going through a particularly rough flare-up of my eczema for the past several months. I think the biggest misconception about the condition is that it’s ‘just a rash.’ I feel like people don’t take it seriously even when I look up research on it, most is just targeted to children.Kate, 24, Houston
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Other Foods To Consider On An Eczema Diet:
It seems like the list above may be restrictive, but if you eliminate certain foods from your diet for 30 days and try to reintroduce it and notice a flare up you will know for sure. Its worth it to find out which foods are triggering you. If the above foods are not clearly the culprit, the ones below may be to blame.
Nuts and SeedsNuts like almonds and walnuts or seeds like pumpkin or sunflower seeds, although normally allowed on a Paleo diet, may exacerbate an inflamed gut and lead to gut dysbiosis.
Since this is common in people with autoimmune disease, avoiding nuts and seeds may help to decrease symptoms. This is so because nuts and seeds contain phytates and phytic acid, which are considered to be anti-nutrients. They act as digestive-enzyme inhibitors, which means that essential nutrients stop being absorbed.
Although foods like tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, peppers, and Goji berries may have nutritional benefits, people that are trying to avoid conditions such as eczema may want to avoid these particular group of fruits and vegetables.
They contain substances called saponins, which can increase intestinal permeability or cross the gut barrier into the bloodstream. When they are present in enough concentration in the blood, they can destroy the cell membrane of red blood cells. Saponins can also stimulate the immune system, which is counterproductive in autoimmune disease.
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.
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Soy And Derivatives Of Soy
Besides having constituents in it that aggravate autoimmune conditions like eczema, soy also happens to be one of the most genetically-modified crops in the world. GMO foods are higher in the amounts of ingredients in crops like soy that exacerbate autoimmunity.
Most processed foods contain derivatives of soy like soy lecithin. You can either check the extensive list of ingredients for every processed food or you can do the easy thing and avoid processed foods altogether.
Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group
The PWTAG Code of Practice provides pool operators with a structured plan for the technical operation of their pools. The Code ensures that pools meet quality standards that provide a healthy experience for swimmers. For this reason all UK pools are encouraged to follow it. Following the Code gives an assurance to operators and the public that a pool meets essential healthy pool operational standards. The Code is designed, among other things, to meet the health challenge of one of the greatest threats that the sector has to deal with the chlorine-resistant pathogen, Cryptosporidium.
Check with your local pool that they follow the PWTAG Code.
For more information on swimming pool water, please visit www.pwtag.org.
To obtain the information on this page in a PDF format, please download our Swimming and eczema factsheet, below.
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Since Eczema Is So Hard To Treat And Individualized Suggestions Do Not Help
“If you are a stranger trying to offer tips to someone with eczema… remember that I’ve spent a boatload of time, energy, and money trying to deal with my condition.I’ve read everything online, gone to numerous doctors, and tried all sorts of medical and DIY remedies. Trying to suggest that I try this one brand of lotion, or take a cold shower, can be infuriating. It actually trivializes what I’ve gone through.”Dawn
Bad Eczema Has Nothing To Do With Poor Hygiene
“Before my diagnosis, I did not know how complex and varied eczema is as a disease. I also did not know how difficult it is treat, and how this difficulty stymies many doctors. Bad cases of eczema don’t simply arise from poor hygiene or skincare routine. It has more complicated causes, and hence, more complicated solutions.”Dawn
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How Is Eczema Treated What Medications Are Used
Treating eczema can be difficult if the cause is something you cant control, like genetics. Fortunately, you may have some influence over your environment and stress levels. Do your best to figure out what triggers or worsens your eczema, and then avoid it. The goal is to reduce itching and discomfort and prevent infection and additional flare-ups.
Consider these treatment tips:
If your child has skin problems, such as eczema, you can:
- Avoid long, hot baths, which can dry the skin. Use lukewarm water instead and give your child sponge baths.
- Apply lotion immediately after bathing while the skin is still moist. This will help trap moisture in the skin.
- Keep the room temperature as regular as possible. Changes in room temperature and humidity can dry the skin.
- Keep your child dressed in cotton. Wool, silk and manmade fabrics such as polyester can irritate the skin.
- Use mild laundry soap and make sure that clothes are well rinsed.
- Watch for skin infections. Contact your healthcare provider if you notice an infection.
- Help them avoid rubbing or scratching the rash.
- Use moisturizers several times daily. In infants with eczema, moisturizing on a regular basis is extremely helpful.
