Eczema is a skin condition that can range from inconvenient to painful. Cases around the world have been steadily increasing in industrialized areas since the 1970s, with a total of about 20% of children and 3% of adults worldwide living with some form of eczema. Below are some basic facts, to help you understand what eczema is, what its causes and symptoms are, and how to best treat it.
What is eczema?
Eczema is the result of an overactive immune system that weakens or damages the skin barrier, resulting in itchy, non-contagious, inflamed or dry skin. While the exact causes of eczema remain unknown, genes and environmental triggers are related to its development. For most people (between 80-90%), the first symptoms appear within the first five years of life, while many people outgrow it by adolescence or adulthood.
At ChitoCare beauty we know that correct and consistent skincare is the key to healthy, glowing skin. For eczema-prone skin, it is essential in preventing and managing this common skin condition. It can easily be confused with other skin conditions, such as psoriasis, rosacea or hives, so it is best to speak with a dermatologist if you are unsure of whether you have eczema or not, or how to best treat it.
What are the basic types of eczema?
Eczema is the name given to a group of skin conditions that cause itchy, inflamed or irritated skin, often with a red or rash-like appearance. There are seven types of eczema:
- atopic dermatitis
- contact dermatitis
- dyshidrotic eczema
- nummular eczema
- seborrheic dermatitis
- stasis dermatitis
The most common type is atopic dermatitis, which has no identified cause but is characterized by itchy skin and often shows up in people who have respiratory allergies, like asthma. However, each type of eczema has its own set of triggers and treatment methods, so speaking with an eczema specialist is paramount, to better treat it and learn how to prevent flare ups. Keep in mind that, in some cases, different types of eczema can show up in different areas of the body and at different times.
What causes eczema?
Experts are still unsure as to what exactly causes eczema but describe it as a complex skin disease resulting from the interaction of one’s genes with their environment. People with eczema usually have an over-reactive immune system that responds to irritations or allergies with inflammation. Various risk factors affect the severity, intensity and frequency of an eczema flare up.
Triggers are substances inside or outside the body that cause or worsen eczema. Many things can trigger or exacerbate eczema.
- dry skin
- certain foods or beverages
- environmental allergens such as mold, pollen, or dust mites
- climate or extended exposure to extreme weather conditions, (for example, swampy and hot, or damp and cold)
- chemicals found in household products, such as laundry detergents, fabric softeners, surface cleaning products and disinfectants
- certain types of soap, body wash, facial cleanser, shampoo, and other personal care products
- certain fabrics such as wool, polyester or nylon that can cause overheating, sweating and irritation
Another common trigger that many people find flares up their eczema is mental health, more specifically stress. It is not exactly known why but, for many people, feeling stressed seems to make their eczema worse. In some cases, people feel stressed because they have eczema and then that creates a vicious cycle.
Other common eczema triggers:
- hormone changes
- metal objects or surfaces, especially nickel
- sunburn, or extended exposure to dry air, both hot and cold
- isothiazolinone, often found in personal care products, like baby wipes
- cocamidopropyl betaine, often found in shampoos and lotions as a thickener
- paraphenylene-diamine, often found in leather dyes and temporary tattoos
What are common symptoms of eczema?
A key fact to keep in mind is that eczema does not manifest the same for everyone; each person experiences it differently – from the triggers to the symptoms, to the treatment. In the same way that each person’s skin is unique, so is each person’s experience with eczema.
While many symptoms are common, they do vary across eczema types and across people. Some people develop only a few eczema symptoms, while others develop many. Some children have different symptoms to their parents. Some people develop eczema early on in life and then it disappears, and vice versa. And, while symptoms also vary across skin type and skin colour, the most common symptom is itchiness.
Common symptoms of eczema:
- Itching (the most common)
- Soreness or sensitivity
- Dryness or crusty patches
- Flaky, rough or scaly skin
- Inflammation or swelling
As there are many types of eczema, symptoms can differ from person to person. Symptoms can be mild, with skin looking dry or flaky, to severe, with skin becoming extremely irritated, red, sore or itchy. The most severe cases of eczema can make the skin crack or cause it to ooze liquid.
ChitoCare medical Wound Healing Gel can be applied to any skin area or wound, forming a thin, transparent and breathable film. It reduces the symptoms associated with eczema, such as itching and redness, promoting the skin's natural repair process. For a large skin area, ChitoCare medical Healing Spray is also recommended to soothe the skin and lock in moisture, providing a lighter protection.
How can eczema be treated?
While there is no cure for eczema, there are ways of treating it. Treatments can help alleviate symptoms and prevent flare ups. Depending on the type of eczema you have, the frequency, type and severity of your symptoms, a treatment should be developed for your specific case. Talking to a specialist is advised, to avoid taking actions that could exacerbate the issue.
A basic eczema treatment includes:
- Prevention: identifying what triggers your eczema
- Moisture: establishing a daily cleansing and moisturizing routine
- Treatment: using over the counter (OTC) or prescription medication consistently and correctly
There are various ways of managing eczema and what works for one person might not work for another. While there are basic steps all people with eczema-prone skin can follow, a specialist can help you develop a treatment that is most suitable for your specific eczema type and skin needs. For the sensitive skin of the face, ChitoCare beauty Face Cream can be used daily, both morning and night, by people with eczema-prone skin. It improves hydration, protects the skin by forming a defensive film and supports the natural repair process of the skin.
* Always speak with a dermatologist or eczema specialist before using new products or if you are unsure about what to use.