If you suffer from eczema, you know what exactly eczema is and how painful it is to live with it. If you had been trying all the things under the sun to get rid of eczema, let me share with you that you are not alone. Millions of people suffer from eczema and all of them are in the search of just an answer to this one question, how to treat eczema? Is it really possible to cure eczema completely? If yes, how and if no what is the remedy? The good news is that eczema is totally manageable and you can use homeremedies for eczema to keep it in check. Before moving on to these natural remedies, let’s first try to get the answers for certain pertinent questions regarding eczema.
What is Eczema?
Dictionary says, eczema is that medical condition where patches of skin become rough and inflamed with blisters. This causes itching and bleeding. It can be mild, moderate or severe eczema where the itching may be so bad that you scratch your skin until it bleeds.
The medical term for eczema is Atopic Dermatitis.
The itchy, red rashes of eczema can appear anywhere on the body- elbows, behind the knees, scalp, chest, back, arms, legs, neck, wrists, ankles- practically almost anywhere. Baby eczema often occur on the face, particularly on the cheeks and chin.
What is the Cause of Eczema?
The real cause for eczema hasn’t been established yet. However, Atopic eczema runs in families and thus it can be said that it is a hereditary disease. In the medical world, the term ‘Atopic’ is used for such conditions that have genetic basis. So, it can be said that genetic make-up causes eczema. The skin of the people who have such genetic issue is not able to work as a proper barrier for the environmental irritants that enter the skin and cause dryness, inflammation and itching.
Some of the other causes of eczema include abnormal immune system, hostile environment, indulgence in such activities that make skin more sensitive, and the inability of the skin to hold moisture. These causes can be listed as follows:
- Defective immune system
- Environmental issues (triggers that flare up eczema)
- Activities that make skin sensitive
- Dryness of skin
- Skin not performing as optimum barrier for germs
Apart from causes, triggers of eczema are also important.
Triggers for Eczema flare ups
There are certain factors in the environment that may trigger eczema flare ups. It is important to note that these are not causes of eczema but their presence can lead to showing up of severe eczema symptoms like redness, dryness, skin patches, blisters, itching etc.
- Heat and dust
- Soaps, detergents, cleansers, etc.
- Cigarette smoke
- Bacterial infection
- Viral infection
- Allergic reaction to certain things such as pollen, pet dander, certain food or spices etc.
- Dry skin
Can Eczema be cured completely?
No, there is no cure for eczema but it can be managed to such a level that you feel as if your eczema has been cured.
How to Treat Eczema at Home?
It should have been, ‘how to manage eczema’ so that you feel you have treated your eczema completely. There are essentially 4 steps to manage or treat eczema at home:
- Proper bathing
- Moisturizing the skin effectively
- Using prescription treatments to keep away inflammation and infections OR using home remedies for eczema.
- Avoiding triggers to reduce eczema flare ups. From the soap, perfumes, and cosmetics to clothes that you wear and foods that you eat, everything should be friendly to your skin.
Bathing Tips for Eczema
Bathing is very important, not only for people with eczema but for everyone. Water hydrates the top layer of your skin. When you bathe, the water softens your skin so that the topical medications as well as moisturizers can be absorbed into it. Water also removes allergens and irritants as well as the crusted tissue. Bathing is relaxing and it reduces stress, which is sometimes a trigger for eczema.
- Take at least one bath or shower every day.
- Prefer taking bath instead of showers, as far as possible. Occasional showers are all right.
- Do not use hot water to bathe as it may trigger eczema. Use warm water or water at room temperature for bathing.
- Do not take long showers. Bathe for just 5-7 minutes. While bathing helps hydrate your skin, longer exposure to water makes it drier.
- Do not scrub your skin with wash cloth. If needed, use natural ingredients as scrub such as oatmeal.
- Always use a mild soap or a gentle cleanser. During the days when you have severe eczema, avoid using soap or cleansers
- After bathing, use your towel to pat dry your skin, never rub towel on your skin.
