Hands, face, ear… Eczema is a non-contagious skin disease that can be allergic, acute or chronic.
This mild condition can be extremely debilitating and can be experienced by those who suffer from it. What are the symptoms? What causes it? What are the natural and unnatural treatments for eczema? Answers.
Photo Alexander Dummer in Pexels
Eczema is a non-contagious inflammation of the skin, accompanied by redness, scaling (flaking) and itching.
It can be atopic, and then appears from childhood or from contact in reaction to an irritant or allergenic product or material.
– Atopic eczema
Atopic eczema (also known as “atopic dermatitis” or “constitutional eczema”) is the most common dermatosis in children, affecting 20% of children under age 7 and 18% of children ages 7-16.
It often manifests itself from the first months of life, particularly in young patients with a genetic predisposition.
Atopic eczema is characterized by inflammation of the skin accompanied by redness and itching. These lesions are located on the face, scalp, behind the ears, in the knee flexion folds, in the armpit and in the groin.
It is frequently associated with other so-called “atopic” pathologies such as asthma, conjunctivitis or rhinitis. The prevalence of eczema has tripled in the last 30 years in industrialized countries, in parallel with the explosion of allergies.
While atopic dermatitis in young children often tends to improve or even disappear with age, in 10% of cases it persists in adults.
Something new: “More and more patients are developing atopic eczema as adults, which was rare until recently. It is believed that this development is due to environmental factors,” explains Dr. Marie Estelle Roux, a dermatologist from Paris.
– Contact eczema
It is an allergic skin reaction caused by contact with an allergen (chemical, metal, etc.).
It is manifested by small red spots and blisters accompanied by itching. Is found where the skin is in contact with allergenic substances, one of the most frequent being nickel in jewelry.
If it is a ring, it is at the height of the ears, if it is a ring, it is at the height of a finger and if it is a button on a pair of pants, it is at the height of the navel.
According to Dr. Marie Estelle Roux, “people who suffer from atopic dermatitis are more likely than others to suffer from contact eczema, due to the alteration of their skin barrier, which is more permeable to allergens”.
Some contact eczemas only appear after exposure to UV light, and are called photoallergic contact eczemas.
– Anal Eczema
As eczema often affects areas of friction and body folds, it can be located in the anal area. Sometimes it is due to a contact allergy: to synthetic underwear, or to a cream, lubricant or wipes.
Once the allergen has been identified, the physician recommends that the allergen be removed and usually prescribes a local treatment (cream) based on corticosteroids.
– Eczema in the ears
The ear canal is inflamed, causing pain and discomfort that leads to scratching.
The irritation caused by scratching causes more itching, and the lesions caused by scratching can become superinfected. The use of cotton swabs is strongly discouraged.
To clean the ear canal, it is preferable to use appropriate sprays. Irritant or allergenic products should be avoided.
– Eczema of the hand
On the hands, it can touch the back of the hands, the palm, but also the inter-digital spaces and the fingertips. It usually affects adults and is more common in women than in men.
Eczema of the hands is most often aggravated by repeated contact with household products.
If it is not a contagious disease, its visibility on the hands can be a social embarrassment for the patient. It also manifests itself in the form of cracks, irritation and painful itching, which sometimes leads to insomnia.
– Eyelid Eczema
Eczema of the eyelids is quite common. Most often it is a contact eczema that can be related to an allergy to hair dye, Peruvian balsam or perfumes.
It can be caused by contact lenses, eye drops, cosmetics or pollen.
Finally, it is also often due to a pollen allergy, which is very volatile and responsible for the famous hay fever. Eczema of the eyelids is manifested by itching and swollen, irritated skin.
– Numerical Eczema
Nummular eczema, a skin condition, is a highly recognizable form of eczema because of its lesions in the form of round spots up to 10 cm in diameter.
The lesions are usually located on the extremities, buttocks and trunk. There is an acute form with exudate and then scabs, and a chronic form with scales.
Nummular eczema is more common in middle-aged and older people with previously dry or very dry skin. Maintaining good skin hydration can help reduce the frequency of attacks.
– Baby Eczema
“Severe and poorly treated eczema can cause sleep disturbances.
The causes differ according to the type of eczema, atopic or contact.
Contact eczema is directly related to skin contact with an allergenic agent such as nickel (jewelry, jeans buttons, watch straps, coins), cobalt, chrome, rubber, band-aids, hair dyes, cosmetic products (deodorants, nail polish, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.).
