What is Eczema?

Do you sometimes get very itchy skin? Do you have unexplained spots or a rash on your body? Do you have dry skin? Is your skin inflamed.  What can it be?

Atopic Dermatitis, generally known as Eczema is commonly found in children and adults, and it is on the increase.  It is a skin condition where irritation and inflammation occur; and tends to occur more so on those with allergies hence the term “Atopic”.  It is also more prevalent amongst those with asthma and hay fever.

Eczema comes in a few other forms and each type has its own symptoms. It isn’t contagious but can be caused by different triggers.

What can trigger my Eczema?

In some cases of eczema, common triggers are rough fabrics, detergents, fragrance, perfume, skincare, body soaps, sweat, food products, grass, allergens, cold air and a lack of humidity caused by central heating, and even stress or a combination of these elements.

For some sufferers, the main cause of worry is that the reaction can occur without any apparent reason, even if a person isn’t exposed to the usual triggers. This is where triggers such as the lack of sleep and stress as mentioned previously, can also be considered.

What are the symptoms?

It can look different for everyone, and depending on your skin tone it won’t necessarily look red. Nevertheless, frustratingly itchy skin is often a common symptom, followed by dry patches, inflamed skin, possibly discoloured skin, rough thick patches of skin and if itched, broken and also infected skin. Eczema can vary in intensity when it comes to how irritating the itch can be, and there is no knowing how long it will last.

Straight away…Is the best time to deal with the symptoms of eczema before it spirals and gets worse. Also consider consulting with your doctor, dermatologist or a naturopath regarding your symptoms.

Types of Eczema:

Atopic Dermatitis, the most common with a frustrating itch. It can leave skin prone to infection and inflamed skin. It can appear anywhere on the body and face.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis, happens when your skin comes into contact with a substance. The substance triggers a reaction in the immune system. Therefore, try to avoid fragrance in skincare, detergents, laundry cleaning products and wool.

Cradle cap or also known as Infant seborrheic Eczema, it can look crusty but it isn’t itchy. Mostly affects babies up to the age of 1 year old.

Adult Seborrheic Eczema, this can appear on the scalp as a mild dandruff but can end up on ears, face, and chest. Normally found in 20 to 40-year-olds. This can look flaky and can become inflamed. It is normally caused by an increase in yeast and if it becomes infected it will need an anti-fungal treatment.

Dyshidrotic eczema. It is more common in women than men and appears as small fluid filled blisters on hands and feet. Those blisters can itch and hurt and the skin can crack and flake. This can be caused by allergies, stress, damp hands and feet, and exposure to substances like nickel, cobalt, and chromium salt.

Hand eczema, it is dry & itchy and can also form blisters or cracks. This type of eczema can be triggered by exposure to irritant causing chemicals from various industries like hairdressing, cleaning, healthcare, laundry or dry cleaning.

Nummular dermatitis, this looks like a round coin shaped dot on the skin, can itch a lot and become scaly. It is triggered by insect bites, an allergic reaction to metal or chemicals, dry skin and atopic dermatitis can also be a trigger for nummular dermatitis.

Stasis dermatitis. This type of eczema is triggered by fluid leaking out of weakened veins, and into the skin. It causes swelling, itching and pain and mainly affects the lower leg. The affected leg can feel achy and heavy and may develop open sores. This tends to happen to those who have blood flow issues in their lower legs.

Don’t think there is nothing you can do about it, even if you have been told it is genetic or it keeps reoccurring.

If your plan is to treat it naturally and more long term, you will need to look at what is causing your eczema. We are all unique, so what triggers one person’s eczema, may not be the same for another person. It is definitely useful to keep a food and lifestyle diary. It can even be a simple spreadsheet which includes

  • What food and drink you had that day, when and where you consumed it.
  • Products you used like skincare, haircare, sunscreen, perfume, or makeup.
  • What you wore that day, like what kind of jewellery or clothing.
  • What activities took place that day: whether you went for a swim, to the gym, walked in the city or the woods, sat on grass or cleaned the house, etc.
  • What you put in your bath.
  • Stressful day, fun day, good night’s sleep, exercise, air conditioning, or central heating.
  • Symptoms other than eczema such as; stomach pain, sinuses, or headache.

