Eczema Free You
What’s to know about eczema?
Eczema is a condition where patches of skin become inflamed, itchy, red, cracked, and rough. Blisters may sometimes occur.
Some people outgrow the condition, while others will continue to have it throughout adulthood.
Fast facts on eczema:
-Certain foods can trigger symptoms, such as nuts and dairy
-symptoms vary according to the age of the person with eczema, but they often include scaly, itchy patches of skin
-eczema can also be triggered by environmental factors like smoke and pollen. However, eczema is not a curable condition
-treatment focuses on healing damaged skin and alleviating symptoms. There is not yet a full cure for eczema, but symptoms can be managed
-eczema is not a contagious condition
The symptoms of atopic dermatitis can vary, depending on the age of the person with the condition.
Atopic dermatitis commonly occurs in infants, with dry and scaly patches appearing on the skin. These patches are often intensely itchy.
Most people develop atopic dermatitis before the age of 5 years. Half of those who develop the condition in childhood continue to have symptoms as an adult. However, these symptoms are often different to those experienced by children.
People with the condition will often experience periods of time where their symptoms flare up or worsen, followed by periods of time where their symptoms will improve or clear up.
Symptoms in infants under 2 years old:
-Rashes commonly appear on the scalp and cheeks
-rashes usually bubble up before leaking fluid.
-rashes can cause extreme itchiness. This may interfere with sleeping. Continuous rubbing and scratching can lead to skin infections.
Red, scaly areas
Small, rough bumps
Thick, leathery patches
Bumps that leak fluid and crust over
If you have dark skin, the affected area might be lighter or darker.
Newborn With Eczema
Eczema in Babies
Infants who are just 6 to12 weeks old can get atopic dermatitis as a patchy facial rash. It can become red and scaly, and it may appear on the forehead or scalp. Moisture from drooling makes it worse. In some cases, the condition goes away by age 2. But about half of people who had atopic dermatitis as a child will have it as an adult.
Newborn With Cradle Cap
Atopic Dermatitis or Cradle Cap?
“Cradle cap” in babies is a condition that doctors call seborrheic eczema or seborrheic dermatitis. It appears as yellow, oily, scaly patches on the scalp. Usually it clears up without treatment at 8 to 12 months of age.
In contrast, atopic dermatitis usually appears as a red rash. It’s more often found on the cheeks, but it can also affect the scalp.
Symptoms in children aged 2 years until puberty:
-Rashes commonly appear behind the creases of elbows or knees
-they are also common on the neck, wrists, ankles, and the crease between buttock and legs.
Kids can get the rash on the inside of their elbows or behind the knees, around their mouths, on the sides of their necks, or on wrists, arms, and hands. Those with atopic dermatitis are more likely to have food allergies, including allergies to peanuts, milk, or other nuts. But you shouldn’t restrict foods unless your doctor confirms a food sensitivity. It’s not contagious, either.
-Over time, the following symptoms can occur:
Rashes can become bumpy
Rashes can lighten or darken in color.
Rashes can thicken in a process known as lichenification. The rashes can then develop knots and a permanent itch.
Symptoms in adults:
-Rashes commonly appear in creases of the elbows or knees or the nape of the neck
-rashes cover much of the body
-rashes can be especially prominent on the neck, face, and around the eyes
-rashes can cause very dry skin
-rashes can be permanently itchy
-rashes in adults can be more scaly than those occurring in children
-rashes can lead to skin infections
Adults who developed atopic dermatitis as a child but no longer experience the condition may still have dry or easily-irritated skin, hand eczema, and eye problems.
The appearance of skin affected by atopic dermatitis will depend on how much a person scratches and whether the skin is infected. Scratching and rubbing further irritate the skin, increase inflammation, and make itchiness worse.
You might notice itchy patches on the hands, elbows, and in the “bending” areas of the body, such as the inside of the elbows and back of the knees. But eczema can appear anywhere, including the neck, chest, and eyelids. People who had atopic dermatitis as a child may see drier, scaly rashes as adults. The skin may be discolored or thickened.
If a rash won’t go away, is uncomfortable, or develops a crust or pus-filled blister, see your doctor. She’ll check your medical history, symptoms, and ask you about any allergies that run in your family. You may also get allergy tests or a microscopic exam of a skin scraping to rule out infections.
The specific cause of eczema remains unknown, but it is believed to develop due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Eczema is not contagious.
Children are more likely to develop eczema if a parent has had the condition or another atopic disease.
If both parents have an atopic disease, the risk is even greater.
Environmental factors are also known to bring out the symptoms of eczema, such as:
Irritants: These include soaps, detergents, shampoos, disinfectants, juices from fresh fruits, meats, or vegetables.
Allergens: Dust mites, pets, pollens, mold, and dandruff can lead to eczema.
Microbes: These include bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, viruses, and certain fungi.
Hot and cold temperatures: Very hot or cold weather, high and low humidity, and perspiration from exercise can bring out eczema.
Foods: Dairy products, eggs, nuts and seeds, soy products, and wheat can cause eczema flare-ups.
Stress: This is not a direct cause of eczema but can make symptoms worse.
Hormones: Women can experience increased eczema symptoms at times when their hormone levels are changing, for example during pregnancy and at certain points in the menstrual cycle.
