Experiencing the occasional skin itch is completely common, especially when faced with weather changes, stressful situations, irritating skin care products, dirty bed sheets, or a mosquito-infested place (obviously!). But when your rashes turn from rarely to regularly, chances are you may have a deeper problem. Case in point: Eczema.
Eczema is a group of inflammatory skin conditions often described as a chronic case of dry, itchy, and red skin. While these symptoms are generally similar among those with this condition, living with eczema affects people in different ways. For some, eczema can be mildly irritating and unattractive, while for others, it may cause sleepless nights and a high risk of infection.
A friend of mine who suffers from eczema once joked about how bad flare-ups made her feel like a victim of grayscale from Game of Thrones — which isn’t too far off the mark considering they’re both very unpleasant conditions! If you can relate to this seemingly real-life curse, then you may not have to worry about it much longer. The right preventive measures can help you avoid stress and discomfort altogether.
If you’re itching to know the truth (pun intended!) then keep reading our article to peel off the layers: How to diagnose eczema, what triggers flare ups, and ways to treat your condition. Soon you’ll be saying – Goodbye, eczema! Hello, ecz-pert!
How Do I Know If I Have Eczema?
Eczema is often misdiagnosed for other skin conditions like psoriasis, hives, and allergies because of the comparable presence of rashes, scaly skin, and swelling. For this reason, it is best to consult a dermatologist or skin therapist before anything else. If you suffer from these telltale signs, then your next step should be to head out the door and seek professional diagnosis.
- Combination of dry and sensitive skin
- Crusty or scaly skin
- Cuts, blisters, and wounds after scratching
- Persistent itching
- Red and rough patches
- Swelling in affected areas of your skin
While facial eczema is more common, these symptoms may appear on the body as well, which is equally bothersome and uncomfortable. The bigger downside to facial eczema is that it is more visible and harder to cover up. In that regard, people who experience face flare ups tend to be more persistent when it comes to seeking treatment, as it has a huge effect on confidence and overall quality of life.
Whatever the case may be, anyone plagued by eczema will greatly benefit from a proper diagnosis. That way, you can focus on finding the right treatment and avoiding triggers moving forward – which brings us to our next question!
What is Causing My Eczema?
Another important step towards treating your eczema is knowing what is causing it in the first place. To put it bluntly, the exact cause behind this skin condition remains to be a mystery among experts. In the same manner, symptoms that suddenly subside cannot be explained with certainty. Now, before you scratch your head (or more appropriately, your skin) from all the confusion, we suggest you keep your hands down and consider these theories! Modern-day research has narrowed it down to a few possible causes:
It’s in the genes
Most people with eczema have a family history of atopic disorders like asthma, hay fever, or allergic rhinitis. In such cases, symptoms may manifest as early as infancy and early childhood. Babies between 2 to 6 months may show signs of itching, redness and dry spots. In New Zealand alone, 15% of children are diagnosed with eczema. The good thing is, most eventually outgrow this condition before they turn 10 years old. If it does develop to severe adult eczema, it is rare and may be caused by other factors as well.
You’re exposed to external irritants and allergens
Irritants and allergens are notorious culprits for any kind of skin inflammation. In the case of eczema triggers, exposure to the following may cause flare ups:
- Air that’s too humid or dry
- Allergens like dust mites, pollen, moulds, and food
- Chemicals or substances found in products or household items
- Extreme weather conditions (too hot or too cold)
Your immune system response
A less common reason is a dysfunctional immune system. Not much is known about the science behind it, other than the possibility that flare ups are simply bodily responses to certain external factors or internal conditions or illnesses.
Eczema is not infectious
One common misconception about eczema is that it is easily contracted from someone who suffers from the condition. To set the record straight: This is completely false! Eczema is not infectious, so you can put your guard down – around people, at least.
With all these things considered, keep in mind: If you are, in fact, diagnosed with eczema, there is no reason to immediately panic about a life-long battle with this condition! While some may have severe or recurring flare ups, there are milder and more temporary cases as well. There are different types of eczema that vary in symptoms, triggers, and treatments. Consulting the right people will be able to narrow down your specific condition. And that’s our cue to proceed to the most important question in this article!
How Do I Treat My Eczema?
First and foremost, it is important to note that treating eczema is not a one-size-fits-all approach. As we mentioned, the first step is to get a comprehensive diagnosis from a doctor, dermatologist, or skin therapist. This should include a lengthy discussion on your age, symptoms, current health condition, history, and other relevant information. This detailed consultation will help the experts customise the best treatment plan for you.
That being said, there are several ways to treat eczema – from immediate relief solutions to more long-term treatment and maintenance. If you’re suffering from facial eczema, in particular, it helps to be aware of these options.
Severe itching and general discomfort are among the most unbearable consequences of living with eczema. For those with severe episodes, they can suffer well into the night, sometimes leading to absences from work and other important occasions to manage flare ups. If this sounds like you, don’t lose hope just yet! There are a plethora of skin care products that promise to help alleviate these symptoms. Emollients and topical treatments will help moisturize your dry skin, while topical steroids common to anti-itch creams will help reduce inflammation and provide immediate relief on the affected areas. With the correct combination of products and supplementation (as recommended or prescribed by your skin therapist or dermatologist of course!), your all-nighters can be kept at bay.
However mild or serious your eczema may be, be sure to get the proper prescription from a professional.
Instant treatments are nothing without long-term maintenance. While this is mostly advised for people with serious eczema, some skin therapists may also suggest preventive solutions for those with milder conditions. The goal is to avoid future flare ups and encourage a more holistic approach to your problem. Here is a list of more potent products and more sustainable solutions for long-term management:
- Oral prescription medications
- Lifestyle changes and avoiding specific triggers like skin irritants, food, and other allergens
While it may seem counterintuitive to opt for cosmetic treatments to help your eczema, there are mild facial treatments that don’t pose risks. In fact, they may aid in hydrating your skin and soothing your irritation. That said, it all goes back to seeking help from a skincare professional for the best facial for your condition.
Professional Help for Eczema
As you probably already concluded by now, eczema should not be taken lightly. Professionals are your best bet in managing this condition. Luckily for you, our team of trained skin therapists at Lovoir Skin Body & Beauty may be able to help! We have the knowledge and experience in providing care and relief for our clients who suffer from facial eczema.
If you find yourself with this skin condition and would like some help, book a consultation with our specialists so we can develop a customised plan that best suits you. That way, you’ll leave feeling confident and assured that expert care is on its way.