Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a recurring, non-infectious, inflammatory skin condition affecting one in three Australasians at some stage throughout their lives. The condition is most common in people with a family history of an atopic disorder, including asthma or hay fever.
Atopic eczema is the most common form of the skin disorder among Australasians. The skin
becomes red, dry, itchy and scaly, and in severe cases, may weep, bleed and crust over, causing the sufferer much discomfort. Sometimes the skin may become infected. The condition can also flare and subside for no apparent reason.
Although eczema affects all ages, it usually appears in early childhood (in babies between two-to-six months of age) and disappears around six years of age. In fact, more than half of all eczema sufferers show signs within their first 12 months of life and 20 per cent of people develop eczema before the age of five.
Most children grow out of the condition, but a small percentage may experience severe eczema into adulthood. The condition can not only affect the individual sufferer, but also their family and friends. Adult onset eczema is often difficult to treat and may be caused by other factors such as medications.
SYMPTOMS OF ECZEMA:
• Moderate-to-severely itching skin (this symptom separates eczema from other skin rashes)
• Recurring rash - dry, red, patchy or cracked skin. (In infants and toddlers, the rash usually appears on the face, elbows or knees. In older children and adults, the rash appears less often on the face, and more commonly on the hands, neck, inner elbows, backs of the knees and ankles)
• Skin weeping watery fluid
• Rough, "leathery," thick skin
• Lesions which may be infected by bacteria or viruses.
CAUSES OF ECZEMA:
Although the exact cause of eczema is unknown, it appears to be linked to the following internal and external factors:
• A family history of eczema, asthma or hay fever (the strongest predictor) - if both parents have eczema, there is an 80 per cent chance that their children will too
• Particular food and alcohol (dairy and wheat products, citrus fruits, eggs, nuts, seafood, chemical food additives, preservatives and colourings)
• Stress External factors
• Irritants - tobacco smoke, chemicals, weather (hot and humid or cold and dry conditions) and air conditioning or overheating
• Allergens - house dust mites, moulds, grasses, plant pollens, foods, pets and clothing, soaps, shampoos and washing powders, cosmetics and toiletries.
Eczema symptoms tend to become less severe over time. For many sufferers, symptoms may mostly disappear, although they will tend to suffer from dry, sensitive skin.
Although eczema is not a life-threatening disease, it can certainly affect a sufferer's, their carer/s and family's quality of life. Night-time itching can cause sleepless nights for sufferers and their families and place a significant strain upon family relationships. Flare-ups can often lead to absenteeism from work, school, personal activities and/or family obligations.
HOW TO CONTROL OR AVOID AN ECZEMA ATTACK?
Many things can be done to avoid an eczema outbreak. Most importantly, the skin should be kept moist by using a daily moisturiser. Other ways to prevent an outbreak include:
• Wearing 100 per cent cotton or soft fabrics - avoiding rough, scratchy fibres and tight clothing
• Using rubber gloves with cotton liners
• Having lukewarm baths and showers using a non-soap cleanser or hypoallergenic bath oil
• Gently patting, not rubbing, the skin dry with a soft towel
• Applying a moisturiser within three minutes after bathing to "lock in" the moisture
• When possible, avoiding rapid changes of temperature and activities that raise a sweat
• Removing carpets and rugs from houses (if possible) and keeping pets outside
• Ventilating the house as often as possible
• Avoiding stuffed toys which harbour dust mites
• Changing bed linen regularly, using specialized dust mite prevention covers
• Reducing daily stress
• Learning your eczema triggers and how to avoid them.
WHAT CAN HOMEOPATHY DO FOR ADULT ECZEMA?
Homeopathy is a unique system of medicine which will work very closely with the body to bring the eczema right out of the body – roots and all, slowly yet surely. Its constitutional approach identifies the internal imbalance or deficiency or susceptibility which has caused the eczema and remedies it without any side effects. Homeopathy has a very high success rate in eczema cases.