Eczema is a family of skin disorders that share the common symptoms of inflamed skin and itching. The most common form of eczema is atopic eczema, which you may see also referred to as atopic dermatitis. The other main form of eczema is contact dermatitis So, what are the causes of eczema, and is it possible to become eczema free forever?
Well, it is important to understand that eczema is not a contagious disease. You cannot catch eczema from contact with a person who has the disorder. The word ‘atopic’ is a reference to a family of allergic disorders that have a tendency to go hand in hand, such as eczema, asthma and hay fever. These disorders are often genetic, meaning they are often inherited from our parents. It is often the case that a person with any one of these conditions will also develop one or more of the others.
Contact dermatitis is when the causes of eczema come from substances that come into contact with the skin, and can be divided into two sub categories: allergic contact dermatitis is when a substance that comes into contact with the skin causes an allergic reaction, and irritant contact dermatitis is when substances such as chemical detergents irritate the skin and cause a flare-up.
Since the most common causes of eczema stem from a genetically inherited disposition to this type of allergic reaction, it is fair to say there is no real cure, as it is not possible to alter our genetic make-up. Popular treatments include moisturisers, steroid creams, oral steroids, immuno-suppressants and antibiotics. Because eczema is still not properly understood by modern science, these treatments simply address the outwardly visible symptoms, not the underlying root cause.
Many people notice that there are some common triggers that can kick-start a flare-up of eczema, and identifying which of these triggers sets off a bout of eczema for you can help to reduce its prevalence. Common triggers include changes in temperature and sweat, rough or course materials in clothes and bedding, soaps and detergents, animal hair and dander, stress, and for women hormonal changes during pregnancy, the menstrual cycle and menopause.
To delve further into the root causes of eczema, we need to understand why these allergic reactions occur in the first place. It is believed that the immune system place a vital role in the manifestation of such atopic conditions as eczema, in that an over-active response to certain triggers occurs. This has led to the development of immuno-suppressants by pharmaceutical companies as a way to treat the condition.
The world of alternative medicine would also agree that the root causes of eczema lie in the way the immune system reacts, although they may be less inclined to suggest the use of immuno-suppressants. Suppressing the entire immune system could lead to vulnerability to other diseases and infection, you don’t use a sledge-hammer to swat a fly!
Alternative therapies and eczema home remedies are more inclined to help the immune system to function normally by taking a more holistic view. This involves addressing the toxins that disrupt the immune system, toxins that we ingest through our food, the polluted air and the household products we use. Since the prevalence of conditions such as asthma, hay fever, IBS, psoriasis and other ‘modern diseases’ has increased over last hundred years or so, it makes sense that the root causes of eczema could be attributed to the increasing toxicity of our modern lives.
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