Eczema which is also referred to as Atopic dermatitis is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition. Hallmarks of eczema include dry, itchy skin with red rashes that may come in flares. It is a common skin disease worldwide. According to research, it may affect up to 30% of children and in some of them, eczema will continue in to adulthood. Although eczema usually appear during infancy and childhood, it can arise in adolescents and adults too, who never had eczema in their childhood.
Eczema is now found to be caused by an interaction of your genes and environmental factors. Most will have a family history, but not everyone with eczema has a genetic link. If you have a sibling or a parent who has eczema, then there is a higher chance for you to develop eczema too. Is this because of the role that genetics play in eczema? Let us find out.
Scientific evidence is strong in supporting the genetic predisposition for development of eczema. Multiple research done worldwide proves that the evidence of gene mutations in several genes may play a role in causing eczema. In this article we will further discuss how eczema becomes hereditary and the research evidence for the relationship between eczema and genetics.
Does research, point towards a relationship between your genetics and eczema?
Birth cohort studies are ideal to assess the health outcome from birth in to childhood with regards to eczema. Given the age specific emergence of eczema, it provides that eczema can be in fact hereditary.
Research data indicates that several genes may be associated in developing eczema. A research review done in 2010 analyzed the whole human genome. Several genes were found to significantly alter the function and composition of skin in patients with eczema. There is an allergic or an inflammatory response in eczema. Some genes affect the immune system leading to this inflammatory response. The other genes will impact specifically on the eczematous skin.
Genes coding for the function of our skin
Our skin has 3 layers – the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. Epidermis is the outermost layer which is responsible in maintaining the barrier function of our skin. If your skin barrier is healthy, it will support retention of moisture as well as protecting your body from foreign substances that can harm us, such as allergens, bacteria and toxins.
A gene called the FLG gene, instructs the skin cells to make a large protein named ‘Filaggrin’ in the epidermis. Filaggrin plays an important role in barrier function of our skin. It connects the structural proteins in the outermost skin cells and form tight bundles. Filaggrin strengthens the skin cells and create a strong barrier for protection. Research shows that the FLG gene has a mutation in the DNA sequence in about 50% of patients with eczema. Therefore, specific instructions are not given by this defective gene to cells to make filaggrin. Filaggrin is not produced properly when the message is defective. Less Filaggrin will make your skin barrier weak. Epidermis will become dry and unhealthy which will be prone to allergic reactions and infections. When the filaggrin forming gene is mutated and defective, the protective barrier function is lost. This will make you prone for eczema.
When there are anomalies in the FLG gene, these people will also be prone to develop asthma and hay fever. This is a classic triad. It is known as atopy. The classic triad of atopy includes eczema, asthma and allergies like hay fever and allergic conjunctivitis. Atopy refers to this genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases and they run in families. These families are known as atopic families. Atopy is typically associated with heightened immune response to many common allergens such as inhaled allergens and food allergens.
In another study, a gene called SPINK5 is also found to be mutated in patients with eczema. This gene is known to instruct skin cells to make proteins. How this mutation in the SPINK5 gene affects to develop eczema is still not clear.
Genes coding for the function of our immune system
The genes that are associated with our immune system include genes forming IL (interleukin) 4, 5 and 13. These genes are found to promote allergy and inflammation. They can cause a reduction in the immune response towards pathogens as well as affecting the skin barrier function.
Interleukin 33 is an inflammatory cytokine that is over expressed in the skin cells of patients with eczema. IL 33 gene stimulates many cells to produce cytokines and create inflammation. It is mainly associated with the itch – scratch cycle of eczema.
Can Eczema be a feature of a separate genetic disorder?
Eczema can be associated with some genetic disorders that have many signs and symptoms including skin abnormalities and immunodeficiency. Examples of such disorders include;
Immune dysregulation, X- linked (IPEX) syndrome, Netherton syndrome, Poly-endocrinopathy, Enteropathy, severe dermatitis, metabolic wasting syndrome (SAM) and multiple allergies.
Are genetics the only reason to get eczema?
Although genetics increases your risk of developing eczema, this is not the only cause. There are many causes that are associated with developing eczema. Usually it is a combination of several causes and risk factors. As mentioned earlier, both genetics and environmental factors play a role in developing eczema.
Here are some of the identified causes and risk factors of eczema;
Exposure to cigarette smoke during infancy – smoking indoors and maternal cigarette smoking
If the mother went through high levels of psychological stress during the pregnancy, the offspring can be affected
If your immune system is defective or over reactive
If your skin is very dry and unhealthy
Dysfunction of the skin barrier – dysregulation of the immune system may be a cause
Certain endocrine disorders like thyroid dysfunction
Now that we know that eczema has a genetic tendency, we will learn more on how an eczema flare occurs.
An eczema flare up is triggered by environmental factors. Once our skin is already at risk to develop eczema because of our genes, many factors can act as triggers to develop a flare.
Environmental triggers for eczema flare-ups include;
Irritants such as soap, detergents, cosmetics, perfume, cleaning products, formaldehyde – irritants are found in everyday products we use. One chemical which may act as an irritant to a particular individual to trigger an eczema flare may not be so for another person.
Hot weather and heat
Out- door pollutants
Fabrics like polyester, wool
Certain metals like nickel
You may be having eczema because of your genes, or you still may not have developed any symptoms although you have a strong family history. Naturally you will be worried because of this hereditary tendency, whether you will be a victim of eczema. But if we are careful and we look after our skin well, we should be able to delay onset of eczema or prevent a flare up.
What can we do to prevent an eczema flare up, even if we are genetically prone?
Moisturize and hydrate your skin well
Use a humidifier at home when using heaters during winter to prevent dehydration of your skin
Manage your stress well by practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation
Identify and avoid irritants which can trigger a flare such as wool, certain chemicals and other irritants
Avoid using harsh soaps and detergents
Eczema can affect up to 30% of children worldwide. It often afflicts infants in the 1st few months of life. This can be the first indicator of this atopic tendency. Research indicates that eczema or atopic dermatitis has a strong genetic link. Several genes that affect our immune system and skin function may play a role while environmental factors and stress can trigger eczema. There are many things you can practice to prevent getting a flare. However, once you are genetically prone towards eczema, you may get a flare at some time in your life. Do not get disheartened. Seek treatment early. Although there is no cure for eczema you can successfully manage flares and keep your condition under check, if you stick to your treatment plan and follow up regularly with your dermatologist.
Although eczema is one of the commonest chronic skin diseases, we still don’t know what exactly causes eczema. Researchers believe that a combination of genetic causes and trigger factors play a role in most types of eczema. You may be born with an increased likelihood of developing eczema because of the genes you inherit from your parents.
Those of you with eczema tend to have an over reactive immune system. It can get triggered by both intrinsic (inside the body) and extrinsic (outside the body) substances. The response to the substance is inflammation. Inflammation leads to red, itchy skin lesions common to most types of eczema.
How does eczema skin differ from normal skin?
Normal skin provides a healthy protective barrier which prevents skin from drying out and fights off infections. This barrier is made by a protein called filaggrin. Research shows that there is a mutation in the gene which creates filaggrin in some people with eczema. As filaggrin is not there to build a strong skin barrier, the moisture from your skin can escape outside leading to very dry skin. Because of the defective barrier, bacteria and viruses can enter in, making your skin infection prone.
The goal of eczema management is to keep your symptoms under control. You have to feel comfortable and stay healthy while living with eczema, because eczema has no cure and it can cause flares from time to time. Prevention of getting a flare can be challenging. To prevent a flare we have to identify the potential triggers which causes a flare.
What are the common eczema triggers?
It may be difficult to detect a trigger because a flare can occur sometime after exposure and not directly after. This time lag can make it difficult to detect some of the triggers which causes our eczema flare.
We have to keep in mind that eczema affects everyone differently. What triggers a flare in you is not the same for another. You may experience the symptoms of eczema in different regions in your body and at certain times of the year.
Common eczema triggers are;
Dry skin – If your skin gets very dry, it becomes scaly, rough and brittle easily. You may get a tight feeling. These features can lead to an eczema flare.
Irritants – some substances can act as irritants to our skin. These can be found in the everyday products we use and even in natural substances that come in to contact with our skin. We use most of these products on our body and in our homes in our day to day lives. These irritants can make our skin itch and burn or become red and dry further. Because in eczema we already have a sensitive skin with a defective barrier.
These irritants can be;
Hand and dish soap, shampoos, body wash, bubble bath
Laundry detergents, surface cleaners, disinfectants and other household cleaners
Some natural liquids such as juice from fresh fruits, vegetables and meat.
Metal ex: Nickel (found in watches, kitchen ware, jewelry, batteries etc.)
Fragrances and perfumes
Antibacterial ointments ex: Bacitracin, Neomycin
Certain fabrics such as wool, polyester and other synthetic fabrics
Here are some potential chemicals which can irritate our skin and cause an eczema flare up.
Isothiazolinone – it is an antibacterial product found in some personal care products ex: baby wipes
Formaldehyde – it is found in glues, adhesives, household disinfectants and some vaccines
Paraphenylene-diamene – found in temporary tattoos and leather dyes
Cocamidopropyl betaine – found in shampoos and lotions
These substances can irritate your skin when it comes into contact with them or when you touch them.
Environmental factors – cold or dry weather conditions, humidity and dampness, house dust mites, molds, pollen and pet dander may act as triggers to give a flare.
Most of these are air borne allergens. Allergens are substances which cause an allergic reaction.
Food allergies – allergens in certain foods can trigger eczema.
Ex: Cow’s milk, pea nuts, soya, eggs, wheat, gluten, shell fish
As each one with eczema is different, whether you are allergic to such food items and to what food items, differ from one patient to another. Some eczemas are not related to food allergies at all. Be mindful of what you eat if you know that certain foods can trigger your eczema.
Stress – emotional stress is found to be a trigger for eczema flares. The exact cause of how stress affects eczema is not sure. Symptoms may worsen when you are feeling ‘stressed’. Knowing that you have eczema which is a chronic skin disease can also stress you which can lead to a flare up. Living with eczema can be challenging and it can affect our emotional wellbeing. The appearance of the skin rash is not only embarrassing but it can lead to severe itching and sleepless nights.
Stress and anxiety are well known triggers of eczema because when we experience a stressful situation, our body switches to a ‘fight or flight’ mode which increases the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. They can suppress our immune system and cause an inflammatory response in our skin, leading to a flare.
Hormonal changes – Eczema flares can occur and symptoms may worsen during certain times in women because of their hormonal changes.
Ex: prior to the periods, during pregnancy and breast feeding
Skin infections – when germs get in to your skin, it can trigger an eczema flare. Eczema skin may develop fissures and small cracks on the surface. These act as entry points to various bacteria (staphylococcus, streptococcus), viruses (HSV) and even fungi. Infection can make eczema worse and treatment becomes more difficult. Your skin will get more damaged which leads the way to further infection. Therefore, breaking this cycle of infection is a key to successful management of eczema.
Heavy workouts and exercise can lead to increased sweating leading to eczema flares. For people with eczema, heavy exercise can dry out their skin through loss of fluids. Sweat has sodium which further can dehydrate your skin while irritating and making it sting. As the skin surface temperature soars with exercise, it can trigger frenzied scratching in people with eczema. This can damage your skin and lead to a flare.
If you have symptoms that worry you, seek help from your doctor or a dermatologist. It is best to maintain a diary, so that you can discuss what the possible triggers are and the ways of avoiding these triggers with your doctor. Apart from complying with the treatment regime, it is a must to identify what triggers a flare up and try your best to avoid them.
Some tips to avoid triggers
Identify the triggering foods and avoid them in your diet
Maintaining an eczema friendly diet is the key to keeping your symptoms under control. There are certain foods which help to reduce eczema symptoms. They are known to be anti-inflammatory foods. Studies have demonstrated that these can fight inflammation.
