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Eczema

What it is:  Eczema is an allergic state in the skin that is characterized by a range of persistent or recurring skin rashes. The causes are often unknown, or there may be a number of different factors working together. 

Symptoms of Eczema:  Eczema makes the skin itchy and dry and sometimes scaly. The skin can crack, become red and inflamed leaving it prone to infection. You may also have crusting, flaking, blistering, cracking, oozing and bleeding. The areas affected differ on the type of eczema. 

Types of eczema:  There are two main categories of eczema. Contact eczema (exogenous eczema) occurs when substances or chemicals come in contact with the skin causing irritation that leads to an allergic reaction in the skin. Atopic eczema (endogenous eczema) is when there is a genetic or inherited tendency to develop the condition.  

What causes eczema:  Eczema often runs in families, but it cannot spread from one person to another. Atopic eczema (aka infantile, flexural, atopic dermatitis) is thought to be hereditary, often running in families whose members have hay fever and asthma. This is the most common form of eczema and is endogenous. Atopic eczema usually affects the face and scalp, neck, trunk, back of knees and front of elbows. It usually starts in childhood, affecting 15-20% of children. Most children outgrow this condition but it continues in 2-3% of adults. Contact eczema is of two types: allergic resulting from a delayed reaction to some allergen such as poison ivy or nickel, and irritant resulting from a direct reaction to a chemical or solvent. About 75% of cases of contact eczema are of the irritant type. Contact eczema is curable if the offending substance can be avoided. 

Diagnosis:  Great Mother’s Goods recommends you see your doctor or medical care provider if you have any symptoms which may lead you to believe you have eczema. Given the many possible reasons for eczema flare-ups, family history, diet, lifestyle, allergies, prescription drugs, and chemical or material contact, a doctor may have to run numerous tests before making a judgment.  

Treatment:  There is essentially no cure for eczema. It involves a sensitivity of the skin that you are likely to have to some degree forever. There are, however, a number of approaches to help minimize the symptoms. 

In mild cases, simply keeping the skin well moisturized can control eczema. Eczema severely dries out the skin. Keeping the affected area moistened can promote healing and retain natural moisture. This is the most important self-care treatment one can use for atopic eczema. The use of anything that may dry out the skin should be discontinued. This includes most commercial soaps and bath products that remove natural oils from the skin. The best moistening agents are called emollients, oil based products, the thicker the better. Great Mother’s Goods Vital Body Butter® is one of the better products available. It not only uses natural oils like cocoa butter, olive oil, coconut oil and wheat germ oil but also extracts from herbs known to reduce itching and promote the natural healing process of the skin. The herbs used in our formula have a number of properties to effectively address eczema including anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antihistamine; zinc, silica and emollient. When using this product, try a small amount first to ensure you do not have a reaction to any of the natural botanicals used in its manufacture. If there is no reaction, then apply it generously on the affected area for quick relief. If for any reason you are dissatisfied with your purchase of Great Mother’s Goods Vital Body Butter®, then return the product for a full purchase price refund. 

Roughly 80% of people who have eczema experience elevated levels of immunoglobulin E (lgE) antibodies. These immunoglobulins cause cells to break open and release histamines, which dissolve healthy skin cells as if they had some sort of infection. To reduce inflammation caused by eczema, it is necessary to control histamines. The correct nutrients can help neutralize histamines and help your skin become healthier and reduce inflammation. These include, but are not limited to, Selenium and Zinc found in the vitamins EcoGreen and Eve sold here. Grape Seed extract and Omega-3 fatty acids also found here. 

Your doctor or medical care provider may also recommend topical steroidal creams, ingestible antihistamines to help reduce itching, immunomodulators which suppress the immune system in the affected area, or antibiotics if the skin becomes infected. 

Do not scratch the affected area. If you must itch, use the heel of your hand, not your fingernails. This will only make an uncomfortable situation worse and possibly open your skin to infection. 

Avoid aqueous or water based creams. They may feel good initially but upon evaporation, which happens quickly, will further dry the skin thus exacerbating the underlying condition. 

The best treatment for contact eczema is to determine what is causing the reaction and avoid it. The most common irritants are chemicals and strong detergents, commercial soaps and shampoos that contain Sodium Laurel Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, or Sodium Tea Laurel Sulfate, collectively referred to as SLS, harsh detergents and suspected carcinogens. Nickel, a common metal found in jewelry, metal bra hooks, watch cases, etc. is a common skin irritant. 

Prevention: 

  • Use the cream or ointment your doctor recommends or Great Mother’s Goods Vital Body Butter® on a regular basis to prevent drying.
  • Use mild, SLS free, scent free soaps that will not dry your skin only when soap is necessary. Avoid harsh soaps and detergents that contain SLS and perfumes, most of which are alcohol based and drying to the skin.
  • Use protective gloves when using commercial cleaning products. Rubber, if you have determined that rubber is not an irritant to your skin.
  • Avoid contact with substances you have determined to be an irritant
  • Use your treatments according to the instructions from your health care provider and pharmacist
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Great Mother's Goods
PO Box 11425
Syracuse, NY 13218-1425, USA