Eczema is a chronic, non-contagious skin condition with various manifestations, and as such is known by many names. Atopic eczema, atopic dermatitis, infantile eczema, seborrhoeic eczema, and varicose eczema are but a few of the many types of this skin disorder. The most common type is atopic dermatitis, which is often seen in infants and small children. (Nine out of ten of eczema cases happen in children younger than five years old.) Rarer forms include dyshidrotic eczema, which occurs in warm weather, and nummular eczema, which occurs mostly during winter.
During an eczema flare-up, the person experiences itching and rashes that may be red or brownish, scaly, dry, thick, leathery, crusty or flaky. These may also appear as blisters oozing fluid, or as small, elevated bumps on the skin. In some cases, the skin simply becomes thick, rough and red. When scratched, eczema rashes may be infected, and this can worsen the inflammation. The rashes are often found on the arms, legs, chest, hands, or the face. In children, the rashes typically appear on the cheeks, elbows or knees, especially in skin folds.
Eczema is believed to be caused by a hereditary impairment of the immune system. A person with eczema often has family members who also have eczema, asthma or hay fever. The standard treatment is anti-itch topical medications, including anti-histamines. This treatment only relieves the symptoms, and does not cure eczema. There is, in fact, no known cure for eczema. It is a lifelong skin problem that recurs every now and then.
While eczema has no cure, there are many management strategies to keep it under control, relieve the itchiness and discomfort, and prolong the time between recurrences. Besides medicinal anti-itch lotions, there too are eczema home remedies and skin care measures that can be used to manage eczema effectively.
Eczema home remedies include herbs and natural ingredients that can be made into lotions, pastes or ointments, and then applied on the rashes or affected skin areas. They are proven effective in providing relief from itching and inflammation. The herbal ingredients that may be used include virgin coconut oil, blueberry leaves, mashed papaya seeds, licorice, dandelion leaves, turmeric powder, bitter neem leaves, chamomile, camphor, aloe vera, spearmint leaves, witch hazel and nutmeg.
Probiotics, or good bacteria, may also be taken as treatment for eczema. These are live microorganisms that help strengthen immune function, therefore helping reduce eczematous inflammation. Probiotics are usually taken in liquid form as acidophilus or lactobacillus.
Other known eczema home remedies that may be taken as food, drink or oral supplements include cabbage, tomato juice, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin E, neem (this may be used both topically and as food), apple cider vinegar, yellow dock, and fish oils. Many of these remedies have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.
On the other hand, a person with eczema should avoid these food items: ginger, onions, radish, cucumbers, spices and oils. These have high mineral content and contain substances than can irritate the skin and exacerbate eczema.
Some practical eczema home remedies during a skin flare-up are the following:
Place wet or cold compresses on the affected skin area to relieve the itching.
Avoid using harsh soaps and chemicals on the skin.
Only use water on the skin when necessary. Excessive washing can make the skin dry and induce an eczema outbreak or worsen it. Avoid long baths.
Use tepid water only. Avoid using warm or hot water.
Moisturize often to prevent skin dryness.
Wear loose, cool and soft clothing, and avoid wearing woolly or rough fabrics.
Avoid known allergens (including specific food items, pollen, dust, animal fur, smoke) that lead to skin irritation and inflammation.
These are time-tested home remedies that have been in use for many decades. They are highly recommended for being safe, for having no side-effects whatsoever, and for providing relief from the symptoms of eczema.
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