Fatty fish – Fatty fish contain long chain omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA and are a rich source of protein. EPA and DHA can reduce inflammation.
Ex: Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Herring
Berries – Berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanin which have anti-inflammatory properties.
Ex: Blue berries, Black berries, Raspberries
Avocados – rich in vitamins, minerals, monounsaturated fats, carotenoids and tocopherols which are good anti-inflammatory agents.
Cruciferous vegetables – They are rich in antioxidants which fight inflammation.
Ex: Broccoli, Kale, Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts
Green tea – it is a healthy beverage with anti-inflammatory properties
Peppers – They are rich with antioxidants and strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Make sure to avoid foods like fried foods, junk foods, processed meats, refined carbohydrates and Trans fats because they are linked with increased levels of inflammation. They may play a role in worsening your eczema.
Keep your home allergen free, vacuum regularly, wash your bed linen at least once a week, replace carpets with hard wood floors so that you can mop your floor to keep it dust free and clean.
To avoid your skin becoming too dry during winter months, use a humidifier at home. Moisturize your skin more than usual in cold months to prevent drying.
Manage your stress well – practice yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques
Use gloves when using detergents and house hold cleansers. Avoid touching chemical irritants unnecessarily.
Use hypoallergenic scent free body products
Choose fabrics which doesn’t trigger symptoms such as itchiness and redness. You can wear an extra layer of non-irritant garment like cotton, under your wool garments.
You can do low intensity work outs in cooler times of day such as early morning or evening. Keep a fan nearby to evaporate the sweat.
Managing your eczema can be challenging. Keep track of your day to day activities. Identify what worsens your symptoms. Take necessary steps to reduce exposure to these triggers. With time you may notice an improvement in your skin and flares will be much less.
Atopic dermatitis commonly known as eczema is a chronic skin condition caused by a defect in your skin barrier along with inflammation of your skin. Because of the defective skin barrier, your skin is more sensitive to various allergens and irritants like pollen, chemicals and pet dander. 1 in 10 people will experience eczema at some point in their life. Therefore it is a problem faced by most of you. If you are having eczema, you should think twice before using any product on your skin. Surely, experience has taught you that the wrong soap, body wash, hand wash or a facial cleanser can intensify your eczema. As your skin has a defective barrier, it has to face many hardships to protect itself from the environment. On top of it, using a wrong product can further inflame and dry your skin.
Signs and symptoms varies by individual, so is your skin sensitivity. It is important for you to be aware of how your skin reacts to these allergens and irritants in order to control current outbreaks of eczema as well as future flares.
What should you look for when choosing an eczema soap?
You have to first look for the eczema soap’s active ingredient because it is the element that makes the biggest healing difference on your skin. These active ingredients may be medical elements or natural soothing elements like Aloe Vera or green tea. Don’t go for the name brand only which is a big mistake that most of us do. It is vital that one should go with the best soap for Eczema in terms of ingredients used weather it is hand soap or body soap.
Take a close look at the ingredients in the product.
Eczema skin is more sensitive and irritable than normal skin. Therefore, it is crucial for you to be aware of the things that can set off an outbreak in your eczematous skin. Some possible irritants of skin include; dyes, fragrances, parabens, solvents and preservatives. Choose a product free of such irritants. For those of you with eczema, it is of utmost importance to choose a cleanser that is best for you. Choose a gentle one free from common irritants, allergens and fragrances. Don’t pick harsh soaps or ones with allergens as they can worsen your eczema or lead to an allergic reaction on top of your eczema.
Here are some soaps and body washes which are found to be effective on eczematous skin. These are some of the best soaps for Eczema.
Cetaphil Deep cleansing Bar
“It will cleanse and moisturize your skin simultaneously”
Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar is the way to go because it is safe for daily cleansing as well as it is budget friendly. This gentle, soothing non irritating formula leaves your skin moisturized after each use. This is a mild, non-alkaline soap bar that is specifically designed for dry and sensitive skin. It is an excellent choice for full body cleansing as it cleans and moisturizes your skin simultaneously. This soap has a neutral PH formula which is great for sensitive skin. It doesn’t contain any harsh ingredients. Therefore, it allows your skin to heal without stripping off the natural oils in your skin while protecting the skin barrier. Cetaphil Deep cleansing bar is safe for both adults and children.
This is available at Amazon for 8 USD.
Basis sensitive skin soap
“This will let you take care of your basic skin sensitivities without spending much money” – It is the best soap for your budget.
Basis sensitive skin soap for Eczema is full of natural, soothing ingredients like Aloe Vera and chamomile tea. It contains minimal dyes, fragrances and other harsh chemicals and will take care of your skin sensitivities. This soap leaves your skin feeling calm, replenished and clean and is dermatologist recommended. Usually specialized soaps are expensive. This soap will suit your budget and is a great addition to your daily routine.
You can buy it from Amazon for 19 USD and Walgreens for 3 USD.
Dove Pure and sensitive Beauty bar
It will allow you to cleanse your skin gently. It provides you with a rich creamy lather. It is a nourishing body cleanser which puts essential nutrients back in to your skin. It is suitable for mild eczema and sensitive skin as it gently removes the dirt and make up without drying out your skin. This is rated as one of the best soaps for Eczema as well.
Dove also has a series of soothing body washes suitable for eczema.
Some of you may prefer to use a body wash instead of using a soap bar.
Free and clear liquid cleanser
“Simple with no irritating additives”
This is a simple hand soap without any irritating additives that can lead to flares of eczema. It contains effective cleansing ingredients while being gentle on your skin. This liquid cleanser is oil free, paraben free, sulfate free, Gluten free and free from fragrances. This formula leaves your hands soft while cleansing and calming your skin. It is dermatologist recommended.
CeraVe Soothing Body wash
“CeraVe Soothing body wash is designed by dermatologists to restore your skin to its natural healthy state”
This unique formula is designed by dermatologists and it is recommended by the National Eczema Foundation. CeraVe body wash is fragrance free with no parabens or sulfates and it is safe for both adults and children. It is rich in omega oils, three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid. It cleanses and calms your skin while restoring it to its natural, healthy state. You will feel safe using this on your skin while avoiding irritants and allergens. This comes under top category of best body wash for eczema.
You can buy this product from CVS or from Amazon for 18 USD
CLn Body wash
CLn Body wash is designed to reduce redness, dryness and flakiness in your skin”
This is a cleanser which is safe for daily use, is designed to reduce dryness, redness and flakiness of your skin. It is preserved with sodium hypochlorite for a strong yet calming sensation for eczematous skin. CLn body wash has no parabens, fragrances or steroids which makes it safe for use in both adults and children.
This product is available at Amazon for 20 USD.
Olay Ultra moisture Shea butter body wash
It has a unique lock in moisture technology which ensures keeping your skin moisturized after you shower. It is formulated with Olay’s Vitamin B3 complex. Olay Ultra moisture body wash will hydrate and plump the surface skin cells while locking in natural moisture. It will leave your skin soft and smooth.
SkinFix Eczema soothing wash
It contains soothing oatmeal, Aloe Vera and Vitamin E. This product is recommended by the dermatologists and known to be eczema soothing body wash. It is free of parabens, fragrance, soy, nut ingredients, sulfates and phthalates.
What soap should you choose to cleanse your face?
Some of you with eczema, may experience dry skin on your face too. Although you can use the same eczema soap and body wash to cleanse your face, it is best to go for a milder version because the skin on your face is more sensitive.
Neutrogena Ultra gentle Hydrating Cleanser
“Neutrogena Ultra gentle Hydrating Cleanser does not contain any fragrances, allergens or parabens”
If you are looking for the best face soap for eczema for your face and post makeup cleansing this product is strong enough to remove your makeup residue yet soft enough for your sensitive skin. This is a mild creamy cleanser which helps to remove make up, dirt and other blemishes from your face. Neutrogena Ultra gentle hydrating cleanser is rich with a skin nourishing poly-glycerin formula which soothes your eczema. There are no added harsh chemicals and irritants which can damage your sensitive skin. It is paranben free, fragrance free and allergen free. Therefore, it can be used on the most sensitive skin. It is recommended by the National Eczema Association.
You can buy this product from Amazon for 9 USD and Ulta for 11 USD.
Are there special products for babies with Eczema?
Eczema is commonly seen in babies and we all know that their skin is so sensitive. Therefore, a baby with eczema needs a very mild cleanser for soothing effect.
“CeraVe Baby has clean and calm ingredients that are safe enough to use on your baby”
This product will leave your baby’s skin feeling soft and well moisturized. It is rich with vitamins and 3 essential ceramides for restoring the protective barrier making your baby’s skin healthy. CeraVe’s Baby wash and Shampoo is safe enough to use in babies and is a tear- free formula. It has no parabens, fragrances or sulfates and is recommended by the National Eczema Foundation to be used in babies. This is recommended as the best soap for eczema baby.
This product is available in Walgreens for 10 USD and in Amazon.
Are there any special products for Vegans?
If you are a vegan you may want a soap which suits your life style.
Splendor Pure Coconut oil soap
“It is a creamy soap that moisturizes and calms dry skin and is best for vegans”
Splendor pure coconut oil soap is rich in coconut oil, aloe Vera, colloidal oats, organic calendula and organic chamomile. Coconut oil is proven as an anti-inflammatory agent and is recommended for both consumption and topical use. It is excellent for dry eczematous skin. Because this product contains all natural ingredients, it is free from chemical irritants and allergens.
You can buy this from Amazon for 14 dollars.
Shea Moisture African Black soap
“Shea Moisture African Black soap simultaneously moisturizes, soothes your skin while being anti-bacterial and therapeutic”
This product can be used for both eczema and psoriasis therapy. This natural therapy soap is rich with Shea butter, lemon balm, Aloe Vera and Gotukola. It lets in moisture and heals inflammation and dryness caused by eczema. This formula is designed to keep harmful bacteria out of your skin’s protective barrier therefore it is anti-bacterial and therapeutic. The soap is ideal to soothe and moisturize your skin in a natural way.
This product is available on Amazon for 15 USD and Walgreens for 5 USD.
Your skin needs moisture to stay healthy, smooth and supple, but as we age retaining moisture becomes difficult. Moisture is lost from our skin readily during winter because of central heating.
Daily routines like bathing and towel drying can remove moisture from your skin. Modifying your bathing routine will preserve your skin’s moisture to a certain extent.
Use luke warm water to your bath or shower. Hot water can dry out your skin. Limit your time of bathing to 15 minutes or less because too much bathing can strip your skin’s oily lipid layer.
Avoid rubbing with wash cloth when cleansing your body.
Use one of the soaps or body washes that are suitable for eczema to cleanse your skin.
When toweling dry, just blot or pat dry without rubbing your skin.
Apply a suitable moisturizer to your skin while the skin is still damp.
Even after you find the best soap for your eczema, still you may have to face many challenges;
Product may change – the manufacturer may periodically change their products. Once the ingredients change, it may not be the same for you.
Your skin may change – The condition of your skin can change with time and with each time you get a flare. Therefore, the effectiveness of your soap may also change.
What is best for someone else may not work for you.
You can discuss with your doctor or a dermatologist to find the most suitable eczema soap for you.
The soaps and other products you use play a major role in managing your eczema as well as avoiding future flares. The soap you use must keep your skin clean and healthy while protecting the skin barrier. It should be minimally irritating while helping to soothe symptoms of eczema.
Does your skin itch and become inflamed from time to time? Does it itch so bad that you feel like scratching it until your skin is damaged? This might be eczema. Eczema is also called atopic dermatitis, which is commonly seen in children, but it can occur in adults too. Eczema can be controlled well if you seek medical attention. Unfortunately it is not curable, as it recurs from time to time even after complete remission.
What is Eczema?
