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.
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.
Eczema is not contagious like the common cold, which means being near someone with it does not put you at risk.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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. This particular cream not only helps soothe and heal, but it has the seal of the National Eczema Association as well.
If you have sensitive skin and deal with more than just eczema, you might need a more all-purpose product—created without any potentially irritating ingredients. First Aid Beauty created a cream that is meant to help not only flare-ups of eczema, but also other conditions like keratosis pilaris or simple sun damage.
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, Aquanil HC 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: Aquanil HC
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 naturally soothing French lavender and botanical extracts to help comfort babies who have eczema.