What You Wanted To Know About Eczema But Afraid To Ask
Table of contents:
- What is eczema and how to cure eczema?
- What causes eczema, why me?
- Are there different types of eczema?
- Symptoms of Eczema, Psoriasis and Dermatitis. What’s the difference?
- Help! A loved one has eczema, is eczema contagious?
- Where can I find an eczema cure in Singapore?
- How do I decide the best baby eczema cream for my child?
- I have been using steroids. Is there a natural remedy for my eczema?
You are likely reading this because you or a loved one have an eczema condition and you have so many unanswered questions!
Perhaps you have made numerous visits to the dermatologist for eczema or brought your child there as a baby suffering from eczema but you still have lots of nagging questions.
Sometimes seeing a doctor can be intimidating so you held back from asking some questions you may have.
Having a good understanding of what causes eczema and the common symptoms of eczema goes a long way to managing it.
And the good news is, there are natural home remedies for eczema.
1. What is eczema and how to cure eczema?
Eczema is a chronic skin inflammation condition that causes itching from dry, irritated skin.
The symptoms of eczema can be mild to severe, affecting the body in patches commonly behind the knee, fold of elbows, cheeks to large portions of the body. Eczema can cause skin to be cracked, weepy and thickened.
You need not feel alone as there are up to 11% of adults and 21% of children who suffer from eczema in Singapore. Half of them suffer this skin condition throughout their lives. (1)
There is no ‘magical’ cure for eczema but there are many ways that eczema can be managed and controlled. This will be discussed later.
2. What causes eczema? Why me?
It can be quite frustrating to determine the exact cause of an eczema flare-up as it can be triggered by many factors.
Here are some possibilities:
- Family History
Someone with a family history of asthma, hay fever and allergies seemed to be more prone to eczema.
- Environmental Factors
Environmental factors like hot, humid weather, particulate matter during the haze or pollen season, dry and low humidity can also cause your skin to act up.
Those who suffer from eczema know that after a workout, physical education their skin can get irritated and red. Read about the internal conflict of a mom who has children with severe eczema. To exercise or not ?
Allergens such as chemicals in soaps, detergents, perfumes and even certain materials of your clothing that come in contact with your skin can cause a break out in itch.
- Food triggers
It is commonly known that some foods are triggers for eczema flare-ups. Check and monitor your diet of foods such as dairy, eggs, soy, gluten and some types of fruits, nuts and spices.
3. What are the different eczema types?
This section is quite technical but it helps those who really want to understand how doctors categorise the different types of eczema.
However, natural home remedies for eczema do not differentiate between them and help with all eczema types. So the exciting part is coming right up!
Infantile Seborrheic Dermatitis
Eczema can start at infancy (infantile eczema), especially eczema on the scalp also known as cradle cap. Baby eczema can develop before the age of one. Infantile eczema is the formation of thick, yellowish crusts or greasy patches on the baby’s scalp. In a mild form, it looks like dandruff.
This is the most common type of eczema that is characterized by inflammation and itching that comes and goes. Atopic dermatitis shows up as red rashes, dry, scaly skin and itch. It is often found on cheeks, neck, inside the elbows and back of knees.
Contact eczema is a local reaction that causes itching, burning and redness on areas of the skin that come into contact with a substance that the skin disagrees with, such as perfume. This is a common type of adult eczema occurring in those who have a known history of allergies.
Seborrheic eczema is marked by the appearance of scaly, oily and yellowish areas in the face, scalp and other areas of the body. This may be triggered by oily skin and stress. Adult eczema may be associated with AIDS, but it is critically important not to stigmatise any adult with eczema.
Nummular eczema are coin-shaped patches of irritation on the skin, usually appearing on arms, buttocks, back, and legs. Crusting, scaling, and extreme itching occurs. This type of adult eczema is not common and tends to affect mostly elderly men.
Another name is lichen simplex chronicus. Neurodermatitis is a chronic condition caused by a localized itch that becomes increasingly irritated after being scratched. It affects women more than men and frequently from 20 to 50 years of age. Crusts and scales often form on the head, wrists, forearms, and lower legs. These skin patches become thick and leathery over time.
