Is one’s skin red, dry, scaly and extremely itchy? Has one been diagnosed with eczema? The skin condition eczema is indeed believed to affect over 30 million Americans. So, what is eczema? In fact, eczema is not a single condition; it is actually a group of skin conditions that do include atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, hand eczema, neurodermatitis, nummular eczema, and stasis dermatitis.
Finding a soothing, natural eczema treatment can rather be life-changing for those suffering from this frustrating condition.
Eczema typically does initially appear in very young children with research finding that 65 percent of cases do occur before infants hit their first birthday, and 90 percent of those affected have their first cases before they do turn 5 years old. Of further concern is that eczema in children is rather becoming more and more common. Diseases such as eczema can resemble include psoriasis, rosacea, and dermatitis, but it is a different condition.
Children who have a dog in the home are likely to develop eczema at any age. Although initial outbreaks of eczema most often occur in infants and among young children, onset can also occur at any time. While the majority of the skin conditions that do fall under the eczema heading are chronic, it is important to note that contact dermatitis and hand eczema may be acute in nature, occurring due to an exposure to allergens or chemicals.
For many people, the severity of flare-ups will indeed lessen with maturity, and some may even outgrow it altogether. However, eczema can come and also go throughout life. Learning how to treat one’s eczema and identifying triggers that cause flares is the best course of action.
As one is aware that there is no definitive answer as to the cause of eczema, and there is also no identified cure. No doubt, there are effective natural treatments, home remedies and essential oils for eczema that may help prevent future flares and ease discomfort during an outbreak. It is important to understand that eczema is an indeed embarrassing, stressful and frustrating condition that does often disrupt sleeping patterns.
Eczema Risk Factors, Causes & Symptoms
Eczema symptoms can rather manifest widely differently between those affected. While a singular cause of eczema has not been established, there are certain common causes that are leading to the onset and flares. In addition, a wide range of risk factors has been identified.
Risk Factors for Eczema
- A genetic predisposition or family history of eczema, hay fever or asthma
- Young age
- Healthcare worker
- Children that attend daycare
- Living in a dry climate
Adolescent obesity, for later onset of eczema cases
Low vitamin D levels during pregnancy may increase the risk of developing eczema in the first year of life.
Causes of Eczema
As of now, the medical community has yet to determine a rather definitive cause of eczema. For some, it may occur due to a nutritional deficiency, while for others it may first arise due to an allergen or another irritant. Here are the widely-accepted causes of
- Dry skin and sensitive skin that cracks
- Immune system dysfunction
- Environmental conditions
- Gene variation that affects the skin
- Allergies to foods, beauty products, laundry detergents or another chemical allergy
- Chronic stress
- Temperature changes
Symptoms of Eczema
While many tend to experience a lessening of symptoms and fewer flares as they age, some will indeed continue to experience eczema symptoms throughout adulthood, such as atopic eczema rashes. Symptoms can rather range from mild to severe, and change from one outbreak to another. Common symptoms include:
- The appearance of small raised bumps which may ooze liquid and develop a crust
- Thick, dry, scaly skin that cracks
- Red, brown or grayish patches of skin on hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, in skin folds, and on one’s face as well as scalp of infants
- Sensitive skin that is swollen and raw from scratching
- A recurring rash that causes intense itching, often disrupting sleep
- Rashes due to atopic eczema
Eczema Treatment: 13 Ways to Find Relief
While there is no cure for eczema, there are a variety of non-invasive eczema treatment options that can provide relief during a flare-up and some that may prevent its onset. These can include also corticosteroids, but there are other options of treatment.
1. Light Therapy/Phototherapy
According to the National Eczema Association, phototherapy does help to calm inflammation, reduces itching, increases vitamin D production and also helps fight bacteria on one’s skin. It helps to have 10–15 minutes a day of sun exposure, particularly during an eczema flare as it can provide much relief and speed healing.
2. Vitamin D
In addition to increasing sun exposure, supplementing with vitamin D rich foods like cod liver oil, sardines, salmon, eggs and raw milk may help prevent eczema in children and adolescents. Ideally, during a flare you will get 2,000-5,000 IU daily; if your sun exposure is low, consider boosting your intake with a high-quality supplement. Preliminary research shows that low vitamin D levels during pregnancy and during childhood may increase the risk of developing eczema. (5)
Because dry skin is both a cause as well as a symptom, it is important to moisturize affected areas at least twice a day. Coconut oil is the perfect moisturizer for eczema sufferers. This eczema treatment is antibacterial cum anti-fungal, with antimicrobial properties that do provide soothing relief and may speed healing.
4. Treat the Mind and Body
One gets psychologically affected when one suffers from eczema. One can go in for hypnosis, mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relation, focused breathing, cognitive behavior therapy and talk therapy which can provide relief during a flare and also promote quick healing and prevent future flares.
5. Dead Sea Salt Baths
The Dead Sea is known for its healing powers, and researchers have indeed found that taking a bath with salt from the Dead Sea water does improve skin hydration, improved skin barrier function, reduced inflammation, and also relieves redness as well as roughness. As eczema flares can indeed worsen when exposed to high and low temperatures, bathwater needs to be just warm enough to prevent a chill. Do not rub the skin dry; pat gently with a soft towel.
6. Cool, Wet Compresses
Applying a cool, wet compress does reduce the itching for some individuals with eczema. For young children, dampening snug night clothes may also provide overnight relief from itching; however, if eczema becomes oozing blisters, a wet compress may rather increase the risk of infection, and should not be therefore used.
7. Apply Itch Cream
The intense itching is the miserable effect an eczema flare. One can make use of a natural homemade eczema cream that incorporates Shea butter, coconut oil, raw honey as well as essential oils in order to provide much-needed relief.
8. Licorice Extract
One can add a few drops to coconut oil or homemade itch creams for best results.
9. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish is introduced into one’s diet of young children by the age of 9 months, and fish is also eaten weekly, and this means the risk for developing eczema does reduce dramatically. Including foods rich in Omega-3s to prevent eczema should be considered. During a flare, these foods are a great eczema treatment that will indeed boost immune system function and speed healing.
Probiotics can help prevent eczema in infants and it also decreases the severity of flares. In fact, mothers who take probiotics during pregnancy and while breastfeeding may also prevent eczema from developing in their children. During an eczema outbreak and in order to prevent future flares, one can take a high-quality probiotic supplement of 24–100 billion organisms daily.
11. Lavender Essential Oil
In addition to the intense itching, eczema commonly does cause anxiety, depression, frustration as well as poor sleep. Lavender essential oil is an eczema treatment does prove to help reduce these common symptoms that can help heal dry skin. Add 10 drops to 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or almond oil, and then gently rub into one’s skin. The aroma can help facilitate sleep when itching is often at its worst.
12. Vitamin E
Taking 400IU of vitamin E daily can also help to speed healing by reducing inflammation. In addition, topical application of vitamin E may also help to relieve the itch as well as prevent against scarring.
13. Witch Hazel
If during a flare the rash does start to ooze, then applying witch hazel can also help promote healing due to its anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant properties. During an outbreak, one can gently dab this eczema treatment directly onto one’s rash with a cotton pad. One needs to be sure to use alcohol-free witch hazel to avoid dryness.