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Eczema: Tips For Coping With This Common Skin Condition

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October is National Eczema Awareness Month. This issue of News For A Healthier You gives information about eczema and tips for coping with this common skin condition:
  1. Becoming Aware of Eczema
  2. Avoiding Eczema Triggers
  3. A Daily Regimen Of Moisturizing Skin
  4. Other Ways To Reduce Eczema Symptoms
  5. October's Specials - Save 15% On Products That Can Help Reduce Eczema Symptoms Plus FREE Shipping On Orders Of $50 Or More - Only For Newsletter Subscribers
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Eczema: Tips For Coping With This Common Skin Condition:

Becoming Aware Of Eczema
There are several types of eczema. The most common type is called atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis and it affects over 30 million Americans - that number includes 20% of all children and 2% of all adults. Today, atopic dermatitis occurs in 2 to 3 times as many people as 30 years ago. Another prevalent type is Dyshidrosis, often called hand and foot eczema, that affects between two percent and 10 percent of Americans.

Atopic eczema is attributed to both genetic and environmental sources, but no one knows for sure why some people have eczema and others don't. A hypersensitive reaction to various irritants or certain situations can cause long-term (chronic) red, inflamed, cracked, and itchy skin. Most often eczema starts in infancy and continues through childhood. Many people, but not all, outgrow it by adulthood. For babies and young children, the eczema rash usually appears on the face, scalp, hands, and feet.Like allergies, eczema tends to run in families. The presence of asthma or hay fever in the family increases the incidence of eczema, and children whose parents have experienced eczema at any age are more likely to have eczema.

For babies and young children, the eczema rash usually appears on the face, scalp, hands, and feet. In older children and adults, the rash is usually seen on the inside of the knees and elbows and sometimes on the neck, hands and feet. However, especially during a severe flare, the rash of eczema can appear anywhere on the body. Atopic eczema tends to run in cycles where it is at times calm or non-existent to times when the inflammation and itching is so severe it interrupts sleep and affects the day's activities.

The other common eczema, dyshidrosis (also known as dyshidrotic eczema), is characterized by small, itchy bumps that turn into a rash made up of fluid-filled blisters. Often there are cracks in the skin on the fingers and toes and this form of eczema is sometimes accompanied by intense itching and pain. Dyshidrotic eczema occurs almost twice as often in women as men. People with seasonal allergies - spring pollen and fall hay fever - are more prone to dyshidrotic eczema. Stress can be a contributing factor to flares. People who are in contact with metal salts such as chromium, cobalt and nickel are at higher risk of dyshidrosis.

Avoiding Eczema Triggers
As with allergies, avoidance of triggers (substances or events that cause eczema flare ups) is very important in controlling eczema. There are several known triggers that can be eliminated or minimized in daily life: Apply moisturizer to damp skin immediately after bathing or showering.A Daily Regimen Of Moisturizing Skin
Keeping skin free of irritants and moisturizing skin routinely needs to become a daily skincare regimen. Water can be good and bad. It is recommended that people suffering from eczema bathe or shower once a day to remove irritants and bacteria from the skin. However, hand washing, showering, or bathing too long or too often can rob skin of precious moisture. When washing hands, use soap only when necessary and then place it in the palm of the hands trying to keep the backs of the hands dry. Use a mild cleanser when you must wash. Showers and baths should be in lukewarm water for no longer than 5 or 10 minutes. After patting skin dry, apply moisturizer to damp skin within 3 minutes to hold in the water. Moisturizer should be applied in a downward stroke, never in a circular motion or rubbed in.

For hand and foot eczema, it can be helpful to apply moisturizer at bedtime and wear cotton gloves all night to hold it in. It is far better to use a dishwasher and washing machine to wash dishes and clothes than to do these chores by hand. If you must wash dishes by hand, use a long-handled scrubber and try to keep hands out of the water as much as possible. Dishwashing liquids and laundry detergents should be mild and fragrance free with no added dyes. Wear disposable vinyl gloves for preparing irritating foods that are high in acidity. Particularly if skin is cracked, applying an ointment under the moisturizer can be beneficial.

Other Ways To Reduce Eczema Symptoms
Often simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference in the severity and frequency of eczema flare ups. Some of these are:
  • controlling stress
  • choosing smooth fabrics that breathe such as cotton for your clothing, not wool or other scratchy fabrics
  • wearing clothing that is temperature appropriate to prevent sweating
  • avoiding rapid changes of temperature and sweating
  • keeping your fingernails trimmed and wearing cotton gloves at night to help prevent scratching
  • using fragrance-free, dye-free soaps or non-soap cleansers
  • washing all new clothes before wearing them to remove chemicals used in manufacture
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Margie Bullock, Newsletter Editor

Closing Thoughts
Eczema, though not life-threatening, can have a profound influence on the quality of life. I hope this article helps you understand what it means to be an adult or child with eczema. We actively monitor our Facebook Page and invite you to share your thoughts or questions about eczema as we're here to help.

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