With eczema there's an overwhelming urge to scratch. Unfortunately, scratching the itchy
areas can worsen eczema symptoms and lead to sores and secondary infections with bacteria.
Other things that can aggravate eczema include stress, tight clothing, and certain
fabrics, taking hot baths, sweating, low humidity and the ingredients in some skin care
products. If you have eczema you have to be especially careful with what you choose to put
on your skin.
In people with eczema the outer protective barrier that shields skin against moisture loss
doesn't function as it should. This makes it easier for allergens and other eczema
triggers to penetrate through this barrier and cause irritation. It also increases
moisture loss. This problem puts people with eczema at greater risk for skin infections,
especially if they scratch or rub skin areas that are irritated. Since skin with eczema is
prone towards dryness, it's important to lubricate after every bath and avoid taking long,
hot showers or baths or rubbing too hard with a towel when drying off.
Needless to say, skin with eczema needs constant moisture. Doctors usually recommend using
a moisturizer made for eczema-prone skin. These moisturizers
usually contain ingredients
that are thought to decrease inflammation and soothe skin irritation such as oat protein.
Other ingredients that can potentially ease inflammation include aloe vera, allantoin and
green tea extract.
Another ingredient that may help the symptoms of eczema is licorice. In one double-blind
study, participants who used a 1% or 2% licorice gel for eczema experienced a greater
improvement in symptoms than those who used a placebo. Some other studies have shown
conflicting results and further research is needed to supports its use in treating
To help your skin retain moisture look for creams
with ceramides, glycerin or petrolatum. Glycerin draws water to the surface of the skin and ceramides and petrolatum
help to lock it in. Some creams and lotions for eczema contain anti-inflammatory
botanicals like chamomile, licorice and lavender that may help soothe inflamed, irritated
skin. One study showed that topical applications of chamomile were more effective than 1%
hydrocortisone cream for reducing eczema symptoms. Chamomile has been used for centuries
to address skin conditions like eczema as well as skin irritation but more clinical
evidence is still needed to determine its usefulness. Chamomile may cause side effects or
allergic reactions in some people so be sure to speak with your physician first before
using skin care products that contain this ingredient.
Eczematous skin needs constant moisture – doctors advise to moisturize a minimum of twice
a day and after every bath or shower. The key is to be consistent. For intense itching,
creams and lotions that contain hydrocortisone may offer some relief and are thought to
help with the inflammation as well. If you have eczema it's a good idea to avoid products
that contain fragrance which can aggravate the problem. Look for products with botanical
ingredients and those that contain as few synthetic chemicals as possible. Treat skin
kindly and moisturize regularly. And most importantly, consult with your dermatologist or
family physician to discuss a treatment regimen that is right for you.
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