Natural Ways To Reduce Eczema Symptoms
Will Coddington | Video Producer
Eczema is a chronic debilitating skin condition that affects one in ten adults and one in five children in the UK. It can be categorised into two different types.
Firstly, it can be triggered by environmental agents such as washing powders, the weather, creams, lotions and dust.
Secondly, is the type affected by what we eat and drink as well as certain medications. Its important that if you think you have eczema to get a firm diagnosis from your doctor as it can be highly individual and there can be many causes triggering the symptoms.
However, all eczemas causes are rooted in inflammation and and this can be impacted by your diet. Clinical Dietitian Rick Miller lists his five natural ways to reduce eczema symptoms.
1. Stay hydrated
Make sure that you stay hydrated. I see patients that are chronically dehydrated all the time consuming liquids throughout the day, at least two litres, coming from water, teas, maybe even a smoothie or milk. If you stay hydrated this will help with the naturally occuring moisture and lubrication in the skin which then helps to keep the skin hydrated and this will reduce the inflammation status in the skin and manage eczema symptoms.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Eczema
The signs of eczema :
- are mainly dry, itchy skin. Because it is so itchy, it is often called the itch that rashes.
- include redness, scales, and bumps that can leak fluid and then crust over
- tend to come and go. When they get worse, it is called a flare-up.
- may be more noticeable at night
Symptoms can vary:
- Infants younger than 1 year old usually have the eczema rash on their cheeks, forehead, or scalp. It may spread to the knees, elbows, and trunk .
- Older kids and teens usually get the rash in the bends of the elbows, behind the knees, on the neck, or on the inner wrists and ankles. Their skin is often scalier and drier than when the eczema first began. It also can be thicker, darker, or scarred from all the scratching .
When Should You See A Doctor About Eczema
If you think you might have eczema, its important to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition that can cause a range of symptoms, including dry, cracked skin, redness, and itchiness. While there is no cure for eczema, there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms and keep the condition under control.
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Eczema Symptoms Diagnosis And Outlook
During your visit, the dermatologist will look at your skin and perform a physical exam. You may need a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Allergy skin testing may also help people with hard-to-treat atopic dermatitis, allergy symptoms or rashes that appear only on certain areas of the body after exposure to specific irritants.
Once your eczema is diagnosed, our team will work with you to reduce the itching and inflammation of your skin. At Penn State Health, we typically start with several nonprescription options, including:
- Antihistamine: over-the-counter medications like Benadryl will help reduce itching.
- Avoiding irritants: stay away from harsh soap, wool clothes, irritating chemicals and uncomfortable climates.
- Use mild soap: wash your skin with warm water using a mild soap such as Dove, Oil of Olay Sensitive Skin or Cetaphil.
- Moisturize frequently: use a hydrating moisturizer regularly, particularly after bathing or showering. Our team recommends Cetaphil, Lubriderm, Neutrogena, CeraVe and plain petroleum jelly.
- Soothing baths: taking a soothing bath to help decrease your skins irritation. Our team suggests trying Aveeno Oatmeal Bath Treatment or Cutar Emulsion Tar Solution.
If these suggestions still dont provide relief, your dermatologist might recommend prescription medications or in-office eczema treatments, including:
An Eye For Warning Signs Can Save Your Eyesight
If you have AD, its important to play close attention to your eyes. When an eye problem lasts more than a few days, make an appointment to see your dermatologist or eye doctor.
You should also have eye exams as often as your eye doctor recommends. Ophthalmologists are the experts at diagnosing eye disease. Caught early, the eye diseases linked to AD are highly treatable.
ReferencesHeiting G. Eye problems and diseases. AllAboutVision.com. Website last accessed January 31, 2018.
Leung DYM, Eichenfield LF, et al. Atopic dermatitis. In: Wolff K, et al. Fitzpatricks dermatology in general medicine. McGraw Hill Medical, USA, 2008:152.
Thyssen JP, Toft PB, et al. Incidence, prevalence, and risk of selected ocular disease in adults with atopic dermatitis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017 77:280-6.
All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
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Skin Cleansers And Body Washes
If you have eczema, one of the worst things you can do is wash with traditional bar soaps. They are not only harsh but can strip away many of the skins natural oils , which are meant to protect it.
Choose an eczema-friendly soap or cleanser designed specifically for dry, sensitive skin. There is an ever-expanding range available on store shelves, the best of which carry the seal of acceptance from the National Eczema Association.
For infants, toddlers, and young children, you can choose to avoid cleansing products and opt for plain water baths only. Older children, teens, and adults may also benefit from soaping the hands, armpits, and groin rather than the entire body.
Antibacterial gels are ideal for cleaning hands, since their alcohol base does not bind with NMF.
Continue Learning About Skin Disorders
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
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Diagnosing And Treating Eczema Online
Eczema affects about 10% to 20% of infants and about 3% of adults. Most infants will outgrow the condition, but some will continue to have symptoms throughout their life. With proper treatment, eczema can usually be controlled.