Eczema derives from the Greek word “boil”. It accounts for a large proportion of skin disease in the developed as well as the developing world. It is estimated that Eczema affects about 16.5 million adults and more than 9.6 million children in USA. Up to 40% of the population may suffer from eczema during their life time and at any given time, about 10% of the population may have some form of eczema. It can have a vast impact on the quality of life of an individual who suffers from eczema, if it is not properly controlled.
Eczema is a chronic skin condition which may have several flares and remissions. In most eczema patients there are periods when the skin condition is worse, which is called a flare or exacerbation. It is followed by periods of skin improvements or entire clear up which is known as remission.
Eczema usually begins between of 2 -3 months of age. It commonly starts during childhood and continues in to adulthood. Some individuals may go in to total remission during their teenage years. Although eczema usually starts in childhood, adults may get it for the first time which is known as adult onset eczema.
The good news is that Eczema is not contagious and you cannot spread it to someone by touch. It is not associated with poor hygiene.
What are the common signs and symptoms of Eczema?
There are some symptoms which are common to all types of eczema.
• Dry scaly skin
• Redness and inflammation
• Itching – This can be intense. Usually it is more severe at night
Eczema is also referred to as ‘The itch that rashes’, because you may start your rash initially with itching. Your rash may develop or worsen with itching.
The other symptoms are;
• Chronic and persistent or repeatedly occurring symptoms
• The location of the rash is characteristic which is typical of eczema – commonly hands, wrists, inside elbows and knees, feet, ankles, upper chest and eye lids
• Dry and sensitive skin
• Associated oozing and crusting especially in wet eczema
• Swelling of lesions due to edema and inflammation
• Habitual scratching making the skin lesions thick and leathery
• Dark and discolored patches on skin
Why does your Eczema itch?
Itching is a symptom that almost all patients with eczema experience. It is usually ongoing day and night. Itching is the worst symptom according to most individuals. It can be so intense and may never go away.
Eczema flares can be frequently triggered by the ‘Itch –scratch cycle’. As itching leads to scratching, it can result in release of inflammatory mediators that develop the eczema and make your skin further dry. Eczema flares and dry skin may lead to more itching and the cycle continues.
Itching may occur due to many reasons, such as;
• Defective skin barrier in eczema
• External triggers
• Human nature – how you feel the itch and how well you can control the urge to scratch
• Sweating and perspiration induce itching and aggravate your eczema
Itching is a complex symptom in eczema and it is related to both physical and psychological causes. Many patients with eczema claim that it is impossible to resist the urge to scratch, when told to do so.
Does Eczema run in families?
Eczema can run in families. It is an atopic condition which may associate with other atopic conditions like Hay fever (Allergic rhinitis), allergic conjunctivitis or bronchial asthma. Genetic inheritance of allergic conditions is known as atopy. Atopy is linked with increased immune response to common allergens like inhaled allergens or certain foods.
Usually you may find a family history of one or more of these conditions suffered by a family member or a close relative.
What are the causes of Eczema?
The exact cause of eczema is unknown. Following factors may play a role;
• Your genes
• Immune system dysfunction
• If you have dry skin
• Factors that make your skin dry and sensitive to infection and irritants
Eczema occurs when the natural barrier of your skin is weakened. When this happens your skin is unable to protect you against various allergens and irritants. Eczema may be caused by a combination of factors.
There are certain factors which can trigger your eczema, such as;
• Irritants -wool, soap, detergents
• Allergens –Inhaled allergens like pollen, dust mites and ingested allergens like certain foods
• Heat and sweating
• Emotional stress
Can you manage your eczema?
You can try these remedies at home to control eczema and to prevent getting flares.
• Avoid scratching – Scratching worsens your eczema. Cover the itchy areas if you find it difficult to avoid scratching. Covering your rash with a bandage will not only prevent scratching, but will protect your skin too.
Trim the nails of children with eczema, to reduce the skin damage by scratching. Get them to wear gloves or anti-scratch mittens to prevent unintentional scratching especially at night.
• Use a mild, fragrance free soap when washing your skin. Pat dry with a soft towel. Do not wipe hard or rub your skin. Avoid strong soaps and detergents as they can worsen your eczema.
• Warm baths – Sprinkle your bath water with colloidal oat meal or baking soda. Soak your body for 15 minutes and pat dry.
• Moisturize your skin well and keep it hydrated – Use a good emollient regularly to moisturize your skin. Choose one which is alcohol and paraben free with minimal fragrance. Look for ingredients such as aqueous cream, Dimethicone, glycerol, Argon oil, Shea butter, cocoa butter and Lanolin oil when selecting a moisturizer. Choose an emollient that is suitable for your skin type.
• Apply your moisturizer after a bath when the skin is still damp. Damp skin absorbs and locks in the moisture well.
• Identify and avoid the triggers that is known to worsen your eczema.
Ex: Certain food items, Pollen, dust, excessive sweating and heat, strong soaps and detergents.
Identify them early and avoid. Avoid wool and tight, scratchy or rough clothing. Wear cooling clothes with smooth texture to minimize your skin irritation. When you are going out in hot weather or during your work outs, wear appropriate clothing to prevent excessive sweating.
• Manage your stress – practice relaxation techniques, yoga and meditation. Try to get quality sleep. Poor sleep can worsen your stress and make you less functional during day time
• Eat a balanced, healthy diet and void food triggers.
Are there any over the counter (OTC) products which you can use for Eczema?
OTC creams such as Hydrocortisone can be applied topically, which is a mild steroid.
Antihistamines like Cetirizine (Zyrtec),Loratadine (Alavert, Claritin),Fexofenadine (Allegra),Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or Chlorpheniramine which are available over the counter can be used to reduce your itching. Make sure that the dose and the frequency of administration is correct when using any OTC medication.
Above home remedies and self- care measures can control your rash, relieve your itching and prevent new out breaks of eczema to a certain extent.
When should you seek help?
If your itching or rash doesn’t go away on its own or with home remedies you use or if it interferes with your day to day life or disturbs your sleep, it is time to see your doctor or a dermatologist. Look for any signs of infection such as red streaks or pus or even fever associated with your eczema.
Until you meet a dermatologist maintain a diary, so that it may be helpful to your doctor to identify what triggers your eczema. You can include;
1. Your diet – anything different you consumed
2. The skin products, make up and soaps you use
3. If you come in to contact with chemicals, detergents and other irritants
4. Activities you do – walk or jog outside where there is pollen or dust, swimming in chlorinated pools
5. Your bathing or showering patterns
6. Whether you are under stress
This diary will also help you to notice any connections between your eczema flare up and your activities, so that you can avoid such activities.
How will your doctor treat your eczema?
After taking the history and examination of your skin, your doctor will diagnose eczema clinically. Lab tests are usually not needed for diagnosis. Sometimes your doctor may perform a patch test to exclude skin conditions such as contact dermatitis.
Your doctor may have to try numerous treatments for months or even years until your eczema gets controlled. However, even after successful control you may get a sudden flare. Your doctor will advise you on how to identify and avoid triggers of eczema in order to prevent a flare.
You already know that regular moisturizing control your eczema. However, moisturizing per se is not adequate for effective control.
Your doctor will suggest some of the following treatments to control your eczema:
Best suitable emollient to moisturize your skin– If your skin is very dry, your doctor will prescribe an ointment. Ointments are very effective in keeping moisture of your skin. As ointments contain the most oil, they are greasy. A cream or a lotion will be adequate for less dry skin. Moisturizing should be done twice a day. A cream is more suitable to apply during day time. Since ointments are greasier you may apply them at night. Creams can sting more than ointments.
These prescribed creams or ointments not only treat your eczema, but also control your itching. They will improve your rash by repairing the damaged skin.
Some of the prescribed creams and ointments are;
Corticosteroid creams or ointments – After moisturizing your skin, apply a thin layer on the eczematous lesions. Your doctor will direct you regarding the frequency of application. It may be once or twice a day. Corticosteroids control inflammation therefore, redness of your skin and swelling will reduce. Example:
Hydrocortisone – for lesions in your face, neck and other sensitive regions Betamethasone– more potent steroid Mometasone – effective corticosteroid with less side effects Clobetasol – used for eczema on hands and feet, thick lesions
Moisturize first before applying the medicated creams, as it will help better penetration of your skin. Once the initial lesions are controlled, you can use topical corticosteroids less frequently, to prevent a flare. Do not overuse corticosteroids as they can lead tothinning of your skin.
• Calcineurin inhibitors – Example:
Tacrolimus (protopic), Pimecrolimus (Elidel)
Calcineurin inhibitors act by affecting your immune response. They are useful to treat eczema in sensitive areas and for lesions which do not respond to other treatments. After moisturizing your skin, apply as directed by your doctor. Avoid strong sun light when using calcineurin inhibitors. It is safe to use them in anyone above the age of 2 years.
For severe eczema your doctor may prescribe oral medications to fight inflammation and to control your symptoms.
• Oral corticosteroids – If your eczema is severe, your doctor will prescribe oral corticosteroids.
Ex: a course of oral prednisolone
Although they are effective, they cannot be used for long periods because of the potential side effects like osteoporosis and high blood pressure that can be serious.
• Medications to fight infection – If your eczema is associated with a bacterial infection an antibiotic cream will be added. If your infection is severe with pus discharge and fever, a short course of oral antibiotics will be prescribed.
• Antihistamines – Ex: Cetirizine (Zyrtec), Fexofenadine (Allegra), diphenhydramine
Antihistaminesare prescribed to control itching. Anti-itch medications may cause drowsiness. Therefore, use them before you go to bed.
• Dupilumab (Dupixent) – This is a new option for treating severe Eczema.
Dupilumabis an injectable biologic (monoclonal antibody) that is recently approved by the FDA. It is used in people with severe eczema who do not respond well to other medications. Dupilumab is an expensive drug. It is safe when used as directed. More studies are needed to identify the benefits of this medication.
Following therapies can be combined with the medications;
• Wet wraps – The affected region is wrapped with emollients, corticosteroids and wet bandages. This is shown to be effective in those with severe eczema. Since wet wrapping can be too intensive to do at home for patients with wide spread eczema, they are done at hospital setting. This requires good nursing care and expertise. However, if you are competent enough, you may do wet wrapping at home once you learn the proper technique.
• Light therapy – Phototherapy with artificial Ultra violet Alight (UVA) or narrow band ultra violet B light (NB- UVB) can be used alone or in combination with other treatments. You may try exposing your skin to natural sun light as light therapy but in controlled amounts.
Light therapy is beneficial in patients who do not respond to topical treatments or for those who get frequent flares.
• Dietary modifications – Certain dietary changes will be suggested by your doctor if your history suggests food triggers. Foods like cow’s milk, eggs, soy can trigger symptoms or lead to flares. If your doctor suspects a food allergy, you may be referred to a dietician to modify your diet.
• Behavior modification and other relaxation techniques –to keep your stress under control and to help those with habitual scratching.
• Counselling – Talk to your therapist or a counsellor for emotional support if you suffer from persistent eczema.
Eczema may be stressful especially for adolescents and young adults. It can disturb your sleep and disrupt your day to day routines. Long standing eczema may even lead to depression in some patients. Family members of patients with eczema can also face various emotional, social and financial difficulties. Never fight eczema alone. You can seek emotional support from support groups, counsellors, family and friends.
Take home message….
Eczema can be persistent. You may need various medications along with self- care measures for a long time to get it under control. Even after successful treatment, eczema can recur.
Eczema, also known as Atopic Dermatitis is a chronic skin condition characterized by red, dry and cracked skin accompanied with an itchy rash. Though eczema affects all age groups, it is more prevalent in babies especially children under the age of 5 years. In most of the cases, the condition in babies improves and goes into permanent remission by the time the child celebrates its 12th birthday. However, some people continue to have symptoms on and off throughout their life. In some individuals, the condition directly appears in adulthood.
What Causes Eczema?
