Eczema is a skin condition that causes inflamed, dry, rough and flaky patches to appear on the skin. There are many different types of eczema and lots of different causes.
What are the different types of eczema?
Allergic contact dermatitis
Allergic contact dermatitis is a skin reaction caused by something the skin comes into contact with such as essential oils, fragrances and Vitamin E oil. Contact dermatitis can also be triggered by allergens that come into contact with the skin. For example, if you are allergic to pollen, pollen coming into contact with your skin could cause contact dermatitis.
This appears on the soles of your feet or the palms of your hands. This type of eczema normally appears in blister form. There is no known cause for dyshidrotic eczema but there are some things that can make it more inflamed.
Scaly patches on the head, face and limbs. Normally caused by things like insect bites (like mosquito bites) or tight clothing.
Discoid eczema is also known as discoid dermatitis and nummular dermatitis. This is eczema that normally appears in circular patches. It’s normally extremely itchy or crusty and flakes when scratched.
Irritation commonly caused by blood circulation problems. This type of eczema usually shows up on the lower legs and ankles in the form of ulcers and itchy patches.
Irritants such as soaps and detergents can cause eczema flare ups. Especially fragranced ones.
Eczema can be genetic. When someone has eczema, they will normally pass it on to their children.
Allergens such as pollen can trigger eczema. Mould can trigger eczema too. Intolerances like gluten and lactose intolerance can also trigger flare ups.
Stress, hormones or, infections can trigger flare ups.
Can eczema be cured?
There is no guaranteed treatment or miracle cure for eczema. Some people will always have bad eczema, some will be able to manage their eczema and other will be ‘cured’ or grow out of it.
Doctors may prescribe medicine, especially if the eczema is really severe. This can help to either get rid of or, manage eczema.
Eczema can go away over time. You can literally ‘grow out of it’ as you age. For a lot of people, it gets more manageable with age or completely clears up.
Finding the right treatments (oral and topical eczema treatments) for you is the best thing to do. Different treatments work differently for everyone so you just have to try everything that is safe.
Change in diet
Cut out anything that triggers eczema flare ups. You can do this by keeping a food diary. Make a note of everything that you eat. By doing this, you can identify any possible causes and cut them out of your diet.
Other helpful suggestions for eczema sufferers include:
- Drink lots of water to keep your skin hydrated
- Wear materials like organic cotton and silk that are less likely to irritate your skin. (Yes, you can get cruelty free silk). You also want to use these materials for your bedsheets too.
- Calamine lotion for moisture and it’s soothing properties
- Avoid showers, opt for baths instead. Soaking in a warm bath and moisturising properly afterwards is great for your skin
African Black Soap
Some people swear by African black soap for eczema. Please remember that a lot of the people who recommend this do not actually have eczema. If you do try African black soap, remember to moisturise properly as it can be extremely drying. Like any natural soap, black soap has a high pH so it can leave your eczema patches feeling dry and stripped sometimes. Leaving your eczema dry and not properly moisturised can cause cracks to form which can lead to bleeding (Ask me how I know...). Follow any soaps with an emollient, unscented body butter or, any moisturiser that is recommended by your doctor.
Shea butter is another common natural remedy that people suggest as a cure. Shea butter might be a cure for some but, it is definitely not a cure for all. Shea butter is great for your skin in general so I would suggest adding it to your skincare routine but I would not suggest relying on Shea butter as a cure.
Vegan or Vegetarian diet
Some people may suggest a vegan or vegetarian diet that is healthy. Especially things like raw vegan diets, low sugar diets and eliminating processed foods. It's always great to eat a healthier diet, just bare in mind that there's no guarantee that it can get rid of all of your problems.
Sea water can improve the inflammation and general condition of your eczema. Sea water is commonly used for a lot of its properties and health benefits, some health professionals do recommend sea water for certain things. However, there is no evidence that it will get rid of your eczema completely.
Colloidal oatmeal is a natural remedy but, it is also recommended by medical professionals for many different skin conditions. Colloidal oatmeal is great for soothing and softening the skin.
‘I had eczema from birth. It started off as patches of skin on my wrists that were a lot lighter than the rest of my skin. It eventually developed into severe eczema. I had a patch on each wrist and the back of my knees. Sometimes I would develop mini patches in other areas but this was rare.
I used things like black soap, steroid creams and emollients. The steroid creams worked best for me, sometimes they would even clear up my eczema for a a few weeks after using them. They were like a reset button or something that reduced my eczema.
From the age of 14 my eczema started to improve. Eventually, my eczema went away when I was around 15 years old. It would only really come back in the summertime- around the time my hay fever would start. During the summer, my eczema patches were only at the back of my knees and they would last for most of the summer.
One day, my hay fever stopped coming back in the summer and I’ve probably only had 4 to 5 flare ups that have lasted around 2 weeks each time.
My advice for people with eczema would be this:
Try not to stress over your eczema, this could actually make it worse. When I stressed about it and let it ruin my confidence, my skin paid for it. I stopped worrying about it and eventually it went away on its own.
Try everything your doctor recommends, try any safe natural remedies too. Don't expect any quick fixes or believe any person or company that tells you that they have a cure that will get rid of your eczema completely. This way you will not be upset if something does not work.'
-Samarah Sarpong, Founder of Sam’s Body Boutique & author of this blog post