If you’ve just been diagnosed with eczema, and are searching the internet to find answers to your question about exactly what is eczema, then I feel sure you will find this post helpful.
If you’re like me, you’ll want to find out as much information as you can about it, and what causes itchy skin conditions like eczema.
Forewarned is forearmed
My experience has been that GPs are just too busy to be able to explain exactly what eczema is, or what to do for eczema. As I suffered with eczema in the past, I did some research to find the answers to these same questions. This post will help you understand what eczema is, and point you in the right direction to get it cleared up. As that old saying goes forewarned is forearmed!
Talking about warnings… that reminds me to mention that you should be very careful when using corticosteroids – use them as sparingly as possible and follow your doctors instructions very carefully. Know too, that they will not get rid of eczema but only treat the symptoms.
One point I will make straight away is that the corticosteroids that I was prescribed did not help the eczema on my hands. Once I stopped using them the eczema came back, and I was back to square one. This was because when I used a steroid cream for eczema, it was designed to take care of my symptoms only, and did nothing for the root cause of my eczema.
Corticosteroids which may be prescribed by your doctor are anti-inflammatories which means they go to work healing up the inflammation caused by the skin condition. They helped to get rid of the soreness I had, and slowed down the itching cycle a bit. They do help your skin to heal as well.
You might be thinking well then what’s the problem with corticosteroid use?
The problem comes when you stop using them. The eczema comes back again…
This is because they do not treat the cause of your eczema. Also, I was left with thin lines on my hands even though I used the medication in the correct manner.
With that warning out the way, I ‘ll share with you what I have learned on the topic of what is eczema, and what causes itching skin.
What is eczema?
When doctors use the word ‘eczema’ they are referring to a group of skin rashes where the skin is itchy, red, irritated and inflammed. The skin may do what is called weeping and there may also be crusts forming too. Your skin may appear to be scaly, and the colour of it may change.
Eczema occurs equally in males and females. You cannot catch eczema from someone who has it, as it’s not contagious. This means that children playing together with a child who has eczema are not at any risk of contracting it.
Research studies show that around about 20% of babies and young children have eczema. The good news though is that most of them will not have any signs of it by the time they reach their tenth birthday. Some people though will have it forever.
There is no cure for eczema but it can be managed
It is true that there is no cure for eczema, but, there are ways that you can control it so that you effectively get rid of it.
The key to managing it is to understand what causes it to appear in the first place. A resource that I found very helpful was Rachel Anderson’s Eczema Free Forever Guide. It is a digital download which explains how to get rid of eczema naturally without using any medication.
Before reading this guide, my hand eczema was so bad that I was unable to do my work. I lost income as a result. After reading and implementing what Rachel recommended, I was able to take control back from it. Within a couple of weeks I figured out how to clear up my eczema and was able to resume work. (You must understand that it’s not a quick fix – there are none for eczema – but you will be able to control it with this guide.)
What causes itching skin?
When you have eczema you feel you have to scratch as your skin is always itchy, and the more you scratch, the more it itches, and the more you need to scratch. This is because eczema skin is different from normal skin in that it is dry and more prone to irritations.
Eczema skin is inherently drier than normal skin. It can be made much worse though from other factors such as
- hot and cold weather where the humidity is low
- pollution in the air
- air conditioning
- repeatedly washing your skin
What is the difference between healthy skin and eczema skin?
Our skin is made up of three layers of cells which have oils, fats and water in them.
When the skin is healthy those cells within the layers are filled with water, oils and fats. To put it simply, this means that the cells are fat, push up against each other, and so prevent any foreign substances – ie allergens, from getting into the layers. In this way the skin is able to do what it was designed to do – protect the inner organs of the body.
With an eczema sufferer though this normal arrangement of the skin cells breaks down. The skin cells are not as hydrated, and do not contain enough of the oils and fats needed to exclude allergens. What this means then is that irritant substances are able to get in, which causes a reaction, and so you get inflammations, irritations and redness.
This is a simple explanation – the truth is that scientists are not exactly sure what causes the skin be different. Recent studies have unearthed a gene that they feel is responsible for altering the skin structure in eczema sufferers.
Because skin affected by eczema cannot retain moisture as well as normal skin, you can see now why a rigorous skin care routine is key to controlling your eczema. Also, as there are gaps in the skin where irritants can more easily gain entry, you can now understand why it is important to protect your skin from things like harsh soaps, dish washing liquid, shampoos and other standard household cleaning items – laundry liquids, fabric conditioners, certain types of fabrics in your clothing
So if you want to know what helps eczema, and what to do about eczema, it all revolves around
Types of Eczema
As already mentioned, the word eczema covers a group of skin conditions.
Atopic eczema (or atopic dermatitis) is the one that is most common. The word atopic means inherited which means those who suffer with atopic eczema have an inherent predisposition to get it as it is in their genes or makeup if you like. Researchers have found out that if you, or someone in your family has atopic eczema, then chances are that they may well develop asthma and or hayfever as well.
I have been told I have atopic eczema and I suffer with hayfever too. My son had asthma as a young child but has mostly grown out of it. He also has eczema from time to time, which we are able to control through a good skin care routine.
Atopic eczema is the main form of eczema but there are other types of eczema.
When you understand what eczema is, and why your skin itches, you will have a better understanding of why a good skin care routine is the key to managing and clearing up your eczema naturally. For more help on what to do for eczema skin care, you will find this post helpful