Though the exact cause is not clearly known, researchers believe that unusual interaction and a combination of genetic and environmental factors cause eczema. Skin barrier dysfunction being one of the precursors of eczema, the human microbiome is also known to play a role in eczema.
How does Eczema look like?
The appearance of eczema depends upon its severity it may appear dry and flaky when eczema is mild and can change into extreme red and hot in severe conditions. In some cases, extreme conditions may also result in blisters. All eczema condition itches with the intensity of itch varying from mild to intense depending upon the condition.
What are the first signs of Eczema?
Usually, the first symptom of eczema is intense itching, which on scratching turns into rashes. Red bumps may then start to appear which may turn into blisters as the condition worsens.
Who gets Eczema?
It usually starts in childhood and may continue into adulthood. It can occur in adulthood for the first time, which is called adult-onset eczema. Even the elderly can suffer from eczema. Eczema affects all age groups but it is more prevalent in babies especially children under the age of 5 years. During your lifetime, it can cause several flares and remissions, or it may go into total remission during the teenage years. It is estimated that in the US alone 35 million people are affected by eczema wherein 70% of the cases start under five years of age.
Can Eczema go away?
In most of the cases, the condition in babies improves and goes into permanent remission by the time the child celebrates its 12th birthday. However, some people continue to have symptoms on and off throughout their life. In some individuals, the condition directly appears in adulthood.
Remember a well-controlled Eczema is as good as normal skin.
Why Eczema worsens at night?
There is a difference in the biological cycle of the body during the day and night times. During night-time, there is an increase in blood flow and body temperature which warms the skin. Warm skin can cause you to itch more. Another reason is that during daytime the itching sensation gets distracted by other activities that keep you busy. Whereas in the night there is no distraction. Also, the effect of moisturizer applied during the daytime withers by the night.
Which foods should be avoided in Eczema?
There are some common foods that act as culprits to worsen your eczema. But it’s important to remember that everyone is different and not everyone will experience the same issues with the same food listed. Few of the common food that causes eczema flares are Gluten, Nuts, Soy Products, Eggs, Dairy, Citrus Fruits, Peanuts, Shellfish, Spices. Tomatoes etc. It is better to contact a professional allergist to determine one’s triggers.
What are Triggers?
Triggers are nothing but your day to day materials in the environment which causes you to have an allergic reaction and trigger an eczema flare-up. Identifying the triggers and avoiding them play a vital role in preventing the eczema flares. There are several methods that can help you identify and track your eczema triggers.
Which Triggers causes eczema flares?
Some of the examples for trigger factors include pollen, dust, smoking, fabric dyes, certain foods, additives and preservatives, some beauty products house hold products like strong soaps, detergents, rough fabric such as wool etc. It may also include body factors like excessive sweating or mental factor such as stress. You might observe that, contact with some of these triggers may have a link with your eczema. If you identify triggers the best is to avoid them.
What are the stages of Eczema?
Based on the evolution of the inflammation and duration of the disease, eczema is classified into 3 stages – Acute, Subacute and Chronic. Clinically eczema conditions can start at any stage and it also gets evolved from one stage to another. For e.g. a rash may start at the acute stage, move to subacute, and then to chronic.
What is an Eczema flare?
When the symptoms of Eczema is at the peak. The skin gets inflammation with redness, scales, and bumps that can leak fluid causing an intense itch this is called an eczema flare or flare-up. It is nothing but the worsening condition of Eczema. It may come and go, most of the time it’s the triggers that cause eczema flares.
Why is Eczema itchy?
An “itch that rashes” is what eczema is referred to many times. In eczema, the origin of itch lies in the skin. As we know that the people suffering from eczema are super sensitive, their immune response becomes hyper for even a small encounter. This interaction stimulates the nerve ending called C fibers which lies in the top layer of the epidermis. This nerve ending, in turn, stimulates the nerve fiber sending a signal to the brain resulting in itch.
Is Vaseline good for Eczema?
Though Vaseline (petroleum jelly) cannot heal eczema directly, it can help in improving dry skin conditions. It protects, soothes, and repairs dry, cracked skin also prevents loss of water from the skin by locking the moisture. In eczema, it’s very important that the product you use is compatible with your skin. Check with your physician start with very little amount only in a limited area to check if it suits your skin.
Does sweating cause Eczema flare?
Yes, too much sweating aggravates eczema symptoms. The mechanism of sweating is to regulate body temperature. When our body temperature rises, we get sweaty, when this sweat gets in contact with air it evaporates, cooling us down. As the sweat evaporates, the skin dries leaving behind a salty residue that can irritate eczema skin resulting in itching causing eczema flare.
How to take bath in Eczema?
Eczema skin is poor in retaining moisture hence it is advised to take bath in lukewarm water rather than hot water. Because hot water may give a temporary soothing effect but may raise the temperature of your skin which ultimately results in loss of moisture.
What is bleach bath?
As the name suggests a bath with a small amount of bleach added to the water is called as bleach bath. Such a Bath can help in reducing the symptoms of chronic eczema by killing bacteria on the skin, reducing itching, redness, and scaling. This is most effective when combined with other eczema treatments, such as medication and moisturizer. Not more than ¼ – ½ cup of common 5% household bleach to be added to a bathtub full of water (40 gallons). Soak the affected part of your skin for about 10 minutes. Do not repeat more than twice a week.
Both allergies and Eczema are 2 conditions that are commonly seen in society. Often we see that these two conditions coexist, but is there actually a link between the two or is it only a coincidence?
What is an allergy?
An allergy occurs when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance. This substance may be pollen, animal dander, bee venom, or even a food item. Allergies don’t occur in everyone. What is allergic to you may not be allergic to your friend.
Our immune system produces substances called antibodies. They are there for our protection. However, when you have an allergy, your immune system produces antibodies that identify a particular substance as harmful, although it really isn’t most of the time. Therefore, if you come in contact with such an allergen, your immune system can cause a reaction that can occur as inflammation in your skin, airways, sinuses, or digestive system.
The severity of an allergy can vary from person to person. It may range from a minor irritation to anaphylaxis which is potentially life-threatening and considered an emergency. Most allergies are not curable, however, your symptoms can be relieved with various treatments.
What are the symptoms of allergies?
The symptoms depend on the allergen, which is the substance involved, and where the exposure occurs in your body. For example, hay fever, which is also known as allergic rhinitis can cause sneezing, itchy nose, and eyes, runny or stuffy nose with watery or red eyes.
Skin can get affected in allergies such as for certain foods. Hives or urticaria is a common occurrence. They are red, itchy welts that result from skin reaction. Depending on the severity, your lips, eyes, face, or throat can get swollen. This is known as angioedema. An insect sting allergy can give a large area of edema (swelling) at the site of the sting as well as hives and itching throughout your body.
What is Eczema?
Eczema is also known as Atopic dermatitis. It is a chronic skin condition commonly seen in children. It is a long term condition which usually has several flares and remissions. It can also be an allergic skin condition that causes your skin to redden, itch, flake, or peel. Atopic dermatitis is quite common which affects around 20% of children.
Eczema can be either wet or dry. These lesions are almost always itchy. Scratching can increase the risk of infection as germs get in through damaged skin. Continuous scratching can cause lesions to become thick, discolored, and leathery.
Eczema can run in families because it is an atopic condition which has an inheriting tendency. It can also associate with Hay fever (Allergic rhinitis), allergic conjunctivitis, or bronchial asthma. Usually, there is a family history of one or more of these conditions suffered by a family member or a close relative.
There is an entity called contact dermatitis which is quite similar to eczema. It is a skin reaction to something that it comes in contact with. These are irritants such as poison ivy, soap, bleach, certain metals, fabric dyes, hair dyes, and other irritants. Here, a red rash appears with an itching, burning, or stinging sensation in the area which was exposed or got contacted. Sometimes blistering (fluid-filled vesicles) and oozing can occur. Patch testing is done to identify contact allergens.
Impaired skin barrier in atopic dermatitis facilitates the penetration of potential allergens. Therefore children with atopic dermatitis have a possibility of contact allergies leading to contact dermatitis. They may have unacknowledged contact allergies contributing to skin symptoms. Here, patch testing is an important tool for screening children with atopic dermatitis which helps in their further management too.
Children with atopic dermatitis are also at a greater risk of sensitization to certain allergens like metals, metal products, and some skincare products.
Seborrheic dermatitis is another type of skin condition which commonly affects areas with hair growth or areas where oil (sebum) is secreted. It may be caused by a reaction to yeast which is a natural commensal (part of normal flora) on our skin. Here, the rash is dry and scaly and sometimes appears red. Seborrheic dermatitis may be similar to eczematous lesions.
What are the similarities between urticarial skin allergy and eczema?
Both eczema and allergies involve the immune system. Therefore, eczema and allergies are closely related.
Both conditions can cause severe itching
Redness of skin
Scratching can give rise to swelling of the area (edema)
It can occur in any place of your skin
What are the differences between skin allergy and eczema?
Eczema can be oozing or dry, but urticarial skin reaction or hives doesn’t ooze. Eczema can get infected but hives do not usually get infected.
Is eczema actually an allergy?
Most eczema types are not allergies. Eczema cannot be caused by an allergy. However, we have seen that eczema flare-ups occur following exposure to certain allergens in susceptible individuals. For example, certain foods can cause an allergic reaction which may give rise to an eczema flare-up.
Studies have found that eczema and food allergies are closely related. Certain foods can lead to allergic reactions and eczema flare-ups. These common food allergens are milk, eggs, wheat, soybean, nuts, and meat items. These foods can commonly affect kids and worsen their eczema symptoms. It may not be so in adults.
Ex: Babies with atopic dermatitis are found to have a higher risk of developing food allergies.
What is Atopy?
Atopy refers to a genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases like asthma, atopic dermatitis (eczema), allergic rhinitis (hay fever), and allergic conjunctivitis. Atopy is associated with heightened immune responses to common allergens such as food allergens or inhaled allergens.
Atopy runs in families. Therefore, you may have seen a mother with asthma having a baby with hay fever or atopic dermatitis or vice-versa. Research is still being carried out to study the link between these atopic conditions.
What is ‘Atopic march’?
According to allergy experts, atopic dermatitis is an early step of ‘Atopic March’. There is a common clinical progression from atopic dermatitis to food allergies and sometimes to respiratory allergies and allergic asthma in some children.
This biological process occurs because allergens reach your immune cells easily through the dysfunctional skin barrier that is affected by atopic dermatitis.
The link between eczema and allergies is still unclear and the connection is complicated. Scientists are still learning new details regarding this link.
Some areas of study include;
Genes – A gene has been identified which causes a lack of a protein type called Filaggrin in their skin. Filaggrin protects the outer layer of our skin and keeps the germs out. When Filaggrin is lacking our skin barrier becomes weak, making it vulnerable to irritants, such as chemicals, soap, and detergents. Germs and allergens too can easily get in. Therefore, people with a lack of the Filaggrin gene are more sensitive to allergens like pollen, pet dander, and certain food items. A defect in the filaggrin gene by a mutation increases the risk of eczema.
Body’s reaction to allergens – Research has found that eczematous skin has a defective skin barrier. There are small gaps that dries out your skin as well as let allergens and germs enter your body.
What happens when germs and allergens enter our skin?
Our skin sees these allergens as foreign substances and causes a reaction. It is called inflammation, where our body makes chemicals that can lead to swelling and redness. The prompting to make these chemicals within your body is done by the allergens. Therefore, if you suffer from eczema or if you are susceptible to it, you may have an outbreak or a flare-up, if you get exposed to an allergen.
Antibodies – It is identified that the antibody IgE (Immunoglobulin E) plays a role in our body’s allergic response. If you are a person with eczema, you may have a higher level of IgE antibodies in your bloodstream. It is not yet understood why people with eczema have too much IgE in them and the exact role of it towards eczema.
Learning about these links between allergies and eczema will help you to control your eczema flare-ups in a better way.
