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Managing Eczema In Singapore

Also referred to as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a common disease that appears to be increasing in frequency in the last few decades. Eczema can not only affect an individual’s health, but will also result in loss of sleep, mental health issues as well as your overall wellbeing.

Eczema is a very common health condition that causes skin inflammation. Even though it can occur at any age in one’s lifetime, it typically attacks younger people.

The term atopy is a Greek word that is used to describe a spectrum of hypersensitive allergic reactions including hay fever, allergic rhinitis, food allergy, eczema, and asthma. On the other hand, eczema is a Greek word that simply means to boil and is used to describe a skin rash that is red, dry, itchy, and sometimes blisters, weeps, thickens, crusts, or crusts.

It is imperative to note that atopic eczema affects both males and females on equal measures.

What is the primary cause of eczema?

Eczema sufferers typically have a defective skin barrier, a scenario where the skin is relatively more prone to loss of moisture, allergens as well as the penetration of irritants. There are a number of factors that are known to trigger the development of eczema including:

  • Environmental allergens and irritants: In Singapore, dust mite is arguably the most common type of allergen that can potentially trigger the development of eczema. Other than this, other common environmental triggers include humidity, heat, and perhaps sweat. What’s more, irritants such as having prolonged contact with water, soaps, and detergents can all equally result in eczema flare-ups.
  • Genetics: The chances for someone suffering from eczema if either one or both parents has it is very high. Among those suffering from eczema, it is not uncommon to have close family members with asthma or allergic rhinitis.
  • Abnormal bacterial skin colonization: Clinical evidence tend to suggest that bacteria may play a role in eczema attacks. For example, it has been proven that the surface skin environment of eczema is different and relatively easily colonized by harmful bacteria, especially S. aureus (staphylococcus). The presence of this particular bacteria leads to increased skin inflammation, ultimately reducing the efficacy of topical treatment.
  • Endogenous factors: Research has also shown that physiological factors such as stress, fever, insomnia as well as hormonal changes can equally trigger eczema flare-ups.

What are some of the symptoms of atopic eczema?

  • Thickened and uneven skin tone in the affected skin areas.
  • Small, watery blisters over your feet and hands.
  • Itching.
  • Red, dry skin.
  • Moist and weepy over active eczema skin.
  • Scratch marks are characterized by bleeding.

How is atopic eczema diagnosed?

Eczema is a clinical diagnosis whereby your doctor makes the diagnosis during the physical examination. As such, skin or blood tests are usually not required. Your doctor may also offer other tests to further establish the diagnosis .

What are some of the most common triggers for atopic eczema flare-ups?

  • Stress.
  • Teething in babies.
  • Dry skin.
  • Common/infection.
  • Food allergens.

Is there a cure for atopic eczema?

Currently, as things are, there is no cure for atopic eczema. Of course, lots of clinical research are underway and we can only hope that in the near future, a cure will be found. With that in mind, there are a number of treatment options that may help manage and control its associated symptoms. A significant number of children eczema patients usually see a 60% improvement of their atopic eczema when they enter into adolescence years.

It is also worth noting that atopic eczema can affect individuals in certain occupations, particularly those that involve having contact with irritant chemicals or materials. When this occurs, the vulnerable individuals will experience hand eczema as a result of their regular exposure to irritants and allergens.

What are the options for eczema treatment?

On most occasions, patients with eczema are easily treated using medicated creams and ointments as well as moisturizers. In some patients, applying the affected area using moisturizer will help to restore and maintain the skin barrier of the patient, ensuring that the skin doesn’t easily come into contact with the known environmental eczema triggers.

Depending on the severity of your eczema symptoms, your doctor may also recommend the use of steroid ointments or creams to help minimize both the itching and the redness of atopic eczema when your rashes are active. These are available in a variety of doses and strengths and despite the numerous negative connotations with steroid creams, when applied and used appropriately, they can be effective and safe for eczema rashes.

For the skin areas that may be highly likely to get infected, your doctor may recommend the use of antibiotics as well as an antiseptic. Antihistamine tablets may be used among certain patients to help calm the itch symptoms, allowing them to have a good night’s sleep.

Most eczema patients usually resort to the use of natural herbal creams. However, medical experts strongly discourage the use of such medications because they are highly likely to cause aggravated symptoms such as allergic reactions and irritations.

What other actions can I take to manage my eczema symptoms?

There are a couple of things you can do to help manage your condition. To help minimize rash recurrence, you may need to get rid of the following aggravating factors:

  • Regular use of soap, cleansers, and water: If you didn’t know, all these can potentially worsen the breakdown of the natural skin barrier function. Instead, use mild unscented soaps or cleansers and shower with lukewarm water as opposed to hot water.
  • Dry skin: Always keep your skin well moisturized to help avoid an itch symptom.
  • Hot temperatures and sudden temperature changes: You will need to stay in a cool and soothing environment away from such. And when traveling to cold dry countries, it is highly advisable to carry with you your own moisturizers and cleanser.
  • Rough, tight, and woolen clothing: You should put on, light, smooth, soft, non-binding clothing instead.

Your doctor would also recommend that you should put on gloves and other protective clothing when carrying out housework because it will help prevent coming into contact with household irritants and allergens, such as household cleaning agents and harsh detergents.

  • Moisturize your skin daily, at least two or three times using the most-greasy, fragrance-free moisturizer that you can tolerate. Gently smooth it on your skin following the direction of your hair growth.
  • Don’t put on cotton wooly clothing if possible.
  • Avoid heat and dusty places.
  • Don’t scratch the affected area.
  • Only wash with moisturizer. Avoid bubble baths, shower gels, detergents, and soap.
  • Wear non-powdered, non-rubbery gloves when you need to deal with irritants such as household cleaning.
  • Always double rinse your cloths to help eliminate detergent residues.
  • Avoid any contact with individuals with active cold sores because this can potentially increase your risk of a severe generalized cold sore infection among eczema patients.

What are some of the most common misconceptions about Eczema in Singapore?

Eczema is caused by some food types: Even though food allergy can potentially trigger eczema, the chances of this happening are usually very minimal. Quite often, patients think their eczema is food-related perhaps because it’s fairly more observable as compared to environmental triggers. Among older kids, house dust mite is usually the more common trigger.

Eczema is highly contagious:

Eczema is due to the patient’s skin barrier and its reaction to the immune system as well as the environment. But because the eczema rash may seem red and progressive, some people will likely think it is contagious, which is not the case.

Lack of proper hygiene can cause eczema:

Because of the appearance of the rash, one may think that their eczema symptoms are caused by inadequate washing. Eczema is not related to cleanliness and vice versa. It is the regular use of soaps and detergents that can increase your chance of contracting eczema. What’s more, over-cleaning dries your skin which, in turn, aggravates your eczema symptoms.

Eczema is caused by the presence of an impurity in your blood and is curable:

It is important to note that eczema is a chronic skin condition associated with a compromised skin barrier. It is not related to deficiencies in your blood. While many patients will eventually outgrow eczema, there is no cure for it at the moment.

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