I’m one of the millions of people on this planet with eczema. Up to 20% of the world’s children suffer from eczema and up to 3% of adults suffer from either eczema or psoriasis. And that number continues to rise, in fact, eczema, allergies and asthma are more common today than 30 years ago, especially in children.
What is Eczema?
Eczema is an inflammatory dry skin condition where the skin attacks itself for some reason. This response could be triggered by anything from stress to genetics to water to soap or food. The result is dry, itchy skin that needs daily care.
Eczema manifests in a range of severity. Some people experience symptoms like itchy, dry, irritated skin while others have painful, itchy, chronically inflamed, oozing, crusted areas covering the entire body.
Constant itching and scratching causes the skin to split and bleed and also leaves it open to infection.
How is Skin Affected by Eczema
Healthy skin is a result of the epidermis being intact.The epidermis is the visible part of our skin. It’s made of multiple layers, the outermost layer being the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum is the protective layer, known as the moisture barrier or lipid barrier. It’s made up of dead skin cells which are continuously shed and replaced by newer cells. These dead skin cells are held together by fatty acids, ceramides and other lipids. The lipids and dead skin cells act as a waterproof barrier that lubricates the skin surface, keeps water in the skin and prevents microbes like bacteria, fungi and viruses from penetrating it.
If you have eczema, your skin may not produce enough lipids. The lipid barrier is compromised and moisture loss is enhanced. Microbes and allergens easily penetrate the skin and damage it.
When you come in contact with triggers like soap, stress or dust, your skin quickly gets irritated and eczema flares up.
While the exact cause of eczema is unknown, continuous research on the types and probable causes of eczema has helped many people effectively manage their symptoms.
What triggers your eczema? Let me know in the comments below.