Eczema can be understood as a skin disease where patches of skin get inflamed and rough. These inflamed skin patches are marked by blisters, redness, itching, crusting and bleeding. As eczema progresses on the skin, scaling of skin takes place and it becomes thickened and leathery, often resulting into pigmentation. Let’s know what eczema in more detail is!
What is Eczema?
Eczema is generally used to refer to any rash resembling skin problem. However, It precisely refers to the type of those skin conditions that are categorized as atopic dermatitis. Atopic means the group of diseases, often inherited, in which the patient develops allergic conditions like dermatitis, asthma and hay fever. Eczema is more common infants as this chronic skin disease mostly develops during infancy and is there all through one’s childhood. Infant eczema is usually cured as a person grows to be an adult but in some cases, eczema continues to be there in adulthood too.
Let’s now know about the signs of eczema.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Eczema?
Any part of the skin can get eczema. The most intense characteristics of eczema anywhere on the skin include itchiness and rashes. Rashes usually appear on the face, back of the knees, wrists, hands, and feet but are not limited to only these areas. They can be anywhere and are always itchy. Infant eczema manifests itself as dry, scaly patches that are intensely itchy. In fact the signs of eczema get worsened and better off at different periods of time. Also, the symptoms of eczema differ a little with each age beginning with infancy, childhood and then adulthood.
Signs of Infant Eczema
- Rashes that usually develop on scalp and cheeks but may appear anywhere else. Eczema on face and scalp is actually most common in infants.
- Rashes that bubble up and then follows oozing fluid and even crusting.
- Intense itchiness in the rashes.
Signs of Eczema in Children (2 years of age till adolescence)
- Appearance of rashes usually behind elbows or knees
- Eczema on neck, wrists, ankles, between buttock and legs is common when rashes may appear on these areas.
- Rashes are always itchy.
- Sometimes rashes look like bumps. These eczema bumps look like goosebumps.
- Rashes and the inflamed skin may change colours from light to dark as the child grows to be an adolescent.
- Rashes give way to thickened leathery skin that eventually develops knots and get more and itchier that seems to be a permanent feature now.
Signs of Eczema in Adults
- Eczema on eyelids, face and neck is common. Rashes usually appear more on face, neck and all around the eyes, especially on eyelids.
- Rashes may even appear in a larger area of body, sometimes covering the whole body.
- The skin becomes more and more dry and itchy.
- Scaly skin increases more than it was during the childhood of the patient.
- Various skin infections result due to such skin conditions.
- Women may suffer from eczema around mouth which is known as Perioral dermatitis.
Adults who have been able to outgrow their childhood eczema may still suffer from mild eczema now and then. Their skin mostly remains dry which gets easily irritated. They may also suffer from hand eczema including eczema on fingers and eye problems too. Sometimes atopic dermatitis is not a constant eczema but only an allergic eczema. Allergic eczema occurs due to a reaction with some substance that the person’s immune system takes as a foreign object harming the body.
Causes of Eczema
While the exact cause of this skin disease is not known, heredity and certain environmental factors are believed to be the two of the major causes of eczema.
Heredity as the Cause of Eczema
Infant eczema is mostly due to heredity where a parent or both the parents have one or the other atopic disease. If both the parents have it, the chances of the infant inheriting eczema get higher.
Environmental Factors as Causes of Eczema
The immune system of the person suffering from eczema reacts to certain external factors that may be taken as causes of eczema. These can be listed as follows:
- Irritants such as certain soaps, detergents, cosmetics, shampoos, disinfectants, fruits or their juices, meats and even vegetables. Eczema around mouth or perioral dermatitis usually appearing in women are caused due to usage of steroid creams and ointments on the face.
- Allergens like dust mites, pets, pollens, molds or dandruff.
- Virus and bacteria like staphylococcus aureus and even certain fungi
- Change in temperatures. Some people develop signs of eczema when it is too hot or too cold. Even level of humidity may trigger symptoms of eczema in some people. Sometimes body temperature or excessive sweating like after exercising may also develop rashes and grow into eczema.
- Stress is also sometimes believed to worsen the symptoms of eczema though it is till now not taken as a cause of eczema.
- Hormonal changes in women during puberty, menstruation or pregnancy may also give rise to eczema.
Let’s now move towards knowing certain remedies for eczema.
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Eczema
When you have mild eczema, you can always think of treating it with the help of ingredients available in your kitchen or home. However, if you see these remedies not working to reduce the rashes or itchiness even after a considerable time, you should always consult your doctor because an eczema that gets worsened may give you a variety of skin infections.
1. Coconut Oil for Eczema
The anti-fungal, antimicrobial coconut oil loaded with fine antioxidant and antibacterial properties can reduce inflammation caused by eczema to a great extent. The caprylic and lauric acid as well as vitamin E and K help relieve itching and flaking while giving ample of nourishment to your damaged skin. As is known, coconut oil is perhaps one of the best moisturizing agents for the skin and it is a boon to the dry skin which is caused by your eczema. The medium chain fatty acid of coconut oil helps restore protective layers of your skin and thus your skin recovers fast to get a smooth supple look from the crusted flaky appearance.
