Eczema [BEAUTY TIPS]

IMG_20140321_182708After several years of not knowing what the skin irritations were, it finally made sense. It felt like the pieces of a puzzle fell into place when a dermatologist made a proper diagnosis. It was eczema. An inflammatory skin condition that can be triggered by contact with environmental allergens, certain foods, and even stress.

With eczema, the affected areas on the body can become inflamed with dry, scaly red patches. And, symptoms can include unbearable itching! Scratching could feel great, but it’s best to refrain from scratching since that could break the skin, leading to infection and deeper scarring. If your skin is prone to hyper-pigmentation at the slightest blemish, you know how important it is to avoid scratching.

If you experience skin irritations and you’re unsure what it is, first and foremost, please consult a medical practitioner for a proper diagnosis. If the diagnosis is eczema and depending on the type of eczema, your physician may prescribe a hydrocortisone cream to relieve the inflammation, itchiness, and to help promote healing. For us, we used a topical medication that helped, but at the same time we researched preventative measures and natural remedies for the near and long term if it recurred.

While you may not be able to avoid eczema especially if it’s genetic, here are some at-home remedies that we found helpful in managing some forms of eczema, alleviating some symptoms, and to promote healing.

  • Stay hydrated. We’re often so busy that we forget to hydrate and our skin was screaming from the dryness! Well, we heard it loud and clear. So, drink ample amounts of water to stay hydrated from within. Alternatives to water are flavorful beverages like coconut water, chamomile tea and Rooibos Tea, which are hydrating and have anti-inflammatory benefits. Also, these beverage options are non-caffeinated so they’re perfect to drink throughout the day.
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! With eczema, the skin cell barrier is compromised, so it’s difficult for the skin to retain moisture. Regular and frequent moisturizing can help keep moisture locked in and prevent the condition from reoccurring or worsening. After showering or bathing, pat the skin dry and moisturize immediately. We found it helpful to moisturize in the morning and evening before bedtime since our bodies lose moisture during sleep as well.
  • Exfoliate. The last thing you may want to do is exfoliate, yet this helps to get rid of the dry, dead skin cells so that moisturizers and treatments can more effectively absorb into the skin. A sponge or soft loofah may be ideal since you want to be gentle. In some cases, blister-like bumps can form in and around the affected areas so it’s even more important to get a proper medical diagnosis to rule out any bacterial or fungal infections since you wouldn’t want it to spread.
  • Stay calm. Stress can trigger eczema. Meditation, yoga, long walks, listening to your favorite songs, and engaging in your favorite activities can help to take your mind off of the itching and irritations and alleviate stress.
  • Use gentle all-natural body cleansers. Soaps and fragranced body washes can irritate and cause or worsen flare-ups. It’s best to choose fragrance-free body washes that also calm and add moisture to the skin.
  • Take a soothing bath. Draw a warm bath and sprinkle some oatmeal into the bath to enjoy a relaxing soak. Or, use a body wash with colloidal oatmeal to soothe the skin. Avoid taking long hot showers which tend to dehydrate your skin so be cognizant of the water temperature and the length of your shower.
  • Monitor your diet. Certain foods can trigger skin irritations including nuts, shellfish, dairy, gluten, and sugar. We kept a daily food diary to identify potential food triggers. We had already significantly limited dairy and shellfish from our diet, so we focused on managing our sugar intake.

The most important take-away is to consult a medical practitioners for a proper diagnosis. While eczema and other skin conditions can feel embarrassing, remember, you’re not alone. According to the National Eczema Association, 3.6 million Americans suffer from some form of eczema. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants until the eczema and scarring eases are not the most fun especially during the heat of Summer, but remember it’s temporary. Identifying and addressing the triggers that can cause your outbreaks are important in managing flare-ups. Know the causes, symptoms, and treatments that work best for you and it will help you in the near and long term. So, remember to listen to your body, and your body will thank you for it.

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Are you a year-round allergy sufferer? [HEALTH & WELLNESS]

Incessant sneezing. Runny nose. Watery eyes. Asthmatic conditions. Itchy skin. Oh the signs and symptoms of allergies! With Spring on its way…this is the time we begin to brace ourselves for the onslaught of allergy-inducing culprits that oftentimes are pollen related.

But do you suffer from allergies year round? Could it be caused by dust and dust mites? Dust mites?! Those microscopic eight-legged creatures that dwell and accumulate in our beds, in our closets, in our furnishings, and in the warm and moist areas in our homes. They feed on dead skin flakes and their fecal matter, secretions and the mites can cause skin irritations and allergies.

So, what are some things we can do to mitigate our allergy symptoms year round? Here are a few tips that we’ve found helpful to reduce allergens and to improve our overall health and wellbeing:

  • Invest in a HEPA air filter to better purify the air inside your home.
  • Vacuum furnishings, sofas and sofa cushions, carpeting, mattresses, and floors regularly. If possible, vacuum daily to rid your home of dirt, dust, bugs, pollen, and allergy-causing culprits. Seal and dispose of the vacuum bag and contents immediately when you’re done. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, whenever possible.
  • Use protective covers for your mattresses and pillows to keep allergens out so that you can breathe easier and get a better night’s sleep.
  • Wash bedding and clothing in hot water and dry in the hottest dryer setting possible.
  • Let the sun shine in to kill bugs but cleaning is still necessary to rid the home of allergens.

So, with some thorough cleaning, decluttering, and preventive measures, we hope these tips can help you breathe easier all year round.

Thank you for being kind to your body!