What is Eczema?
Eczema is a skin condition whereby some skin area experiences itchiness, inflammation, redness, roughness and cracks. In some cases blisters do appear as well.
Eczema is condition that babies might experience though a good number outgrow them. However, a good number of people are still plagued with eczema even in adulthood.
What Causes Eczema
There are certain factors that cause and contribute to the appearance as well as the worsening of eczema. However, the underlining factor is dryness of skin. When the skin is dry it is more prone to eczema breakout. Nevertheless, dry skin does not occur in isolation; which means certain factors are responsible for the appearance of dry skin. These are the factors which we will discuss below; the few major ones:
Damage to the Skin’s Barrier
The skin possesses a barrier on the topmost layer that protects it. It serves as a sort of firewall that prevents it from being susceptible to certain skin issues. When the skin barrier is damaged, the skin is exposed to allergens, irritants, bacteria, etc that cause skin problems.
Moreover when the sin barrier gets damaged, the skin loses its water retention ability. The end result of this is a dry skin that is also itchy which stirs or encourages eczema to thrive.
Climatic and Weather Conditions
Climatic and weather conditions affect our skin more than we could imagine. Exposure to sunlight, cold temperatures, low humidity, wind etc can cause our skin to dry out. Most of these conditions break down and distort the skin’s structure which makes the skin function abnormally. This abnormality in function eventually causes the skin to dry out since it is deprived of certain ingredients. This is what a cream for eczema most times replenishes the skin with.
Using Harsh Soaps
Certain soaps contain harsh and drying agents that can cause the skin to dry out over time of use. Ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), triclosan, polypropylene in soaps should be avoided. They literally dry out the skin.
Staying too Long in Water
As good as water may be for our skin, it can also pose a threat to the wellness of our skin. Some skincare professionals might say it has to do with hot water alone. However, we have discovered that cold water can also lead to skin dryness over time: Even though it’s negative effect might not be as fast as extended exposure to hot water.
Extended exposure to water (hot or cold) alters the normal structure of the skin. This is why you notice your skin (especially your hands) begins to squeeze when you stay too long in water. Eventually when the temperature of the skin is stabilized, the skin also tries to adjust to this new change. This seemingly harmless occurrence causes your skin to break down in structure and over time the effects worsen.
First and foremost you must understand that proper moisturizing of your skin is completely essential. It is one of the most effective ways of controlling and getting rid of eczema. This is why most creams for eczema make moisturizing their top priority function. A well moisturized skin (made possible by using a cream for eczema) protects the skin’s barrier which we mentioned above.
Another way a cream for eczema works is to replenish the skin with certain essential ingredients that has been depleted. Lack of these ingredients in the skin causes the skin to dry out and also experience eczema breakout. So once these ingredients are replaced the skin then functions as it should and self-repairs itself.
Lastly, a cream for eczema strengthens the skin barrier. Ingredients in the cream acts on the skin barrier giving it the support it needs to function properly. In most cases these ingredients are occlusives such as shea butter, beeswax, dimethicone etc. They stay on the skin and also form a barrier on it thereby preventing allergens from penetrating the skin.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Cream for Eczema
Severity of the Eczema
As much as we would like to put all cases of eczema in the same box, we know this isn’t possible. Certain eczema conditions are more serious than others. Therefore, when going to choose a cream for eczema, it is important you choose what will work for you. Even though recommendations from friends are good, take them with a pinch of salt.
If the case of your eczema is mild, any good cream for eczema should get it done. However, when we get to certain serious cases, it is best you consult a dermatologist first. He or she will not determine if you need a non-prescription or prescription cream for eczema. In addition, they would help you in other ways to effectively solve your eczema woes.
When it comes to those with eczema, those who are affected mostly are the dry skin folks. This is not to say that other skin types can not suffer eczema. However, considering that one major reason for eczema is skin dryness, we can say our initial statement is quite true.
Nevertheless, due to the difference in our skin types, we recommend you do a skin patch. Using the cream for eczema you intend to buy, apply it to a small portion of your skin. (Preferably a part of the skin that is not too visible but is affected by eczema). Leave this on without wiping off for about 24 hours and observe. During or after this period of observation, if you experience itchiness, burning, redness, swelling etc; do not buy that cream.
In some cases the skin has experienced some degree of damage. This could be in the form of breaking, cuts, infection etc. It is therefore important that you know what ingredients are contained in your cream for eczema. Some ingredients can cause irritations especially when exposed to damaged skin.
Another factor you should consider is the size and the type of the container. When you go to buy your cream for eczema, it is advisable you choose a tube container. Or one that uses a pump instead of one with a lid that can be easily opened. This is important because the less contaminated our skin is the better it is protected from eczema. And frequent exposure of the cream to air as well as putting your hand into the cream could cause contamination.
Another factor to consider as regards the container is the size. Cream for eczema comes in different sizes and it is necessary you decide how big you want yours to be. Nevertheless, this isn’t a major reason that should take away your sleep.
By the nature of possessing a skin ridden with eczema such a person’s skin tends to be or become sensitive. Therefore not all ingredients are good for you; there are lots of which would cause the case to become worse. In this guide we will divide these ingredients into two: Natural and Chemical.
