Eczema is one of the most common skin complaints with millions of sufferers in the UK alone. It can occur in both children and adults and can develop on almost any part of the body from large areas like the stomach to smaller areas like the back of the knees. There are numerous contributing factors that can all cause or worsen the condition such as stress, hot weather and allergies.
The most common symptoms of eczema include:
- Red or inflamed skin
- Very dry skin
- Cracked or broken skin
- Itchy or irritated skin
While there are no definitive causes of eczema, there are certain things that can contribute to how severe or recurring the condition is. So if you suffer from eczema or think you might, here are three simple steps to help you treat and manage the condition.
Monitor Your Diet/ Lifestyle
What you put into your body is one way of controlling how often your eczema develops. If you are allergic to certain foods such as dairy, wheat or nuts these can act as triggers which can cause the condition to flare up. If you notice that eating certain foods make the condition worse, it would be advisable to avoid these in your diet. The best way to do this is keep a food journal or meal plan, so you can easily see if certain foods are causing the problem. Make sure you have a balanced diet of healthy foods and are getting plenty of vitamins from different fruits and vegetables.
If your diet is fine, then your lifestyle may also be a factor. Working with chemicals or detergents, being exposed to extreme heat, wearing fabrics that aggravate your skin, and stress can all make this condition worse. Where possible, try and limit your exposure to these things. Wear protective clothing if you work with chemicals, wear clothes that are gentler on the skin such as cotton and try to keep cool. If you’re feeling strained and run-down, your skin can react badly so try to eliminate stressful situations as best you can and take time to look after your general wellbeing.
If stress is becoming too much, be sure to visit your GP for more advice.
Use Topical Creams
If you can’t pinpoint a trigger in your diet or lifestyle, then you will need to treat eczema with topical creams and lotions to soothe the skin and help it heal. Some severe cases may require a diet change alongside using appropriate creams to clear up the inflammation. Body lotions containing Almond Oil, Coconut Oil and Aloe Vera all soothe the skin and offer light relief. Topical corticosteroids and antibiotic cream may also be prescribed to combat severe eczema but there are specific treatments for each area of the body. Your GP can best advise you on which treatments will work most effectively for you or your child.
If your eczema is more severe or isn’t responding to topical treatments, you may need to be prescribed antibiotic tablets or antihistamines. Antibiotics aim to tackle severe eczema or eczema that has become infected whereas antihistamines are usually prescribed to help reduce irritation and stop itching.
You may also be referred to a dermatologist who can treat the condition with photo-therapy (also known as light therapy). Natural sunlight is known to help skin conditions like eczema so during the treatment, machines are used to produce ultraviolet light which is then shone on the affected area of the body. After a course of treatments the eczema should have cleared up; however this treatment hasn’t proven to be a permanent cure.
For more information or advice, be sure to contact your GP.
Eczema on the arm from Flickr
Eczema close up from Flickr