Signs and Symptoms of Eczema
Eczema (also known as dermatitis) is a non-contagious type of skin inflammation that is characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Red patches
- Swelling or blistering
- Cracking or dryness
- Oozing or bleeding
Note that some of these symptoms are also characterized by psoriasis, so it is important to understand the differences. Psoriasis often affects the front of the knees and back of the elbows, while eczema typically affects the back of the knees and inside of the arms.
Causes of Eczema
The exact cause of eczema is somewhat unclear. However, it is believed to be our immune system's response to an irritant. Some of these triggering irritants include:
- Temperature changes, particularly exposure to extreme cold or excessive heat.
- Soaps, laundry detergents, and cleaning products.
- Fabric-softening dryer sheets.
- Certain perfumes and cosmetics (particularly cosmetics containing formaldehyde).
- Exposure to dust, pollen, pet hair/dander, moulds, or fungi.
- Stress or anxiety.
- Excessive sweating.
- Colds, flus, or other infections.
- Exposure to coarse materials such as wool.
- Anti-perspirants (since they contain active drying ingredients such as aluminum chloride).
Home Remedies and Natural Treatments for Eczema
Studies have found that chamomile contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve eczema discomfort. Therefore, an effective natural eczema treatment can be made by using chamomile tea bags as a compress. Simply dip a chamomile tea bag in hot water for 5 minutes, and then let it cool until it is at a comfortable temperature for placing on the skin. Then place the tea bag on areas affected by eczema for 20 minutes. Repeat this up to 3 times throughout the day.
For oozing eczema as well as other skin rashes, calamine lotion is great for relieving itchiness. Simply apply a small amount directly onto the affected area. Calamine lotion can be found in most drugstores.
An ice pack is a great way to relieve the itching associated with eczema. Simply place a few ice cubes into a plastic bag, and then wrap the bag with a towel. Then apply the towel onto the itchy areas for some quick relief.
If you have eczema which oozes, a cold compress with milk is an easy way to relieve the itching. Here's how:
- Pour cold milk onto a thin piece of cotton or gauze pad.
- Apply it to the itchy skin for approximately 3 minutes.
- Resoak the cloth with milk and apply for another 3 minutes. Do this twice.
- Rinse your hand with cool water when finished.
- Repeat this several times throughout the day.
Humidify Your Room
Almost any form of winter skin itch or dry skin can be relieved by adding moisture to the air around you. Therefore, a cool-air humidifier is a great way to help prevent eczema/dermatitis. An economical alternative to a humidifier is to place shallow pans of water near a radiator.
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