According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 15 million people in the United States are affected by eczema, a disease that causes dry, itchy and irritated skin. Thankfully, there is an increasing number of resources and products created to help those living with eczema.
One such organization, the National Eczema Association (NEA), has a Web site dedicated to promoting eczema awareness through research and education. One way they’ve spearheaded getting the word out about this common skin condition is by designating the month of October as National Eczema Awareness Month.
What Is Eczema?
Flare-ups of eczema result in a dry, red skin rash that is not only unsightly but can be unbearably itchy, embarrassing and difficult to hide. Typical symptoms of eczema include skin sensitivity, red rashes, severe itching and even dry, flaking patches of skin that can crack and bleed. Eczema can be isolated to one area or present on several areas on your body such as the hands, inner elbows and the back of knees.
Eczema often runs in families, and can be triggered by allergies, stress, irritating detergents, synthetic fabrics, and cold. While eczema usually appears during childhood, it can develop at any age. For anyone suffering from extremely dry skin or eczema, there are some tips experts recommend:
Avoid Sudden Changes in Temperature or Humidity: Changes in temperature can cause skin to flare, so steer clear of cold temperatures and hot water, which can strip the skin of moisture. Consider investing in a humidifier for the home, to keep air moist.
Moisturize Properly: Keep skin hydrated with a dermatologist-trusted moisturizer that’s fragrance-free and specifically formulated for sensitive skin, such as Aquaphor Healing Ointment, which is a rich, nonirritating moisturizer that locks in moisture to the skin, helping to alleviate symptoms of eczema. To calm extremely dry skin, experts recommend the “soak ‘n’ seal” solution: Bathe in lukewarm water for about 15 minutes with a gentle, nonirritating wash. Immediately after, apply a moisturizer such as Aquaphor to damp skin to lock in lasting moisturization.
Steer Clear of Eczema Triggers: Minimize eczema symptoms by avoiding triggers that may lead to uncomfortable flare-ups, like excessive scrubbing and toweling. Also avoid scratchy materials like wool, harsh soaps, detergents, and environmental triggers such as pollen or pet dander.