Eczema is a usually a very itchy condition that can actually start before the rash appears. Typically, the rash will appear on the face, back of the knees, wrists, hands or feet, but can affect other areas as well. The affected areas will appear very dry, thick and scaly. In fair-skinned people, these areas may appear reddish and then eventually turn brown. In darker-skinned people, eczema can affect pigmentation, which can make the effected skin lighter or darker.
During a video consult on Amwell your doctor will ask you a series of targeted questions to determine if your symptoms point to eczema. Then your provider will proceed to determine the best treatment plan for you. Your provider may recommend in-person examination by a specialist if this is needed. Your treatment plan is based on the duration and severity of your symptoms and your medical history.
Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor will go over the risks and benefits of the various treatment plans. Treatment for atopic eczema is different depending on the severity. However, a consistent skin care routine is imperative for successful treatment. This is sometimes difficult for adolescent patients, so follow up visits, especially in the beginning of treatment, will be important.
Q What Should Be Done To Treat Eczema
A. It is important to consult a licensed dermatologist, such as the Dallas areas Dr. Turner, as other skin conditions can resemble atopic dermatitis. Without an accurate diagnosis, treatment can be ineffective. If the diagnosis is atopic dermatitis or eczema, Dr. Turner will prescribe an appropriate treatment plan. Medical research continues to show that the most effective treatment plan involves using a combination of therapies to treat the skin and making lifestyle changes to control flare-ups.
An interesting study was performed in eczema patients that revolutionized treatment. The study had two groups of patients: a control group that did not receive treatment, and a second study group that received treatment. The study looked at what would happen if ½ cup of plain household bleach was poured into a full bathtub of water three times per week. The control group did not use any bleach. The results were so positive for patients in the bleach bath treatment group that the researchers had to switch all of the patients into the study group for ethical reasons. The bleach bath group had a significant decrease in the number of eczema flares they experienced, thus requiring much less medical treatment, such as topical steroids or even oral steroids and antihistamines. Plus, the cost of the treatment was so minimal. A ½ cup of bleach costs pennies on the dollar.
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Ask Your Doctor About Skin Infection Risk
Bacteria like to live on eczema-prone skin like a parasite, Kim says, adding that one sign of infection is when skin becomes oozy and crusted.
One remedy to treat infections is an antibiotic ointment like bacitracin or Neosporin, which you can find in most pharmacies. These ointments are able to kill bacteria like staph and allow skin to begin healing.
If topical antibiotics arent helping, your doctor may also prescribe oral antibiotics, Kim says. When using topical or oral antibiotics, you should always consult with your doctor to determine how often and how long you should take them.
How Is Eczema Treated
Treatment for eczema typically involves lifestyle changes, over-the-counter moisturizers, medications, and phototherapy.
Lifestyle changes and moisturizers. Anyone with eczema should try to avoid exposure to allergens and contact with chemicals or other substances known to trigger symptoms. If a flare-up occurs, people should try to avoid scratching to prevent additional skin damage and thickening of the skin.
Over-the-counter moisturizers and hydrocortisone cream may be soothing and can help relieve itching. Bathing or showering with lukewarm, rather than hot, water will help, too.
Medications. If symptoms continue, a doctor may prescribe one or more of the following treatments:
- Antihistamines: These may be used to treat eczema symptoms caused by exposure to allergens. They may be available over-the-counter or by prescription.
- Corticosteroids: While over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream is available, sometimes higher doses of topical corticosteroids are necessary to reduce and control skin inflammation. Sometimes these medications must be taken orally, as a pill or tablet.
- Antibiotics or Antifungals: Because skin lesions caused by eczema are prone to infections, a doctor may prescribe these to eliminate infections that may accompany eczema.
- Immunosuppressive drugs: These medications reduce the bodys immune response, which lessens inflammation and other symptoms.
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Why Do I Get Eczema In My Ears
Eczema can develop anywhere on your skin, including your ears. Different types of eczema can develop in your ears, including:
- Allergic eczema : Your immune system overreacts to minor irritants or allergens if you have allergic eczema. This overreaction can inflame your skin. Common irritants and allergens include earrings, hair and skin care products, food, pollen, cell phones or headphones.
- Asteatotic eczema: Asteatotic eczema commonly affects people 65 years of age and older. Changes in the weather or temperature cause asteatotic eczema, and it tends to flare up during the winter season. Low humidity can cause your skin to become dry and itchy. Harsh soaps, wool and hair and skin care products can also cause it.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: Seborrheic dermatitis commonly affects the oily parts of your body, including your ears, scalp, nose and chest. No one knows exactly what causes seborrheic dermatitis, but a surplus of a type of yeast on the surface of your skin may be the cause.
What Is A Dermatologist
A dermatologist is a doctor who focuses on conditions that affect the skin, hair, and nails. They see patients of all ages, treat over 3,000 different conditions, and many specialize in treating specific conditions like cancer and patient groups like People of Color.
A pediatric dermatologist has specialized training in treating children with conditions affecting their skin, hair, or nails.
