In addition to being gorgeous, they all have to deal with eczema. And they are hardly alone. It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have experienced eczema at some point in their lives.
The red, scaly, dry, itchy patches of eczema are due to an immune system gone wild. While the exact mechanism is not completely clear, eczema seems to run in families, especially where there is a history of allergies and/or asthma. Eczema usually appears on the scalp, neck, inside the elbows and behind the knees. Once there is a tendancy for eczema, lifestyle factors can trigger an outbreak or make it worse. These triggers include stress, excessive heat and cold, detergents, allergies and perhaps diet.
Treatment of Eczema
Getting eczema under control starts with controlling the exessive dryness. Its important to avoid detergent cleansers, exfoliating scrubs and especially fragrances. Start by avoiding hot baths and showers which can increase both itching and dryness. Some experts recommend limiting all showers while others prescribe cool baths followed immediately by industrial strength moisturizers. The Mayo Clinic warns against daily baths while the American Academy of Dermatology suggest 3 short cool baths a day followed by moisturizer. I suspect that that people have different responses and you will need to figure out yourself which shower approach works best for you.
Choose a super rich, fragrance-free, water-free moisturizer such as Aquaphor. If the product reminds you of Crisco, you’re on the right track. Put it on, wait until it absorbs then put it on again. Antihistamines( like Benedryl) will reduce the itching while antibiotic creams ( like Neosporin) can be used if scratching has caused an infection. If the redness and flaking persist steroid creams can be used to bring it under control. Sometimes a combo of a cortisone and antibiotic cream works beautifully to control both inflammation and infection.
Since cortisone is used for short periods of time and eczema can be chronic, two newer anti-inflammatory agents, Elidel and Protopic are often prescribed for daily care– but not without controversy. THe FDA has put a black box warning on these medication for possible cancer risk but many professional healthcare organizations disagree with the FDA findings. It’s troubling when doctors don’t agree about caues and cures, but its a matter of opinion, not right and wrong.
There is no one size fits all solution to keeping eczema under control. Start with the simplest options ( eg gentle cleansers, cool showers and rich moisturizers) and add other treatents as necessary. You might need to mix and match options including steroid creams, Benedryl, antibiotic creams and different soaps and moisturizers to find the winning combination. Treating eczema is a marathon, not a sprint.