How can you avoid allergens to prevent flare-ups of eczema?
These allergens are known as trigger factors because they initiate the reaction to cause the flare-up of your eczema.
Avoid allergy triggers – Identify the triggers which worsen your eczema or leads to a flare-up in well-controlled disease. Different people may have different triggers. However, in some, it will be difficult to find an exact trigger factor.
Once you identify them, it is easier to avoid getting exposed.
Sometimes these triggers can be unavoidable, such as pollen during spring and summer seasons. But allergens like pet dander, mold, dust mites, and allergic food items can be avoided if you are careful.
Some tips to avoid allergy triggers….
Use dust-proof pillow covers and mattresses
Avoid animals and pets especially furry dogs and cats
Stay indoors when pollen counts are high
Avoid skin irritants –Your skin can get irritated by soaps, detergents, wool, perfume, chemicals, and even cigarette smoke. Avoid them as much as possible once you correctly identify that these are common irritants that can lead to your eczema flare-up.
Maintain an eczema journal –Remember when, where, and what you were doing when your eczema flared up. Write them down in a journal. If you go through it carefully, you may figure out what your triggers are. You can share this journal with your doctor, so that he or she can see the pattern and advice you accordingly, during your appointments.
Link Between food allergies and eczema
It is a well-known fact that food allergy and eczema are highly associated. However, all eczema patients do not have food allergies. Research has found that 20-40% of children with moderate to severe eczema have an IgE mediated food allergy.
Can food allergies exacerbate eczema?
There are some studies which suggest that people with positive allergy testing to egg can get better if they eliminate egg from their diet. Testing for food allergies can be beneficial in children with severe eczema who do not improve with optimized skincare. Testing for food allergies can be done through skin testing or blood tests to identify the specific IgE antibody for the allergen.
Although a positive result means that the allergic antibody is present, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have an allergic reaction.
Research has found that food allergies and eczema co-exist, but we still do not know for sure whether food allergies worsen eczema. Further research needs to be done to confirm this fact.
According to another study, food allergy was found among 50.7% of patients with atopic dermatitis.
Ex: eggs, milk, wheat, soy
Scientists have found that children with both atopic dermatitis and food allergy have structural and molecular differences in the top layers of healthy-looking skin near the eczema lesions, although children with atopic dermatitis alone do not have these differences. However, the outer appearance of the eczema rash doesn’t show any difference between the 2 groups. According to published research defining these differences can help to identify children who are at a higher risk for developing food allergies.
Therefore, it is helpful to identify food allergies in order to improve symptoms in patients with atopic dermatitis.
The link between inhaled allergens and eczema
It is identified that airborne triggers (allergies in the air) act as inhalant allergens and are highly associated with eczema.
Ex: Pollen, dust mite, animal dander
Therefore, there is a strong association between eczema and respiratory allergies such as asthma and allergic rhinitis.
According to studies, atopic dermatitis is characterized by skin barrier defects (such as mutations in the Filaggrin gene and other alterations of immune cells). These factors promote the development of food allergies and asthma too.
Scientists have tried to introduce potential food allergens to at-risk infants to prevent food allergies. But does this prevent the babies from eczema? Research data is inadequate to come to a conclusion.
Eczema is a chronic skin condition that is commonly seen in children. It usually starts in childhood and may continue into adulthood. It can occur in adulthood for the first time, which is called adult-onset eczema. Even the elderly can suffer from eczema. During your lifetime, it can cause several flares and remissions, or it may go into total remission during the teenage years. It is a chronic long-term skin condition.
Eczema is also known as Atopic dermatitis. Atopy runs in families. Therefore, eczema can associate with Bronchial asthma, hay fever (allergic rhinitis), and allergic conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye). Usually, you may find a close relative or a family member suffering from one or more of these conditions.
Eczema is almost always itchy. Itching can be so intense, and it may even disturb your sleep. There are 2 types of Eczemas, wet and dry. In wet-type oozing occurs from lesions followed by crusting. The risk of infection is more in the wet type. The lesions can be raw and angry looking. The dry type has red patches that are associated with dry skin. Lesions can be scaly and cracked.
Constant scratching can gradually thicken the lesions. Sometimes continuous scratching occurs as a habit. You may feel that scratching is soothing and unknowingly may continue to scratch until it bleeds. This may increase the risk of infection as various germs can enter through damaged skin. Continuous scratching in eczema lesions can make it thick, discolored, and leathery.
How can Eczema be treated?
Is there any natural treatment for Eczema? Unfortunately, there is no cure for eczema. It can only be controlled. The aim is to prevent recurrent flares and control the skin condition in remission. Most often Eczema goes into total remission by teenage years and may never reappear.
As we know there are certain trigger factors that can cause and worsen your eczema. Identify these triggers early and avoid them as much as possible. Trigger factors may differ from person to person. Some of the examples for trigger factors include pollen, dust, smoking, fabric dyes, excessive sweating, certain foods, additives and preservatives, strong soaps, and detergents. You might observe that contact with some of these triggers may have a link with your eczema. If you identify triggers the best is to avoid them.
If you are a person living with eczema, you know what it is like to find some relief for your symptoms.
What are the symptoms of Eczema?
Inflamed red skin
Dry and sensitive skin
Itching – which can be severe
Oozing and crusting in wet type eczema
Swelling due to inflammation
Leathery, scaly, and thickened areas after continuous scratching
Dark patches on the skin
Some of these symptoms are unbearable. Treatment should focus on reducing these symptoms and control the skin condition in remission.
What are the natural treatments for eczema?
Are there any natural treatments for Eczema? Probably you may have already tried a variety of natural products. Some may have worked. But unfortunately, some of them can leave your skin feeling more irritated and even drier.
Here are some tried and tested natural remedies for Eczema which can help to replenish moisture in your skin as well as protect the natural barrier of your skin.
Colloidal Oatmeal –
Colloidal oatmeal means finely grounded oats which help to soften rough areas of skin and calm inflamed skin. This is a good natural treatment for eczema. You can buy colloidal oatmeal from a drug store or order online. If not, you can prepare your own by grinding oatmeal into a fine consistent powder.
Oatmeal bath for eczema – You may wonder whether this means bathing in a bathtub full of breakfast foods. However, this is not just oatmeal and warm water. Here, the oatmeal is ground into a fine powder which is called colloidal oatmeal. It is suspended in water.
There is a study done in 2012 which showed that colloidal oatmeal protects the skin and soothe the irritation and itching in eczema. The study also indicated that colloidal oatmeal could act as a buffer to help maintain the surface PH of your skin.
Preparation of an oatmeal bath –
Run lukewarm water into a clean bathtub. Make sure it is warm and not hot because hot water can worsen inflamed skin and draw out moisture from your skin making it drier.
Add a cup of colloidal oatmeal under the running tap. Mix well with your hand.
Before getting in, make sure that bathwater is milky and warm.
Soak for about 10 minutes in the bath. You should feel silky on your skin. This should relieve the itching of eczema too.
Make sure not to soak too much as it can worsen itching and your eczema.
Rinse off with fresh lukewarm water. Pat yourself dry with a soft towel. Do not rub yourself as it may worsen irritation and dryness.
You can apply an emollient afterward to moisturize your skin.
Coconut Oil –
Coconut oil is extracted from harvested mature coconuts. It acts as a natural moisturizer and is a safe and effective natural treatment for eczema. About 50% of the fat content in coconut oil comes from Lauric acid. It is a healthy form of saturated fat, which is also found in breast milk. It has a myriad of health benefits when used topically on your skin or when taken orally.
National Eczema Association claims that coconut oil has antibacterial properties that prevent infection. It reduces staphylococcal bacteria in your skin. Eczematous skin, especially the wet type tends to get infected more, coconut oil can protect it. If you are suffering from eczema, you may notice that patches of inflamed skin can crack and ooze. This is ideal for bacteria to enter and cause infection.
You can apply coconut oil on your skin to obtain benefits such as.
It is a natural moisturizer which is highly absorbable
For its antimicrobial properties to protect your skin from infection – it is effective in reducing not only bacteria but also viruses and fungi.
It hydrates your skin
Reduces inflammation and pain because it has anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, coconut oil reduces itching and discomfort associated with your eczema.
Reduces oxidative stress – A study that is reported in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research revealed that antioxidants can be beneficial in the treatment of atopic dermatitis/eczema. Virgin coconut oil is rich in antioxidants.
Make sure you choose virgin coconut oil or cold-pressed coconut oil which is processed without chemicals. Coconut oil may not cure your eczema, but it is effective to reduce eczema symptoms by soothing your skin and easing the irritation and itching.
However, here are some cautions.
If you are allergic to coconuts, do not use its oil on your skin.
If you are already on prescription medicines for your eczema, check with your doctor regarding using coconut oil as an adjunct to your treatment.
How do you use coconut oil?
Put a little bit of virgin coconut oil on your hands and rub them together. Apply liberally on your skin when it is slightly damp. You can use it twice a day. Having coconut oil on your skin overnight helps maximum absorption.
Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) –
Evening Primrose Oil is extracted from the seeds of the flower of the evening primrose plant. It can be used topically as well as orally for its healing benefits. When used topically, it can soothe your irritated skin. When taken orally, it can treat systemic inflammatory conditions like eczema.
Evening Primrose Oil contains Omega 6 fatty acids and gamma Linolenic acid which prevent inflammation in your body. It helps to reduce eczema symptoms without negative side effects. Some countries have approved Evening Primrose Oil as a treatment for eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions.
How to use it?
1 to 4 capsules can be taken by mouth twice a day for 3 months.
Topically apply 20% Evening Primrose oil on affected areas of skin twice a day
However, research is not adequate, and many of these studies show mixed results. Evening Primrose Oil may work in some of you with eczema. Since side effects are rare, there is no harm in trying it as a natural remedy. But check with your doctor first before you start using it.
Witch Hazel –
Witch Hazel is an astringent or toner made from the leaves and bark of the Witch-hazel shrub. It is indigenous to the United States and it is used for centuries by Native Americans for many skin ailments. It has been used for many years as a topical treatment for eczema and other types of skin inflammation. It is known to soothe inflamed skin, relieve itching, and even dry up oozing lesions.
However, research on the effects of Witch hazel on eczema is rare.
How do you use it?
Witch Hazel can be bought in its pure form at local drug stores. You can apply it topically over the affected skin. Since the safety of this ingredient is not studied widely, it is always better to discuss with your dermatologist first.
Aloe vera gel –
It is derived from the leaves of the aloe vera plant. Aloe vera gel has antimicrobial, wound healing, and immune system boosting properties. It can be used to soothe eczematous skin.
Aloe vera gel can be bought in drug stores and online. You can even extract the gel yourself from the leaves of the plant. Applying aloe vera gel on your skin is found to be safe and effective in both children and adults.
Sunflower oil –
Sunflower oil is extracted from the sunflower seeds. Studies have shown that sunflower oil protects your skin’s outer layer (epidermis) which is the natural barrier.
It helps to keep the moisture in and prevents bacteria from entering. Sunflower oil is known to hydrate your skin. It can relieve itching and inflammation in eczematous skin.
How to use it?
You can apply undiluted sunflower oil directly on your skin, especially in affected areas. It absorbs well when your skin is still damp after a bath.
Calendula Oil and cream –
Calendula oil is a natural oil extracted from marigold flowers. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal effects. It is a natural herbal remedy. Calendula has been used for centuries to heal skin inflammations as well as cuts and burns.
It is known to improve your blood circulation to areas of inflammation and injury. Calendula helps to hydrate skin and fights off skin infections.
It is available in local drug stores and online. It may work in some of you with eczema, although research is lacking in its effectiveness. It is generally safe to use. Avoid it, if you are allergic to Marigold plants and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
There are some other natural remedies for eczema that you can try such as Acupuncture and Acupressure.
How are Acupuncture and Acupressure effective for treating eczema?
