Eczema 101: What is it, why do you get it, and how can you help it

Everything you need to know

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So what actually is eczema?

Eczema is a common skin condition that leads to red, dry itchy patches on your body and face. It can affect people of all ages, although it does tend to be very common in children - with the condition tending to ease up as the child reaches adulthood.

If it sticks around into adulthood, the effects of eczema can be physically and emotionally painful; with many sufferers using a mixture of emollient creams and steroid creams to help combat the condition. 

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Right, so what are the symptoms?

If you've got eczema, you're guaranteed to know about it. The condition is characterised by patches of dry, flaky, and red-raw skin that tends to be insanely itchy. Basically, the struggle to NOT scratch is very real.

As it is, the problem many sufferers experience is the itch-scratch cycle; where the area is permanently inflamed by the person scratching away at it. In severe cases, the rash can even bleed at contact, or ooze fluid at the constant irritation.

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Is it catching?

No, eczema is absolutely NOT contagious. However, it does tend to run in families, which is why if your brother/sister/parent has it, you're more likely to develop it yourself. Hey, sometimes genetics are a pain.

Then what causes it?

Nobody seems to know, exactly. Doctors have drawn links between hayfever, asthma, and eczema, noting that if you have one you're more likely to have the other; but other than that, not much is known about how/why it develops.

What we DO know is what exacerbates the condition; dust mites, pollens, shampoo, stress, and detergents can all make you more likely to flare up, so make sure to avoid using any harsh products if you have a genetic pre-disposal to dry skin. 

What can I do to keep the condition at bay?

There are lots of thing you can do to make your life easier and more comfortable. Here are our top 8 tips on keeping the condition under control.

  • Moisturize every day. Every. Single. Day.
  • Wear cotton or soft fabrics as opposed to rough, scratchy fibres.
  • Take lukewarm baths as opposed to scorching ones. 
  • Speaking of which, always use mild soap when cleaning.
  • Never rub your skin with a towel - instead, gently dab to dry off.
  • Apply moisturiser AS SOON you get out the bath/shower. It'll help lock the moisture in.
  • If nothing seems to help, go to your doctor and ask for their advice on steroid creams.
  • Always make sure your carpet and duvet are kept clean, as dust mites can make the condition worse.

Do you guys have anything to add here? Let us know with a tweet @sugarscape or drop us a comment in the box below.

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