You may be noticing the weather cooling and more and more pumpkins and fake cobwebs appearing in front of your neighbors’ houses. Yep, it’s October. Which means it’s that time of year again- It’s National Eczema Awareness month!
And while many people afflicted with eczema probably feel like they got the trick instead of the treat, this is actually a great time to bring up the topic with your friends, family, and co-workers. Why? Because eczema is more common than you might think- eczema affects about 1 in 10 people in the United States.
So there’s a very good chance that under the masks and costumes that show up at your door to trick-or-treat, there are some people hiding a much more serious condition- eczema.
In this article, we’ll be discussing eczema flare-ups. We’ll talk about what a flare-up is, some of the causes and common triggers; and how you can manage, treat, and even find a way to prevent eczema flare ups.
What is Eczema?
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that results in dry skin, itchy, and sometimes even swollen and blistering skin. It can be found on the face, neck, scalp, hands and other parts of the body.
It can be very uncomfortable, and even painful. Although it can affect people of all ages, it is more common in children than adults.
What Is An Eczema Flare Up?
An eczema flare up is a sudden period of intense itching and redness in the skin that is caused by an allergy or infection. It can be triggered by a variety of factors, but it most often affects those who have a genetic predisposition to it, as well as those who are exposed to irritants from the environment such as certain medicines or chemicals.
What Causes Eczema To Flare Up?
An eczema flare-up is when your skin gets broken out in itchy, dry, red rashes. The causes of an eczema flare-up are usually due to external factors such as cold weather, an allergen, sensitivity to certain foods or medicines, stress, medications and other common triggers. An eczema flare-up can also occur if you have a dry, cold or humid environment which triggers the immune system to overreact and start to exhibit eczema symptoms.
How Does Eczema Impact the Quality of Life?
Eczema may have a major impact on an individual’s quality of life.
It is often debilitating and uncomfortable to deal with, which can make it difficult to participate in certain activities. For example, if eczema has become severe enough that the person cannot wear shoes without experiencing extreme pain, they might be unable to walk or run. This in and of itself could lead to increased symptoms and more flare-ups.
It’s not just the physical discomfort that leads to this type of frustration; social stigma can also be a factor. Society views those who suffer from eczema differently than those who don’t. Some people may not want to associate with someone who has eczema because they are embarrassed by the condition or think that it makes them dirty or disgusting.
Many people avoid spending time around those with eczema for fear of getting infected and spreading germs. This despite that fact that eczema is not contagious. The social isolation and anxiety that often comes with having eczema can be just as difficult to deal with as the physical symptoms.
What Eczema Flare up Treatment Options Do We Have?
Treatment options for eczema flare-ups can vary depending on the type of eczema, the severity of the condition and sometimes on the patient’s age.
The following are some treatment options that may help eczema flare-ups:
- Apply oatmeal to the affected area
- Use topical creams or ointments with moisturizers
- Use a humidifier in your home
- Bathe in lukewarm/cool water
- Do not use medicated soaps or shampoos
- Avoid excessive heat and cold, sweat, and moisture
- Don’t scratch – this will only increase inflammation
- Be gentle when washing your face or applying creams or ointments
- Try a moisturizing skin barrier cream or lotion
- Try a dedicated anti-itch medication that does not contain steroids.
Can a Flare-up Affect More Than Just Your Skin?
Flare-ups of eczema can affect your entire body. It is possible that you may have other symptoms such as swelling in the face, stomach, neck and joints. The skin rash that comes with a severe eczema flare-up can also cause pain, redness and a sense of pressure to areas affected by the rash.
These symptoms can make it difficult for people to do simple tasks such as eating or brushing their teeth. If you are experiencing these other symptoms during a flare-up, it is important to receive proper treatment from your doctor.
How Can I Manage and Ease Eczema Flare ups?
Most people with eczema will experience flare-ups that appear suddenly and last between two days and three weeks. One of the most important steps one can take in managing and easing the symptoms of an eczema flare up is also one of the most difficult- resist the urge to scratch.
Scratching the skin can lead to further irritation, inflammation and even infection. It can also cause permanent damage to the skin, which can make future flare-ups more likely and more severe.
In order to resist scratching, it is important to find other ways to soothe the itch such as using a cool compress or taking a cool bath. Applying a moisturizer to the affected area can also help to ease the itch and prevent further damage to the skin.
One of the best ways to instantly get relief from the intense desire to scratch is to use Dermeleve® anti itch cream. Dermeleve® starts working right away, and lasts for hours. What’s more; due to the fact that Dermeleve® contains no corticosteroids like hydrocortisone, you are not at risk for some of the very common yet lesser known side effects of long term topical steroid use.
What Are Ways to Prevent Eczema Flare Ups?
While there is no cure for eczema, you can still avoid some of the most uncomfortable and unsightly symptoms by taking some simple precautions to minimize the chance of triggering a flare up.
1. Keep your hands moisturized
This one is important for people who suffer from eczema on their hands.
Since we use our hands for just about everything, they are constantly exposed to irritants and drying agents that can trigger a flare-up. By keeping your hands moisturized, you can help to protect them from these triggers and reduce the chance of a flare-up.
2. Use a skin product that contains ceramides.
Ceramides are a type of lipid that occurs naturally in the skin. They help to keep the skin hydrated and protect it from environmental irritants. Using a skin product that contains ceramides can help to reduce the chance of a flare-up by providing an extra layer of protection for the skin.
3. Visit a dermatologist when needed
If you are struggling to control your eczema, it may be time to visit a dermatologist. A dermatologist can prescribe medication that can help to control the symptoms of eczema and prevent flare-ups. They can also provide additional advice on how to care for your skin and avoid triggers that may cause a flare-up.
4. Make sure you have a well-balanced diet with enough omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants and other nutrients for ultimate skin health
Diet plays an enormous role in skin health, and a well-balanced diet is essential for people who suffer from eczema.
Make sure your diet includes plenty of omega 3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce inflammation. Examples of foods with fatty acids include salmon, walnuts and flaxseed.
Antioxidants are also important for people with eczema, as they help to reduce the inflammation associated with the condition. Foods that are high in antioxidants include berries, leafy greens and dark chocolate.
5. Manage stress
Stress is one of the most common triggers for eczema flare-us. Because stress can so easily trigger a flare-up, it is important to find ways to manage stress.
Some people find that relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can help to reduce stress levels and prevent eczema flare-ups. Others find that they need to make lifestyle changes such as reducing their work hours in order to manage stress.
6. Protect your skin from extreme temperatures and humidity
Both extreme cold and heat can trigger eczema flare-ups. It is important to dress appropriately for the weather and avoid exposure to extreme temperatures when possible. If you must be outdoors in extreme weather, make sure to dress in loose fitting, breathable clothing that will protect your skin from the elements.
High humidity can also trigger a flare-up, so it is important to avoid exposure to high humidity when possible. If you live in a humid climate, make sure to use a humidifier in your home to maintain an optimal level of humidity.
7. Drink plenty of water
You may have heard the phrase “don’t let dehydration ruin your vacation” before, but it is especially important for people with eczema to stay hydrated. Dehydration can trigger a flare-up, so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
As we make our way through National Eczema Awareness month, it is important to remember that eczema is a common skin condition that can be managed with the proper care. By following the tips above, you can help to reduce the chance of a flare-up and keep your skin healthy and happy.
In the meantime, for instant and long-lasting relief of your itch, give Dermeleve® a try!