3 simple steps to eczema relief

November 4, 2015

Eczema may seem to flare up without warning, but there's often root causes that you can discover. Here's how you can identify the causes, and find relief, in just three steps.

3 simple steps to eczema relief

1. Determine the cause

  • To control eczema, you need to identify and eliminate all the agents that ring alarm bells in your immune system.
  • You can often deduce your triggers by where your rash occurs. If it appears on your hands, for example, the culprit is likely to be something you're touching.
  • You may also need to work with an allergist to determine which substances are problematic.
  • It’s also a good idea to undertake a food elimination diet with "controlled food challenges." Wheat, soy, eggs, milk, fish and nuts are common culprits.
  • Beyond certain foods, you may also have an allergy to molds, dust mites, animal dander, chemicals, detergents and metals.
  • Having an immunoglobulin E (IgE) blood test may also be useful.
  • If you have atopic eczema, you may come from clans where wheezing and sneezing is the norm, and sometimes to be doubly afflicted.

2. Change your lifestyle

There are many self-care strategies that will stop your eczema flares or reduce their frequency. Try these approaches:

  • If dust mites aggravate your eczema, replace your bedding with hypo­allergenic materials and do some ruthless housecleaning.
  • Don't scratch, no matter how aggravating the itching. It can worsen the rash and cause an infection.
  • Bathe in lukewarm — not hot — water laced with bath oil, baking soda or a commercial oatmeal bath preparation.
  • Use fragrance-free, non-drying soaps or baby shampoo.
  • Dry skin is vulnerable, so routinely apply a non-irritating emollient moisturizer. Use it within three minutes of a bath or shower, and immediately after washing your hands.
  • Stop using all cosmetics and creams if a rash appears on your face. After your rash clears up, add them back one at a time, once a week, until you identify the troublemaker.
  • Wear loose clothing. Fabrics that "breathe," like cotton and other natural fibres, are less likely to irritate than woolens and acrylics.
  • Control your surroundings. Your skin prefers the thermostat at 20°C (68°F) with a comfortable level of humidity.
  • Try to minimize stress, a common eczema trigger. Consider seeing a psychotherapist or joining a support group for people with eczema.

3. Try natural methods

  • Getting certain key nutrients through foods and/or from a daily supplement can have numerous benefits.
  • Foods rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene and essential fatty acids may help to combat skin dryness.
  • Foods high in zinc, antioxidant vitamins C and E, and the flavonoid quercetin may help stifle inflammation.
  • Try applying a licorice cream that contains glycyrrhizin. It may help relieve eczema on its own, or can be applied over a cortisone cream.

Altering your lifestyle, environment and even diet are often key to clearing up eczema. Once you do, your itching and swelling could disappear, and you can get back to life as usual.

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