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine used to treat a variety of disease conditions. It has been studied and practiced for more than 2500 years. The acupuncture practice is done using fine needles which are inserted into specific points in your body. This triggering of certain points is known to alter the flow of energy. For some of you, the thought of getting needles inserted into your body may be terrifying, but some claim that it is effective in relieving their symptoms and it is not that painful. Research is not adequate for its effectiveness in treating eczema, however, some believe that it can relieve the itch.
Acupressure uses the hands and fingers of the therapist to apply pressure instead of using needles. This may also have relief against irritation and itching in eczema.
Having a long bath twice a day helps to keep your skin hydrated. Make sure you apply an emollient soon after your bath to lock in moisture.
Practicing relaxation techniques to fight stress
Stress is a well-known trigger for eczema. Stress plays a role in developing inflammation not only on the skin but also in other parts of your body. So, if you learn to manage stress and cope with stressful situations in life, you can reduce eczema flare-ups.
Here are some relaxation techniques you can practice to reduce stress.
Yoga – It is a way of life that can develop discipline, self- inquiry, and non- attachment in you. Yoga improves your health, flexibility, and empower you with conscious choices while fulfilling you with peace, clarity, and happiness.
Meditation – Meditation is learning how to pay attention to mindfulness. It can give you a sense of calm, peace, and balance while improving your emotional health as well as your overall well- being.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy – This is a therapy that identifies and changes potentially self- destructive and unhealthy behaviors.
Deep breathing – Being mindful about your breathing pattern helps to relax your mind.
Music therapy – Use of music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. You can listen to melodies, play an instrument, write a song, or guided imagery as music therapy.
Hypnosis – Hypnosis creates a state of focused attention during which positive suggestions and guided imagery are used to help the individual.
Tai chi – It is a Chinese tradition with martial arts that involve slow movements and deep breaths.
Visualization – Using art therapy and visual imagery as a way of positive communication.
Biofeedback – Biofeedback is a type of therapy that uses sensors that are attached to your body to measure the key body functions. It helps to learn how your body works.
Massage – it improves the blood flow to your skin. Massages are known to reduce stress and anxiety.
If you practice relaxation techniques regularly, your stress levels will fall. With time you will notice that there is an improvement in your skin too.
As you can see, there are many tried and tested natural remedies to treat eczema. They may not be effective for all especially if your eczema is widespread and severe. But for some of you, these natural treatments will work wonders in soothing your skin and reducing the symptoms of your eczema.
However, if you are on prescription medications for your eczema, it is better to check with your dermatologist or your doctor, before you try natural home remedies.
There are certain home remedies we can try to treat and to prevent eczema.
Avoid strong soaps and detergents as they worsen eczema. Use mild soap when bathing. Pat dry your skin with a soft towel and never rub or wipe hard as it strips away the moisture of your skin.
Moisturizing your skin well with a good emollient is a must. This must be done several times a day. You should choose an emollient which is paraben and alcohol-free with minimal fragrance. A few examples of ingredients in a good moisturizer are aqueous cream, cocoa butter, Shea butter, Argon oil, glycerol, Dimethicone, and Lanolin Oil. When you select a moisturizer always read the label and check for the ingredients. Avoid creams with ingredients that you are allergic to. Choose the best emollient which is suitable for your skin.
Apply moisturizer after a bath when your skin is still damp. It helps to absorb and lock in the moisture.
Scratching worsens your eczema. Eczema is known as “The itch that rashes”, that means the rash appears following itching and worsen once the person scratches. Therefore, you should avoid scratching by all means.
Natural treatment for eczema may not work for all. Usually, it is effective in mild forms of eczema. You may even combine natural treatments with other known treatment options. There is no harm in using an over the counter cream like hydrocortisone which is a mild steroid over the lesions. Using an over the counter antihistamine like Fexofenadine, Cetirizine, Loratadine or chlorpheniramine will reduce itching and your urge to scratch. Make sure that the dose of the medicine and frequency of administration is right.
If you live with eczema, avoid anything which can irritate or dry up your skin which can lead to a flare-up. Perfumes, wool clothing, tight-fitting clothes may be such irritants.
It is also known that food allergies are a common cause of eczema, especially in children. Common foods that are linked to eczema are eggs, soy, wheat, milk, seafood, and peanuts. Try to eliminate some of these and see whether there is an improvement in your eczema.
Why do people seek alternative treatments for eczema?
People tend to seek alternative treatment for eczema such as natural remedies because there is simply no cure for this disease, and no one knows the exact cause of eczema. The outcome of conventional eczema treatments may not be always consistent and not always perceived as safe. There are many side effects of long-term application of topical corticosteroids as well as oral medications used in eczema.
So, many of you with eczema may wonder what natural remedies have to offer when it comes to eczema management. Alternative medicines are natural remedies that people talk about and use, even though many of them are found not to work in research studies. In fact, some people claim that natural treatments have an impact on controlling their eczema. Therefore, one should carefully weigh the pros and cons before starting any natural treatment. The best is to discuss it with your doctor.
You can use natural products, creams, dietary, and lifestyle changes to control and prevent eczema flares, especially in the winter season when symptoms are at their worst. What you should remember is just like conventional treatments, natural remedies cannot cure eczema, but they can help to manage your symptoms to a certain extent and even prevent flares if you believe in them.
When should you seek help?
If your eczema doesn’t answer the home remedies and these natural treatments, you use or if it worsens with time and it worries you it is time to seek help. Your doctor will prescribe topical steroids as well as oral treatments to control the lesions. Always ask whether it is alright to continue the natural treatment methods along with the prescribed medicine.
Eczema is a chronic skin condition characterized by thick scaly, red inflamed skin with an itchy rash. Affecting more than 31 million Americans alone and overall, up to 3% of the world population, the condition still doesn’t have an exact known cause. However, researchers have come to a close conclusion that it results due to the combination of genetic and environmental factors. Moreover, it is also found that the microbes that dwell on our skin commonly known as skin microbiome also play a vital role in developing this eczema condition also known as Atopic Dermatitis. Scientists in studies also targeted a particular gene called Filaggrin that is indirectly responsible for the onset of Eczema condition. This confirms that Eczema is related to the genes and though necessary, can be passed on to the next generation Basically, eczema has no completely known cure. But it can be managed by following a strict care routine and keeping a record of things and activities that one does in order to avoid the eczema flares. one needs to manage their eczema actively by following a strict care routine plan.
Do you have a care routine plan in place? Let us help you to manage your care plan in a way that’s effective for your eczema treatment
Affecting the quality of life of a person, a common eczema sufferer may require to spend an average of 30 min to a couple of hours in a day to take care of their moderate to severe eczema. This may include moisturizing, applying ointments/steroids, wet wraps, bleach bath controlling the room humidity, etc.
When there is a link between microbiome and eczema then definitely there should be a link between eczema and probiotics right…???
Let us understand if, what and how probiotics may play role in treating eczema…
Role of Microbes in Eczema
Despite their microscopic size, bacteria play a vital role in eczema and in the overall health of the skin. To understand probiotics, one should 1st know that our body possesses trillions of good and bad bacteria. The major chunk of them is present in our gut and the one which colonizes our skin is collectively known as the skin microbiome Skin microbiomes influence the skin barrier by controlling ecological factors, such as humidity, temperature, pH, and lipid content. These changes can exacerbate skin barrier dysfunction. They are associated with abnormalities in the functions of skin barrier-associated genes which produce a structural protein required to form an outermost protective layer of the skin. Earlier studies have found that the Microbe Staphylococcus aureus creates susceptibility to develop Atopic Dermatitis and is directly linked to Eczema Flares.
Often many people think of bacteria and other microorganisms as harmful “germs,” but many are actually helpful. There are certain bacteria that help in fighting this problem, in common words, they are also called as Good Bacteria which benefit humans. The treatment or management of eczema has a gamut of things involved in the care plan also gives rise to the idea of probiotics. But will it really make a significant difference in the journey to treat eczema?? Albeit of a lot of works and programs by different researchers and scientists in the field of use of probiotics to treat eczema the response or the information to support the effect of probiotics is only a little evident. What are Probiotics?
With rising eczema cases and there being a complete cure, there is always a search for alternative treatment methods. In such case use of probiotics as a treatment method for treating atopic dermatitis is rising in coming recent days. Probiotics are nothing but live microorganisms, also known as good bacteria, that are intended to have health benefits when consumed or applied to the body. Some help digest food, some destroy disease-causing cells and others produce vitamins. Many of the microorganisms in probiotic products are the same as or similar to microorganisms that naturally live in our bodies. The most common foods with probiotics include yogurt and other fermented foodstuffs.
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are nondigestible food components that selectively beneficial the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms. They act as food for human microflora and are used with the intention of improving the balance of good bacteria.
What are symbiotics?
Synbiotics as the name suggest referring to food ingredients or dietary supplements combining probiotics and prebiotics in a form of synergism. The act by inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria and enhancing the growth of beneficial organisms.
How do probiotics Works?
Probiotics act by maintaining a healthy balance between good bacteria in the human body. When a person falls ill or gets any infection the number of bad or harmful bacteria increases in the body disturbing. Probiotics restore the balance by fighting these harmful bacteria and supporting the immune system within the body so that it can prevent the kill and prevent the invasion of harmful bacteria’s in the body. Apart from fighting the bad bacteria’s they also aid in digestion, breakdown and absorb medications, etc create medicines and others. Probiotics also help to alleviate inflammation. When eczema is closely associated with skin inflammation. The probiotic sprays can be applied directly to areas of the affected skin. However, since chronic inflammation tends to be systemic, it is also important to target inflammation from the inside out. This means also eating probiotic foods or taking a quality supplement may help in fighting chronic inflammation.
Probiotics and Eczema
Probiotics can be an important value addition to the approach of eczema treatment. One can look at various perspectives in which this tiny organism that can’t be seen with the naked eye can be useful to curb eczema symptoms.
Eczema is now for a long time suspected to be associated with the Leaky Gut Syndrome which is caused due to the increase in the gap between tight junctions. The Gut flora plays a vital role in maintaining the decorum of the tight junctions. In this case, probiotics can be a booster in improving the population of Good bacteria in maintaining the balance of Gut microbiomes improving the over-all condition making it a healthy Gut.
When the eczema is severe, the individual is subjected to a good dose of anti-biotics, these antibiotics are known to damage the good bacteria too. A good supplement of Probiotics may help to regain the strength of the good microbiome which benefits our body in a various good task. This way intake of Probiotics helps to keep a balance of Microflora in our body while treating severe eczema infections with antibiotics.
Numerous clinical trials have been conducted using different probiotic strains for their ability to help improve the lives of people suffering from eczema. A particular strain of probiotics has been found beneficial in subsidizing eczema symptoms in individuals. Clinical trials have been conducted using Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 to study its effect on eczema. In a trial of around 298 women and their infants, administration of 6 billion CFU of L. rhamnosus HN001 to infants from birth to 6 months yielded a significant improvement in their life.
Lotions consisting of the specific microbiome (probiotics) are applied to the skin infected with eczema. A topical lotion with S. epidermis and S. hominis strains to test their effects on atopic dermatitis patients was created by Dr. Gallo’s and team. Application of this lotion on volunteers suffering from eczema gave results in 24 hrs vanishing S. aureus (which are responsible for destroying the outermost protective layer of the skin). The same Lotion without these microbes remained ineffective on the patients.
Spraying water solution containing probiotics was proved beneficial in controlling the eczema symptoms. In a finding from a study led by Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director NIAID suggests that R. mucosa therapy may help relieve some children of both the burden of eczema symptoms and the need for daily treatment.” For 12 weeks, twice a week a solution containing live R. Mucosa was sprayed on the affected part of the skin of children suffering from eczema. 17 of 20 children enrolled in the study experienced a greater than 50% improvement in eczema severity following treatment. Improvement occurred on all treated skin sites reducing the symptoms such as Itch and rash.
