As of January 2018, 20% of the citizens in Malaysia suffers from eczema and 90% of the sufferers developed the condition before reaching the age of five years old. Atopic eczema affects 15% to 30% children and up to 10% of adults.
Eczema is fast becoming a norm, when in fact it shouldn’t. What is eczema? How does it come about?
Eczema or dermatitis is a condition where patches of skin become inflamed, itchy, red, cracked, and rough. The term “eczema” is specifically used to refer atopic dermatitis, the most common type of eczema. Atopic eczema is a chronic itchy inflammatory skin disease that usually starts in early childhood. Some people outgrow the condition, some will live with it through adulthood as well. Some only suffer from eczema during their adulthood.
Although the exact cause of the disease is still unknown, various studies have shown that it is a result of a mix of genetic, environmental or auto-immune disorder. Abnormal protein and lipid content in the skin’s upper layer impairs the skin barrier and this leads to skin inflammation. This is due to an abnormal immune response.
Eczema can be triggered by many factors. One of them being food, such as nuts and dairy. Environmental factors such as pollen and smoke can also trigger eczema in a person. Hormones, stress, and temperatures can also have an effect on people with eczema.
Even though scientists have not found a complete cure for the condition, there are some methods that can be tried to soothe and reduce the itching and inflammation of eczema. Also important to be noted is that eczema is not a contagious disease.
Sure, over-the-counter prescription creams may control eczema for some but almost every skin condition related creams often contain an amount of steroid that may have a negative effect on your overall health. Over relying on steroid-based cream will have an adverse effect and over the long term, not only will it not help tame the eczema flare up, the steroid accumulated inside our body will have a damaging effect for our health.
There are few suggested ways to help soothe and reduce the itchiness, irritation, and inflammation of eczema at home.
1.Take cool baths or showers
Some might suggest taking warm or lukewarm bath instead but showering with warm water will reduce the oil production on your skin, making it drier. Avoid showering with hot water as it will definitely dry the skin out and irritate eczema condition further. Our natural skin sebum will help maintain the skin’s oil level, especially for eczema sufferers. Not only that, cool water soothes inflammation of the skin too.
2. Magnesium or Epsom Salt
Magnesium or epsom salt is also used by eczema sufferers to soak their body in as it helps to soothe their itchiness, irritation, and calm down their eczema inflammation. It is believe too that the magnesium rich salt can help to enhance skin hydration and improve skin barrier function plus reduce inflammation on eczema sufferers.
3. Wear soft and loose clothing
Loose clothes allows more air flow onto our skin while rough and tight clothing prevent the airflow. This may cause the skin to heat up, which subsequently triggers itchiness and irritation on the eczema wounds.
4. Minimise activities that makes you sweat a lot
Sweat can trigger flare-ups for some people, yet the body sweats in order to regulate body temperature. Try having light workout routine instead like yoga, walk, jogging, and more low-impact workout. Do wipe or pat dry any excess of sweat with soft towel after light workout to prevent eczema from flaring up.
5. Use humidifier in air-conditioned room
Air-conditioner can absorb humidity in air, causing the air in a room to be dry. Dry room can cause skin irritation and dries out the skin even more. A humidifier will keep the room moist in any weather, which in turn help to keep the skin moist as well.
6. Moisturise the skin
Eczema skin for some people is dry and flaky, causing it to be uncomfortable with itchiness. Some people might also experience ‘weeping’ on the skin. Despite the weeping, always moisturise the skin with clean, safe, and natural body lotion or beauty oils for eczema wounds. Keeping it moisturise and hydrated will keep the itchiness at bay, while at the same time soothe and calm down the irritation and inflammation.
7. Use mild soap when washing
Some soaps contain toxic chemicals and ingredients that are harsh to the skin, especially to those with sensitive skin like eczema sufferers. Using the wrong soap with toxic ingredients can easily trigger eczema sufferers’ flare up, inflammation, irritation, and itchiness. Switch to natural soaps made with safe natural ingredients that are gentle to the skin and are able to help soothe eczema wounds.
We will share with you the some natural handmade soaps that may help in controlling and soothe eczema condition.
Dabai is also known as Sarawak’s Olive, even though it is not from olive family. However, dabai is known to be able to provide maximum moisturisation for the skin and help reduce any signs of premature ageing. It contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can improve skin texture and protects against sun damage.
Goat’s Milk Patchouli Soap
This soap is formulated for those with eczema-prone skin. Goat’s milk is known to have a nourishing effect on the skin while the patchouli essential oil added to this soap promotes cell rejuvenation that can heal wounds on skin.
Stingless Bee Honey Face & Body Soap
Stingless Bee Honey, or madu kelulut as known by locals, have been proven in scientific studies to carry 4 to 10 times higher antioxidant properties compared to regular honey. Stingless bee honey also contains gluconic acid which aids in the reproduction of healthy skin. With its rich antioxidant content, this soap helps protect body from cell damages caused by free radicals and its anti-inflammatory properties can not only treat skin with acne, but also with skin problems like eczema.
Red Wine Soap
Red wine contains resveratrol, which protects the skin against free radicals. It also contains anti-ageing properties that fights against fine lines and wrinkles, and a high level of anti-septic and anti-blemish properties that helps to lighten scars and soothes inflamed skin while healing it and keeping the skin moisturised.
Chamomile has been known since ancient times to be beneficial for skin. Not only it has calming, natural sedative, and natural antidepressant properties, chamomile also contain anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that is helpful to relief itchiness, eczema, rashes and inflamed skin. Aside from being capable of balancing the skin’s oil production, this chamomile soap also allows the skin to repair, regenerate, and strengthens itself, which subsequently reduces the appearance of scars.
Aloe Jasmine Soap
Aloe vera provides great moisturising effect for the skin while jasmine has natural antiseptic properties. With these two powerful ingredients combined, this soap is perfect for those with sensitive and dry skin to do deep cleansing and skin whitening. Eczema can cause ugly wounds on affected spot and even darken the skin on the area due to the inflammation, with this soap, wound healing can be sped up and evens out the skin tone.
Agarwood has antibacterial properties which helps reduce infection and inflammation. Grounded together with Sandalwood bark, this soap helps to gently exfoliate and remove dead skin cells. Hence, by using this soap, you can keep your skin clean from bacteria that can worsen the condition of your skin and regenerate a new and healthier skin cells.
If you would like try on some natural, handmade soaps with natural ingredients to help with eczema condition, do give the above a try. Like what we have shared above, there are a lot of factors affecting eczema, which could be due to food, environment or even our lifestyle.
It takes a lot of effort to make sure every factor is taken care of, including the products that we use. The struggle is always real and do make an informed and wise choice to help keep your eczema under control.