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Has your skin become red and dry? Is it blotchy, irritated and making you lose sleep? Chances are that you’re 1 of the 15 million people living with eczema here in the UK. But with a bit of understanding (and a lot of moisturising!) you can put yourself in control of the itch.
What Is Eczema?
Rather than being a single condition, eczema is actually the name for a group of skin complaints that cause the skin to become itchy, inflamed or take on a rash-like appearance. Of the several different types, atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis) is the most common. Most people live with eczema from childhood but it’s possible to experience it for the first time as an adult. There is no ‘cure’ for eczema although some people do notice an improvement as they get older. For most people though, eczema is a lifelong condition which can be managed by knowing your triggers and implementing a daily skincare routine.
What Causes Eczema?
It's important to note that eczema is not infectious. Whilst the exact cause of eczema is still unknown, health professionals generally believe that it runs in the family or occurs in people who are prone to other allergies such as asthma and hay fever.
Periods of more severe eczema are known as ‘flare-ups.’ These can be caused by lifestyle and environmental factors such as sweating, stress, food allergies, wearing certain materials and irritants in soaps and detergents.
What Are the Symptoms of Eczema?
The symptoms of eczema vary greatly from person to person. But generally speaking, it causes patches of skin to become red, itchy, dry, and sore. Other symptoms can include:
- Leathery or scaly areas of skin
- Red inflammation on lighter skin or darker brown, purple or grey inflammation on darker skin.
- Yellow crusting and oozing skin. (You should see a GP if you experience this as it could be sign that your eczema has become infected).
How mild or severe these symptoms are can vary. For some people it could be a small circle of dry skin and for others the whole body can become inflamed. A lot of people can fluctuate between the two or experience periods where symptoms disappear altogether only for them to reappear again months later.
Eczema symptoms can occur anywhere on the body although it’s extremely common for people to experience it on their hands, on the insides of their elbows and the backs of their knees.
How Can You Treat Your Eczema at Home?
As there is no cure for eczema, any treatment is designed to prevent flare-ups and alleviate symptoms. One of the big things to remember is to avoid scratching your skin as this will only make it itch even more. Your GP may prescribe medication, such as an antihistamine, to treat a particularly bad flare-up but knowing your triggers and sticking to a daily skincare routine is the best way to try to keep eczema at bay day to day.
For some people this could mean meditating to combat stress, avoiding certain fabrics or changing their diet. But everyone with eczema should moisturise the skin at least once a day and immediately after taking a bath or shower (being careful to pat rather than rub the skin dry) to lock in the moisture.
Look out for natural products that are specially formulated to be used on eczema. One of our favourites is Naturally Tribal’s award-winning YARA Body Food. Not only does the 100% natural blend of shea butter and coconut oil provide maximum hydration, it also has anti-inflammatory and wound healing abilities which sooths and repairs your skin during flare-ups. The Naturally Tribal range also includes the OROMA body wash which is designed to help skin retain its moisture as well as a body scrub, polish and shave oil all designed to enrich your skin with the hydration it needs.