Nowadays Topical preparations containing probiotics are gaining popularity for their role in skincare. These products are available over the counter (OTC) as all the probiotic products available currently are considered as cosmetics by the US FDA. Hence these products can be found at the beauty and cosmetic stores, salons, spas, etc.
Probiotic-Rich Foods to consider
When it comes to probiotics you have to consider certain things as specific strains of organisms are known for improving specific functions in the body. It is important to take advice from your physician before you go for a particular probiotic and its dose other than those are available naturally in the form of foods.
· Look for the supplement that has prebiotics also or symbiotic product
· Look for the Potency and CFU (colony-forming unit) at least 10 billion (Consult Doctor)
· Choose the one which has balanced strain and a known a brand to avoid the risk
· It is better to have more than one or multi-strain (5-6) of our tiny little friends
· Look for allergen-free probiotics which are free from the contents like GMO or other triggers which may cause flares
· Look for a better packaged probiotic which may not be vulnerable to environmental condition and is shelf-stable.
· Selecting the right probiotics may require little experimenting as different body react differently to the same probiotics
Among Probiotics strain, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most common supplements and have their own benefits they are typically found in yogurt, fermented products, and other dairy products.
Common foods that are rich in probiotics naturally include:
Apple cider vinegar
Prebiotics helping probiotics
Apart from probiotics as discussed it is good to consume the foods that may have content that acts as prebiotics. They promote the increase of good bacteria in the gut, help with various digestive problems, and even boost your immune system, these include:
Raw dandelion greens
Eczema treatment has reached new levels with novel methods of treatment and products/medicines that are used to treat Eczema. As the quench for treating and managing eczema seems to be a very long journey. As far as Probiotics in treating eczema, there has been interesting research showing evidence of the potential of using Pro-biotics in treating Eczema.
Probiotics can be beneficial for both adults and kids. Moreover, no evidence is found suggesting probiotics supplements may worsen the eczema symptoms or the skin condition and studies have demonstrated the positive effects of probiotics on reducing the incidence of eczema considerably. While there are a number of other proven benefits to probiotic bacteria consumption, aiming for improved immune function, digestion. So even if you say that it is not benefitting eczema it is definitely beneficial for your body in other functions.
So, it is always a good habit to include probiotic food in your meals. One easy way to start can be by simply introducing probiotic-rich foods into your diet, like yogurt and Buttermilk. However, if you are considering probiotic as a supplement and want to go for certain probiotic products or particular strain it’s worth a conversation with your healthcare provider.
· Wickens K, Barthow C, Mitchell EA, et al. Effects of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 in early life on the cumulative prevalence of allergic disease to 11 years. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2018;29(8):808-814. doi:10.1111/pai.12982
Just Imagine if you and your spouse both develop or have a chronic skin condition like Eczema, one of the most common questions that will hit your mind while planning a baby will be what are the odds that kid will have it too? Is eczema Genetic
Unfortunately, it turns out that the odds are high because chronic skin conditions like Eczema have a strong basis in genes. The symptoms may or may not develop depending on the functionality of the gene.
Eczema an Overview
Before entering into the actual topic let us have an overview of what exactly eczema is? Also known as Atopic Dermatitis, Eczema is a chronic skin condition characterized by red, scaly, itchy, and inflamed skin when the symptoms are visible. It develops cracks and sometimes oozes at its peak. Its characteristic that tempts the affected person to incessantly scratch gives it its name an itchy rash.
Affecting around 15-20% of children and of 1- 3% of adults’ Eczema is not contagious but it has a characteristic of passing in a generation that is from parents to kids. Well, it is not compulsory that if a parent has eczema the kids will also have, but it increases the chances. For e.g. if both the parents have eczema then there is an 80 % chance that the kid may have eczema.
Causes of Eczema
Though the exact reason for the onset of eczema or the most common type of Atopic Dermatitis is not known, the current thinking is that it is caused by the combination of factors that may include.
Environmental factors (Triggers)
Irritants from day to day life
Genetic mapping of the Individual
Skin barrier dysfunction allowing foreign particles to breach the outer skin layer
Other endocrine disorders such as thyroid
It is also found that certain geographic factors also play its part in eczema. For e.g. people living in cold climatic conditions and urban cities with high air pollution rates are more prone to this skin condition.
The link between eczema and genes
It is understood that the onset of Eczema is somehow related to the auto-immunity of an individual which also confirms the link between Eczema and gene mapping of the person. For a very long period of time, the exact cause of eczema was unknown. But the medical scientist has resolved it by stating that the combination of genetic and environmental factors are responsible for the development of the condition. In between environmental and genetic factors, genetics have more weightage.
In a normal individual, the skins outer layer forms a protective barrier that prevents it from invading foreign particles. This layer made up of a structural protein called Filaggrin “filament aggregating protein” which is encoded by a gene called FLG which constitutes a large segment of DNA that codes for the protein which we just came across.
It is found that the individuals lacking the functional copy of this gene FLG lack the protective layer of skin and often develop skin deficiencies that develop chronic skin conditions like Eczema. Many times, a mutation in the FLG gene can also lead to autoimmune conditions in people. This fact tells that eczema has something to do with the genes and can pass on to the next generation. In a whole population, around 10% of people inherit at least one version of the FLG gene from a big segment that has a slightly different DNA sequence2. These changes in the DNA sequence is unable to produce the amount of filaggrin protein that is required to form the protective skin barrier. As a result, the skin barrier is less able to prevent both water loss and the entry of pathogens.
The gene CARD11 provides useful information and instructions for making a protein that is involved in the function of immune system cells called lymphocytes. Certain types of lymphocytes particularly T cells and B cells has a major role in supporting the immune system of the body. These cells identify foreign invaders such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi and defend the body against infection.
When T or B cells recognize a foreign substance, the CARD11 protein is turned on (or we can say it is activated) and attached to two other proteins named BCL10 and MALT1, to form the CBM signalosome complex. This complex in turn activates other protein complexes called nuclear factor-kappa-B (NF-κB) and mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1), which are important for cellular signaling. SO the chain continues to form a final signal and development to function the support the immune response against foreign invaders.
When this CARD11 gene gets mutated it doesn’t get activated when a foreign body invades and thereby the immune system gets compromised giving rise to various conditions one of them being atopic dermatitis.
Though till now we have mostly talked all about FLG mutations, which is one of the most predisposing factors to the eczema condition, other genetic variations can also be critical for the onset and severity of Atopic eczema. The presence of several susceptibility loci can be easily understood by the multi-factor symptoms of the disease that depends on the complex interaction between environmental factors like irritants, pollutants, weather, and microorganisms. To date, there are more than 30 known loci which are found to be associated with a higher risk of eczema.
The inheritance pattern of atopic dermatitis associated gene
Allergic disorders like eczema, asthma, or hay fever tend to run in families that is it may pass from one generation to the next. The transmission of genes from parent to child follows a certain pattern and this is called the inheritance pattern.
When the inheritance involves the CARD11mutated gene, atopic dermatitis has an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern, which means one copy of the altered CARD11 gene in each cell is sufficient to cause the disorder.
Similarly, when it is associated with FLG gene mutations, the risk of condition follows an autosomal dominant pattern; a mutation in one copy of this gene is sufficient to increase the risk of the disorder.
Genetic Testing for Eczema
There is no common test that can tell you whether you have eczema, except a physical examination by the physician who can confirm the disease.
In today’s advanced world people are very keen to know how likely they or their child have a chance of developing eczema. That’s very well justified because knowing whether someone has inherited a mutant copy of FLG is important clinical information. Because if a mutation is present in a new-born, then early intervention with proper care and standard moisturizers could help to prevent or delay the onset of atopic eczema which is most common in children.
By doing this one can improve the quality of life of eczema sufferer and its caregiver. This will also delay or completely avoid exposing the young skin to topical and systemic immunotherapies which are ultimately strong on the skin and expensive to the pockets.
Currently, there are few DNA testing Companies like 23andMe, AncestryDNA, etc. Which can be used to predict your or your child’s risk of developing eczema based on the DNA. Remember these are just predictions and not an exact verdict and conditions in your environment still play a critical role.
Other Genes associated with Eczema In another new study led by Mariana L Stevens, published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers found and delineated the two variations of the gene KIF3A that is said to be responsible for the impairment of the skin barrier that regulates water loss resulting to the onset of Eczema.
The observation from the study by the team led by Mariana L Stevens could drive the researchers to come up with genetic tests that could be used to diagnose the risk of developing atopic eczema in Infants. This could help the early detection of the condition and which may lead the way to come up with therapies targeting water loss from the skin. Thereby a possible solution to prevent eczema in early childhood can be found, as mentioned by the National Institutes of Health.
So here’s the answer to your question, Is Eczema genetic? There is a link between Eczema and genes which solves the long-lasting mystery for the cause of Eczema. While there are studies and researches which direct us to narrow down the reason for the onset of eczema targeting non-functional or mutant genes. Gene FLG is the major gene responsible for encoding a structural protein called Filaggrin and profilaggrin which helps in building a mesh-like skin outer layer. This layer functions as a preventive barrier preventing foreign particles invade from outside and preventing water loss from inside. Recent findings and studies could propel researchers to come up with an Eczema genetic testing kit specifically for Eczema which shall help us to find out the susceptibility to the disease. Eventually, a solution to battle Eczema is making great strides.
T. Lepre, R. Cascella, M. Ragazzo, E. Galli, G. Novelli, and E. Giardina, “Association of KIF3A, but not OVOL1 and ACTL9, with atopic eczema in Italian patients,” British Journal of Dermatology, vol. 168, no. 5, pp. 1106–1108, 2013.
L. Paternoster, M. Standl, J. Waage et al., “Multi-ancestry genome-wide association study of 21, 000 cases and 95, 000 controls identifies new risk loci for atopic dermatitis,” Nature Genetics, vol. 47, no. 12, pp. 1449–1456, 2015.
M. Pigors, J. E. A. Common, X. F. C. C. Wong et al., “Exome sequencing and rare variant analysis reveals multiple filaggrin mutations in bangladeshi families with atopic eczema and additional risk genes,” Journal of Investigative Dermatology, vol. 138, no. 12, pp. 2674–2677, 2018.
Eczema is a chronic skin condition marked by red, itch, scaly, and inflamed skin. It is estimated that in the US alone eczema affects 35 million Americans: 1-3% of adults, and 10-20% of children.
Eczema is not fatal but can severely affect the quality of living for sufferers. There is no known complete cure for Eczema but one can manage it effectively but the right approach of treatment.
Since Eczema is not considered a fatal disease it receives lesser attention from government health care plans and policies.It’s up to the sufferers to find forthemselves the support they look for.
Moreover suffering from eczema also affects the self-confidenceand, in some case, become victims of social bullying.
In this article, we bring you different resources in the digital world where you can seek information share your thoughts and gain some useful knowledge to effectively manage your eczema. These groups are mostly non-profitable and aim to support Eczema sufferers with information and knowledge about living with Eczema and the various available treatments.
The below-mentioned websites can be thoroughly followed for various information regarding eczema right from what is eczema, symptoms, treatments to advance research that is been undergoing.
Founded in 1938 the American Academy of Dermatology, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. It is headquartered in Rosemont, Illinois.
One can find a quality resource about eczema in their dedicated eczema center page containing different sections related to eczema.
WebMD provides valuable health information, tools for managing your health, and support to those who seek information. They provide credible information, supportive communities, and in-depth reference material about health subjects that matter to you
WebMD expertise lies in:
Health news for the public
Creating and maintaining up-to-date medical reference content databases
Medical imagery, graphics, and animation
Live web events
One can find details and advances in the field of eczema too in WebMD which is dedicated to the itchy condition.
Owned by the DermNet New Zealand Trust, DermNet NZ has become a world-renowned resource all about the skin. It is frequently updated to provide information about the skin via any desktop or mobile web browser.
