The National Institutes of Health estimates that more than 15 million Americans have symptoms of atopic dermatitis – otherwise known as eczema. Although there are several different types of eczema, atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin disease characterized by inflamed and itchy skin. According to the NIH, health insurance companies pay out over $1 billion in medical care costs for eczema treatment every year. Considering how many Americans are uninsured or underinsured, the actual cost for eczema care is likely much higher.
Causes of Eczema
Unfortunately, the specific cause of eczema is unknown, but according to the NIH, “the disease seems to result from a combination of genetic (hereditary) and environmental factors.” It appears that allergies and immune system disorders are associated with eczema, and that stress can cause eczema outbreaks in people who have inherited the tendency for the condition. Environmental irritants that can trigger or exacerbate outbreaks include dust, cigarette smoke, wool or synthetic clothing fibers, soaps, cosmetics, and household chemicals.
According to the NIH, “Scientists estimate the 65 percent of patients develop symptoms in the first year of life, and 90 percent develop symptoms before the age of five.” In other words, infant eczema is much more prevalent than adult-onset eczema. Moreover, about 60 percent of those with baby eczema will continue to have symptoms of the condition into adulthood.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for eczema, and there are concerns about using standard medical treatments for infants and children. According to the NIH, the two goals of eczema treatment are preventing outbreaks and healing the skin. Doctors sometimes prescribe immuno-modulators that come in ointment or cream form, but these cannot be used in children under two years of age. In addition, unwanted side effects like burning or itching can occur.
A wide range of other mediations is also used to treat the condition, including antihistamines, immuno-suppressants, and antibiotics (to treat skin infections). Most commonly, corticosteroids are prescribed, either as a cream or a pill. This class of medications is problematic for a number of reasons, notably that long-term use can have serious and life-threatening side effects.
Home Relief for Itching with Eczema
As an alternative to medications that are rife with side effects, there are all-natural eczema treatments on the market that can stop the itching, re-hydrate the skin, and promote healing. For example, eczema bath salts use natural essential oils with healing properties that also condition the skin, soothe itching, and stop oozing. Parents are embracing these natural treatments because they are not harmful to children, help to prevent the infections caused by scratching, and turn the nightmare of bath time into a welcome respite.
Those who suffer from hand eczema or a rash on other parts of the body can turn to a number of remedies, but a natural eczema treatment provides an inexpensive, safe alternative to prescription medications.