Just after bathing, within 3 minutes, moisturize your skin to lock in the moisture. This is essential for managing eczema. You can use natural moisturizing agents or choose one that is commercially available. Conduct a patch test before using any moisturizer so that nothing in it could flare up your eczema.
Moisturizing Tips for Eczema
If you won’t moisturize your skin, you’ll end up scratching the dry, itchy skin and will make your eczema worse. Dryness of skin is one of the major triggers for eczema flare ups. Even for people who don’t suffer from eczema, a proper moisturizing routine for skin is a must.
- Moisturize your skin just after bathing.
- If you have mild eczema, you may apply a moisturizing lotion. Lotions contain some oil but major part of it is made up of water. Because you have mild eczema, you can depend on only this much of moisturizing given by a lotion.
- If you have moderate eczema, you may use a moisturizing cream that are composed of equal quantities of oil and water. However, before finalizing any moisturizing cream, check for any additives or preservatives that can irritate your skin further. Choose the best moisturizer for your skin.
- If you have severe eczema, ointment is the best bet. In such case, most probably, your doctor will prescribe medicated ointment for you. Ointments have about eighty percent of oil and only 20 percent of water and that’s why they also feel somewhat greasy when you apply them to your skin. For this reason, avoid applying moisturizing ointments to body parts that sweat a lot, except when your doctor recommends.
- In winters, use humidifier to keep the air inside your home moist
Eczema Triggers to avoid
There are certain things in your environment that may lead to eczema flare ups. One of the major factors in eczema treatments is to avoid these triggers.
- Avoid cold. Extreme cold temperature makes your skin dry. If you can’t avoid cold weather, use suitable moisturizer several times a day to keep your skin moisturized. Use humidifier to keep the air inside your home moist.
- Avoid heat. Yes, not only winters, even summers are not good for you. Hot and humid climate is one of the commonly known eczema triggers. Try not to go out in sun, do your outside works either in the morning or evenings. If stepping out in hot weather becomes a necessity, take all steps to avoid sweating and heat. Use umbrellas and soft clothes to cover yourself, walk in shade or ride inside a covered vehicle.
- Avoid dust. Dust and dust mites lead to severe eczema. Keep your surroundings dust free. If possible, avoid using carpets, rugs and blinds. Wash your bed covers regularly and follow a dusting routine if you live in a place that has quite a dust.
- Avoid pollen. Like dust, pollen too are eczema triggers. Stay indoors when pollen is high in the atmosphere, like in the Spring season. Take immediate shower whenever you are exposed to pollens.
- Wear cotton or other skin friendly clothes. Synthetics and woolens can trigger eczema flare up. Even dresses made with rough clothes are not for you. Wear loose fitting clothes because tight clothes trigger eczema.
- Use mild soaps and detergents. To wash your clothes, use fragrance-free, neutral pH detergents. Soaps and detergents are major triggers for eczema flare ups. Ensure that all the detergent has been removed when you wash your clothes. Rinse them twice if needed.
- Avoid harsh chemicals. Whenever using cleansers for household works, use milder ones or those made with natural ingredients. Harsh chemicals lead to eczema flare ups. cover your skin while handling chemicals, for example, wear gloves when using household cleansers.
- Avoid food allergens. Certain foods too can trigger eczema. Identify the foods that are allergic for you and avoid them.
- Avoid cosmetics containing alcohol, perfumes, lanolin, or preservatives. They all trigger eczema. Use unscented, fragrance free cosmetics, especially those made with natural ingredients. Always conduct a patch test before using any new product.
- Avoid pet dander. If you have pets at home, beware of pet dander as they trigger eczema. Keep the pets away from areas that you use such as sofa, chairs your bedroom etc. Clean them frequently.
- Avoid smoking. Smoke causes eczema to flare up. If you are exposed to secondary smoking, ask the person to smoke when you are not around or to go outside to smoke.
- Avoid stress. Stress is also a trigger for eczema. Learn stress management by doing meditation, yoga, or by joining laughter club or some interest club. Pursuing a hobby too relieves stress.
Taking the above steps for few days would bring them in your daily habit and you will no longer suffer from eczema symptoms or experience flare ups. You will definitely feel like as if you have treated your eczema.