Eczema, or Dermatitis as it is sometimes called, is a group of non-contagious skin conditions or diseases, which can impact on any age group. Eczema affects about 20% of school age children and about 8% of the adult population, although research indicates that a proportion of these children grow out of their condition by the time they reach their mid teens.
The word “Eczema” comes from the Greek word meaning “to boil over”. The severity of the disease can vary. In mild forms the skin is dry, hot, flaky and itchy, whilst in more severe forms the skin can become broken, raw and bleeding.
Although it can sometimes look unpleasant, Eczema is not contagious. Dry, flaky, red or scaly skin on the face may have a variety of causes and it may be a symptom of Eczema, Rosacea or a number of other skin conditions.
At a consultation the Practitioner will differentially diagnose the symptoms and determine the actual skin condition that is troubling you.
With treatment, the inflammation and other symptoms of Eczema can be reduced, or even cleared up completely, although the skin will always be sensitive to flare-ups and need extra care.
Some types of Eczema symptoms can be fully resolved while other types of Eczema can be placed into total remission, a situation in which the symptoms totally disappear indefinately or for substantially long periods of time.
The causes of Eczema are numerous. Many forms of Eczema, and indeed some other skin conditions, look very similar but have very different causes and therefore different treatments. Eczema may affect just a small patch of skin, or in severe cases can affect a large area of skin anywhere on the body.
With some types of Eczema, such as Atopic Eczema, (also known as Atopic Dermatitis), which is considered to be the most common form of Eczema, (or Dermatitis) patients have a genetic pre-disposition, while other types of Eczema / Dermatitis may be caused by:
- chemicals and detergents
- allergens such as nickel, pet dander, pollens, moulds, foods
- bacterial, viral and fungal infections
- yeast growths
- environmental factors such as extremes in temperature, stress & perspiration
Stages of Eczema
There are three different ‘stages’ of Eczema.
The Infantile Eczema type. This type of Eczema (also known as Baby Eczema), usually begins about six or eight weeks after birth. The itching is often intense and lasts up to until about the age of two years. The Baby Eczema skin rash, which almost always affects the cheeks and the mouth, usually worsens after vaccinations, immunisation and during the teething phase. During the second year of life, the red, itchy Eczema rash develops over the hands, wrists and outer portions of the arms and legs.
The Childhood Eczema type. While the Infantile form, in over half the cases, resolves between the ages of two and four, it may persist and develop into Childhood Eczema. The areas that are most affected are the creases in the elbow and the bends of the knees. The affected areas are dryer, the skin becomes thicker and greyish in colour, the itching becomes fierce and the sufferers become restless, anxious and hyperactive.
The Adolescent and Adult types of Eczema. The Infantile and Childhood Eczemas often resolve after a few years only to reappear in late adolescence. With Adolescent and Adult Eczema types, the itching may be intense and is usually worse at night. The affected areas are the creases of the elbows and knees, the face, the shoulders, and the upper back. The itchy and scratched skin thickens and becomes leathery in appearance. The skin usually becomes darker than the surrounding skin and may also develop dry scales. Adult Eczema may resolve by the age of 30, but nfor some sufferers, it may persist throughout their entire lifetime.
Reducing the itch
The itchiness of Eczema can be very distressing, especially for children, but there are many methods of reducing the itch and minimising the damage caused by excessive scratching:
1. Cotton clothing & bedding keep the skin cool and allow it to breathe, whereas synthetic fabrics & wool can irritate.
2. The use of non-biological washing powders and the avoidance of fabric softeners can also help to reduce itchiness of the skin.
3. Children’s nails should be kept short.
4. During the day, distraction is often the best way of reducing the amount of scratching.
5. During sleep, cotton mittens over children’s hands can be helpful in reducing scratching.
The role of diet in the management of Eczema
There has been a great deal of research and discussion over the years in regards to the role of diet. There are many foods which are believed to result in intolerances and allergies. Eczema patients are also more likely to have severe reactions to bee stings, some drugs like penicillin and some foods.
Dietary changes can be of assistance in babies and young children. It is useful to keep an accurate Food Diary of all foods and liquids consumed. This Food Diary can also be very helpful with adult sufferers. When considering altering the diet of a baby or child it is important to seek advice from a qualified and reputable Dietician, or nutritional therapist, in order to ensure that the child continues to receive adequate nutrients. It is also important to wean babies and children off foods etc. very slowly and important that one also watches closely for skin reactions that may occur.
Clear up Eczema:
Is Eczema or Dermatitis incurable ?
Eczema and Dermatitis symptoms can be cleared up and controlled into remission through the application of creams and ointments, as well as a healthy living protocol with specific emphasis on dealing with the Triggers and considering nutrients deficient in the diet, metabolic blockages, and the release of histamines due to allergies.
Our protocols for the treatment of Eczema and Dermatitis are based on clearing up symptoms using dietary advice, herbal naturally-based medicines and supplements, which assist in breaking the cycle from within, and through the use of naturally-based topical products such as ointments, creams, gels, lotions etc.
Address the internal causative factors with respect to nutrients lacking in your diet, or metabolically blocked by your body, by seeing a Skin Professional who can assess which nutrients are lacking in your diet and which ones your body is blocking.