How to Use Coconut Oil for Eczema
- Coconut oil (ensure to have pure or virgin coconut oil without any other ingredient mixed in it while processing)
- You just need to apply some coconut oil to your eczema affected body areas several times a day.
- Take some oil in your palms and apply to the skin where you have rashes or eczema bumps.
- Rub it gently over there for a couple of minutes.
- That’s it. Do this many a times during the day and don’t forget to apply some coconut oil before you go to sleep at night.
- Repeat this routine till you get rid of eczema.
- You can even use coconut oil for eczema on scalp. Just apply the oil to your scalp and rub gently for some time. Leave it for few hours or overnight before washing it off with a mild shampoo.
- Coconut oil is also safe to be used for infant eczema.
2. Tea Tree Oil for Eczema
Tea tree oil has excellent disinfectant and soothing properties for any inflamed skin. This is basically due to the terpenes present in the tea tree oil which makes it a fine anti0bacterial agent. However, tea tree oil is also very strong oil and thus has to be used carefully by those having sensitive skin. Eczema does make your skin sensitive. Because eczema also makes your skin dry, you need to add tea tree oil in some other carrier oil because this essential oil also is drying in nature. Secondly, it should not be used alone on sensitive skin.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Eczema
- Tea tree oil- 8-10 drops
- Any carrier oil (olive oil/coconut oil/sweet almond oil)- 1/4 cup
- Add the tea tree oil to your choice of carrier oil and mix well.
- Now apply this oil to your eczema affected skin areas.
- Repeat this 2-3 times a day.
3. Tree Tea Oil Bath for Eczema Relief
You may even use tea tree oil in your bathing water to get relief from eczema symptoms. Here’s how to do so.
- Tea tree oil- 10-15 drops
- Olive oil/ Sweet almond oil- 1-2 tbsp
- Warm bath water
- Add drops of tea tree oil to your warm bath.
- Now add olive oil or sweet almond oil to the bath.
- Take bath with this water.
- Do not use such bath more than twice a day.
4. Olive Oil for Eczema
Olive oil is one of the safest oil, like coconut oil, to be used to treat eczema symptoms. It is particularly helpful in soothing flare-ups and also in relieving inflammation. The two components of olive oil, qualene and oleocanthal, contain anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that help you get relief from flaky, dry, itchy skin caused by eczema. Additionally, vitamin E in olive oil helps restore the lost moisture of your skin and repairs your damaged skin fast. While you can always simply apply olive oil on your eczema affected skin, here’s a recipe for exfoliant made with olive oil and sugar to help you get rid of eczema faster.
How to Make Olive Oil Skin Exfoliant to Get Rid of Eczema
- Extra virgin olive oil- 10-12 drops
- Sugar or honey- 1-2 tsp
- Water- 1/4 cup
- Add olive oil and sugar or honey whatever you are using to the water and mix well.
- Now apply this mixture to your eczema affected skin.
- Leave for about 3-4 hours.
- Repeat this once in a day or two.
5. Use Olive Oil Soaked Cabbage Leaves for Eczema
If you are afraid of using sugar on your inflamed skin, use something more natural, the cabbage leaves. They too soothe your skin wonderfully.
- Cabbage leaves- as per requirement (according to the number of skin patches affected by eczema)
- Olive oil- sufficient to soak the leaves
- Linen cloth
- Lukewarm water (optional)- for washing
- Wash the cabbage leaves properly and dry them naturally so that there is no water left in them.
- Take the olive oil in a bowl and place the leaves into it.
- Let the leaves soak the olive oil till they become soft.
- Now take out the leaves one by one and place on your skin areas where you have rashes or other signs of eczema.
- Cover the leaves with the linen cloth.
- Leave for about 3-4 hours.
- Now wash your skin. If needed, use luke warm water to wash off any oil that you may see on your skin.
Precaution: Always carry out a patch test to see if you are allergic to olive oil. Do not use the oil for infant eczema.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar for Eczema
When you buy a bottle of apple cider vinegar with its mother intact and showing up as cloudy strings in the bottom of the bottle, know that you are not only going to relieve the painful symptoms of eczema but may also cure it once and for all! Yes, it is that miracle solution that has benefited lots of people suffering from eczema. The malic acid in the apple cider vinegar makes it antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal agent and it might well be the magic component that is behind soothing and curing the damaged eczema skin.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Eczema
- Apple cider vinegar- 1 part
- Water- 3 parts
- Cotton ball
- Mix the vinegar and the water.
- Soak the cotton ball in this mixture and apply to your eczema affected areas.
- Initially, as soon as you apply this, your skin will have a burning sensation but this will subside in a few moments.
- Apply this twice a day, preferably in the morning and at night.