Even if you think that your sweat could be a possible trigger for eczema, it is definitely worth documenting everything for 2 weeks before starting your short-term exclusion diet of removing all known eczema triggers for 2 weeks and then reintroducing one at a time to see if there is a reaction. Some of the usual suspects are:

  • Gluten (wheat, rye, barley)
  • Animal milk
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Soya
  • Alcohol
  • Oily fish

You will eventually start seeing patterns and be able to pinpoint. Once food, skincare and your environment have been addressed you can also look at gut health and possible supplementation to help your gut, skin and overall body health.

You can seek the help of practitioners such as:

  • Naturopaths
  • Homeopaths
  • Dermatologists

Treatments like:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Light therapy

Once you deal with the triggers and the possible root cause of your eczema it will reoccur less and less.

Remember, it isn’t a one cure fits all condition. You may, like myself or my son have several eczema triggers.

Your eczema is unique to you. It won’t be cured or healed overnight but there is light at the end of the tunnel, as you understand more about what triggers it and what helps to prevent your eczema.

Once you have a better understanding, you will keep adapting and making changes to further improve your skin and health.

For more information, check our YouTube video; 

How Do I Know If I Have Eczema @ Tigs and Moo Naturals 

Also check out our Instagram and Facebook @tigsandmoonaturalskincare

Guest blog from Robert Pettingell, Osteopath , Pilates teacher and level 2 triathlete coach

Guest blog from Robert Pettingell, Osteopath , Pilates teacher and level 2 triathlete coach

So, what do I do as an Osteopath? Most people associate Osteopaths with bad backs, but in fact Osteopaths deal with all musculoskeletal problems.

As osteopaths we look to treat globally/ holistically that is, we will look at your general health and environment and see if and what you are doing at work, home or play is contributing to your problem.

When assessing your musculoskeletal problem we aim to look at the presenting symptoms but also the chain of muscles and joints above and below that area, for example if someone has a knee issue, examinations of the hips and lower back will also be undertaken as well as looking at the ankles and feet. These examinations both active (patient does the movements) and passive (practitioner moves the patient) as well as a detailed case history allows us to piece together not only why the injury occurred but why it maybe being maintained and not allowing the body to recovery. Our treatment strategies combine soft tissue massage, articulation of joints and HVT (high velocity thrusts- or the clicks you may associate with osteopaths!). These techniques aim to help the body’s natural process of recovery by decreasing pain (leading to increase movement and exercise), increase range of movement and improving blood/ fluid flow.

As a Pilates teacher and triathlete, I’m very keen on the patients doing flexibility and strengthening exercises to aid their rehabilitation and hence get back to work and sport as soon as possible.

How does osteopathy compare to physiotherapy and chiropractors?

Our treatment differs from chiropractors who look to make adjustments and treatment to aim to get a patient to a structural norm, whereas osteopaths look at the structure and function of each individual patient in a more global perspective. As osteopaths we look at factors that may maintain or predispose the injury and how we change these as well as the injury itself.

Both osteopaths and chiropractors normally are more ‘hands on’ than physio therapists, who do some soft tissue massage work and may use electrotherapy but mainly use exercise prescription for stretching and strengthening.

All three of these have cross overs and each practitioner will be different, some osteopaths work like physios, some chiropractors work like osteopaths and some physios work like chiropractors!

An Osteopath would have completed a 4 year full time degree, this full-time undergraduate programme equips students the underpinning knowledge, hands-on experience and multidisciplinary teamwork needed to be a competent osteopath.

Robert’s clinics are based in High Wycombe, Princes Risborough and Long Crendon

Author Robert Pettingell

A Blog For Tigs & Moo