Living with eczema can be a challenging experience, but understanding the basics can go a long way in managing this condition. Your skin serves a crucial role as a protective barrier, shielding your body from external elements such as temperature extremes, dampness, friction, and chemicals. This first line of defence plays a significant role in keeping your internal world safe and maintaining overall well-being. However, in individuals with eczema, this barrier becomes defective. The environmental factors that the skin normally shields against can penetrate through the outermost layer (epidermis) and aggravate the underlying layer (dermis). This results in inflammation, giving rise to pink, red, or angry-looking skin. In medical terms, inflammation is often referred to as ‘itis’, hence the term ‘dermatitis’ used to describe this condition.
When the barrier is compromised, the skin loses water, leading to dryness. Our bodies are composed of over 50% water, and the skin barrier plays a crucial role in retaining this essential moisture. Consequently, dry skin becomes a prominent characteristic of eczema. Understanding the underlying mechanisms of eczema helps us approach its management more effectively. By prioritising the health of your skin’s barrier, proactively managing inflammation, and preventing moisture loss, you can significantly improve your control over eczema and minimize the discomfort it brings.
Practical tips for eczema management
- Strengthen the barrier: Regularly reinforce your skin’s barrier function by using gentle cleansers and moisturizers designed specifically for sensitive skin. Apply moisturizer liberally and frequently, especially before and after exposure to environmental stressors.
- Control inflammation: Work closely with your GP or healthcare provider to develop a personalised plan to control inflammation. This may involve topical medications, oral treatments, or other therapies tailored to your specific needs.
- Avoid triggers: Identify and minimise exposure to triggers that aggravate your eczema. Common triggers include harsh soaps, allergens, certain fabrics, and extreme temperatures. Pay attention to your body’s responses and make adjustments accordingly.
- Maintain optimal moisture: Opt for lukewarm showers or baths and limit their duration to prevent excess drying of the skin. After bathing, gently pat your skin dry and promptly apply a moisturizer to seal in the moisture.
- Protect your skin: Shield your skin from excessive friction and potential irritants by wearing soft, breathable clothing made from natural fibres like cotton. Additionally, consider using gloves or protective barriers when engaging in activities that may further compromise your skin.
Managing eczema is a journey that requires dedication and understanding. By prioritising the health of your skin’s barrier, actively managing inflammation, and practicing proper skincare, you can significantly improve your ability to control eczema and alleviate its associated itch. Remember, just like brushing your teeth, incorporating these practices into your daily routine can become second nature and contribute to a happier, healthier life with eczema.
It is always important to consult with a healthcare professional for a personalised evaluation and advice regarding your specific eczema condition. At Oxona Health our doctors are specially trained in managing eczema, from prescribing medications and administering therapies, to advising around lifestyle changes. We’ll present all your care options, and help you choose the right one for you. Click to book an appointment.