Eczema affects young and old; it does not discriminate and it has no mercy. It may present itself in a mild itch and a pinkish hue, or it could be a burning itch with the vigour of a thousand mosquito bites, and leave your skin scaly and coarse.
There are different types of course, with each having their own cause and treatment.
Childhood Atopic Dermatitis
Children usually outgrows this form of eczema, as they do with asthma and hay fever. It is common for children who suffer from one, will suffer from all three.
It presents itself as a rash or small bumps, with skin discolouration and/or thickening in the area, around the scalp, cheeks or folds of the skin.
The cause is usually related to a compromised immune system or an allergic reaction to food or something in your environment. Genetic predisposition comes into play as well. This means that if you had the condition as a child, there is a chance that your child may have it as well.
Contact dermatitis due to irritant
This may present itself in childhood or later in life, but is usually not outgrown. It is caused by your skin reacting to a substance that irritates it. Many girls find that they are not able to wear certain earrings, that they can wear only silver or gold, as their ears become inflamed. Some may experience hives when they come into contact with dust or a rash due to certain soaps or detergent. There are many things that may cause a reaction, as every person is different. It may also be hereditary.
Dyshidrotic Eczema – blistering
This is more common in women, and presents itself as blisters on hands and feet. It is often painful, scaly and flaky. It can be caused by allergies, or as a form of contact dermatitis after exposure to certain chemicals or metals. Stress and excessive perspiration of the hands and feet may also be a contributing factor.
Hand Eczema due to prolonged exposure
People in certain professions may develop hand eczema. This is not because they are allergic to certain substances, but because they are over-exposed to them. Ever hear people say, “too much of anything good can be bad”? If you are a hairdresser or a car mechanic, your hands may be exposed to hair chemicals or degreasing agents too often, causing it to dry out and develop eczema.
Neurodermatitis – Super Eczema
This is a more severe type, with thick, scaly, itchy patches on the skin. It can be limited to one area or cover the entire body. Unfortunately, scratching may result in bleeding and infection, so it has to be treated with care.
If not linked to an established allergy, the cause often remains unknown. There is also no way of knowing whether or not it will go away or be outgrown with time.
The coined term, Nummular!
Nummular means ‘coin’ in Latin. This eczema causes round, itchy and/or scaly spots on the skin. It is often a reaction to an insect bite, a form of contact dermatitis or just plain old dry skin.
To treat it
It is always recommended to visit your doctor to identify which type of eczema you or your loved one may have before starting treatment.
- A patch allergy test can be done first to rule out any possible allergies.
- If an allergen has been established as the cause, you may be prescribed a form of cortisone or antihistamines, with a list of things to preferably stay away from.
- Avoid any products with fragrances, parabens and perfumes in them. Unscented hygiene products are best.
- Make use of moisturisers, creams and lotions such as Cetaphil or Epi-Max, to hydrate your skin
- Try to wear loose clothing and minimise perspiration in affected areas
- Never scratch your eczema
- Ask our pharmacists for a recommended supplement that may help. We often lack skin-boosting nutrients such as vitamin C, Zinc or Omega 3 in our diets. These nutrients can help our bodies to build a naturally strong immune system with a healthy skin. There are also a variety of homeopathic remedies that can bring some relief. Read more: Homeopathic immune-boosters explained