Eczema is a surprisingly common problem. According to Answers.com, over 10% of people have eczema. It affects people of all ages, although it usually begins at a young age. It can be uncomfortable, painful, inconvenient, and embarrassing. So what can you do about it?
Here are some treatment methods most suitable for atopic eczema (the most common type of eczema). If you are interested in beginning a new treatment or have questions about your eczema, speak with your GP or dermatologist.
There are some prescription medications that can be used to treat it. For example, Alitretinoin/Toctino is used to treat chronic eczema, especially on the hands. However, this medication, as many other prescriptions for eczema, does have associated side effects, and is not always suitable for use. (To find out more, click here.) In my experience–and eczema runs in my family–it is better to try to control eczema through over the counter and lifestyle/natural methods rather than medications unless it is a particularly severe case. Consult with your dermatologist about what could be appropriate for flare-ups. A corticosteroid cream, for example, can be used temporarily when symptoms are particularly bad.
There are some over-the-counter products that may help you to control your eczema. For example, don’t just use normal lotion. It won’t be strong enough to help, and the perfumes and other ingredients may actually aggravate your skin. Buy the more powerful moisturizers. Aveeno has been a good daily product for my three-year-old with eczema. It is mild enough to use daily (and often multiple times a day) and, when used regularly, does help to reduce the severity of her eczema. It does not eliminate it, but it does help to keep it more manageable.
You can also buy emollients. Bath emollients can really make a difference if you use the emollient to replace soaps rather than in addition to them.
Having eczema makes your skin more sensitive. It reacts differently than healthy skin. For me, for example, I know that my skin is easily irritated. Some mainstream products (Herbal Essence shampoo and conditioner, for example) cause my skin to flare up and become very irritated, red, and sore. I also don’t do well with many perfumed products.
In my experience, using totally organic products can help to keep my skin happier. Green People’sbaby products, for example, are very soothing to my skin. I particularly like their baby salve and lavender moisturizer. They are a bit greasy, but they do soothe my skin. You can also learn to make your own eczema cream from flowers and other ingredients.
If you use organic products, you are protecting your skin from damaging chemicals. However, you should always test a sample on a small patch of skin first to make sure that your skin isn’t irritated by the organic product.
Spa and Homeopathic Treatments
This may seem like a luxury to include, but it can be a serious aid to people. I recently was treated, for my birthday, with a trip to the spa, including my first ever mud therapy treatment. I was amazed by how good my skin felt afterward. The clay really did have a noticeable effect on my skin. A good mud (or more accurately special clay) treatment can really help to keep eczema under control. (Click here to read more about the benefits of mud therapy/clay treatments.)
Other spa and homeopathic treatments, such as acupuncture.
Most people with eczema will realize that there are certain “triggers” that can make their eczema flare up. For example, wool and synthetic materials may irritate your skin and feel uncomfortable. Soft, natural materials like cotton and linen may be the most comfortable to wear. Some foods or other environmental factors may also aggravate your eczema. Learning to avoid these irritants can be helpful.
There are also lifestyle changes that can help to improve your general and skin health, and help to improve your eczema. Some people find it helpful to eat raw local honey, take vitamins and supplements (especially things like Vitamin E), avoid certain foods, etc.