Excema is quite common, affects males and females and accounts for 10 to 20 percent of all visits to dermatologists. Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema may occur at any age, but it most often begins in infancy and childhood.
Scientists estimate that 65 percent of patients develop symptoms in the first year of life, and 90 percent develop symptoms before the age of 5. Onset after age 30 is less common and is often due to exposure of the skin to harsh or wet conditions. Eczema is a common cause of workplace disability. People who live in cities and in dry climates appear more likely to develop this condition and seek excema remedies.
Big Insurance Bills
A recent study of the health insurance records of 5 million Americans under age 65, found that approximately 2.5 percent had eczema. Annual insurance payments for medical care of atopic dermatitis ranged from $580 to $1,250 per patient. More than one-quarter of each patients total health care costs were for atopic dermatitis and related conditions. The researchers project that U.S. health insurance companies spend more than $1 billion per year on atopic dermatitis. So it makes sense to look at types of natural relief for excema.
Eczema Skin Care
Keeping the skin healthy is important to prevent further damage and enhance quality of life. Developing and sticking with a daily skin care routine is critical to preventing flares.
A lukewarm bath helps to cleanse and moisturize the skin without drying it excessively. Because soaps can be drying to the skin, the doctor may recommend use of a mild bar soap or non-soap cleanser. Bath oils are not usually helpful.
After bathing, a person should air-dry the skin, or pat it dry gently (avoiding rubbing or brisk drying), and then apply a lubricant to seal in the water that has been absorbed into the skin during bathing. In addition to restoring the skins moisture, lubrication increases the rate of healing and establishes a barrier against further drying and irritation.
Lotions that have a high water or alcohol content evaporate more quickly, and alcohol may cause stinging. Therefore, they generally are not the best choice. Creams and emollients work better at healing the skin, especially those with natural ingredients. Many topical lotions have herbs such as chamomile or licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) extracts as ingredients; these have been reported to be soothing and helpful for people with eczema.
Another key to protecting and restoring the skin is taking steps to avoid repeated skin infections. Signs of skin infection include tiny pustules (pus-filled bumps), oozing cracks or sores, or crusty yellow blisters. If symptoms of a skin infection develop, the doctor should be consulted and treatment should begin as soon as possible.
Evening Primrose Oil Supplements
Evening primrose oil is a substance rich in gamma-linolenic acid, one of the fatty acids that is decreased in the skin of people with atopic dermatitis. Studies using evening primrose oil have yielded contradictory results so far. In addition, dietary fatty acid supplements, most notably, flaxseed oil, have not proven highly effective. There is also a great deal of interest in the use of Chinese herbs and herbal teas to treat the disease. For the moment, it seems as though the tried and true medical treatments are what we are left with.