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Eczema / Dermatitis Information


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General Eczema / Dermatitis Information
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, refers to a group of conditions that causes inflammation of the skin. Scaling, flaking, thickening, weeping, crusting, color changes and itching of the skin are all common symptoms of eczema. Eczema affects people all age groups. Up to one-fifth of all children of school age have eczema, along with about one in 12 of the adult population. The severity of the disease can vary. In mild forms the skin is dry, hot and itchy; severe forms can result in broken, raw and bleeding skin. Eczema is not contagious. Eczema can be reduced with proper treatment, though the skin will always be sensitive to flare-ups and need extra care. There are no guarantees that a child will grow out of eczema; however, research has shown that 60-70% of children are virtually clear of the condition by the time they reach their mid-teens.

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Possible Causes of Eczema / Dermatitis
There are several different types of eczema, many of which look similar but have very different causes and treatments. The first step in effective treatment of eczema is a correct diagnosis.

  • Atopic eczema is the most common form of eczema and is closely linked with asthma and hay fever. Atopic eczema can affect both children and adults, and it usually runs in families. One of the most common symptoms of atopic eczema is its itchiness (or pruritis), which can be almost unbearable. Other symptoms include overall dryness of the skin, redness and inflammation. Constant scratching can also cause the skin to split, leaving it prone to infection. In infected eczema, the skin may crack and weep (‘wet’ eczema). Treatments include emollients to maintain skin hydration and steroids to reduce inflammation.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis develops when the body’s immune system reacts against a substance in contact with the skin. The allergic reaction often develops over a period of time through repeated contact with the substance. For example, an allergic reaction may occur to nickel, which is often found in earrings, belt buckles and jeans buttons. Reactions can also occur after contact with other substances, such as perfumes and rubber. In order to prevent repeated reactions it is best to prevent contact with anything that you know causes a rash.
  • Irritant contact dermatitis is a type of eczema caused by frequent contact with everyday substances, such as detergents and chemicals, that irritate the skin. Irritant contact dermatitis most commonly occurs on the hands of adults and can be prevented by avoiding the irritants and keeping the skin moisturized.
  • Infantile seborrhoeic eczema is a common condition that affects babies in their first year. The exact cause of infantile seborrhoeic eczema is unknown. Also referred to as cradle cap, it usually starts on the scalp and spreads. Although this type of eczema looks unpleasant, it is not sore or itchy and does not cause the baby to feel uncomfortable or unwell. Cradle cap usually clears up on its own in a few months.
  • Adult seborrhoeic eczema characteristically affects adults between the ages of 20 and 40. It is usually seen on the scalp as mild dandruff, but can spread to the face, ears and chest. The skin becomes red, inflamed and starts to flake. The condition is believed to be caused by a yeast growth. If the condition becomes infected, treatment with an anti-fungal cream may be necessary.
  • Varicose or Stasis eczema affects the lower legs of those in their middle to late years and is caused by poor circulation. Varicose eczema causes speckled, itchy and inflamed skin around the ankles. Treatment emollients and steroid creams is usually effective. If left untreated, the skin can break down, resulting in an ulcer.
  • Discoid eczema is usually found in adults and appears suddenly as a few coin shaped areas of red skin on the trunk or lower legs. The affected areas become itchy and can weep fluid. Discoid eczema is usually treated with emollients and steroid creams.

    Each type of eczema has its own unique cause. Atopic dermatitis is thought to be a hereditary condition. People with atopic eczema are usually sensitive to allergens in the environment that are harmless to others. Associated atopic conditions include asthma and hay fever. Other types of eczema are caused by irritants, such as chemicals, detergents, allergens and yeast growths. Exposure to sunlight, cold weather, hot weather, dry atmosphere, stress and infections can also trigger eczema. In later years, eczema can be caused by a blood circulatory problems in the legs. The causes of certain types of eczema remain to be explained, though links with environmental factors and stress are being explored.
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    Possible Symptoms and Complications of Eczema / Dermatitis
    The most common symptom of eczema is dry, itchy patches of skin located on the hands, neck, face and legs. Children often develop patches in the bends of the elbows and behind the knees, as well. Skin affected by eczema can also appear thickened, scaly, crusty and darker than other areas of the body.


    Complications of eczema include secondary skin infections and permanent scarring.

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    Possible Lifestyle Changes for Eczema / Dermatitis
    There is currently no cure for eczema; however, there are many ways to minimize the discomfort and distress it causes. A good skin care regimen is a good first start in preventing eczema outbreaks. Applying emollients to the skin provides a seal or barrier on the skin, making it less dry and itchy. Emollients are safe to use as often as is necessary and are available in several different forms. The range of emollients available is enormous and it may be necessary to try several before the most suitable one is found. When eczema is under control, only emollients need to be used; however, if skin becomes inflamed, a steroid cream may be needed. Steroids act by reducing inflammation and are used in most types of eczema. Very severe cases of eczema are treated with oral steroids and ultraviolet light treatment.

    Emollients and steroids are very effective in treating eczema, but there are other ways to reduce the severity of atopic dermatitis. Reduce the itch of eczema by wearing cotton clothing and using cotton bedding to keep the skin cool and allow it to breathe. Reduce the effect of the house dust mite by vacuuming regularly and change bedding frequently. Minimizing environmental allergens in the home is also very helpful. Remember: what works for one person, will not always work for another. Eczema is a highly individual condition, which is why it is so difficult to find a "cure-all".

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    In accordance with FDA regulation, we do not make any therapeutic claims for any Dietary Supplements in accordance with the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act.

    Beneficial Dietary Supplements
    Evening Primrose Oil promotes lubrication of the skin.

    MSM is effective in treating skin disorders.

    Vitamin B-12 is needed for healthy skin and proper circulation.

    Kelp is necessary for healing tissues.

    Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids inhibits inflammation.

    Vitamin E relieves itching and dryness.

    Zinc aids healing and enhances immune function.

    Borage Oil and Flaxseed Oil help skin retain moisture and suppleness.

    Shark Cartilage reduces inflammation in eczema.

    Chamomile can be used internally or topically to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation.

    Grapeseed Extract reduces inflammation and rids the body of toxins.

    Oregon Grape Root detoxifies the body and reduces inflammation.

    REFERENCES: Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 3rd Edition, Phyllis Balch, CNC; James F. Balch, M.D.




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