Eczema is a common, non-infectious skin rash that affects approximately 2-3% of the adult population and up to 25% of school-aged children worldwide. It typically presents as a red, itchy and scaly rash that can appear in a number of different locations depending on the age of the patient and the type of eczema. Despite a strong genetic link to the condition, the rapid increase in prevalence in recent years has led researchers to believe that the environmental triggers are playing a larger role than first thought.
Evidence shows that many eczema sufferers can possess a genetic mutation to the gene “filaggrin” which is responsible for maintaining a healthy, strong skin barrier. A mutation in this gene results in the loss of water through the skin, causing dryness and reduced protection from the harshness of the outside environment. Eczema sufferers are also prone to having hyper-reactive immune systems that can be triggered by multiple dietary and environmental substances. Many theories have been suggested for why this occurs, including the “hygiene hypothesis”, which suggests modern-day dietary and lifestyle practices have reduced our exposure to a diversity of microbes, leading to poorly trained immune systems.
Types of Eczema
Atopic Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is the most common form of eczema and usually appears in childhood. It is often associated with a family history of other atopic (allergic) conditions such as hay fever and asthma. The combination of eczema, asthma and hay fever is known as the “atopic triad”. Food allergies and/or intolerances are often involved, as well as allergies to grasses, pollens, moulds and animal dander. Atopic eczema is characterized by itchy, dry, red and/or oozing lesions which can wax and wane, and typically appear in the skin folds of the elbow and knee.
Non Atopic Eczema or Intrinsic Eczema:
This type of eczema makes up approximately 20% of eczema cases and is not associated with allergic triggers as with atopic eczema. Non-atopic eczema looks and behaves differently to atopic eczema and often requires a different treatment approach.
This is a general term for “skin inflammation” which is often used interchangeably with the word eczema, but can be quite different in terms of presentation, causes, and triggers. Types of dermatitis can include seborrheic dermatitis, stasis dermatitis, neuro dermatitis and contact dermatitis. Locations and appearance can differ depending on the type of dermatitis.
Is there a “best eczema treatment”?
It can be a confusing and difficult task when trying to identify the best eczema treatment to suit your skin. What can suit one eczema patient may not suit another. In addition to this, products can work differently in different climates! Therefore the best eczema treatment in Melbourne may not be the best eczema treatment in QLD!
This is why thoughtful and comprehensive appointments and treatment customization is so important!
Conventional eczema treatments often include topical steroid creams, bleach baths and frequent application of emollients. For more severe cases, oral corticosteroids or biologics may be used. Due to concerns about long-term or frequent use of topical steroids as well as awareness of conditions such as Topical Steroid Withdrawal Syndrome, a growing number of patients are seeking steroid free eczema treatments.
At the Psoriasis Eczema Clinic we take an integrative approach to the treatment of eczema which recognizes the benefits of both conventional and complementary medicines. Whilst we take a more holistic and natural approach, our practitioners are also trained to integrate our treatments safely in with conventional medicines as required.
Our eczema treatments are adjusted to suit the type of eczema/dermatitis you have, as well as the location, age of patient, symptoms, sensitivity level, climate and much more. One of the key benefits to customizing your treatment is that it can save you the expense and disappointment of purchasing several over the counter creams only to find them reactive or ineffective. We have over 40 products with hundreds of combinations which can be tailored to your needs and utilize a cautious patch testing approach to ensure unknown allergies or sensitivities are identified before full use of products.
Our topical formulations are steroid free, and contain a variety of nutritional and herbal bio-active ingredients and are based on over 30 year’s research into natural eczema treatments.
Our thorough consultation process aims to identify and address your individual triggers and treat the symptoms and we utilize a combination of oral, topical, dietary and lifestyle medicines to achieve this.
Is there a Best Eczema Diet?
There is no one “best eczema diet” or “best eczema cream”, other than the one that is best for you. Your practitioner will work with you to identify any changes to your diet which may be beneficial for your condition, based on the likelihood of allergies, sensitivities or intolerances.
Eczema Treatment – An Individualised Approach
Eczema Treatment – Face
Facial skin is very delicate and even more so in the case of eczema prone skin. It can be a highly reactive part of the body and also tends to absorb more than other areas, such as the back or elbows. This is why eczema treatments for the face should be catered especially to the sensitivity and absorptive capacity of this area, and be gentle enough to use around eczema prone areas such as the eyes and lips.
Eczema Treatment – Hands
The skin is our largest organ which is constantly exposed to the harshness of the outside environment. The skin on our hands is exposed to more skin damaging properties than most other areas of the body, due to the simple fact that we use them more often! Anything from hand wash/sanitizer, to water, dust or food can be triggering factors in hand dermatitis/eczema and stopping all exposure to these triggers can be a tricky task indeed. This is why the skin on the hands is generally thicker than other parts of the body (a clever defense mechanism), and eczema treatment for the hands requires a more robust approach.
Eczema Treatment – Babies
Treating fragile and sensitive eczema skin on an adult is one thing, but treating eczema on new born skin is quite another! The skin barrier of infants is different to adults in structure, function and composition. Infant’s immune systems are also naturally more skewed towards allergic reactions making eczema in newborns a confusing and frustrating time for many parents. Managing baby eczema requires an integrative approach in many cases, where both conventional and holistic approaches can complement each other. At the Psoriasis Eczema Clinic we aim to empower parents with knowledge to help better manage baby eczema as well as customize topical treatments to suit baby eczema skin, taking into account pH, skin barrier integrity, oil stability and more.
Eczema Treatment Kids
Baby eczema that persists into child eczema can range from mild to severe and is often associated with allergies. We recommend that if you suspect allergies to have this assessed, prior to your consultation at the clinic, where possible. Older children are more likely to have allergies to “aero-allergens” which include dust, grasses and animal dander. Additional triggers in child eczema include chlorine from swimming and stressful situations, such as starting school or moving home. Non-atopic child eczema has a very different nature to atopic dermatitis and again requires a thoughtful and comprehensive treatment approach that addresses both symptoms and triggers.
Eczema Treatment – Severe (Topical Steroid Withdrawal)
Severe forms of eczema, including Topical Steroid Withdrawal presentations require an experienced practitioner to ensure that adequate care is taken when prescribing treatment. Often an integrative approach is required to ensure the patient is adequately monitored for potential complications such as dehydration, infection and poor temperature control. At the Psoriasis Eczema Clinic we have a unique protocol which involved a mixture of gentle topical therapy, oral therapy, diet and lifestyle therapy along with “no moisturising therapy” techniques as required. Every patient with Topical Steroid Withdrawal is different in regards to presentation, severity and skin tolerance and therefore treatments are frequently adjusted according to individual needs.
If you would like to make a booking for your eczema treatment, please contact the clinic today