Eczema is a chronic skin condition characterized by clusters of red, itchy, and sometimes painful patches on the body. It often appears during childhood, but also affects adults. While the exact causes of eczema are unknown, a number of factors can contribute to its onset.
Everyone’s skin reacts differently to different substances. Harsh detergents and other powerful cleaning products, acids, bases and solvents can trigger defense mechanisms in the skin to produce eczema rashes.
It is best to minimize the use of soap and to completely avoid the use of fabric softeners and dryer sheets!
The mechanisms behind eczema are associated with those that trigger hay fever; an overactive immune response to chemicals, pollen, foods and other molecules that are in one’s environment.
While the allergens that cause you to sneeze and have a runny nose may seem to be associated with eczema, they are not usually the biggest problem. More problematic are the chemicals that actually come in contact with the skin.
Common contact allergens include nickel (the metal), fragrances, formaldehyde releasing preservatives and soaps that contain a very common chemical called cocamidopropyl betaine.
Aero allergens; allergens that are disseminated through the air can also trigger and worsen eczema and include mold spores, pet dander, pollen, and dust mites.
While food allergies are not often implicated as the source of eczema, there are definitely many Infants and young children who are more prone to developing eczema from food allergens such as nuts, wheat, soy, eggs, dairy and others.
Sudden changes in temperature and/or humidity in a short period of time may confuse the skin and trigger eczema as the body tries to adapt. Be sure to dress properly for unseasonably warm or cold days. You’ll want to avoid wearing wool, tight clothing, and spandex materials altogether.
While studies linking stress and eczema remain inconclusive, excessive stress disrupts the body’s normal immune function and may contribute to eczema. Likewise, rapid hormone fluctuations may have a similar effect, especially for women.
Is It Eczema or Psoriasis?
Many people have trouble distinguishing between these two conditions. While both cause pain and itching and may spread to other regions of the body, they are very different. Here are some ways to tell the two autoimmune skin conditions apart:
- Eczema lesions often erupt and may become crusted, and may ooze blood or pus; psoriasis lesions tend to develop a silvery colored scaly surface.
- Eczema rashes may feel moist; psoriasis rashes are particularly thick and dry.
- Eczema tends to appear on the inner folds of the arms and legs and it also affects the major surfaces of the arms and legs as well; psoriasis tends to occur most commonly on the actual elbow and knee itself. It will often involved the trunk is well.
- Psoriasis lesions often develop white scales due to hyperactive skin cells.
- Psoriasis lesions are usually larger than eczema lesions and can form large patches that look and feel like burns.
When in doubt it is always best to seek a medical opinion before treating yourself for your condition. If you are certain you are suffering from eczema, we are the eczema experts! Check out the eczema kit below.