Eczema is a general term encompassing various inflammed skin conditions. One of the most common forms of eczema is atopic dermatitis Eczema is a chronic skin disorder / allergy usually characterized by scaly and itchy rashes.
Children are very prone to it. The severity of the disease can vary. In mild form, the skin is dry, hot and itchy, while in more severe forms the skin can become broken along with bleeding. Eczema is not contagious. Although it can occur just once, it generally keeps coming back or lasts the entire lifetime. Like many diseases, eczema currently cannot be cured. However, for most, the condition may be managed well with treatment and avoidance of triggers.
Although there is no known cause for the disease, it often affects people with a family history of allergies.
Those who are genetically predisposed and then exposed to environmental triggers may develop eczema. Many people who have eczema also suffer from allergic rhinitis and asthma.
What causes eczema is not known until date. It can be triggered by just about anything that comes in contact with the skin.
Some possible factors that worsen the condition –
# Exposure to water, temperature changes.
# Allergens such as nickel or yeast growth
# Upper respiratory tract infections.
# Certain soaps, detergents.
# Contact with juices from fresh fruits.
The triggers are not the same for every person and it is very difficult to find out the exact cause of a flare-up.
Eczema looks different from person to person – dry, red, extremely itchy patches on the skin most often characterize it. Eczema is sometimes referred to as “the itch that rashes,” since the itch, when scratched, results in the appearance of a rash.
Eczema can occur on just about any part of the body; however, in infants, eczema typically occurs on the forehead, cheeks, forearms, legs, scalp, and neck. In adults, eczema occurs on the face, neck, and the insides of the elbows, knees, and ankles.
# The first symptom is intense itching followed by appearance of rashes. This causes a burning, tingling sensation.
# Blisters – if scratched, the blisters may ooze and become crusty and scaly.
# Infected skin area becomes abnormally dark or light in colour.
# Painful cracks may develop followed by bleeding.
# In some cases, there might be ear discharge
Effective treatment of eczema requires correct diagnosis of the allergen. Eczema cannot be cured in most cases, but it can be managed well and controlled.
Main aim of treatment is to relieve discomfort. It depends on the –
– age, health and medical history of patient.
– type and severity of eczema present.
Thus, acute rashes, dry scaly lesions, or chronic lesions are each treated differently.
Anything that aggravates the symptoms should be carefully avoided, whenever possible, including any allergens and irritants.
Dry skin often makes the condition worse. When washing or bathing, keep water contact as minimum as possible and use less soap. After bathing, it is important to trap the moisture in the skin by applying a moisturizing cream on the skin while it is damp. Treatment of bleeding lesions may include soothing moisturizers and wet dressings.
Mild anti-itch lotions help soothe less severe dry scaly lesions.
Corticosteroids may be prescribed by a doctor to reduce inflammation in some severe cases.
In very severe cases, alternate treatments such as chemotherapy, phototherapy may also be given.
Self care at home –
The best treatment is to remove the allergy-causing agent. Now this is quite a difficult task. You need to keep a track on your habits or go for a laboratory allergy testing.
# Prevent dry skin. Use a mild anti bacterial soap while bathing and follow it up with a moisturizer.
# Avoid scratching the rash, for it will only aggravate the irritation. Keep nails short.
# Cotton clothing and bedding keep the skin cool and allow it to breathe. Avoid synthetic fabrics and wool as they irritate.
# Avoid stress. Undertake light activity, eat healthy food – this will help prevent flare-ups.
Preventive steps –
# Keep the affected area clean and dry to avoid further breakdown. Avoid scratching.
# Avoid whatever causes a flare up of your eczema.
# Grind 1-tablespoon turmeric along with 1 tablespoon of neem leaves. Apply 2-3 times daily on the affected areas.
# Keep bedrooms, living areas free of dust mites (a common eczema causing agent).
# Apply a teaspoon of sandalwood paste mixed with a teaspoon of camphor to the affected area. It has a cooling effect.
# Drink tomato juice daily, it will cure the symptoms in a few days.
# Coconut oil to be applied to the portions with eczema.
# Carrot juice and spinach juice in combination is highly beneficial for eczema.
# Drink plenty of water.
# Sunbathing is beneficial as it kills the harmful bacteria.
# Papaya seeds mashed and applied on the infected area, will give relief from itching.