Eczema may be a physical condition that affects the skin, but those who are afflicted can feel bad about it.
Research conducted in Britain recently by global health-care company MSD revealed that three out of four women who suffered from the skin condition felt unattractive or embossed.
More than 60 per cent felt self-conscious at work and half admitted that they became depressed because of the condition. In eczema, there is severe itchiness of the skin, recurring rashes and dry, scaly patches.
The condition, which is not contagious, affects one in five people here.
Irish scientists have recently discovered that a weak skin barrier could be a key reason why eczema occurs. A defective skin barrier allows allergens to penetrate the layers of the skin and inflamed rashes.
Doctors usually advise eczema sufferers to use mild soaps, moisturize often and avoid dusty places.
While eczema is not as itchy or potentially dangerous as hives, the chronic skin condition is harder to treat. Sufferers should avid drastic changes in temperature and stress, and keep themselves cool, as sweat can irritate the skin.
(source: MyPaper 25 June 2014-Wellness Special)
Hives and eczema
It is the hardest thing to stop scratching an itch.
But that is precisely what people should do, especially if the itch comes from either eczema or hives. Scratching damages the skin and may lead to further inflammation and leave scars.
Eczema is caused by the inflammation of the outer layer of the skin, the most common type of which is atopic eczema. This form of eczema, caused by extreme dryness of the skin, especially on the arms and legs of elderly people, appears as an itch, scaly red rash. Other characteristic include small blisters or bumps that ooze pus and bleed.
Even more common than eczema, which affects 10 percent of the population at some point in their lives, is hives with a 20 percent prevalence rate.
Known medically as urticaria, hives appear as localized, itchy skin swellings known as wheals, which can be pale, pink or ed. They may change their shape or size and usually resolve within 24 hours, though new wheals may appear on other parts of the body.
They are the result of the body’s adverse reaction to certain allergens, though they appear for unknown reasons. Hives may develop angioedema, which causes body parts, such as lips and eyelids, to swell. One’s airway also be blocked, causing breathing difficulties.
But while eczema is not as itchy or potentially dangerous a hives, the chronic skin condition is harder to treat. People should consult a doctor if either skin condition affects sleep and one’s daily routine, or when there is pain or suspected infection. Sufferers should avoid drastic changes in temperature and stress, and keep themselves cool, as sweat can irritate the skin. They can relieve the itch by wrapping tow pieces of ice in a towel and pressing this against the skin. Moisturizers, especially if they are kept in te refrigerator before use, will help soothe irritated skin. They should be applied at least twice a day, liberally after bathing and in the direction of hair growth. Another option is to use topical steroids.
(source: 26 June 14, Mind Your Body, The Straits Times – Joan Chew)