There are three boards that provide certification in dermatology in North America:
- American Board of Dermotology
- American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology
- Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
To be board certified, a dermatologist must pass an exam from one of these boards to test their medical knowledge and expertise.
Following board certification, a dermatologist may choose to become a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, the largest organization of dermatologists in the United States. A dermatologist who is a fellow will have FAAD after their name.
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A Dermatologist Never Stops Learning About Eczema
To maintain their board certifications, dermatologists must keep up with new developments in their field. They must complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified dermatologists stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in eczema, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans.
Medicines For Atopic Dermatitis
If your doctor decides you need meds to treat your eczema, those may include:
Hydrocortisone. Over-the-counter cream or ointment versions of it may help mild eczema. If yours is severe, you may need a prescription dose.
Antihistamines. Ones you take by mouth are available over-the-counter and may help relieve symptoms. Some of these make you drowsy, but others donât.
Corticosteroids. Your doctor may prescribe these if other treatments donât work. Always follow your doctor’s directions when taking steroids by mouth.
Drugs that work on your immune system. Your doctor may consider these medicines — such as azathioprine, cyclosporine, or methotrexate — if other treatments donât help. There are also prescription creams and ointments that treat eczema by controlling inflammation and reducing immune system reactions. Examples include pimecrolimus , which is a cream, and crisaborole and tacrolimus , which are ointments. You should only use these for a short time if other treatments don’t work — and you should never use them on kids younger than 2, according to the FDA.
Injectables. Dupilumab is an injectable medicine for moderate to severe eczema. It works by controlling the bodyâs inflammatory response. This medicine is given every 2 weeks as an injection and should only be used by people 12 and older.
Prescription-strength moisturizers. These support the skinâs barrier.
Find out which eczema treatment is right for you.
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Eczema Remedies For Children
About 10% to 20% of infants develop eczema, with the rash typically appearing on the face and scalp. In most cases, this condition improves after age five and may disappear for good.
Medical experts believe itâs a genetic condition or passed from parents to their kids. Symptoms can vary depending on the age of the child.
In more severe cases, infants can develop eczema on uncommon areas like the torso, elbows, and knees. Children and teens will notice the rash in the inner elbows, behind the knees, on the neck, or wrists and ankles. The skin may appear drier, thicker, and develop a scaly texture.
There are some steps you can take to treat your child’s eczema or prevent future flare-ups:
- Avoid skincare products with heavy fragrances and other possible irritants.
- Cut your childâs fingernails and encourage them to wear gloves to prevent skin damage from excessive scratching.
- Maintain a routine of bathing, moisturizing, and applying age-appropriate treatments recommended by a pediatrician. Ask your doctor about the âsoak and sealâ method.
- Talk to a pediatrician or dermatologist about the benefits of oatmeal baths or bleach baths to reduce inflammation and discourage bacterial growth.
- Boost the effectiveness of any topical medication and rehydrate the skin by using wet wrap therapy. This can also prevent your child from scratching their skin.
How These Practitioners Can Help
Both of these doctors can provide allergy testing when necessary. For instance, a dermatologist may perform a skin patch test to determine the cause of your skin reaction. An allergist may also perform a skin patch test and more in-depth allergy testing.
A dermatologist can help you choose products that are less likely to irritate your skin. An allergist may provide medications to help you manage your allergies and even provide immunotherapy to reduce your sensitivity to that substance.
Fortunately, you wont be at a loss regardless of which doctor you choose to see. If you see a dermatologist, and they cannot diagnose or treat the underlying cause of your symptoms, they will simply refer you to an allergist and vice versa.
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Eczema Support Team Assemble
OKyouve got your primary care physician and hopefully your eczema specialist, such as a dermatologist or allergist. Now who are some other people you can add to your eczema support team?
- Nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, or pharmacists: You can gain valuable insights by talking to these medical professionals about medication or skin care.
- Dietitians: If youve found that food can trigger symptoms or youre looking for nutrition tips, it might help to consult a registered dietitian.
- Therapists or counselors: If eczema is affecting your emotional well-being, a trusted counselor or mental health professional can be a great additional resource.
Get started now and
Building Your Own Eczema Care Team
Since eczema and atopic dermatitis are skin conditions, it makes sense that any care team would include a dermatologist. A dermatologist can help you develop a skin-care plan to prevent flares and reduce symptoms when they do appear, according to the AAD. This plan may include recommendations for skin-care and household products that are eczema-friendly, prescription or over-the-counter treatments for severe eczema and atopic dermatitis, and tips for avoiding triggers.
Your dermatologist may also refer you to other specialists if needed, or work alongside other doctors and healthcare providers to help you manage your symptoms. Allergists, primary care physicians, and pediatricians often coordinate care with dermatologists in the treatment of atopic dermatitis, says Lauren Ploch, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Augusta, Georgia.
Allergists, for example, are trained to treat inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and atopic dermatitis, which are often tied to allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Your allergist can help you identify possible irritants to avoid, and recommend effective treatments to find relief from symptoms.
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