7. Homemade Calamine Lotion for Eczema
Those who have been suffering from eczema since years are not new to calamine lotion, the pink lotion that gives instant relief to their itching inflamed skin! So, why is this calamine lotion so effective in soothing eczema affected discomforts? It is because of its two components- zinc oxide and iron oxide. Zinc oxide is antiseptic and astringent too. Its astringent property makes it absorb the fluid out of the weeping sores of your severe eczema. Zinc is also an important mineral for body. When taken internally, it boosts immune system. All said, taken or inhaled in larger quantities, zinc oxide can prove to be toxic to your body and thus store bought calamine lotion should be used sparingly if at all its essential to use. So why not make calamine right at home! While you can always use zinc oxide in your home-made calamine lotion, you would actually like to give it a miss due to the presence of so many other natural ingredients that are soothing for your eczema! Let’s have the recipe.
- Calcium bentonite clay- 4 tsp
- Baking soda- 4 tsp
- Sea salt- 1/2 -1 tbsp
- Tea tree oil- 10-15 drops
- Pink Kaolin clay (optional)- 2-3 tsp
- Zinc oxide powder (optional)- 1 tsp
- Water- 1/4 cup
Why these ingredients?
- Calcium Bentonite clay- Calcium Bentonite Clay draws out all toxins including bacteria, viruses, etc. from your body. All these toxins stick to the calcium bentonite clay and is absorbed by it to eliminate them from your body. If your immune system is not functioning well, this clay will stimulate the inner resources so as to awaken your body’s stagnant energy.
- Baking soda- It is a natural antiseptic agent. With its gentle foaming action, deeply cleanses the much sensitive eczema affected patches and helps relieve rashes as well as inflammation. Not only this, it balances the pH level of your skin and also detoxifies the skin. It means, your skin gets rid of all bacteria and other microbes. The healthier skin then prevents further flare ups.
- Tea tree oil- you know why, we have already discussed it under a separate remedy for eczema. It is antiseptic and anti-bacterial and soothes inflammation and itching.
- Sea salt- It acts as an exfoliant by sloughing off dead skin cells. This relieves inflammation as well as itchiness.
- Pink Kaolin clay- This gentle exfoliant is a boon for people with sensitive skin such as those having eczema. It assists bentonite clay in drawing out the toxins. Also, it gives the lotion the famous pink color of your recognizable calamine lotion!
- Zinc oxide powder- As we discussed, this is the ingredient that makes calamine lotion what it is for eczema and other skin disorders. Well, with so many beneficial ingredients, you need not use this. It’s better to avoid it when making calamine lotion at home with all natural ingredients.
- Mix all the ingredients except tea tree essential oil and water.
- Now when you have mixed all the dry ingredients, start pouring water over it and stir it continuously to mix well.
- Keep pouring water till you get your desired consistency. The ideal would be a loose paste like consistency or if you want, you can keep it like lotion just as the store bought lotions have.
- Now add the tea tree oil and give it a final stir.
- Store this in a jar with a lid and keep it in the refrigerator where it will stay up to about 2 weeks.
- Apply this homemade calamine lotion to your eczema affected areas whenever needed.
8. Essential Oils for Eczema
Apart from tea tree oil, there are many more essential oils that are beneficial in relieving the discomforts of eczema. Here is such a list of essential oils for eczema.
- Lavender oil- This fragrant essential oil antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, calming, moisturizing, and anti-inflammatory properties, all needed to relieve the inflammation, and dry skin due to eczema. It will in fact, heal your skin’s condition faster an also prevent scars from forming. You can use it undiluted or by mixing it with other carrier oils like olive or almond oil. Apply it 3-4 times a day.
- Chamomile oil- Essential oil derived from German or Roman chamomile flowers have good anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It reduces inflammation and soothes your skin. Apply this oil 1-2 times a day. However, if you are a pregnant woman, avoid using this oil.
- Calendula oil- It has anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial properties. You can infuse calendula flower’s petals in some vegetable oil such as olive oil. Not only eczema, you can use it for other skin issues like dry skin.
- Rosehip oil- This oil contains essential fatty acids that are good for dry skin and itchiness due to stress and other toxic effects of environment. Use it for eczema to soothe and moisturize your dry skin.
9. Vitamin D and Its Effect on Eczema
If your kid’s eczema gets worse in winters, it might be due to the deficiency of vitamin D. Vitamin D has been importantly linked with eczema and other skin conditions by certain studies. These studies have found that eczema in kids as well as eczema in adults have relation with low levels of vitamin D. While it has still not been proven whether taking vitamin D supplement helps cure eczema or not but is said that it will not worsen the condition of skin. However, its dosage should be less than 10,000 IU per day. It is recommended to consult your doctor before you take any supplement including vitamin D supplement.
The key to prevent eczema flare ups is to keep your skin moisturized and recognizing the triggers that make your eczema worse. Taking proper care of these will certainly help you get rid of eczema soon!