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SPOTLIGHT ON ECZEMA

This week marks National Eczema Week 2018, when the National Eczema Society work hard to realise greater awareness of and understanding about the condition. There are seven types of eczema, and in the UK, eczema affects 20% of all children and just over 8% of all adults. Children tend to grow out of eczema as they age, but it can return in adulthood. 

We’ve been looking through your posts, and have pulled together a whole host of info from the National Eczema Society to share with you. Want more information, head to their website for a deep dive.

So what is eczema exactly? Simply speaking it’s a dry skin condition. Dermatitis is another word for eczema, but many don’t realise the two are one and the same. Eczema is a wide and varied condition, it is not contagious though it is both familial (hereditary) and environmentally affected.

In mild cases of eczema, the skin is dry, scaly, red and itchy. In more severe cases there may be weeping, crusting and bleeding. Constant scratching causes the skin to split and bleed and also leaves it open to infection. Finding the right products to combat eczema can be a long and troubled journey for many. Indeed, we see so many people asking for advice here on the group and many of the same brands, and medicines come up over and over again.

SO HOW DOES ECZEMATOUS SKIN BEHAVE?

Our skin provides a strong, effective barrier that protects the body from infection or irritation. Skin is made up of a thin outer layer, a fairly elastic one in the middle, and a fatty layer at the deepest level. Each layer contains skin cells, water and fats, all of which help maintain and protect the condition of the skin.

Healthy skin cells are plumped up with water, forming a protective barrier against damage and infection. Fats and oils in the skin help retain moisture, maintain body temperature and also prevent harmful substances or bacteria from entering our bodies.

One way of picturing the way your skin works is by thinking of it as a brick wall. The outer skin cells are the bricks, while fats and oils act as the mortar that keeps everything together and acts as a seal. The skin cells attract and keep water inside, and the fats and oils also help keep the water in.

If you have eczema, your skin may not produce as much fats and oils as other people’s, and will be less able to retain water. The protective barrier is therefore not as good as it should be. Gaps open up between the skin cells because they are not sufficiently plumped up with water.

Moisture is then lost from the deeper layers of the skin, allowing bacteria or irritants to pass through more easily. Some everyday substances contribute to breaking down the skin. Soap, bubble bath and washing-up liquid, for example, will remove oil from anyone’s skin, but if you have eczema your skin breaks down more easily, quickly becoming irritated, cracked and inflamed.

Because it is prone to drying out and is easily damaged, skin with eczema is more liable to become red and inflamed on contact with substances that are known to irritate or cause an allergic reaction (source National Eczema Society Website).

THERE ARE SEVEN TYPES OF ECZEMA

Of the seven types of eczema we thought we’d focus on the three which we hear about most on the group. Atopic eczema, contact dermatitis and seborrheic eczema. These are three most common forms, and can affect people of any ages. Below, we provide a little more information on each. The other four forms are Infantile Seborrheic (commonly known as cradle cap), which many of us will have been through with our kids to a greater or lesser degree,  Discoid which is very distinctive with  its ‘coin shaped’ discs of eczema around the size of a fifty pence piece. Discoid Eczema tends to affect adults that once suffered from Atopic Eczema as children, and it’s usually found on the lower legs, trunk or forearms. Once the patches appear within a few days they begin to ooze, and can become very itchy, crusted and infected. Pompholyx Eczema is usually restricted to the hands and feet. It often causes the development of intensely itchy watery blisters, mostly affecting the sides of the fingers, the palms of the hands and the soles of feet. Starting with itching and burning in the palms or soles, the area becomes blistered and the blisters can begin to weep, becoming easily infected. Asteatoic Eczema initially appears on the shins with a ‘crazy paving’ appearance. Fissures or grooves can appear which look pink and red, but tend to only affect the superficial layers of the skin. This type of eczema can be linked to a decrease in the oils on the skin surface, low humidity, over cleansing of the skin, hot baths, scrubbing the skin and vigorous towel drying. Pre-existing dryness and roughness of the skin are also contributing factors. Finally, there’s Varicose Eczema. As we get older and less active, the blood moves less well up our veins and can collect in the lower legs. So if you have poor circulation, have had a blood clot, varicose veins or are overweight then you’re at greater risk of this form of eczema on later years (most commonly over 60s). So now, let’s look at the most commonly chatted about conditions.