This skin irritation typically affects the middle-aged and elderly individuals who have a circulatory problem of the lower legs . Symptoms appear as itching and reddish-brown skin discoloration on the legs. Chronic circulatory problems can lead to fluid build-up (edema) in the legs, which can cause blistering and oozing of the skin, leading to ulcer formation.
Eczema on the hands and soles of the feet, which develop clear, itchy blisters that burn. It often occurs during spring and summer.
4. Symptoms of Eczema, Psoriasis and Dermatitis. What’s the difference?
You might have heard these terms when you consult dermatologists for your eczema treatment and wonder what’s that about?
Dermatitis is generally used to describe skin inflammation characterized by itching, rashes and redness. Dermatitis and eczema are terms often used interchangeably to describe similar symptoms.
Psoriasis is a different type of skin disorder characterized by the rapid growth of skin cells. This results in the appearance of thick, silvery, or sometimes, red skin patches.
Experts believe that psoriasis may be due to an overactive immune system, though the exact cause is unknown. It also tends to be hereditary.
The symptoms of psoriasis may be mild, manifesting as small patches of skin rashes. It can also be severe enough to cause embarrassment from wide areas of raised, reddish areas that are scaly. Itching, pain, and tenderness may also be experienced. Psoriasis can also affect nails, scalp and joints.
5. My loved one is an eczema sufferer, is eczema contagious?
Eczema is not contagious. Eczema cannot spread by physical contact nor can it be transmitted sexually. Researchers agree that one of the causes of eczema is family history or gene. However, the jury is still out on how to cure eczema.
6. Where can I find an eczema cure in Singapore?
Most clinics and polyclinics in Singapore treat their patients using conventional eczema creams and oral medications that may contain steroids. In most cases, over-the-counter topical moisturisers are recommended.
For severe skin conditions, many also consult dermatologists for eczema at the Singapore National Skin Centre.
Skin specialists and pediatricians in private practices are costlier options but the baby eczema creams prescribed may still contain light traces of steroids. Normally, doctors advise against using the corticosteroid creams on a long term basis.
Others may take up expensive spa and skincare packages from salons using anything from UV light to bioreasonace treatments. All the above can burn a hole in the pocket if one is not careful, some preying on the desperation of eczema sufferers.
Many have also become disillusioned after trying all kinds of eczema diets, eczema oils, topical eczema creams as well as moisturisers and soaps for eczema. Some have suffered side effects from the treatments, medication, steroid withdrawals and depleted bank accounts as well!
Increasingly, many eczema sufferers are also trying natural remedies like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), homeopathy and naturopathy with varying results.
However, there are growing numbers who have taken the following steps and experienced complete and lasting eczema-free lives!
This brings us to the #7 final question. That of a complete and lasting natural remedy for eczema.
7. How do I decide the best baby eczema cream for my child?
Here are some tips to help you decide the best baby eczema creams for your child:
– ‘Organic’ and ‘natural’ are lures for concerned parents. Look closely at the labels.
– Organic does not mean hypoallergenic.
– Some botanicals, fragrances from herbs can also irritate the baby’s skin.
– Harsh chemicals harm a baby’s delicate skin
– Lotions are thinner and does not create a barrier on the skin
– Alcohol content in products can dry & irritate the skin
Oat-containing moisturisers versus ‘just moisturiser’
There have been some claims that baby eczema creams containing oats as an ingredient experience better results.
Several baby eczema cream brands like Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream, Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream, Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Cream, Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Cream, Baby Dove Eczema Care all contain oats in their formulations.
The following research tells a different story.
Summary of excerpt:
Four studies investigated oat‐containing moisturisers versus no treatment or control
- No differences between groups were observed
- However, the oat group had fewer flares
- A reduced need for topical corticosteroids
- Oat creams caused more adverse events
Compared all moisturisers against no moisturiser or control
- participants considered moisturisers to be more than twice as effective in improving eczema
- more effective for itch
- Participants in both treatment arms reported comparable satisfaction
- According to physicians, moisturisers decreased eczema severity
- led to fewer flares
- topical corticosteroids were more effective at improving eczema when used with a moisturiser, rather than used alone, and also reduced the number of flares. This combination was also favoured by participants..
