If there is one body organ that is always exposed to many external factors, that would be the skin. The skin is what makes us feel different senses such as temperature, pressure, and pain. It is rich in nerve endings that send signals to our brain. It is the largest organ in the body; skin covers our internal organs to protect us from many elements such as microbes, extreme temperature, and potential infections. It serves as our first layer of defence, and it is often a good indicator concerning our general health.
One skin condition that is common to many is eczema. Also known as atopic dermatitis, this chronic inflammatory skin condition presents its symptoms as dry, itchy, and inflamed skin that occurs in different parts of the body. This includes the face, hands, elbows, behind the knees, and feet. Eczema is a common skin condition worldwide that affects 15-20% of children and approximately 3% of adults. In the UK, the prevalence of eczema is said to be around 11 to 20%, affecting children, 5 to 10% are adults and 2% of all cases are severe.
Just like any health condition, eczema has some potential risk factors. Here are some:
- Family History – Genetics are believed to play a huge role in people who have eczema. According to studies, genetic predisposition is a strong risk factor for this skin condition. The chance of children having eczema is two to three times higher in those who have maternal or paternal history.
- Asthma – Asthma and allergic rhinitis or hay fever are said to be linked with eczema as they are both inflammatory conditions. Research suggests that people who have one condition are likely to have the other. While this is not the case for everyone, there is strong evidence between the two.
- Allergies – Although eczema is not always due to allergic reactions, it is commonly associated with it. Allergens such as cleaning products, skin ointments, pollen, perfumes, chemicals and many others can cause allergic eczema.
Symptoms of Eczema
Eczema flares vary from person to person; hence it is important that you know its signs and symptoms. This include:
- Dry and sensitive skin;
- Itchy skin;
- Reddish patches or discolouration in the skin;
- Small bumps with oozing or crusting;
- Rough, cracked, or scaly skin;
- Areas of swelling in the skin due to scratching.
Here are some practices that you can do to help you prevent and lessen the occurrence of eczema:
- Keep our skin moisturised. This way, your skin won’t get dry, and you can avoid getting cracked and itchy skin.
- Be aware of what triggers your eczema, such as pollen, dust, sweat, stress, skincare products, or food, to help you avoid these triggers.
- Take a shorter time when bathing using warm water as cold water, low humidity, and bath products may cause skin dress which aggravates eczema.
- Always opt for gentle and mild soap or any skin products. Harmful ingredients in these products can cause skin irritation, which is why it is important that you are aware of its ingredients.
Natural Remedies That You Can Try
Eczema can be a tricky skin disease. Flares occur on random occasions, so it is best that you have your medications handy. While over-the-counter treatments such as antihistamine, pain relievers, hydrocortisone, and shampoos are available, you may also use natural remedies to fight these skin inflammation problems. But as with any management, it is important to discuss it with your doctor before adding it to your skincare routine. Here are some natural compounds that may help soothe your eczema:
- Aloe Vera – In several countries, aloe vera is consumed as a drink. Not only does it keep you hydrated and normalises the normal flora in the gut, but it is also rich in antioxidants. When it comes to the beauty and skincare industry, aloe vera is a common ingredient used in these products. This plant has been a staple in achieving and maintaining healthy skin and boosting the immune system. Aloe vera has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and wound-healing properties that help protect the skin from infections but also from drying, keeping it moisturised and healthy.
- Honey – This usually golden yellow substance made by bees is not just for making our food and drinks yummy, but it also carries many health benefits. Used by many since the early times, honey is said to possess antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which can also help skin problems. For eczema, honey can be applied to the affected area to help nourish the skin, prevent infection and promote faster skin healing.
- Cannabidiol – This cannabinoid is more popularly known as CBD, which is a derivative that can be extracted from hemp plants. Unlike THC, which can cause psychoactive effects to weed users, CBD does not make you high. Instead, it rose to popularity due to the wide array of health benefitsit can provide. Many people use CBD to help them manage pain, inflammation, anxiety, sleep and even nausea. For skin health, CBD is said to have beneficial fatty acids which help nourish the skin. Furthermore, CBD can help in inflammatory skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis and acne due to its anti-inflammatory properties. You can reap its benefits by using various formats, from edibles like CBD gummies UK to topicals like CBD cream, salve or lotion, among many others.
- Tea Tree Oil – This popular essential oil is known for its many health benefits, particularly for healthy skin, hair and nails. It contains terpinen-4-ol, which is an antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal compound. It has anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties that help relieve skin problems such as dryness and itching.
- Coconut Oil – A common staple in the market as a superfood, coconut oil is known to be beneficial in raising good cholesterol, lowering the risks for heart diseases, and boosting brain function. It also provides benefits to many parts of the body, including teeth, skin, and hair. Not only does it have antibacterial properties that kill harmful pathogens, but it also helps nourish the skin by improving its moisture content, reducing dryness and inflammation, which is beneficial in fighting symptoms of eczema.
- Avena Sativa – Commonly known as colloidal oatmeal, this compound is said to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits making it effective in fighting skin irritations, including skin dryness, roughness, and itch intensity. It is found to contain fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, which helps nourish the skin as well as protect it.