Even though eczema is an extremely common condition in babies, quite a few adults have or develop this condition over time. If you have got eczema, you’ll notice your skin becoming dry, flaky and scaly, which is almost always accompanied by itchiness. Although this skin condition is by itself not harmful and non-contagious, it can be quite uncomfortable and unappealing to look at.
This is why it is really important that you find the right kind of eczema treatment ASAP. The sooner you find a solution to this problem, the faster it will heal. But if you are clueless about where to start and what to do, then fret not, because we have got you covered! In this article, we spoke to Dr. Soma Sarkar, a celebrity dermatologist and skincare expert from Mumbai, to give you a better idea of what exactly eczema is and what are its possible causes, treatments and preventions.
- What is eczema?
- Causes of eczema
- Symptoms of eczema in adults
- Eczema Treatments: Home Remedies & Medical
- FAQs about eczema treatment
What is eczema?
We are sure this is one question you are definitely grappling with. Before looking at the various causes and treatments for eczema, it is important to first understand what exactly eczema is and what it looks like. Dr. Soma Sarkar explains, “Eczema is a condition where your skin can become flaky, itchy, cracked and rough. It is also sometimes accompanied with blisters. Eczema is an autoimmune disorder, which means that it is like an allergic response to certain trigger factors and commonly occurs on extremities like hands and legs. Children also can suffer from eczema known as atopic dermatitis.”
Causes of eczema
As seen earlier, eczema is an autoimmune disorder, which means that it is difficult to point out the exact causes. Additionally, the causes for eczema could also differ from person to person. However, there are certain factors that are known triggers or possible causes of eczema. “The common causes of eczema are environmental aggressors such as pollen grains, dust, mites, smoke, cement and tar. Certain systemic disorders like hay fever, asthma and rhinitis can sometimes also cause eczema. Additionally, eczema can also be triggered or made worse by coming in contact with animals and furry objects.”
1. Chemicals and fragrances:
This includes the cleansing agents, chemicals such as alcohol and fragrances added to soaps, detergents, shampoos, disinfectants and sanitizers.
2. Allergic reactions:
This includes exposure to dust, mites, pollens, pets and even mold.
3. Temperature and humidity:
An increase or decrease in humidity, sweating as well as exposure to super-hot and super-cold temperatures can trigger eczema.
Eating certain foods such as dairy, nuts, eggs and seeds can trigger an allergic reaction, leading to eczema.
5. Hormonal imbalance:
This cause is more common in females than in males. Fluctuating hormones, especially during pregnancy, menopause and menstruation can also cause this skin condition.
Symptoms of eczema in adults
Next, the obvious question that arises is what are the symptoms of eczema in adults? And Dr. Sarkar is here to explain, “In adults, eczema could have three levels. The first one would be ‘mild’ in which there is scaling, itching and mild erythema, meaning skin redness. In ‘subacute eczema’, which means moderate, the symptoms include (along with that of the ‘mild’ eczema) oozing, crusting, scaling pain and itching.” The last and most severe symptoms of chronic eczema are “lichenified lesion-like thickened skin, pigmentation, scaling and unbearable itching at times”, finishes Dr. Sarkar.
Eczema Treatments: Home Remedies & Medical
Eczema treatments can broadly be divided into two categories – home remedies and medical treatments. Dr. Sarkar says, “The best home remedy for eczema is to moisturise the skin. One can either use a thick moisturiser or even some oil. If using oil, stick to something simple and wholesome like pure, cold-pressed coconut oil to prevent further irritation. Gently massage your skin while applying, to soothe as well as heal the area.”
But unfortunately, home remedies are more preventative of symptoms than treatments. It is difficult to heal and prevent moderate and chronic eczema with just home remedies. Which is why it is best to go to your dermatologist immediately if you think you have eczema. The treatment could start with topical and steroid applicators, which are anti-inflammatory creams and medicines to relieve inflammation and itchiness. It could also include applying medicated moisturisers or barrier repairing moisturisers that work to reduce skin water loss and promote skin repair.
Next, you would be asked to start with oral medications such as antibiotics, steroids, and even antifungal and antibacterial medicines. These medicines generally help to fight inflammation or suppress the activities of the immune system to prevent inflammations and flare-ups. “For in-clinic treatments, the mode of treatment chosen would depend upon the type and extent of eczema. It could be started with topical emollients and extend to steroid applications and oral therapy too. Sometimes in severe cases, one could require admission into a clinic as well”, concludes Dr. Soma Sarkar.
FAQs about eczema treatment
Q. Can eczema be cured permanently?
A. Unfortunately, the answer is no. Dr. Sarkar adds, “Eczema is a skin condition that cannot be cured, but it can be kept under control with several lifestyle changes and being in constant touch with a doctor to file your progress and tailor your treatment.” Simple changes like wearing more breathable fabrics, using mild soaps and detergents and even patting your skin instead of rubbing it, go a long way in keeping flare-ups under control.
Q. What should you not eat if you have eczema?
A. Even though foods are more often than not the main cause of eczema, they can trigger an allergic reaction that could make eczema worse. So if you are allergic to something, definitely avoid that. Other than that, it would be a good idea to consume less of dairy, citrus fruits, gluten, etc.