 

ATOPIC ECZEMA

The itching from this type of eczema can at times be unbearable, leading to sleep loss, frustration and stress. Suffered more commonly by children, it's also really hard to see your child in pain and making their pain worse through scratching. Often triggered by allergens, this type of eczema presents in patches across the body, usually starting on the face in babies and often affecting skin creases where the temperature is obviously warmer. Most children with eczema find that their skin improves as they get older (usually by puberty). So what's the reaction in the body that causes this affliction? In atopic conditions the body’s immune system overreacts to environmental factors that are all around us, such as irritants and allergens. This makes the skin inflamed and itchy. According to the Eczema Society, dry skin in atopic eczema is thought to be due to a defective skin barrier. For some this is caused by changes within the Filaggrin gene - a structural protein in the skin and in some people with atopic eczema, deficiency leads to skin barrier breakdown.

CONTACT DERMATITIS

Contact dermatitis affects 9% of the UK population and is the most common type of work related skin disease (also known as occupational skin disease). Occupations at greatest risk include: chefs, hairdressers, metal workers, nurses, cleaners and construction workers. Common sites for irritant contact dermatitis are the hands and face, but the condition can affect other parts of the body. Symptoms may range from mild dryness and skin redness to the appearance of skin burns which can be painful, red, fluid-filled and ulcerated. Allergic Contact Dermatitis sees even the teensiest of quantities of apparently harmless substances causing severe allergic reaction usually caused by an individual developing a specific allergy to a chemical. Allergic Hand Eczema may occur either on its own or against a background of atopic eczema. The hands are often scaly, dry and itchy and can be accompanied by blistering, soreness or splits in the skin. Common ‘sensitisers’ include nickel, perfumes, preservatives found in cosmetics or toiletries and topical medicines (such as creams, steroids, eye and ear drops)

ADULT SEBORRHEIC ECZEMA

Adult seborrhoeic eczema usually starts on the scalp as dandruff which can progress to redness, irritation and scaling. As the scalp becomes inflamed the eczema may spread onto the face and neck. Eyebrows, temples, folds at the sides of the nose, and neck are often affected – the area looks red and sheds small white flakes of skin. Particularly bad areas include behind the ears, the ear folds and canal may also be affected, causing irritation inside the ear, which is called ear eczema. This form of eczema often occurs only on the scalp and face, but it can extend to the centres of the chest and back, especially in men. and the armpits, under the breasts, groin and between the buttocks and genitals. The causes are not entirely clear, but it's thought to be an inflammatory reaction related to an overgrowth of normal skin flora, species of malassezia yeasts. Sadly, it's also uncurable because once an individual is sensitised, malassezia on the skin will always cause a reaction. However, with treatment the condition can be successfully controlled in most cases so that the skin and scalp are comfortable much of the time.

IT’S NATIONAL ECZEMA WEEK

To celebrate National Eczema Week we have partnered with Active-Silver a UK, family-owned company to bring you an offer on their full range of Colloidal Silver and Colloidal Gold products which have seen tremendous results when used on eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, acne, prickly heat, sunburn and more. Silver has been used in natural medicine as far back as Ancient Greece as it has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Colloidal Silver has been recommended on our group time and time again for it’s health and skincare properties and this week (w/c 17th September 2018) we have owner Lucy Roberts available on our Promoted Post in our FB group to answer any questions you may have. If you just want to shop… head to http://www.active-silver.co.uk and quote MBPE10 at the checkout to gain 10% off all purchases.

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