Natural Ingredients that worsen your Eczema
Going natural might seem the safe way to go, yet some ingredients posses properties that are threats to sensitive skins. Let’s look at a few of them…
Balsam of Peru
Balsam of Peru has been used in so many skincare products especially moisturizers. Its moisturizing properties make it a good ingredient. However, it has been discovered that balsam of peru causes skin allergies; which is bad an eczema skin.
Even though they bear the name essential, when it comes to treating eczema they are not so essential. These oils evaporate at a fast rate when placed at normal room temperature. Due to their instability, they risk causing allergies to the skin at a high rate.
Lavender oil is a kind of essential oil in the sense that it evaporates rapidly. The fact that lavender oil experiences oxidation does not make it suitable for skin with eczema. During oxidation the molecules of this oil gets broken down and can be irritating. It begins to smell funny, look cloudy and gets more viscous in nature. All these effect can cause the skin to flare up.
Chemical Ingredients that worsen your Eczema
The following listed ingredients should be avoided for the safety of your skin:
These are substances (either synthetic or natural) that are used in cosmetic products for the sole purpose of adding odor. In other words, a fragrance is put in your cream to make it smell good. These fragrances have been known to cause skin allergies and irritation for eczema skins.
Always and we repeat always buy a cream for eczema that is labeled ‘fragrance-free’. Do not choose a cream for eczema that is labeled ‘unscented’. Why is this important?
Even though a product is labeled fragrance-free, it might still have a fragrance ingredient in it. Such an ingredient acts as fragrance as well as serving in other areas. Due to its other function(s), such an ingredient is not regarded as just a fragrance. However, unscented products contain fragrances that perform no other function in the cream. Masking agents are then used to prevent them from having a smell.
Alcohol ingredients are known to be drying in nature. They sap the skin of essential oils (we don’t mean the ones mentioned earlier). When this happens, the skin barrier loses its ability to function at optimal levels. They also irritate the skin.
A dye is put in a cream for the sole purpose of giving the product a different look and color. These dyes most times can be somewhat harsh for sensitive skins including eczema skins. For example tartrazine or yellow 5 causes inflammation for those with eczema skin.
Suffering from eczema; why don’t you take an oatmeal bath? You might be looking right now like: “What does oatmeal bath have to do with eczema? Or “Is oatmeal bath even a thing?” Well research has shown that oatmeal contain amazing healing properties that could reduce and even get rid of eczema. It also relieves the skin of itchiness.
So, oatmeal bath is definitely a thing. Though we are not telling you to soak your bath tub full of oatmeal; (except you’ve been seeking something new to try out). Rather we strongly recommend that you pick a cream for eczema with oatmeal as a listed ingredient.
This ingredient is essential because skin with eczema lack ceramide. Ceramide is a natural waxy substance that is composed of fats that forms the key component of the skin barrier. When the skin is deprived of ceramide, moisture begins to pass out of it freely. Ceramide-3 counters this and restores the skin barrier to an optimal functioning level.
Ceramide-3 also assists in hydrating your skin. One major cause of eczema is dryness and ceramide-3 functions to combat that dryness.
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)
Niacinamide also known as Vitamin B3 is an active ingredient that makes your skin barrier stronger. It also heals your skin in the process.
When your skin begins to produce surplus oil, then the possibility of an eczema breakout is very high. Licochalcone serves as a check to monitor and control this excess production of oil which in turn calms the skin.
Tamanu oil has traced its roots to ancient medicine practiced in Polynesia. This ingredient due to its healing properties rids the skin of eczema.
Other helpful ingredients include: shea butter, lanolin, glycering, hyaluronic acid.
General Tips for Using a Cream for Eczema
- Ensure you apply your cream for eczema not later than 3 minutes after taking a shower. This will help you retain moisture throughout the day.
- Some creams for eczema are prescribed; therefore it is important that we apply them as instructed.
- Make sure that you moisturize your hands with a cream for eczema whenever you place your hands in water.
- It is advisable that you use a clean tool to take your cream for eczema from its container instead of your hands. Doing this will greatly reduce the risk of contamination.
- Apply your cream for eczema by rubbing it on the part of the body using your palm in downward motion. As much as possible, do not rub it in a up and down or circular motion.
Take Proper Care of Your Skin
If you suffer from eczema that is mild in nature and not so serious, then a good proper skin care might be all you need. Most times some of the skin conditions we face are generally due to neglect of proper care. When the skin is well taken care of, conditions such as eczema are rare to come by.
Manage your Stress Level
Yes stress is bad for you and your skin. Therefore cut down on those things that tend to stress you. Relax, take time out and keep positive vibes only.
Buy a Humidifier
A humidifier is an electrical device that keeps the air in a room humid. Since dry air is bad for your skin, using a humidifier would help a great deal.
See a Dermatologist
Like they say in some drug commercials: “If symptoms persist, go see a doctor”. It is important to remember this because not every eczema condition can be treated by the using a cream for eczema. So when you discover that your product or products are not working, seeing a dermatologist is best for you.
Has this guide been helpful? Let us know in the comments section.