Cleaning products (detergents, laundry detergents, etc.) or laundry dyes
Certain locally applied medications can also trigger contact eczema. Gold plating and white gold may also contain nickel.
Atopic eczema affects 10-15% of young children and is multifactorial. More specifically, it affects certain genetically predisposed individuals known as atopics, who synthesize large amounts of antibodies against certain allergens.
Therefore, there is a family genetic predisposition to atopy, since between 50 and 70% of people with atopy have a parent who is also atopic.
Outbreaks of atopic dermatitis are also favored by environmental factors: heat, perspiration and sweat, too dry air, too high room temperature, synthetic fabrics and wool, contact with irritants such as soap, detergents, bubble baths, a dental rash, swimming pool baths due to the presence of chlorine, stress and anxiety or allergens when they are involved (dust mites, pollen, animals, food…..).
Eczema is characterized by slightly raised red spots where vesicles (transparent grains that appear to contain fluid) may appear and become scabs. These lesions are responsible for severe itching.
“Steroid creams, when used correctly, are completely safe.
Atopic eczema is diagnosed on clinical examination. No tests are needed to confirm it.
Contact eczema requires allergy patch testing to determine the allergen involved.
These tests consist of sticking labels containing allergens on the patient’s back and removing them 48 hours later. The reading is done at 48 and 72 hours: the allergens to which the patient is allergic have created a contact reaction.
– Cortisone and eczema
Treatment of seizures is based on the use of cortisone creams that reduce itching and inflammation. “Some people are reluctant to use these treatments for fear of side effects.
However, it is important to point out that corticoid-based creams, when used correctly, do not present any risk but treat the symptoms very effectively,” insists Dr. Marie Estelle Roux.
“Severe and poorly treated eczema can lead to sleep disorders, absenteeism, social withdrawal and depression. It is essential to take good care of it”.
Taking antihistamines may relieve the symptoms of eczema but does not treat the cause.
Ultraviolet treatment, such as phototherapy, may also be prescribed, but only for adults.
A new treatment is proposed, for severe eczema that is resistant to other treatments, it is a biotherapy, administered to the patient in the form of a subcutaneous injection.
“Highly effective, biotherapy is a major advance in the treatment of severe eczema, which can significantly affect the lives of those who suffer from it. It is a real hope for severely affected patients,” Dr. Roux explains.
– Wash the skin
The basic treatment is based on daily cleaning with a super-fat soap followed by a local topical treatment with emollient and moisturizing products to hydrate the skin.
Actions to be taken
- I prefer showers to baths.
- Dry yourself well after a shower, bath, pool or sea and apply an emollient cream immediately.
- I prefer cotton underwear.
- Avoid using excessive detergents or aggressive household products and use protective gloves when handling them.
Natural remedies for eczema
Also called “graterón”, the burdock. is a robust plant with heart-shaped leaves, used in phytotherapy for its anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties.
Extracts of its leaves and roots are effective in treating benign urinary tract disorders, but also in relieving the symptoms of certain skin conditions, such as eczema.
Burdock can be administered as a mother tincture and as a standardized fluid herbal extract (SPE).
Close to ginger, turmeric is a perennial herbaceous plant native to South Asia and is used mainly in food to accompany certain dishes.
Its rhizome is used in phytotherapy in the form of powder, EPS or mother tincture for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric can be used, in addition to medical treatment, to relieve the symptoms of eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
– Witch hazelnut
The witch hazel is a shrub native to North America whose branches are reminiscent of the hazel tree.
Also called “witch hazel”, this plant owes its popularity to its leaves with anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, which are used to treat mild inflammation and dry skin.
Witch hazel is available in phytotherapy in the form of SPF and mother tincture.
– The walnut tree
The nut, a large leafy tree, known for its nuts used in food (walnuts), is also used for its medicinal virtues.
The astringent properties of its leaves are traditionally used to relieve the symptoms associated with eczema outbreaks. The nut is administered as a mother tincture or PSA.
Powerful antimicrobial, antiseptic and antibacterial, honey behaves as a very effective anti-inflammatory.
Added to this is its soothing effect, which can considerably alleviate very dry eczema.
We recommend sterilized honey sold in pharmacies directly as a cream, or a raw organic honey, mixed with beeswax and a few drops of olive oil for a homemade preparation.
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