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Understanding Eczema: What Is It, and Can I Get Rid of It?

Over 30 million Americans struggle with a skin condition that’s not actually a skin condition (more on that below) called eczema. While it may look a little unsettling at first and can certainly be frustrating, eczema is usually very manageable. Read on for more information on what causes eczema, what it looks like and—most importantly—how to treat it.  

Common Questions About Eczema and Treatments

1. What is eczema?

In simplest terms, eczema (also known as dermatitis) is a condition that causes a person’s skin to become red and itchy. It may start as a simple rash, but when scratched the skin becomes inflamed and even more red. While eczema typically first occurs during infancy and childhood, flare-ups can happen at any age.

Even though it appears in the form of itchy, flaky and dry skin, eczema is actually caused by too much yeast within the gut—explains Ben Johnson, M.D. The yeast/toxins get pushed out through the skin, which is when you’ll start noticing the symptoms.

2. Is it contagious?

Eczema is not contagious like the common cold, which means being near someone with it does not put you at risk.

3. How does someone get eczema?

While the exact cause of eczema isn’t known, there are a few things that the medical community has discovered. First, you are more likely to have eczema if a family member does. Also, certain things can kindle an eczema flare-up, including skin irritants, stress and allergens like food or animals.

4. What are some of the most common eczema symptoms?

It’s important to first note that symptoms will vary from person to person. The most common indication that people start with is usually dry and extremely itchy skin in places like elbow creases, the back of the knees, the face and the neck. Other symptoms can include:

  • Patches of red or brownish skin in the affected area(s)
  • Bumps that can leak a clear fluid
  • Dry skin that appears scaly
  • Increased sensitivity or swelling of the skin

That being said, there are quite a few different types of eczema, and being able to determine what kind you have can makes it easier to manage. It’s so important to consult with your doctor or a dermatologist to get a definitive diagnosis since the symptoms are not always conclusive. For example, itchy, red, flaky skin could be caused by rosacea, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis or something else.

How to Take Care of Your Skin If You Are Prone to Eczema

While there is currently no known cure for eczema, it is very possible to manage the symptoms. However, each person will take to certain treatment methods, products or medications differently, so you may need to explore a few options before you find something conducive to your situation. Below are a few Dermstore recommendations that might help tame your eczema.

  1. 1. Make Some Adjustments to Your Diet

    Because eczema’s causes are much deeper than your skin, try taking an approach that does more than just manage the symptoms. Research studies show that your diet can, indeed, exacerbate certain conditions like eczema. Though it may not cure your condition, eliminating certain foods like dairy, soy or nuts may help reduce or manage the symptoms—especially if you can identify your specific trigger(s).
    Related Reading: The Best (and Worst) Foods for Your Skin

  2. 2. Soak in a Warm (Not Hot) Bath
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    2. Soak in a Warm (Not Hot) Bath

    And Don’t Forget to Moisturize
    To combat dryness on your body, you can try soaking in a warm bath or shower for about 10 to 15 minutes. Keep the water at lukewarm temperature to avoid additional aggravation. Make sure you don’t scrub your skin with something abrasive like a loofah. Apply a moisturizer within a few minutes of getting out to lock in as much hydration as possible. This moisturizing cream by CeraVe has been approved by the National Eczema Association.
    Try: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

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  3. 3. Use a Gentle Cleansing Face Wash
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    3. Use a Gentle Cleansing Face Wash

    Using a face wash that’s too harsh can exacerbate or trigger an eczema flare-up. To minimize the chances of irritation, turn to a gentle cleanser that will help, not harm, your skin. The right cleanser can help by protecting your face from the environmental triggers that may cause eczema to flare-up. And by limiting your skin’s exposure to harsh climates or cosmetic allergies, it’s possible to reduce the symptoms.
    Try: Dermalogica UltraCalming Cleanser

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  4. 4. Get Relief and Promote Faster Healing
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    4. Get Relief and Promote Faster Healing

    With the Right Moisturizer
    When you’re experiencing an eczema flare-up, you may be craving relief from irritation and a quicker healing time. Soothing and healing ingredients like shea butter and dimethicone can help restore your skin.
    Try: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream

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  5. 5. Try Applying Hydrocortisone to Relieve Itching and Inflammation
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    5. Try Applying Hydrocortisone to Relieve Itching and Inflammation

    Hydrocortisone isn’t just a cream for bug bites or chicken pox. It’s an effective ingredient for relieving itching, burning and inflammation. A soothing lotion that contains a clinically advanced 1% hydrocortisone formula, PCA Skin CliniCalm 1% is designed to ease concentrated skin irritation. It’s hypoallergenic and lipid free, making it an ideal choice even for those with sensitive, reactive skin.
    Try: PCA Skin CliniCalm 1%

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  6. 7. Soothe With the Power of Oatmeal
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    7. Soothe With the Power of Oatmeal

    More than just a hearty breakfast food, oatmeal can help relieve some of the symptoms associated with eczema like itching and inflammation. Powered by certified-organic colloidal oatmeal, this ultra-gentle lotion is designed for the most sensitive skin. It’s also made with Colloidal oatmeal, zinc and oat kernel extracts to help comfort those who have eczema.
    Try: Dermalogica AGE Smart Super Rich Repair

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