When Can Pimecrolimus Or Tacrolimus Be Used
Pimecrolimus has been approved for the treatment of mild to moderate , and tacrolimus has been approved for the treatment of moderate to severe eczema. They can only be used in certain situations. For instance, they can be prescribed:
- if steroids haven’t led to a big enough improvement.
- for the treatment of particularly sensitive areas such as the genitals or face, and especially the eyelids.
- if steroids aren’t well tolerated.
Creams and ointments with pimecrolimus and 0.03% tacrolimus can be used in children aged two and over, as well as in teenagers and adults. Those with 0.1% tacrolimus can only be prescribed for people aged 16 and over.
If treatment with these calcineurin inhibitors is successful, they can also be used intermittently to prevent further flare-ups. This involves applying them to the affected areas of skin on two days per week . You should wait a few days between applications. For instance, pimecrolimus or tacrolimus could be applied once on Mondays and once on Thursdays.
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Ultraviolet Radiation Therapy For Eczema
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation can help reduce the symptoms of chronic eczema. Exposure under medical supervision can be carefully monitored with the use of specially designed cabinets the person stands naked in the cabinet and fluorescent tubes emit ultraviolet radiation.A person with stubborn eczema may need up to 30 sessions. The risks of unsupervised ultraviolet radiation therapy can be the same as for sunbathing faster ageing of the skin and greater risk of skin cancer.
Foods That Trigger Eczema
Between 20% and 80% of people with eczema have some kind of food allergy.
When a person with eczema eats something they are allergic to, it prompts an immune reaction that causes inflammation. This response can trigger or worsen an eczema flare.
Some of the most common food allergens that are known to have this effect include:
- Dairy products
In a survey of 169 people with eczema, 24.8% reported that dairy foods triggered their eczema. Other common food triggers were gluten , alcohol , sugar , tomatoes , citrus , and eggs .
For some people, particularly infants and young children, an eczema flare caused by food allergens can cause hives and intense itching.
When the cause of this reaction is unknown, food allergy tests and elimination diets can be done to find and avoid the allergen before it triggers more flares.
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How To Use Topical Corticosteroids
Don’t be afraid to apply the treatment to affected areas to control your eczema.
Follow the directions on the patient information leaflet that comes with your medication. This will give details of how much to apply.
Most people only have to apply it once a day as there’s no evidence there’s any benefit to applying it more often.
When using a topical corticosteroid:
- apply your emollient first and wait 30 minutes until the emollient has soaked into your skin. You might also prefer to apply the corticosteroid at a different time of day
- apply the recommended amount of the topical corticosteroid to the affected area
- continue to use it until 48 hours after the flare-up has cleared so the inflammation under the skin surface is treated
Your doctor may suggest using a topical corticosteroid less frequently, but over a longer period of time. This will help to prevent flare-ups.
About Tina Christoudias The Thyroid Dietician
Tina Christoudias is a Harvard-trained registered dietitian with nearly 18 years of experience as a nutrition counselor. Having had personal experience with hypothyroidism, she specializes in diet protocols for Hashimotos thyroiditis and hypothyroidism and has recently finished her book, Tired of Feeling Tired? She is a strong advocate of the Paleo diet and is currently getting certified as an autoimmune protocol certified practitioner.
This article was originally published in August of 2017, but has been republished in February of 2019 to include updated information and a new video.
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Symptoms Of Atopic Eczema
Atopic eczema causes the skin to become itchy, dry, cracked and sore.
Some people only have small patches of dry skin, but others may experience widespread inflamed skin all over the body.
Inflamed skin can become red on lighter skin, and darker brown, purple or grey on darker skin. This can also be more difficult to see on darker skin.
Although atopic eczema can affect any part of the body, it most often affects the hands, insides of the elbows, backs of the knees and the face and scalp in children.
People with atopic eczema usually have periods when symptoms are less noticeable, as well as periods when symptoms become more severe .
Some Treatments Can May Make Eczema Worse For Sensitive Individuals
I have eczema on my hands and feet. Often, my flare-ups are related to what I consume or an allergic reaction to an ingredient. Mine tend to happen when I consume gluten products, especially rice and pasta. Ive become vegetarian, which has reduced my outbreaks. Also, its important to be careful with topical solutions because they tend to have steroids or alcohol in them, and those can sometimes can make your eczema worse.”Querida, 34, Quantico, VA
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