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Dealing With Eczema

By Paul Rothbart

Eczema is a group of common skin conditions that afflicts 31 million Americans. There are seven different types all with similar symptoms. The skin becomes itchy, rash-y, and inflamed. It can also develop rough or scaly patches. Oozing and swelling are also possible. The itching caused by eczema can be so bad that people scratch the skin until it bleeds. Eczema is not contagious, the exact causes are unknown, and there is no cure. However, they are treatments that heal the skin and ease the symptoms. 

Prevent the Itch

Eczema dries out the skin by affecting its ability to hold water. This is what causes the itching. Using a moisturizer several times a day can prevent dryness and stop the itch. There are multiple types of moisturizer you can try. One of the most effective types is an ointment such as petroleum jelly. These are thick, hold in water, and protect the skin. They are however, greasy, and that feeling may be irritating on its own. 

Creams are another way to go. Thick like ointments, but not as greasy, they add moisture and afford protection. Care must be taken when using creams as they may contain preservatives that the skin could be sensitive to. Finally, there are lotions. These are thin and not greasy. They don't protect as effectively as ointments or creams because they contain water that tends to dry out over time. Try each option to find what works best. 

Shower Carefully

The way you bathe can also dry out your skin. Cut down on the length of showers. Keep them in the 5- to 10-minute range. Lukewarm water is best. Hot water will dry out the skin. Avoid harsh soaps with scents and dyes. These also remove moisture from the skin. Bath oils or emollient soap substitutes are very gentle on the skin. Don't scrub the skin. Wash gently and pat dry to avoid irritation.  

Skin Protection

It is important to protect the skin when engaging in any activity that could damage it. Wear gloves when washing dishes, doing laundry or cooking. Avoid the latex type, they can cause allergic reactions. An antihistamine can relieve itching and thus prevent scratching, which can cause damage. Be sure to use a non-drowsy medication during the day and especially when driving. Keeping the nails trimmed will minimize damage if you do need to scratch. 

Eczema is at best annoying, and at worst, painful. Damaged skin is no picnic. Although there is no cure, the effects of eczema can be managed and reduced and the skin protected and kept healthy. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Casa Grande, Ariz.

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