Supported by New Zealand Dermatologists on behalf of the New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated its mission to make authoritative information about the skin accessible to anyone in the world with an internet connection.
You can visit their atopic dermatitis page to know more about eczema and get the latest updates for the disease
NEA provides people with eczema the information they need to best manage their condition, while fast-tracking research towards better treatments and a cure.
With a mission to improve the health and quality of life for individuals with eczema through Information, research, support, recommendations, and education.
when blogs began back in the early 1990s, It was more like to maintain a personal diary or to jot down personal stiffs that were easily shared with others in the emerging world of the internet.But later people found to be a good mode of communication where you can convey your information to the mass at a time.
Bloggers write blogs on selective niche and eczema is one of them within the skincare domain. Many bloggers share their personal experience with eczema either who themselves have it or their loved one like kids suffering from eczema.
Another category is people who are experts in this field and provide advice to the eczema sufferers in terms of diet, eczema care products, and care routine activities.
Below we are presenting some top eczema blog sites for you to look at.
Suffering from Eczema since her birth the owner of this blogsite Sou has undergone every possible condition that any eczema sufferers might have come across. Finally, when she came to the conclusion best course of action in fighting this skin condition is figuring your own way of maintaining Eczema.
In her blogs, she shares her experience on how to maintain eczema and live a better life with eczema
Jenny, an eczema sufferer has created this blog. The main intention being to help create awareness about severe eczema, explainthe people, the pain that an eczema sufferer goes through on a daily basis, and to hopefully give solace to the people suffering from these severe conditions. Eczema can be debilitating and is recognized as a chronic illness.
Professionally a nutritionist Karen, founded eczema life Australia. Being a mom of an eczema baby triggered Karen to design an eczema diet with all her expertise in Nutritional biochemistry which leads to the foundation of this eczema life.
Eczema Life was created to help people with skin rashes including eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea, and TSW/red skin syndrome.
5) Itchy Little world
Started by an eczema mom of two Jennifer, Itchy Little World features natural remedies for eczema and related disorders. The mompreneur shares information based on her family’s experience in battling eczema and related conditionsusing an integrative approach.
The blog site also features eczema related news and stories from guest bloggers and industry professionals so that the readers have current updates about eczema.
Ashley, the quite creative in how she portrays her eczema journey, you might have come to know the way she named her website.Ashley in her blogs gives a clear picture of things she experienced, the reality of living a life with eczema and formulae’s that worked for her.
The blog highlights the author’s skin condition atopic dermatitis (eczema)with a motto to relate to the experience of the people suffering from eczema so that they do not feel alone in this journey fighting with eczema.
Named one of the top eczema blogs in 2018 Rebecca is the founder of Beczema. Rebecca shares her personal experience of a life of living with eczema as information on this website.
She believes that eczema is inextricably linked to the way one feels. Feeling stressed and low can bring on a flare-up and a flare-up can make a person feel stressed and low. She is well versed with this experience ofunbroken bad mood = bad skin and vice versa cycle which she addresses in her blogs.
8) Eczema Holistic Healing
Jen the eczema warrior created this site in order to share her experience of holistic healing from eczema. She does so by and her blog revolves around, withdrawing from topical steroids,and adopting a healthy lifestyle and a plant-based diet.
Jen’shope for this website is to share great information and spread the word to those in need of a new health model to take control of their lives. She is on a mission to bring awareness to topical steroid addiction.
9) Eczema Blues
EczemaBlues started as a blog by Mei aka MarcieMom, with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. It is inspired by Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old and discovering how difficult it was to find helpful information for parents, MarcieMom set out to build a practical yet light-hearted blog that would be a parent’s companion
Suffering from Eczema’s whole life, Selina started this blog which is all about her experiences with eczema: the good, the bad, and the ugly. She shares her emotional ups and downs, skins ups and downs, and all which is related to her eczema. The aim is to manage eczema without steroids and to share it with those out there trying to fight this. This is a blog about a REAL eczema sufferer.
Further, you can find a list of eczema blogs in Feedspot’s Top 20 Eczema Blogs, which is by far the most comprehensive list of eczema blogs on the internet.
One of the most popular ways to seek information in the current digital world is youtube videos.Irrespective of topics it one of the most popular video streaming sites and apps that serves ease to both people who want to share their content and for the people who seek it.
Unlike other sources due to the video, people are more engaged to it, and information shared via it is more reachable. Let us check out some of the popular youtube channels that you want to subscribe to know about eczema.
1) Beauty of Eczema
Camille Knowles the owner of thechannel is a qualified Health Coach and Natural Chef. She is also the proud founder of The Beauty of Eczema. Camille is on a mission to share her wisdom and guide others in living a fulfilled life beyond eczema.
You’ll discover a variety of videos related to atopic dermatitis in this channel, whether that be patient testimonials, emerging sciences for atopic dermatitis, and overall awareness of this disease. The channel is intended for U.S. audiences, including patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.
The channel owner Greg is a skin health coach giving advice on the basis of his experience with eczema in his life. In his program, the complete guide to healing eczema, the former sufferer of chronic eczema walks with you on the path to complete health, from your bones right to your outer epidermis.
The Channel owner MonaLisaaddresses the people with eczema with her experiences and products which found helpful for curing and managing eczema symptoms.
The channel focusses on two things 1) Using natural non-toxic products to treat and prevent eczema flare-ups. 2) Sharing my experience being biracial, and my goal of learning Mandarin, Spanish, and a 5th language over the next 10-12 years.
NEA improves the health and quality of life for individuals with eczema through research, support, and education. The channel contains videos addressing different subjects of eczema as well as opinion on it from different field experts
Podcasts are easy to absorb as you just have to plug in the episode you want to listen and you can do it along with other work like driving or cooking etc. It is an episodic series which a user can download to a personal device for easy listening or listen by streaming it on the internet. Podcasts which is specifically addressing health are addressed by field experts sharing tips and advice that required to take care of the health condition. Listed below are the few most popular Podcasts addressing eczema.
1) The Eczema Podcast
Founded by Abby, the Eczema Podcast is a podcast dedicated to sharing natural eczema remedies and tools to encourage healing. It is focused on and to help strengthen your mindset.
Expert practitioners including skin experts, nutritionists, dermatologists, behavioral specialists, and much more are invited in the podcast to share their deep knowledge and benefit the listeners
Facebook groups are a place to communicate about shared interests with like-minded people. The best part is that when a group is private only the member can view the post. So, it is comfortable for people to share their experiences or images which are otherwise uncomfortable to share in common space. In the group, all people may have a common problem so you may gain and share your personal experiences that may benefit you and others. The following are some of the top eczema groups where you can join share your experiences and gain information from other posts.
1) Eczema Support Group (My Eczema)
Created on Jan 2017 with more than 40k+ members, this 3-year-oldgroup is one of the most popular eczema group on Facebook where members post their queries to get answers and share their experiences. It is a private group you can join the group by sending a request to Join
3) Eczema Triggers, Cures, Diets and Natural Remedies Research Group
The group revolves around discovering eczema triggers and the possible cure to curb eczema and its related symptoms. Created on March 2010 the group is intended to talk about probiotics, rotation-elimination diet, paleo diet, ketogenic diet, fecal microbiota transplant, vitamins, minerals, unrefined sea salt, water cure, salt cure, etc. Again it’s a Private group with 3k + members.
It is a support group for parents and caregivers of babies, toddlers, and young children with eczema. It can be a frustrating minefield trying to find information and this group is a safe place to share tips and ideas regarding diet, skin and laundry products, associated allergies, mainstream or natural treatments, etc.
The key to things to understand that not everything will work for everyone but the group emphasizes sharing, empathizing, and make suggestions so it’s not such a lonely battle. The Groupwas created on September 2015 with currently 27.5k members
Though this group is an eczema discussion group the discussion is limited to the eczema treatment by Dr. Aron eczema treatment method. With more than 62.5k membersthe group brings together patients since March 2014, undergoing the Aron Regimen (AR) for the treatment of eczema and those who are interested in becoming a patient.
Reddit is a vast network of communities that are created, run, and populated by the people that us the users, by creating the communities, one can post, comment, vote, discuss, learn, debate, support, and connect with people who share same interests.
Every community on Reddit is defined by its users. Some of these users help manage the community as moderators. The culture of each community is shaped explicitly, by the community rules enforced by moderators, and implicitly, by the upvotes, downvotes, and discussions of its community members.
It behaves little differently from Facebook groups like it has an option to downvote a particular post too and itcreates the feed and multiple threads within the post. You can find below Reddit groups associated with eczema to share and gain experiences ask queries and give your opinions on other
1) r/eczema (Our skin is a window to our Type 2 immune system)
It isthe most populated eczema group in Reddit created in May 2010 in the Reddit with 30k members sharing their experiences, opinions asking questions, and giving suggestions to others.
This group talks about eczema and focuses on ways to heal it naturally without steroids. You can also talk about organic eczema creams that work best for your issues and why you think they are helping you heal. The group has a strength of 1.7k members which was created in October 2018
3) r/eczeMABs (Monoclonal AntiBody (MAB) therapies for atopic dermatitis)
The group is specific to the discussion about biologics and monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) for atopic dermatitis. Users can share their experiences if they have used any or pose a question related to the topic to seek any advice. The group has 1.3k members and was created in October 2018
Managing chronic eczema is like a full-time job, to check severity, track triggers, avoid the itchiness, inflammation, and skin irritation that happens when your symptoms flare-up. Everyone’s triggers are different, but yours may include allergens, irritants, heat, stress, food intolerances, and dry environmental conditions.
Though it’s tough but not undoable, and in this advanced technology world one may need not to fight this battle against eczema unarmed. There are certain apps that can help you get better control over your eczema symptoms. A handful of helpful ones are listed below.
Eczemaless is a holistic AI-based eczema managing app that helps in managing eczema effectively by strict adherence to the care routine. The app helps to track his / her activities and treatment actions to ensure that the Care-plan which s/he is following is effective. EczemaLess allows the user to find the right correlation between Triggers, Eczema severity, and the care plan.
Check eczema score merely by clicking an image of the affected area and get insights on how your Eczema, trends, over a period of time, and how various triggers exacerbate the problem and which treatment regimen helps. Compare your current condition with the previous using graphs and check different parameters in the same period.
Generate a Summary report about how your Eczema has been doing, you can decide to share this with your Dermatologist or Physician who can determine if you are a candidate for Biologics like Dupixent or non-steroidal topical medication like Eucrisa.
It’s a telemedicine app that allows you to submit images of your skin to a dermatologist so you can receive treatment (including prescriptions) and skin-care regimens.
You can download the app on your phone or access it on your computer for free, but you must pay for a virtual consultation and diagnosis. Payment varies depending on the doctor and your insurance coverage.
This app is aimed and kids suffering from eczema. The app allows your child to track how they feel each day using emoticons on a happiness scale, describe their skin-care regimen, add notes, snap photos of their skin, and then look at the trends over time. This information can be shown to a doctor. The app also allows kids to set reminders to moisturize.
The app focuses on the diet part of the condition. I. Although it is primarily intended for people with gastrointestinal issues, it also allows you to report on the condition of your skin.
It takes a similar approach to personal food-symptom tracking. You enter the information about your food intake, about what you eat and when, and what problems you are having. The app allows you to then discover patterns in what you eat and the occurrence of your symptoms.
You can then use that information in consultation with your healthcare provider. This allows you to identify any food triggers that might be causing your eczema to flare similarly it is a helpful tool if you are planning for an elimination diet.
So that’s all from us whereinwe tried to produce before you a holistic article containing important resources related to eczema.We hope that this helps in improving the lives of people with eczema and their caregivers.
If you think that we have missed out on an important resource you are always welcome to recommend us, if we find it really helpful we shall definitely add to the list. You can reach us via email, or social media channels.
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