Eczema

Eczema Awareness Month

Eczema Awareness Month October 2018

This term is most commonly used to describe atopic eczema, an inherited skin problem that describes the classic case of those born with “sensitive skin”. People with atopic eczema (dermatitis) have dry skin that loses moisture more easily than normal skin, and is more easily irritated by harsh products. Their skin immune system is hypersensitive and allergies to ingredients such as fragrances and preservatives are more common. When eczema develops, it is a rash characterized by redness, scale, and sometimes weeping, crusting, and small fluid-filled blisters.

A hypoallergenic, hydrating skin care routine is extremely important for anyone with atopic eczema. That includes gentle soaps and cleansers used with cooler water temperature to help avoid stripping skin oils and irritating sensitive skin. Ingredients that calm inflammation, such as green tea antioxidants, are helpful. It’s important to lock in skin hydration after bathing by applying moisturizer within 3 minutes after toweling dry. Hypoallergenic and deeply hydrating moisturizers are really important to control eczema. Sun protection is always important, and sunscreens should be both non-irritating and hypoallergenic.

Know that the term “eczema” is actually much broader than atopic eczema; it actually describes a type of change in the skin called spongiosis, and can be seen in allergic dermatitis, dandruff, and other more complicated rashes.

The main types of eczema are:

Atopic dermatitis, which is usually is hereditary and can involve all of the skin of the body. It often starts in the folds of the elbows and behind the knees. Areas of skin with atopic eczema are prone to a skin infection called impetigo. In this type of eczema, skin structure is weaker than normal. Skin moisture is lost easily and skin irritation happens more readily. Allergens also seep into skin faster than with normal skin. In addition, atopic eczema prone skin has an immune system that is hyperactive, leading to allergic reactions to many things such as wool, perfumes, laundry soap, ingredients in skin care products etc. People with atopic dermatitis need to use hypoallergenic skin care products to prevent developing allergic reactions in the future. 

Scalp and face eczema due to seborrheic dermatitis. Scalp skin and the seborrheic areas of the face can appear dry, red and itchy. Skin with this type of eczema is sensitive and easily irritated by harsh personal care products, weather etc. (include the diagram of the seborrheic prone areas of facial skin) 

Dry skin eczema, also called nummular or asteatotic eczema, often starts on the arms and legs. It gets worse with age. Hands are also very prone to this type of eczema, as is facial skin when exposed to cold or windy weather.

Allergic contact dermatitis is eczema due to something your skin touched that it was allergic to, such as poison oak or ivy, or an allergen such as fragrance, essential oils, metal etc

Irritant dermatitis is caused when your skin’s barrier breaks down due to direct contact with something harsh such as harsh solvents, dish soap, acne treatment ingredients, etc.

Eyelid eczema (dermatitis) is due to contact of your delicate eyelid skin with an allergen or irritating substance such as harsh soaps, acne medicine ingredients, airborne chemicals or allergens, harsh hair care products that wash over your face, allergens carried to eyelids from your hands, etc. These taunting allergens and irritant substances cause a rash on delicate eyelid skin more readily on any of the thicker skin covering the rest of your body.

Dyshydrotic hand eczema is a type of eczema where intensely itchy blisters develop on the sides of fingers, toes, palms and soles. The cause is unknown. These blisters can lead to painful cracks in this very thick skin.

Stasis dermatitis, is a type of eczema occurring on the lower legs due to poor circulation of the leg veins. It can be a chronic condition and the eczema can lead to serious skin infection called cellulitis.

All types of eczema involve damaged skin barrier. The rash is visual evidence of breaks in the skin barrier. Eczema leads to hypersensitive skin that is easily irritated.

Treatment that heals eczema must include a hypoallergenic and hydrating skin care routine that facilitates skin barrier repair. This includes:

Using only gentle soaps and cleansers on eczematous skin,

Bathing and washing skin with cooler water temperature. Cooler water helps avoid stripping your natural skin oils. It also helps reduce inflammation (have you noticed how red skin gets on contact with hot water – that increased circulation brings the building blocks of inflammation aka eczema!)

Applying hypoallergenic and deeply hydrating moisturizers. This is really important. For best results, lock in skin hydration after bathing by applying moisturizer within the magic 3 minutes after toweling dry.

Ingredients that calm inflammation, such as green tea antioxidants, are helpful to some types of eczema too, especially facial eczema from seborrhea.

Sun protection is always important for healthy skin. Sunscreens for eczema should be both non-irritating and hypoallergenic. Mineral zinc oxide based products are the best choice for eczema prone skin.

Please note that for all types of eczema except stasis dermatitis, home cleaners need to be hypoallergenic and non-irritating. I have developed my All Purpose 100% Natural Liquid Cleaner and Spray Cleaner especially for my eczema prone patients. Remember, eyelid dermatitis can be caused by airborne spray cleaner droplets, hand dermatitis is worsened by allergens and irritants in home cleaning products and atopic eczema prone skin readily develops allergic reactions to taunting home cleaning product ingredients! Yes, even your home cleaning products are important to your skin’s health when eczema is a skin problem.

Reference

Verallo-Rowell VM1, Dillague KM, Syah-Tjundawan BS.,   Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis. 2008 Nov-Dec;19(6):308-15.

Joi A. Nichols and Santosh K. Katiyar, Skin photoprotection by natural polyphenols: Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and DNA repair mechanisms, Arch Dermatol Res. 2010 March ; 302(2): 71. doi:10.1007/s00403-009-1001-3.

Boozalis E, Patel S, “Allergen of the Year” alkyl glucoside is an ingredient in top-selling sunscreens and facial moisturizers, Journal of American Dermatology (2017), doi: 10.1016/ j.jaad.2017.10.013.

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  15. Dr. Bailey's Green Facial Redness Relief Kit - with Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy

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  17. All Purpose 100% Natural Spray Cleaner  1297

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  18. All Purpose 100% Natural Liquid Cleaner Concentrate  1298

    All Purpose 100% Natural Liquid Cleaner Concentrate

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    Certified to USDA Organic Standards

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  19. Extremely Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser  1293

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