Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is a common, non-contagious skin condition.
Linked to inflammation, it can cause a lot of discomforts and even embarrassment, though with proper skincare, symptoms can greatly improve and flare-ups can be reduced.
In this article, we will discuss what eczema infection is exactly, its triggers, and available treatments.
You’ll be surprised how many things we’re exposed to daily are eczema triggers, and some can easily be eliminated from your life.
What is eczema?
Eczema is a non-contagious condition wherein the skin is irritated and becomes itchy, dry, scaly, inflamed, and bumpy.
As unsexy as it sounds, it is quite common, and flare-ups tend to come and go.
There are several types of eczema and they usually occur on the face, elbows, hands, and feet.
The most common type is atopic dermatitis most often seen in babies and children and they be more noticeable at night.
Scratching makes it more inflamed and causes it to itch even more.
What are common causes of eczema infection?
There are no known causes of eczema.
However, researchers believe that genes, including a mutation that interferes with the skin’s ability to build a strong barrier, and triggers in the environment and diet are involved.
Individuals with eczema seem to have a highly reactive immune system. This immune system then quickly responds with inflammation when exposed to certain factors or triggers.
This inflammation is believed to cause the red, itchy skin typical of eczema.
Eczema triggers include:
- Dry skin weakens the skin’s protective layer, making it brittle and scaly, increasing the risk of inflammation and eczema.
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- Personal care products like baby wipes which contain isothiazolinone, shampoos that contain Cocamidopropyl betaine, used to thicken shampoos and lotions
- Household cleaners, disinfectants, glues, and adhesives, which may contain irritating substances like formaldehyde
- Metals (especially nickel)
- Cigarette smoke
- Certain fabrics like wool and polyester
- Antibacterial ointments like neomycin and bacitracin
- Leather dyes and temporary tattoos which contain paraphenylenediamine
- Animals or animal fur
- Emotional stress can be an eczema trigger, though it is unclear how. However, some people stress out knowing they have eczema and this makes it worse.
How to manage and prevent Eczema
Though common, there is no known cure for eczema. So how can it be prevented or managed?
A study found that in babies, exclusive breastfeeding in the first few months can reduce the risk of developing eczema in early childhood (1-2 years old).
Breastmilk has a myriad of health benefits that cannot be replaced with formula milk.
If eczema has already developed, the National Eczema Association advises managing eczema with lifestyle changes and topical treatments.
If it is needed, however, over-the-counter and prescription medication can be taken. But often treatments for eczema infection can be done without medication.
One thing to note is that everyone’s experience of eczema is different, and everyone also responds to treatment differently.
As stated in this study, some things to consider are:
- Recognize what your triggers are and limit your exposure to them
- Practice a regular bathing and moisturizing routine. This is important to prevent dry skin.
- Watch for signs of eczema flare-ups like redness and bumps
- Avoid scratching, it makes it worse. Instead, find ways to manage and control the itch.
- Wear soft, breathable clothing and avoid itchy fabrics like wool
- Avoid contact with grass, rough carpet, or upholstery with bare skin
- Reduce stress levels
- Consult a dermatologist
- Use the medication as prescribed
If you still have eczema flare-ups despite doing all of this, don’t stress.
It’s important to understand that sometimes it seems to happen for no reason and it’s normal.
Itchiness might be the hardest thing to deal with when it comes to eczema.
Some people report having a difficult time getting proper sleep due to it, and this, in turn, can cause other problems.
Some ways to manage itchiness are:
- Applying a cold compress
- Applying apple cider vinegar on the affected spot, or taking baths with ACV
- Moisturize frequently throughout the day with an eczema-appropriate product
- Avoid scratching
Itchiness and scratching can send you on a bad cycle of eczema flare-ups – the flare-ups cause itchiness, then you scratch, then the flare-up and itchiness get even worse.. sounds familiar?
That’s why managing itchiness is an important aspect of eczema care.
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In the US, this large study found approximately 1 in 10 people have eczema, with the prevalence of the condition increasing in the last few decades.
Though there is no known cause or cure, what we do know is how symptoms can be controlled. Follow along these treatments for eczema infection to get faster relief.
With time and proper care, you can reduce incidences and severity of eczema flare-ups. And it will be easier to manage.
After a while, management of this skin condition becomes second nature, so just keep at it and don’t lose hope!