So what is the best baby eczema moisturiser? Read on.
8. I have been using steroids. Is there a lasting natural remedy for my eczema?
Make no mistake, to be eczema-free takes a lot of hard work, commitment and a lifestyle change! Quite often, it requires the entire family to cooperate and make sacrifices in making food, leisure and household product choices.
Natural Remedies for Baby Eczema and Children Eczema
- Protect babies by cutting their nails short or use mittens to prevent scratching
- Take time and patience to discover the triggers that cause the baby eczema to flare up
- Avoid products that contain chemicals, preservatives, additives, fragrances and colouring
- Perform elimination tests on baby’s clothing, toys, bedding
- Eliminate the offensive detergent used to do baby’s laundry and other products used. Stick to those brands of products that do not cause baby to break out in rashes
- Common food triggers in a baby’s diet are eggs, cow’s milk and soy
- Keep the bedroom cool and well ventilated.
- Install a humidifier to provide more moisture in the air to decrease skin dryness
Bonus suggestions for baby and young children eczema home remedies:
- Use baby bath products specially made for managing eczema that keep irritated skin moisturised and soothed such as Emu Tracks Emu Oil Shampoo & Wash, Ultra Mild Shampoo, Pure Emu Oil
- Apply Emu Oil to the skin after bath, before sleep and whenever necessary especially when it itches
- Apply Pure Emu Oil on the dry and inflamed areas throughout the day for stronger protection
- Emu Oil capsules can be cut and squeezed into baby food, milk or drink. Pure Emu Oil has anti-inflammatory properties and contains Omega 3,6,9 & K2 to nourish, repair and restore skin
Emu Tracks Emu Oil products are 100% Natural & Safe for Pregnant Moms, Babies & Children. They are free from sulphate (SLS), petrochemical, ethoxylate, silicone, paraben, PEG. Contains no artificial fragrance or colouring
Natural Remedies for Adult Eczema
For adults, there are more possible causes to their eczema conditions and therefore require greater vigilance. A disciplined and purposeful approach, after knowing all the above will help one to understand the WHY behind what is recommended below.
- Reduce stress levels eg. take up hobbies, meditation, prayer, reading etc
- Strengthen a weakened immunity eg. Consume Emu Oil Capsules which contain omega 3,6,9 and more antioxidant-rich foods, such as berries and leafy greens
- Improve sleep quality of 7-8 hours nightly
- Prevent skin injuries especially in mature and thinning skin which can lead to bacterial infection and worsening of eczema symptoms
- Reduce smoking & alcohol intake
- Get some sun outdoors every day eg. 20mins in the morning
- Spent less time in the shower and avoid water that is too hot
- Apply natural skin moisturisers immediately after a shower and consistently throughout the day eg. Pure Emu Oil penetrates skin easily to nourish, moisturise and repair
- Avoid spending too much time outside in hot & humid weather, hazy or cold and dry seasons
- Use natural body care products free from harsh chemicals eg. Emu Tracks Ultra Mild Shampoo & Conditioner or Liquid Hand & Body Wash containing natural anti-inflammatory emu oil and herbal extracts like shea butter, eucalyptus, aloe vera etc.
Allergens in diet to avoid:
- Conventional dairy products, gluten, cow’s milk, some nuts, fruits & spices
- Factory farmed meats are lower in nutrients and contain inflammatory fats
- Hydrogenated oils and fried foods eg. Fast foods and most packaged food
- Refined food products, sugar, shellfish & alcohol
Medical conditions that may affect eczema (Check with your healthcare professional)
- Respiratory infections
- Poor liver function
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Hormonal changes
Ingredients to avoid:
Read labels of household items. Make sure they are free from these chemical names compiled by the National Eczema Association.