If it doesn’t itch it isn’t eczema.
This has been one of the major guidelines for determining if a rash is eczema or not for many years. Eczema is a chronic skin condition characterised by dry skin, a red rash and itchiness. Just like the dryness and the rash the level of itchiness will vary from person to person, but it will always be there.
The trick is how to control the itch so it doesn’t take over your life. There is no cure and there is no set treatment to control eczema. Everyone will experience slightly different symptoms. Everyone will have their eczema triggered by different stimuli. Everyone will respond differently to treatments. And everyone will perceive the severity of their itch differently.
All of this is of little consequence to the person with the itch. All they want is a way to control the itch.
For some, foods are a major trigger of eczema. Being able to determine the culprits and removing them from your diet is a good way of reducing eczema flare ups. The most common foods to aggravate eczema are eggs, nuts, wheat, dairy, seafood, soy, and fruit. However it is not advisable that you just remove these foods from your diet without first determining if they are causing you a problem.
A food diary can help determine what foods, if any are causing your itch. Elimination diets are best undertaken under the guidance of your doctor or dietician and should never be carried out without professional supervision on a child.
Our lives are often full of stressful situations. This is a common trigger factor for eczema. Trying to avoid stress and anxiety will help to reduce your itch. Getting a good night sleep and trying relaxation techniques may help. And remember laughter not only reduces stress it also boosts the immune system.
This is a big one. Many fabrics and styles of clothes itch and irritate the skin. Cotton and silk are best while wool itches, synthetics cause sweating and denim and leather are too heavy and rough.
Cut tags off clothing and turn inner garments inside out so the seams do not rub. Also opt for looser fitting clothes that allow airflow and won’t cling to the skin.
There are many factors in your home that may be causing you to itch ranging from dust mite, pet fur, toiletries and cleaning chemicals.
Try to avoid over cleaning as a too clean environment becomes sterile and prevents a growing immune system from developing properly. Avoid carpets in the house and vacuum regularly. Wear latex-free rubber gloves when handling chemicals and select personal products that are un-perfumed and suitable for sensitive skin.
Double rinse your clothes after washing as it is the detergent residue that will irritate the skin rather than the detergent brand you choose.
A seasonal itch
Changing seasons and changing weather can often cause flare ups in eczema. Typically the summer is the best time for eczema sufferers with the sun having a soothing effect on the skin (so long as you don’t overdo it), and winter, autumn and spring all have their own problems ranging from air conditioners drying out the skin, extra pollen in the air and warm but itchy clothing being worn against the skin.
An oily itch
Eczema skin is always dry. Keeping the skin moist will help to reduce the eczema and the control the itch. Oils are often the best form of moisturiser as they lock in the moisture and protect the skin from external irritants. Remember it is not always the expensive moisturisers that are most effective. What makes a moisturiser effective is regular use.
Have the itch checked
Not all itching is caused by eczema and not all rashes are eczema. It is important to have a rash diagnosed by a medical professional. Your GP will be able to give you advise on treating eczema and controlling the itch.
Natural itch solutions
Traditionally steroids have been used to treat the eczema rash and itch. Steroids are a short term treatment for easing the discomforts of eczema. Similarly there are many natural products available to treat eczema. None will cure the condition but they will ease the symptoms.
There is no single treatment that will help everyone’s eczema. Finding the right treatment that best suits your skin and eases your rash and itch comes from trial and error.