What Is Eczema?
Eczema or atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common condition that causes redness, extreme itching, scaling, flaking, and sometimes leaking of fluid from the skin. It may also be associated with frequent skin bacterial infections, caused by a broken skin barrier that becomes infected. Itching may cause bleeding and leave the skin open to invading bacteria. Eczema is a chronic condition that commonly begins during childhood, although it may less commonly begin in adulthood. It affects around 10-20% of children, usually beginning before age 5, and about 2-3% of adults. In many cases, the condition may resolve by adolescence.
Eczema is often associated with asthma and allergies. In fact, eczema, allergies and asthma are often referred to as the ‘atopic triad.’ Atopy refers to an immediate-onset allergic reaction – in other words, the tendency to be ‘hyper-allergic.’ This triad is often hereditary. If one or both parents have eczema, asthma or seasonal allergies, the child is more likely to develop at least one of these conditions. There is also another common hypothesis that if the children are brought up exposed to allergens, their immune system is more likely to tolerate them, but if the environment is too sanitary, and they are later exposed, they have more of a tendency to react strongly to an allergen, such as certain foods, animal dander, pollen or dust mites. Skin barrier defects may also be a culprit in development of eczema. In some people, there may be small gaps between skin cells that allow moisture to escape too quickly, and also make the skin vulnerable to invading bacteria, viruses and fungi, which can also trigger eczema.
If you have eczema, what can you do?
- In order to sharpen your sense of awareness, keep an eczema diary, and make notes on what irritates your skin, and then avoid those things. This can vary for each person, but can include: soaps and detergents, shampoos, disinfectants, direct contact with juices from fresh fruits, meat and vegetables. Also note if you eat a certain food and then a breakout occurs.
- Hot or cold temperatures can aggravate the condition. If possible, avoid hot weather, high or low humidity, and perspiration from exercise. If you do perspire, take a bath or shower shortly after, using a mild, non-irritating soap, such as Merry Clinic’s Dead Sea Mineral Soap
- Avoid certain foods that may make it worse, such as: alcohol, coffee, spicy food, dairy products, nuts, tropical fruit (such as mango or pineapple), seafood, red meat, gluten, citrus fruits, eggs, and soy products. Experiment and notice what makes it worse for you. See if the condition improves after you eliminate these foods.
- Stress can aggravate it, and of course people may become stressed as a result of having the eczema. Things like exercise, getting enough sleep, acupuncture, and quiet meditation, deep breathing or prayer, may help to reduce stress. Find what works best for you.
- Take the appropriate herbal products from Merry Clinic! There are several options depending on your specific condition. We also have herbs for children. Here are the links to the Merry Clinic webpages showing our herbal eczema treatments:
- Children: http://www.merryclinic.com/eczema/treatment_eczema_childrens.htm
- Adults: http://www.merryclinic.com/eczema/treatment.htm
Please let us know if you have any questions about our herbal remedies. We are here to help. Be well!