Eczema is a widespread form of dermatitis, affecting approximately 15 million people in the US: that’s roughly 1 in 20 people. Although the symptoms can be quite mild for some, they can cause real misery for others.
What Causes Eczema?
Although the experts don’t necessarily agree on all of the causes of eczema, here are some of the most widely reported:
Stress: Some hypothesize that stress may give rise to bouts of eczema. Whether this actually causes the eczema, or simply causes it to flare-up, is unclear but many patients report stressful experiences prior to the onset of eczema.
Allergies: Many scientists believe eczema to be caused by allergies, which are on the rise on Western societies thanks to high levels of cleanliness. The downside of such clean environments is that children are not exposed to so many bugs and therefore develop less resilience. Eczema may also be brought on by an allergy to the excretion of dust mites found around the household, which people are now more susceptible to.
Diet: As well as allergies to the external environment, some believe that diet plays a key role in the cause of eczema. Children who suffer from eczema often have allergies to dairy products as well as some other food groups.
What Treatments Are Available?
Whilst eczema can cause a lot of distress to the sufferer, there are ways to deal with it. No single way is guaranteed to control the eczema, but trying out different approaches may help you to discover the best thing for your body. Some treatments for eczema include:
Topical Creams: Steroidal creams are the most commonly prescribed treatment for eczema. You’ll need to apply the cream to the affected area at least once a day until inflammation reduces or disappears. In some cases this is only a means of controlling, not eradicating, the eczema.
(It’s important to note that if these creams are used frequently and for prolonged periods of time, they can have some side effects. Speak to your doctor about this.)
Dietary Treatments: A nutritionist may be able to offer some dietary changes that could help your eczema. Common dietary approaches include cutting out one or more of the following: dairy products, wheat and gluten-based products, or products containing refined sugars.
Moisturizers: Dry skin can make eczema a lot worse, so moisturizers may help to alleviate some of the symptoms. In addition, you should avoid any products that dry out the skin (including standard soap and strong detergents).
Sunlight: Some research suggests that sunlight – more specifically UVA and sometimes UVB – may be beneficial to eczema sufferers. Try to give your skin more exposure to sunlight, particularly in the affected areas. However, beware that excessive exposure to sunlight can be harmful.
While eczema is by no means pleasant, there are ways of treating it that may help and, in some cases, may even cure it. Look into the options and try everything: you won’t know what works for you until you’ve tried it.
(Please note that this article is not written by a medical professional and should be treated as personal opinion only. Always speak to your GP before trying any treatments and seek professional advice if you have any questions or concerns.)