Eczema is a skin condition that can affect both men and women. It’s a blanket term for a group of conditions that cause the skin to become irritated. The most common type of eczema is called atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis. A person suffering from eczema usually experiences severe itching and a red rash. An estimated 35 million people in the United States suffer from eczema.
Eczema cannot be passed from one person to another no matter how much you might wish to give it to your greatest enemy!
What Are the Symptoms?
Eczema causes itching of the skin. This itching usually occurs before the rash appears. Common location for the red rash is the face, hands and feet, the back of the knees, and the wrists, but the eczema rash can show up in other places, too.
The affected skin might appear scaly and dry. It might also thicken. In patients with fair skin, it might first appear red in color before fading to brown. Eczema may also affect skin pigment in people with darker skin.
Causes of Eczema
Scientists aren’t sure exactly what causes eczema, but it’s thought to be a condition of an over-active immune system. It’s a common condition in families with a history of allergies or asthma.
Eczema often goes through cycles. When the patient has a ‘flare-up’ of eczema, it’s possible some external irritant is to blame. These factors could include heat or cold, household products like soaps or laundry detergents, or pet dander.
Internal issues can also cause a flare-up, including stress, a cold or virus, or anxiety.
There is no cure for eczema, but medical treatment can help manage the condition, so don’t give up on your shower soap or man’s best friend just yet!
So, how do you go about treating this scaly condition? First and foremost, you want to eliminate the itch! Itching can make the skin more inflamed, creating a vicious cycle of itch. A cold compress can help to quickly relieve your itching and help reduce swelling.
And, eczema causes dry skin, so you’ll want to make sure to moisturize yourself. Every time I hear moisturize, I see Cassandra from Doctor Who, the character who was nothing more than a flat skin with a face. She constantly harassed her keepers to “Moisturize me!” But, it’s true; people with eczema tend to have dry, scaly skin.
The best time to apply lotion is after a bath or shower. This helps to seal in the skin’s moisture. You’ll want to find a lotion or cream with glycerin listed near the top of ingredients. This is the best type of lotion to use for any dry skin.
Over-the-counter itch products can also be used to stop itching. These contain 1% of the corticosteroid hydrocortisone that works to halt the itch. You can buy this cream without a prescription at any pharmacy or grocery store. It should be clearly labeled 1% hydrocortisone.
Antihistamines can also be used to treat your eczema flare-up. These include over-the-counter products like Benadryl, Allegra, and Claritin. Just watch out for Benadryl, as it can cause drowsiness, and you wouldn’t want that during important meetings or a first date!
Best General Moisturizers for Eczema
If you’re one of the people who’d like to avoid using the steroids to treat your eczema, then you’re in luck. There are several excellent lotion products you can get over-the-counter to help your symptoms.
- Eucerin Intensive Repair Very Dry Skin—this product is great when used after a shower to seal in moisture.
- Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser—used for gently washing the face to remove dirt and oils.
- Nivea Essentially Enriched Body Lotion—this is a lightweight moisturizer that’s also useful for normal dry skin.
- Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Moisture Cream—this line of skin care products contains oatmeal, a known remedy for skin problems and itching.
- Eucerin Skin Calming Daily Moisturizing Cream—this cream is excellent for dry, scaly patches of skin, whether caused by eczema or other problems.
- Ives Naturally Soothing Oatmeal and Shea Butter Body Lotion—St. Ives has introduced their own lotion with oatmeal, and St. Ives has a high level of glycerin.
- Eucerin Aquafor Healing Ointment—this cream helps to repair and restore skin.
- Aveeno Eczema Care Moisturizing Cream—another excellent product with oatmeal, and offers relief from itching.
- CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion—this lotion won’t burn if you apply it to broken skin.
- Beecology Original Honey Fragrance-Free—it’s hypoallergenic and fragrance-free for sensitive skin.
Best Men’s Moisturizers
- Lubriderm Men’s 3-in-1—you can use this on your body after a shower to seal in moisture, or on the face after shaving.
- Nivea Men Energy Revitalizing Lotion—this product also contains SPF 15, a sunscreen that protects the skin from damaging UV rays.
- Neutrogena Men Facial Lotion—use this after shaving to protect your skin. It also contains SPF 20 sunscreen.
There are also some natural remedies you can use to help control eczema.
- Coconut Oil—useful for things other than skin, like your hair.
- Sea Spray—this homemade salt and magnesium spray is good for oozing skin.
- Fermented Cod Liver Oil—this is an oral food supplement that doesn’t taste too good, but provides many health benefits.
- Epsom Salts—using these in the bath can provide skin healing if you can tolerate soaking.
- Probiotics—another oral supplement that also helps with digestive issues.
Having eczema is a… well, pain in the neck… and the knees… and the hands. Well, you get the picture. But, there’s no reason for you to suffer the intense itching and dry, flaky skin that comes along with this disorder. There are several drug-free ways to help your body cope with the disease.
Keeping your skin clean, using soaps and body washes for sensitive skin, and keeping your skin moisturized are all ways to help combat this skin condition. You can also add some supplements to your diet to encourage your body to heal the affected skin.