Understanding Eczema: Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Management
Eczema is often mistaken for a common rash, but a precise medical diagnosis through skin or allergy tests is crucial. Proper identification (also known as atopic dermatitis) ensures appropriate treatment. If you're unsure about your condition or suspect your child might have eczema, read on.
Explore the causes of eczema, its key symptoms, and learn effective strategies to prevent flare-ups.
Atopic dermatitis can be hereditary, yet certain allergies (to local irritants, preservatives, fragrances, and dyes) can also trigger it. This condition is often accompanied by asthma or hay fever.
While there is no definitive cause of eczema, it ties back to a weak skin barrier. Because children’s skin is so delicate and the skin carrier has not formed, children are more susceptible to irritation overall from soap, shampoo, pollen, and other irritating substances. While it has been found that most babies and children who suffer from eczema have food allergies, it’s important to note that food itself doesn’t cause eczema.
Knowing the triggers that aggravate eczema is crucial for keeping it at bay. Some of the more common triggers include:
For example, if heat is a trigger, keep the air conditioner on in your home and try to exercise indoors. Conversely, if cold weather is a trigger, then always keep a humidifier nearby to keep your skin hydrated and cool.
Eczema symptoms can appear anywhere on the body and vary widely from person to person. With that in mind, symptoms may include but are not limited to:
Next, eczema on the scalp is usually seborrheic dermatitis, a chronic form of eczema similar to dandruff. If the dry skin on the scalp is very severe, it may also be a sign of early psoriasis. It’s imperative to get a proper diagnosis, as a more aggressive approach for the scalp may be necessary. In the meantime, invest in mild shampoos free of fragrances and dyes to keep scales under control.
It’s very important to keep dryness under control and avoid applying anything to flare it up. Above all, read ingredient labels and be smart about what you’re applying to your skin. To start, a good rule of thumb is to prioritize products that are free of fragrances, dyes, and sulfates.
Use very mild cleansers and hydrating oil-based moisturizers, or very clean and fragrance-free oils. When it comes to using oils to alleviate eczema, look for a high oil content in hydrating products. Coconut oil is high in lauric acid and may help to soothe itchy, red skin caused by eczema. The greasier the moisturizer feels, the better it will make the eczema feel. In addition, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide may help decrease water loss in the skin, therefore offering more hydration to soothe eczema.
Last but not least, take care to avoid scratching itchy, red skin.