Published: 12/06/2013 - Updated: 02/22/2016
Eczema is a condition that can drain a lot of energy and self-esteem. Sufferers are plagued by incessant itching, and sometimes this prevents them from sleeping or concentrating.
What causes it?
There are usually three main causes: Damaged skin barrier, a weak immune system and exposure to elements that can weaken the skin. There are other factors that can contribute, for example stress and climate, that can lead to outbreaks.
Massage: Natural oils can be good allies against this skin condition and the best way to apply them is with a gentle massage. Sunflower seed oil is a great example; it contains healthy fats and improves the barrier function of the skin. If you spend a few minutes a day doing this massage, you can improve itching, redness and swelling. Avoid if the skin is cracked or very damaged.
Climate: Dry air and/or climate can worsen the condition of eczema, so it is recommended to try to keep the inside of your home moist, this can be done with a cool mist humidifier in Winter, and an aerated conditioner in Summer.
Taking a bath: Try to bathe with warm water as this restores moisture to skin which is susceptible to eczema. Avoid using hot water as it dries the skin. Use fragrance-free, natural cleaning products. When you dry your body, do it by patting gently with a towel and apply an additive-free cream afterwards to seal in moisture.
Acupressure and acupuncture: In 2011, a study found that the use of these therapies can help reduce itching and therefore the swelling of the skin that arises from scratching. One tip is to apply pressure with your fingers onto a point on the inner arm, near the elbow, several times a week to reduce itching.
Vitamin D: It has been proven that people with eczema that consume about 2,000 IU of this vitamin daily have less severe symptoms. Conversely, those whose intake levels of vitamin D are lower tend to have more severe symptoms of eczema.
Hypnotherapy: Maybe it doesn’t directly relieve the symptoms of eczema, but hypnotherapy can help you to relax and learn to control the anxiety generated by the constant itching by increasing your tolerance to it and reducing the constant necessity to scratch which, in turn, will benefit you by preventing the symptoms from worsening.
Topical glucocorticosteroids: Steroid creams that are sold over the counter or via prescription help relieve itching. Despite this, the frequent use of these creams can thin the skin. Doctors often recommend starting with a small dose and then gradually adjusting it until the desired results are achieved.
Phototherapy: Certain ultraviolet waves can help soothe inflammation, improve endurance and increase the amount of vitamin D in the skin. Two therapies stand out: The first is narrow band therapy, which involves exposing the patient to ultraviolet B waves and sessions are usually applied two to three times a week. The second is an older treatment called broadband therapy. It can be just as effective as the first, however it may require more sessions to achieve results. Side effects of this therapy may include sunburn.
Antihistamines: These are drugs used to block the effect of histamine, which is responsible for the symptoms of allergic reactions. It is recommended to use at bedtime for itching and to achieve sleep.