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Causes and cures for eczema

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The itching, the rashes, the redness, the scratching. Everyone who’s had eczema knows those symptoms all too well. The cycle can be stressful and upsetting for sufferers – as well as for the parents of a child plagued with ezcema but there is a way out, writes Delphinia Tam-Lower of Four Cow Farm.

Afew years ago in Queensland, Australia, there was a grandmother who wanted to make skin creams and balms for her grandchildren, one of whom had eczema. Also a midwife, she wanted to use time-tested and traditional recipes. From these small beginnings grew a business called Four Cow Farm. That ingenious grandmother is my mother- in-law and now our whole family is involved with producing a range of handcrafted, 100 per cent natural and organic skincare. Along the way, we’ve become experts in the causes and cures of eczema and we’ve devised this three-step guide to understanding and living with eczema whether you’re age 0 or 90.

Step 1: Understand what’s happening under the skin of someone with eczema.
The word ‘eczema’ actually covers a very wide range of symptoms and conditions and many types of eczema exist. So, the best first step to take is to try and identify the type of eczema you or your child has.

There are two broad groups of eczema – eczema that is triggered by direct skin contact with an irritant; and eczema that is caused by an increased sensitivity in the way a person’s immune system reacts with their environment. The latter is known as atopic eczema and is the fastest growing type of eczema.

A genetic twist of fate means that those with atopic eczema have skin that is unable to retain its own moisture (making it particularly prone to extreme dryness and itch) as well as particularly over-active immune systems that react to a variety of external influences (including the bacteria and yeast that live on all our skins).

Step 2: Discover the key triggers (not as easy as you might think!) The next step is to begin whittling down the potential triggers of the symptoms – and there may be a few! An easy place to start is with the 3 ‘E’s of eczema:
(a) Edible – the most common trigger foods are cow’s milk, eggs, soya, wheat, fish and nuts.
(b) Environmental – the most common culprits are clothing, harsh soaps and detergents, perfumes and preservatives in skincare products, fabric softeners, extreme temperatures, humidity, dust mites, pollen and pets.

(c) Emotional – strong emotions such as stress and anger may trigger a worsening of the symptoms, as well as illness.

One of the best ways of identifying triggers is to remove them, one at a time, to see if the eczema improves. Four to six weeks per trigger is best for certainty so patience, patience, patience…

Another approach is allergy testing which can be helpful if a specific allergy is suspected, though those with atopic eczema may test positive for none or many of the allergens tested. And all this will do is merely confirm that the form of eczema is atopic eczema (which, as described above, has its basis in the immune system), and not other forms of eczema whose main triggers are external.

Wheretheprimarycauseofeczemais an external irritant, identifying the culprit or culprits will see an immediate and marked improvement in one’s skin, or the disappearance of the eczema entirely.

With atopic eczema, removing those key triggers will reduce the number of ‘flare-ups’ which take place, but the dryness and itchiness is likely to continue for a while, and helping one’s skin to cope with both on an ongoing basis will be absolutely crucial (we’ll tackle this in the next section).

Step 3: Put in place a very disciplined skincare regime (and we mean really disciplined!)
With atopic eczema, the skin is unable to hold onto its own moisture. This consistent dryness is a primary trigger of itching, which can often lead to flare- ups, so helping the skin retain its own moisture is absolutely key.

Bath-time is a key time at which to protect the skin from loss of moisture. Sobeextremelycarefuland selective with shampoos, soaps and washes. Avoid products containing harsh synthetic detergents such as sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate or cocamidopropyl betaine and harsh preservatives such as phenoxyethanol or benzyl alcohol.

Replenishing the skin’s moisture is key. And dermatologists all agree that regular, repeated moisturising is crucial to managing eczema. By helping the skin maintain its moisture, we help maintain the health of the skin, and its ability to defend itself against external triggers and allergens. So if there’s one mantra everyone needs to repeat when dealing with eczema, it’s ‘moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!’

For parents and carers of children with ezcema, help your child moisturise at regular intervals during the day. As you’ll beapplyingyourchosenmoisturiservery, very often, make sure it’s made from the very best natural ingredients. Skin with eczema is often thinner and more likely to absorb and react to the substances placed on it, so avoid anything containing synthetic nasties, artificial chemicals, added fragrances or petroleum derivatives (see the Four Cow Farm Guide on Baby Skincare for selecting safe skincare under ‘Learn More’ on the FCF website).

For more information, visit www.fourcowfarm.com/blog or email advice@fourcowfarm.com.

FOUR COW FARM IN THE UAE

The Four Cow Farm range of handcrafted, 100 per cent natural and organic skincare products are availablein Holland and Barrett stores throughout the UAE.
The range includes Baby Lotion (125ml AED 53), Baby Wash (125ml AED 49), Calendula Remedy (50g AED 70), Tea Tree Remedy (50g AED 62), and more.

Not just for babies! The Four Cow Farm range of organic, natural skincare products is also great for adults.

www.fourcowfarm.com

Causes and cures for eczema

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