Eczema is your skinís natural barrier not functioning properly and you lose moisture quickly. This leads to these patches becoming vulnerable to irritants you would come across every day. This usually leads to dry, itchy skin that can have a cracked and scaly appearance. Due to the cracking, it can expose yourself to even more bacteria and allergens. (4)
Eczema is a very common, non-contagious skin condition. While it can be uncomfortable, there are plenty of treatments and remedies you can do to help soothe your troubled skin.
What Causes Eczema?
There are two main types of eczema: Atopic Eczema and Contact Dermatitis.
Atopic Eczema, also known as Atopic Dermatitis, is a very common skin condition. It is the bodyís overreaction to outside substances. It tends to affect the insides of elbows and needs, the wrists and ankles, causing these areas to become inflamed and itchy. Unfortunately, people who already have asthma, hay fever and other allergies, are more likely to be affected as well as being inherited. (1, 3, 4)
Contact Dermatitis is a type of eczema which is inflamed and triggered by contact of a specific substance. This causes the skin to become dry, red and blistered. It tends to affect the hand and face but can manifest itself all over the body. There are plenty of treatments and remedies for Contact Dermatitis but the best solution to managing the skin condition is to identify the triggers and avoid them. (2, 3)
Recognising Eczema Symptoms
Do you have mild dry eczema?
This involves your skin becoming chronically dry and itchy. While it does not lead to inflammation, it can still be very uncomfortable. An emollient treatment or therapy would be required to treat mild, dry eczema. You can find more advice on treating dry skin and soothing mild eczema on Chemist Directís Dry Skin Page.
Do you have Acute Eczema?
This involves your skin becoming very dry and itchy. In time, it can inflame, blister and become red. The skin can form scale-like patches, otherwise known as scaling, and weep.
Do you have Chronic Eczema?
Chronic Eczema has similar symptoms to Acute Eczema where your skin can appear thick, scaly and cracked in affected places but continues for an extended period. This can take a toll as your skin function continues to deteriorate.
The Itch-Scratch Cycle of Eczema
Whatever type of eczema you have, itís likely that your skin will feel itchy and irritable at times. This leads to the urge to scratch these patches. You shouldnít but it's hard not to as scratching does make things worse. It can damage the skin, opening it and allowing bacteria to get in.
When this happens, naturally, your immune system reacts to bacteria entering the body and causing the itchy area to inflame. This leads to more irritation, more scratching and, potentially, an infection.
This is what doctors and healthcare professionals mean by an Itch-Scratch Cycle. It is this natural loop of scratching and inflammation can lead to a skin condition becoming a more serious issue if left untreated.
How Can I Treat eczema?
Currently, there isnít a cure for eczema but there are plenty of ways you can treat and manage it effectively. From avoiding substances and allergens to committing to regular moisturising and emollient treatment, there are simple, straightforward things you can do reduce itchiness and avoid inflammation.
The first type of treatment you could do is complete emollient therapy. Emollients, like the ones in the E45 range, are moisturising treatments that are applied directly to the skin. This soothes and hydrates the affected area. These effective moisturisers help keep the skin soft and supple, which reduces itchiness.
How emollients work is by restoring the skinís natural moisture, liquids and oils. This creates a barrier on the surface, which helps prevents more moisture being lost and helps stop bacteria from getting into cracked or exposed areas.
For a complete emollient therapy, this involves getting into daily skin regimen and a different approach to how you treat your skin.
In the morning, you would wash with a soap substitute that does not contain detergents, which is present in regular soap. This causes the skin to become less dry. After washing, donít rub yourself dry with a towel. Instead, gently pat your skin dry and apply an emollient cream or lotion with clean hands in the direction of hair growth. Creams are designed to soothe the skin if it's thick or brittle. Emollient lotions are lighter, which means they soak into the skin faster and are ideal for use all over the body.
Throughout the day, you should use a soap substitute to wash and clean your hands. Much like your morning wash, you want to avoid detergents and causing dryness. It is important to remember that eczema commonly occurs around the hands. Afterwards, you should apply an emollient cream or lotion when your skin feels dry and itchy.
During the day, you should keep an eye on your skin, making sure it doesnít dry out and avoid rubbing too hard when applying your emollients.
In the evening, you should enjoy a nice, warm bath for 10 minutes with a little bit of emollient bath oil applied. This will help clean your skin without the need for soap with detergents. Again, this protects your natural moisture barrier. Afterwards, gently pat yourself dry and apply your emollient lotion or cream while still slightly damp.
Emollients creams, lotions and oils work well on mild to moderate eczema. However, if youíre still suffering or find your symptoms are not reducing, a steroid cream or treatment could be another effective option.
Many people have concerns about using steroids. However, a low dose product such as E45ís Hc45 Hydrocortisone Cream is well balanced. It can be used for a maximum of seven days. Though a steroid, E45ís Hc45 Hydrocortisone Cream is available over the counter. Stronger steroid emollients and treatments can be given under the guidance of your GP or pharmacist.
If you are speaking with your doctor or pharmacist, you could also ask about other treatments and solutions to help you other than emollients. People have found things such as sedative antihistamines and topical immunomodulators to be effective in treating their eczema.
What should I avoid?
There are lots of things that can trigger and inflame your eczema. By getting to know what these are, you can avoid them and better manage your eczema.
At Chemist Direct, our expert medical team has put together a list of eczema triggers that you might not know about. Try looking out for them and any effect they may have on you and your skin.
Remember, we are all different. There will be an aspect of trial and error. Though, once you can identify which causes your skin to inflame and become itchy, you can avoid and manage your eczema better.
- Irritants like dust mites, animal hair, certain plants, dry air (caused by air conditioning, central heating or frosty weather)
- Woollen clothes Ė try cotton as itís cooler and comfier
- Duvets and pillows containing feathers
- Taking too many (or too hot) baths
- Heavy sweating while youíre playing sports
- Certain foods, especially those containing these additives: Parabens E214 to E218, Sodium Benzoate E211, Sorbic acid E200, Butyl hydroxyanisole E320 and E321, Tartrazine E102, Erythrosine E123 and Amaranth E127
- Industrial or chemical irritants like detergents, washing powders (use non-bio) and chlorine in swimming pools
- Stress, anxiety, depression and psychological problems
E45 is a leading healthcare brand with over 60 years of experience in caring for skin. In their decades of development and innovation, they have built a well-earned reputation for their effective creams, ointments and skin treatments. Part of their wide collection of skin products, E45 has an exclusive range of skin care creams, lotions and oils that are designed to treat your Eczema.
At Chemist Direct, weíre proud to partner with brands such as E45 and offer a wide range of their products. We offer a select range of their effective eczema creams and lotions, check them out today.
Does your current Eczema regime does not provide you with the relief you expect? Have you found your ongoing lotion or cream is not strong enough? Do you need a stronger eczema treatment but struggle to find time around work and family commitments?
Chemist Direct has partnered with Pharmacy2Uís Online Doctor consultation service to provide our customers with the attention and support from a qualified, registered GP while working around your schedule. Part of their online consultancy, Pharmacy2U can diagnose your skin conditions and provide you with the prescription youíd need to help treat and manage it. You can have your eczema diagnosed and get the prescription you need.
This article has been medically approved by Superintendent Pharmacist Shilpa Shailen Karia, MRPharmS. - GPhC Reg No: 2087328