What is Eczema?
Eczema (also known as Dermatitis) is usually diagnosed when patches of skin either dry out and get red, scaley or becomes inflamed, with weeping, crusting and even bleeding caused by constant scratching; thereby leaving the prone to infection. Our skin is one of the largest organs of the body; it covers us from head to toe and has a number of very important jobs to do, including providing a nice flexible protective layer that helps to prevent infections. So its important to look after it and help it do its job.
The thing about Eczema is that since the skin is such a large organ, Eczema can strike just about anywhere and to various degrees of severity. It's common on hands, arms and elbows, and on younger children and babies it often appears on heads, faces and mouths as well.
One of the characteristics of Eczema is that it is a chronic condition; meaning it doesn’t always just appear once then go away forever. It can flare-up over periods of time that last hours, days, weeks, or even months at a time. Some people may even find that it flares up at certain times of year, every year. You may not have noticed this until now when you stop to think of it. Isn't that fascinating!
So, you got this stubborn, itchy, annoying patch of skin, and your GP or pharmacist says its ECZEMA. What happens next?
Things you can do about your Eczema
Thankfully there is a LOT you can do to help manage your Eczema. When I say that, I'm referring to the more orthodox view that there is "no cure for Eczema." 😱 So first, let's take a look at just a few of the more common approaches to managing this condition to check you've covered off all the usual bases, and see if these can help to reduce your flare-ups if you happen to be one of the 1 in 10 adults in the UK (or 31 million Americans) affected by it.
DIY Skin Care: have a regular daily routine that includes cleansing and moisturizing to lock water into the skin and keep irritants and allergens out. This can help to reduce your flare-ups.
Try and keep your skin care products as natural and plant based as possible. Harsh soaps really won't help, and try to pat your skin dry gently too, however tempted you are to give it a damn good scratchy scrubbing!
Stay Cool: when your skin gets hot it can feel more itchy. Keeping cold packs handy in the refridgerator can be helpful to cool down those hot spots on warm days. You can also avoid hot water for baths and showers; cool things down a bit (handily, this will help reduce your fuel bills too!) Consider also the clothes you wear, perhaps thinking about layers so that you peel off or layer up when required, and again consider the material; linens and cottons are more natural and breathable.
Sleep More Deeply: many people get extra itchy at night. This is the time when your body likes to go into its Rest & Repair cycle (usually between around 8pm and 8am) cooling down, lowering the core temperature, building up energy reserves ready for the next day and letting excess heat escape through the skin (notice how those hot flushes and often other symptoms get worse at night?):
Consider having 100% cotton bedding against your skin;
Moisturise your skin after a cool late-evening shower or bath;
Keep your room darkened or consider an eye mask
All some proper wind-down time to prepare yourself your bed: turn off all electronics and have a cut-off point for screen time on your computer, tablet, mobile or watching TV) an hour before bedtime.
Do something quiet and relaxing to help quieten your mind so it isn't racing when your head hits the pillow: meditation is excellent (my speciality subject!!) or reading, whatever it is that works for you.
Don't leave your exercise til late evening either .. you want to let your heartbeat slow down a bit, instead of revving up - although some vigorous exercise in the daytime will of course help to burn off the effects of any stress and help you feel calmer too as you get ready for bed.
Over-the-counter Medications and Topical applications: get advice from a Pharmacist or your GP on these. You might be trying quite a few of them before you find one that seems to be of permanent help to you. Many of these will help your skin feel a bit cooler and more comfortable, and you may notice some improvements, but also be aware that many of these can also have other longer term effects too that may not be quite so desirable such as thinning the skin, and masking rather than curing .. but go with what your hunch is and what normally works best for you.
Natural plant-based and alternative remedies - more and more people are avoiding pharmaceutical medication these days, much preferring to go natural if possible to avoid any unecessary and unwanted other effects (aka side-effects). Coconut Oil and Olive Oil based applications are popular choices in alternative circles, and Sunflower Oil also. Obviously, be aware if you have any allergies to these and always choose "virgin" or "cold pressed" oils because other methods of oil extraction from plants use chemicals, that could cause some further irritation for you.
Dietary Factors: as ever, if you're putting something in your body, it can do all sorts of wonderful or not so wonderful things before it comes back out again. Usual culprits are dairy based or gluten products, nuts or legumes and so on; but our bodies do change over time and we can also develop different allergies and intolerances over time or as a result of illness, trauma, shocks etc. I used to hate olives and love them now, but I used to love cream cakes and I cannot abide any sugar now! So that's an additional avenue you could explore. Have you changed your diet recently? Has that coincided with the start (or end) of your symptoms? A Naturopathic Nutritionist is a good place to start with this route, or a BioResonance Practitioner if you can find one. Get in touch with me if you're struggling with this and I'll be delighted to share with you my own personal and professional recommendations based on personal experience.
The agreed viewpoint then is you need to get to know your own unique Eczema triggers because we are all different and unique. What makes it better? What it makes it worse? And then try to minimise your triggers and implement a regular bathing/moisturising regime. However, you can still find that even when you've "tried everything" and are "doing all the right things", your Eczema STILL flares up.
So lets get beyond just skin deep and take a fresh perspective.
Chronic Recurring Eczema and a fresh perspective.
When exploring possible triggers for your Eczema, you've probably already thought quite deeply about your outer world. Skin is, afterall, a sensory organ. It is meant to be touch-sensitive. So it isn't a huge leap to think about all the things you come into contact with first; cosmetics, soaps, fabric conditioners, cleaning chemicals around the home, etc. when exploring your triggers. And then there are the dietary factors discussed briefly above that could cause a reaction.
However, let's also consider possible inner world factors too. There are very many health conditions that are related to anxiety and stress. Making Me-Time for total relaxation is considered an important factor to help yourself to better health; it's a lifestyle choice you can make for yourself. The knock-on effects of long term stress are now well known and recognised, not just in natural or holistic circles, but in the mainstream approach to health too.
What might give you a few clues about the impact of stress on your Eczema? If you have chronic recurring Eczema, take a closer look.
Have you noticed that there are two types of skin pattern your Eczema might adopt: one pattern being that it gets very rough, dry, flaky and even a bit numb. The second pattern to notice is that it gets very very hypersensitive and inflamed.
Start noticing these patterns, and make a note of those days and dates when it starts, changes, ends, then flares.
What times of day, month, or year it gets most itchy and annoying or begin a flare up?
It can be the same month every year, for example. Is this just in response to seasonal changes? Or is there something deeper happening here?
If you have gained some fresh insights and awarenesses about your Eczema from reading thus far, then from this point forward, I can help you explore your Eczema on levels that are more than just skin deep! And that will give you new perspectives for tackling your health issue so you truly can resolve them once for all time.
Want to feel better?
Then let's get started. Click below to book your free Discovery Call today.
Online Sources of Reference:
National Eczema Society UK https://eczema.org/information-and-advice/our-skin-and-eczema/
National Eczema Org https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/