We've been pretty lucky to skip eczema during childhood, even with all of my kids' allergies and other issues. A month ago, I noticed my first spot of possible eczema on my hand. I'd been visiting a family member in the hospital for a week, so I used a lot of sanitizer and washed my hands a lot with the harsh hospital soap several times a day. I showed it to my doctor, who confirmed it was eczema and recommended a steroid.
The steroid cream did work, but I would rather avoid steroids. I had a terrible reaction to an oral steroid earlier this year that took 6 months and many, many doctor's appointments to get over, so I really don't like taking them or using them topically. Instead, I looked for eczema treatments that I could use at home.
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What Causes Eczema?
According to the National Eczema Association, eczema is caused by genetics and environmental factors. So if your parents or siblings have it, you are likely to get it too if the conditions are right. Allergens, chemicals, and other irritants can cause an outbreak.
Symptoms of hand eczema include:
- Dryness, which can cause flaking or peeling
- Cracked skin
Change Your Soap
The first thing I did when I noticed the spot on my hand was to switch my soap at home. We go through so much soap at home, so I've been buying inexpensive refills. I switched to Method soap refills because it is more natural. It does have a fragrance and SLS, which I was trying to avoid, but it was the best I could find in my local store. It is working out well for me, even with the fragrance.
One of the most important eczema treatments is to moisturize regularly. I made this shea butter lotion this week just for my hands, and it is working very well. Aveeno also makes a great eczema lotion. Whatever lotion you use, make sure it doesn't have dyes, fragrances, or a lot of water.
Hey, Cari! Didn't you just say to keep the area moisturized? Yes, but not with water. Water is actually a big enemy of eczema. When the water evaporates, it can dry out your skin.
Wear gloves when washing the dishes or cleaning. This will also protect your skin from chemicals and irritants.
I know there's some controversy with petroleum jelly, but I did use some. It creates a barrier on the skin to trap moisture on the skin, which heals eczema on hands. It did really help my symptoms, so I used it when my eczema was at its worst. If you don't want to use petroleum jelly, use a hydrating gel or thick cream that doesn't have water. Coconut oil is also a good substitute, but I didn't find that it worked as well as the Vaseline.
I was in a bad cycle because I would get my eczema healed and then stop using a moisturizer. It would come back, and I'd use the moisturizers, and repeat. When it's not itching, I didn't even think to put anything on it. I put my lotion bottle beside the soap in the bathroom and kitchen so I would remember to use it every time I washed my hands.
What's your favorite eczema treatment?
Photo via imagerymajestic / freedigitalphotos.net
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