Atopic Dermatitis, commonly known as Eczema, is an inherited, chronic inflammatory skin condition. Eczema presents as red patches that may ooze with fluid, or be itchy, burning, dry or flaky. Symptoms can be so severe that some sufferers say it “ruins” their lives. It is known to disrupt sleep and become infected. Sometimes, tiny blisters containing clear fluid can form and the affected areas of skin can weep. Weeping is a sign that the dermatitis has become infected.
Eczema is caused by a person’s inability to repair damage to the skin barrier. This is due to a mutation in the gene called filaggrin. Filaggrin is important for formation of the skin barrier. Normally, every cell in the skin has two copies of the filaggrin gene. However, people who are susceptible to eczema usually only have one copy of this gene.
Although you only need only one copy of the gene to form a normal skin barrier, two copies are important for skin barrier repair. If a person’s skin is exposed to irritants and their skin barrier is affected, a person with only one copy of the gene may find that their ability to repair the skin barrier is limited.
Once the skin barrier is disrupted, moisture leaves the skin and the skin will become dry and scaly. Environmental allergens can also enter the skin and activate the immune system, producing inflammation that makes the skin red and itchy.
You are more likely to get eczema if your family has a history of eczema or allergic conditions, including hay fever and asthma.
In most cases, eczema is not caused or aggravated by diet. If you feel a food is to blame, see your doctor or a dietitian for proper allergy testing and dietary advice.
While eczema causes stress, and stress may increase the likeliness of you to scratch, stress does not in itself cause eczema.
Triggers of Eczema
- contact with irritants in the environment: such as wool, soap, shampoo, perfumed products, chlorinated water, common chemical based cleaning products.
- heat and overheating, which can aggravate the itch and make affected people more likely to scratch
- allergies including dust mites, grass, pollen and pets
- allergic reaction to particular foods – food allergy appears as redness and swelling around the lips within minutes of eating the offending food.
Seasonal Changes – changes in weather can cause increased sensitivity in some people. The lack of humidity in the air and wind in the cooler months, and extra heat mid - summer can also be contributing factors.
Symptoms of Eczema
The physical effects of eczema can include:
- skin dryness
- red and scaly areas on the front of the elbows and the back of the knees
- watery fluid weeping from affected skin
- lesions (sores) that may become infected by bacteria or viruses.
Management of Eczema
Most people with eczema find that their symptoms are made worse by common aspects of daily living, such as hot weather, frequent showering, soap, ducted central heating and overheating in bed at night. There are things you can do that may help you to better manage your eczema and reduce the frequency of flare-ups.
Skin affected by eczema is more vulnerable to infections and is generally sensitive. Irritants, heat and detergents can easily trigger a bout of eczema.
Tips and Tricks of Managing Eczema include:
- Take warm showers and avoid hot showers
- Avoid overheating your skin via sun, heat trapping clothing and a heavy doona
- Wear soft materials, preferably 100% cotton and avoid scratchy materials such as wool, polyester and acrylic
- Wear gloves when cleaning with chemicals and even washing the dishes
- Buy eco – friendly/natural cleaning products (no nasties, i.e. parabens)
- Avoid chlorinated pools, and spas
- Don’t spray perfume directly on skin
- Choose your facial and body moisturisers carefully, use natural, organic and paraben free lotions. Avoid scented lotions and shampoos.
- Have make-up free days, and minimise use of make up as much as possible
- Always do a patch test on new skincare or cosmetic products
- Be aware of temperature, don’t over heat your house with heaters or blast the air con in Summer.
- Avoid vigorous exercise at the hottest part of the day. During Summer go for a run early in the morning, and do your gardening early too.
- Have a dip in the ocean, seawater is known to reduce the symptoms of eczema.
Treatments for Eczema
Collagen comes from the Greek word “kolla” meaning “glue”. Collagen is the “glue” that holds our skin together, which is why it is a common ingredient in our skincare products. Collagen is a fibrous protein that makes up one third of the protein in our bodies. It’s most abundant in our skin, bones and connective tissues. Our skin is primarily made up of Type 1 collagen, Vida Glow marine collagen is also Type 1 collagen. Collagen is responsible for supporting our muscular and skin structure, it’s essential for healthy skin, providing firmness, hydration and strength to the skin.
Collagen supplementation through Vida Glow helps to repair and hydrate skin, and therefore has been an affective treatment of eczema for our customers, assisting in skin healing and acting as a preventative of flare-ups.
Vida Glow marine collagen peptide powder is pre-digested by breaking down the amino acid chain by a hydrolysis process to lower the molecular weight for high absorption and efficacy in the body. The collagen peptide powder in Vida Glow is a natural rejuvenating food source that replenishes the body’s own collagen supply and provides essential nutrients to rebuild collagen cells.
Other treatments for eczema include:
- Moisturisers (emollients) – creams can help add moisture to the skin. For the best advice on creams speak to a dermatologist as some moisturises actually aggravate the problem.
- Anti – inflammatory ointments – these include topical steroids and should only be prescribed by your doctor.
- Oral anti-inflammatory medications – these are not without side effects and this must be discussed with your supervising doctor.
It is also wise to seek advice from a nutritionist or dietitian and keep a food diary. Keep an eye on what foods can cause a flare – up and do an allergy screening, to ensure you are not sensitive to dairy or gluten, if you are, foods containing ether can exacerbate eczema.