There are many different types of eczema. While this article has focused mainly on atopic dermatitis, other types include:
Allergic contact dermatitis: This is a skin reaction following contact with a substance or allergen that the immune system recognizes as foreign.
Dyshidrotic eczema: This is an irritation of the skin on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. It is characterized by blisters.
Neurodermatitis: This forms scaly patches of skin on the head, forearms, wrists, and lower legs. It is caused by a localized itch, such as an insect bite.
Nummular eczema: These show as circular patches of irritated skin that can be crusted, scaly, and itchy.
Seborrheic eczema: This forms oily, scaly, yellowish patches of skin, usually on the scalp and face.
Stasis dermatitis: This is a skin irritation of the lower leg usually related to circulatory problems.
How is Eczema Treated
The current medical treatments focus on reducing itching and swelling, but they tend to only focus on making the symptoms more bearable, and some of them come at the cost of nasty side effects:
This is a good start, but current medical research is still cautious to claim this is an effective therapy on its own because it doesn’t treat the skin, it only treats the itchiness. Furthermore, antihistamines cause drowsiness and leave you sluggish all day.
To address the irritating bacteria, doctors may prescribe antibiotics in serious cases. This is not a long term option, in fact, it can make matters worse. Antibiotics kill our GOOD and BAD bacteria, which weakens our immune system, leaving you nearly defenseless against eczema.
Topical Steroid Creams:
Topical steroid use results in diminishing effectiveness, so more and more powerful ones need to be applied to achieve the same results, and once users discontinue topical steroids, eczema are devastating.
Many people who have eczema are also diagnosed with food allergies. However, everyone is different and discovering your personal food needs is important to minimize issues with allergies and eczema. Not everyone will have issues with the foods listed below, but common food allergies associated with eczema include:
Eating certain foods doesn’t appear to cause eczema, although it may trigger a flare-up if you already have the condition. Maintaining an eczema-friendly diet is key to overall condition management. Not everyone will have the same reactions or flare ups to the same foods.
Are there certain foods that I should eat?
Eating anti-inflammatory foods may help lessen or reduce eczema symptoms. This includes:
You may be able to reduce your symptoms by eating fatty fish, such as salmon and herring. Fish oil contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory. You may also consider taking an omega-3 supplement.
In general, it’s recommended that you get at least 250 mg of omega-3 fatty acids daily, preferably from food.
Foods containing quercetin
Quercetin is a plant-based flavonoid. It helps give many flowers, fruits, and vegetables their rich color. It’s also a powerful antioxidant and antihistamine. This means it can reduce inflammation as well as levels of histamine in your body.
Foods high in quercetin include:
Foods containing probiotics
Probiotic foods, such as yogurt, contain live cultures that help support a strong immune system. This may help reduce flare-ups or allergic reactions.
Probiotic-rich foods include:
-naturally fermented pickles
-soft cheeses, such as Gouda
Your best foods depend largely on any food allergies you may have been diagnosed with. Foods considered to be eczema-friendly may trigger a flare-up in those who are allergic to them.
Is there a specific diet plan I can follow?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all eczema diet, though eating a diet rich in antioxidants may help reduce symptoms. Some eating plans are based on principles that you may find helpful in reducing your symptoms:
This diet emphasizes eating:
-healthy fats, such as olive oil
It also includes red wine, which contains quercetin.
Sugary desserts and red meat can be eaten in very small quantities or not at all in this diet.
Seeing a doctor
See your doctor if the itching and redness you’re experiencing doesn’t go away on its own, or if it interferes with your life. A skin doctor called a dermatologist can diagnose and treat eczema.
To help your doctor understand your condition, it may be helpful to keep a diary to identify your eczema triggers. Write down:
-what you eat and drink
-what skin products, chemicals, soaps, makeup, and detergents you use
-what activities you do, such as taking a walk outside in the woods or swimming in a chlorinated pool
-how long you spend in the bath or shower, and the temperature of the water
-when you’re under stress
You should begin to notice connections between your activities and your eczema flare-ups. Bring this journal to your doctor to help them pinpoint your triggers.
An allergy specialist can also do a patch test. This test places small amounts of irritating substances on patches that are applied to your skin. The patches stay on your skin for 20 to 30 minutes to see if you have a reaction. This test can help your doctor tell which substances trigger your eczema, so you can avoid them.
Most eczema comes and goes over time. Atopic dermatitis is usually worst in childhood and improves with age. Other forms of eczema may stay with you throughout your life, although you can take measures to reduce your symptoms.
Tips for reducing outbreaks
Here are a few ways to prevent eczema flare-ups and manage symptoms:
-Apply cool compresses to your skin, or take a colloidal oatmeal or baking soda bath to relieve the itch.
-moisturize your skin daily with a rich, oil-based cream or ointment to form a protective barrier against the elements. Apply the cream right after you get out of the shower or bath to seal in moisture.
-after you bathe, gently blot your skin with a soft towel. Never rub
-avoid scratching. You could cause an infection
-use fragrance-free detergents, cleansers, makeup, and other skin care products
-wear gloves and protective clothing whenever you handle chemicals
-wear loose-fitting clothes made from soft fibers, like cotton
ou should also avoid any known triggers.