Atopic dermatitis, or more commonly called eczema, is a skin disease that impairs the quality of life, from sleep to self-esteem, just like diabetes or asthma. Living with this chronic disease on a daily basis goes through a first phase of acceptance, and especially its good understanding. Here are some tips to understand it and relieve it as best as possible.
1 – Understand how eczema works
Atopic dermatitis is type 2 inflammatory disease which often manifests in children before the age of five. This chronic disease affects about 10% of children and adults, it is also the skin disease that affects most people after acne.
It manifests itself by red patches on the dry skin of the face, hands, or other parts of the body. Eczema can persist throughout life, diminish or even disappear altogether after a few years.
2 – know where atopic dermatitis comes from
The term “atopy” denotes a hypersensitivity or allergy to certain substances, which have no consequences for the rest of the population. The skin barrier of people with atopic skin allows too much water to evaporate, resulting in dryness, and no longer blocking allergens, which can penetrate the skin. These allergens then trigger the local inflammatory reaction which is responsible for the redness and itching.
Atopic dermatitis is also a hereditary predisposition. Its causes are multiple, both genetic and environmental.
“Diet, stress, genetics, patients would like us to find a cause that we could eradicate, but it’s not that simple. In all cases, it is a defect of the skin barrier, accompanied by exacerbated inflammation. The skin no longer fulfills its role of barrier against aggressors, ”explains Dr Marie Tauber to La Dépêche.
3 – Be able to cope with an altered quality of life
Eczema is primarily an itchy skin disease: 9 out of 10 patients have itching daily, and for 2 out of 3 patients, these are itching for more than 12 hours a day. These can cause skin lesions all over the body, and be accompanied by cracks, redness, crusting and oozing. Eczema can also increase the risk of skin infections, which can last into adulthood.
For cases of severe atopic dermatitis, there is also an impact on the patient’s quality of life. Sleep, mood and work can thus be indirectly affected. According to a survey (BoHEM) on the burden of Chronic Hand Eczema (ECM), 55% of the patients surveyed have a disturbed sleep more than 5 nights a week and beyond the concentration difficulties that it generates for 79% of respondents, the ECM sometimes, often or permanently disrupts professional activities (83%).
4 – Work on self-esteem
The effects of eczema are also psychological. Indeed, the image that patients have of themselves is severely altered, which can complicate their emotional and sexual life. The study cited above found that for the case of ECM only, 92% of patients are sometimes, often or permanently embarrassed by the eyes of others on their hands that they prefer to hide (86%). And 82% feel ashamed.
Indeed, living with eczema on a daily basis also means learning to face the eyes of others, and be proud of who we are. On the one hand, you need to be well supported, in order to feel confident and to be able to express yourself about your illness, what bothers us and what challenges us. For that it is essential to have a good relationship with the dermatologist that follows our illness. On the other hand, it is necessary be able to regain self-confidence, and there are many solutions for this.
5 – Know the existing treatments
If the diagnosis of eczema is increasingly easy to make, patient care remains complex. The treatments given, in particular those based on cortisone, are in fact not suitable for all profiles. Moreover, the pharmaceutical company Sanofi recently announced a new treatment against eczema, which would avoid the potential side effects of immunosuppressants. These can be dangerous especially for children under six years old.
At present, the treatment is mainly based on certain creams that you have to learn little by little to handle on a daily basis. Creams vary depending on the phase of the disease. In inflammatory phase (attack or flare-up of red plaques) topical corticosteroids and medical devices in the form of soothing repair creams apply on red patches. In lull period (remission) when the skin is dry and not red, it is advisable to apply a emollient cream, which will hydrate and protect the skin.
6 – Adopt the right reflexes on a daily basis
After you have gotten into the habit of applying your treatment correctly, there are a few reflexes to adopt on a daily basis. It is advisable for example to favor short showers or ten-minute baths, making sure that the water temperature is lukewarm. The products used must be hypoallergenic soaps, gentle cleansers, soap-free, preservative-free and fragrance-free. Drying the skin should be done with a cotton towel, dabbing gently and not by rubbing. Finally, theapplication of a moisturizer all over the skin is necessary to space the outbreaks.
It is also necessary favor 100% cotton clothing. This fabric allows the skin to breathe, which helps prevent skin irritation. Synthetics, wool, hemp, and raw linen, on the other hand, can lead to increased symptoms.
7 – Apply natural remedies in addition
Some natural remedies can also be used in addition to the treatment. THE’essential oil of palamarosa balance for example the nervous and dermatological system, while regenerating the skin (avoid during pregnancy or in children under 3 years old). THE’fine lavender essential oil, or the burdock or wild pansy herbal tea are also recommended. When eczema is stimulated by stress, it may be beneficial to turn to reflexology.
Against persistent itching, which induces scratching and ultimately the persistence of eczema lesions, natural solutions also exist. The cold for example will allow “to anesthetize” eczema plaque and relieve the skin. Here, each one has their own technique, it can bethermal water, a pebble, the back of a spoon applied to the itchy area, etc.
Note: it is necessary to consult a health professional in order to apply the best treatment according to your case.
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