Rebecca Shield, associate chiropractor of Back 2 Balance, writes about eczema and some of the natural remedies that may help to alleviate the symptoms.

And so the temperature starts to drop and we all start to feel the winter chills of 2013 once again. Unfortunately for some of us the colder weather can leave us prone to conditions such as eczema. With winter fast approaching what can we do to help prevent those acute episodes without the use of medication?

What is eczema?

eczema atopic dermatitis symptom skin

Eczema is a chronic condition that causes the skin to become red, inflamed, itchy, dry and cracked. It affects 1 in 12 adults and 1 in 5 children. Symptoms can vary from little red patches of itchy skin to larger patches of skin affected all over the body that are sore, broken, cracked and bleeding. Flare ups can be even more aggressive, causing the skin to become thickened and infected. The most common type of eczema is called atopic dermatitis. Whilst 80% of cases affect children symptoms can continue in to adult years. Common areas affected are: hands, front of elbows, behind knees and around eyes and ears.

What causes eczema?
The cause of eczema is unknown, however it is often found within the same families and alongside symptoms of hay fever and asthma. Eczema has several triggers, but whilst some are common others are independent to the person involved. There are often inherited factors of developing eczema, as well as environmental irritants. At this time of year be careful of rough clothing, cold, damp weather and harsh soaps as these are also common causes of eczema. So watch out for those scratchy jumpers and cheap soaps. Dust, pollen, and pet fur are among other common causes.

Top Tip: Keep a ‘trigger diary’ to work out what your own personal triggers are. That way you can avoid nasty flare ups!

How can eczema be treated?
Treatment is a combination of determining the flare up triggers and avoiding these things – remember, prevention is always better than cure! This is why it can be a good idea to keep a ‘trigger diary’. Taking vitamins A, D and E are recommended in prevention of eczema, as are supplements containing gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) such as evening primrose oil, borage oil and blackcurrant oil. Also, avoid soaps, shampoos and body lotions containing sodium lauryl sulfate because this chemical is what is used to make soaps foam and can strip the skin of its natural oils and cause irritation. Keeping the skin moisturised is very important. Aloe Vera lotion is widely used in soothing dry and itchy skin. This is a very popular way to soothe angry eczema! Chamomile has been found to reduce the symptoms of ezcema by reducing inflammation. It can be drunk as tea or used topically in the form of an ointment. Calendula, Cocoa butter and Skin Salvation are lotions that also have a great deal of positive feedback when used as treatment for eczema.

There are so many different ways to prevent and treat eczema. It will be a very personal challenge, so keep going and remember: never give up!

What are your ‘tips’ or ‘wonder miracles’ for your skin? Don’t be shy, it’ll be rude not to share them…….