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Eczema


Overview

Often misconstrued as a childhood disease, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Skin Diseases estimates that up to 60% of eczema sufferers experience symptoms into adulthood. Atopic dermatis, the most common form of eczema, is characterized by chronic, itchy inflamed skin and affects millions of people worldwide. (For further reading about causes of dermatitis and treatments, explore our dermatitis home page.) Usually seen first as an inflamed, red and itchy area on the backside of the knee or in the crease of the elbow, eczema can manifest nearly anywhere on the body, including the face, arms and hands. Affected areas can also produce blisters, ooze, or become scaly, brown and thickened.

EczemaAs with numerous other skin conditions, the precise cause of eczema remains unknown, but many scientists believe that the origins of eczema are genetic. Because of the visible chronic rash and blisters that often plague eczema patients, there are a number of misconceptions surrounding the disease. Eczema is not contagious; nor is it caused by poor hygiene. There is also a bit of confusion surrounding the condition and the effect of allergens upon it. Although not the cause, those suffering from eczema are more likely to be susceptible to allergies, including food and airborne, as well as being more prone to developing asthma. Sadly, allergies are often triggers for an eczema flare-up.

Proactive treatments

There is no cure for eczema as of yet, but certain measures can be taken to alleviate the discomfort of the condition. In addition to recommending their eczema patients to keep their skin moisturized and avoid irritants, doctors may prescribe corticosteroids in either pill or topical cream. Antihistamines are often given to combat discomfort caused by persistent itching. Some people with extreme cases of eczema have found relief with the use of ultraviolet light therapy. Eczema patients should meet with their dermatologists frequently to discuss any changes in their condition and to stay informed of any new treatments as they become available. While many common treatments can be costly and may have severe side effects, many sufferers report great success with diet and lifestyle changes that not only assist in reducing the frequency and severity of eczema outbreaks, but can greatly benefit the entire body!

Patients with skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis are often asked to keep a diary of events and habits to identify patterns and factors that may be causing their condition to flare up. Many eczema sufferers find they are extremely sensitive to different foods, such as dairy, wheat and sugar, as well as to the preservatives and additives found in processed foods. Elizabeth Lipski, PhD, CCN, author of Digestive Wellness, suggests eliminating all processed foods as well as any that have been shown to trigger a reaction from the diet. She also encourages an annual detoxification regimen for most individuals, in order to cleanse the system of accumulated toxins. Supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamins D and A have also been shown to assist healing in some individuals afflicted with eczema.

While some flare-ups are caused by diet, others may be related to temperature variations. Since heat is frequently a cause of increased discomfort, eczema patients should try to wear breathable clothing such as cotton whenever possible. Sufferers living in colder climates need to take precautions as well. Cold air can be extremely drying to the skin, and patients need to apply extra moisture to areas exposed to the elements during the winter months.

As difficult as it may seem, especially with the itchy patches and bumps associated with eczema, individuals should try not to scratch the afflicted areas. Scratching can only lead to increased irritation, and may cause the skin to thicken and become almost leathery in appearance over time. One of the best protections against an eczema outbreak is moisture. During a flare-up, the protective outer layer of skin dries and cracks, which allows irritants to infiltrate the deeper layers of the skin, causing increased discomfort and itching. Because those suffering from eczema are prone to dry skin, it is of the utmost importance to keep skin moisturized. In order to increase moisture in the skin, people with eczema can take a brief shower, gently wash with mild soap, lightly towel dry, then immediately apply moisturizer while the skin is still damp.

Let DermaHarmony help

At DermaHarmony, we firmly believe in promoting healing from the inside out! We offer a number of products that may assist in alleviating some of the discomfort of skin conditions such as eczema. You might want to start out by purchasing a DermaDetoxâ„¢ package. This package assists in gently encouraging your system to rid itself of accumulated toxins. Detoxification helps to cleanse the system, but it also promotes healing in the intestines damaged by leaky gut, and readies them to better absorb essential vitamins and minerals. Included with the DermaDetox package is an easy-to-follow dietary guide written by Deirdre Earls, a registered dietician who found relief from psoriasis by changing her diet!

Supplementation can be an important part of any health regimen. At Dermaharmony we offer DermaEssentials, pharmaceutical-grade supplements designed specifically to assist those with skin conditions. DermaEssentials do not contain yeast, dairy, soy protein, corn, sodium, starch, wheat gluten, artificial colors or preservatives.

If you are interested in learning more about skin conditions and how DermaHarmony can help promote relief, please visit our library!

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How We Help

At DermaHarmony, our goals are to educate chronic skin care suffers about dermatology, share what contributes to health and wellness, and support our readers in any way we can. Our programs promote healthy skin with nutritional supplements, topical treatments and dietary guidance. Learn more about our programs or call us toll-free at 1-800-827-3730. Our Support Desk is open 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday.

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References:

Earls, D. 2005. Your Healing Diet — A Quick Guide to Reversing Psoriasis and Chronic Diseases with Healing Foods. Charleston, SC: BookSurge Publishing.

Ellwood, P., et al. 2001. Diet and asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and atopic eczema symptom prevalence: An ecological analysis of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) data. European Respiratory Journal, 17 (3), 436–443. URL: http://erj.ersjournals.com/cgi/content/full/17/3/436 (accessed electronically August 28, 2006.)

Lipski, E., 2005. Digestive Wellness. NY: McGraw–Hill.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.1999 (revised April 2003). Handout on Health: Atopic Dermatitis. NIH Publication No. 03-4272.URL: http://www.niams.nih.gov/hi/topics/dermatitis/ (accessed electronically August 27, 2006.)

 

Principal Author: K. Kastelein, Editor-in-Chief
Date of Publication: 09/01/2006
Updated: 06/07/2011

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