Eczema is characterised by dry, red, irritated skin which at times can become cracked and bleeding. It is often unbearably itchy and painful.

The most common places to find it is on the hands, ankles and feet, and in the creases of elbows and knees. Infants and young children often suffer from eczema, which then seems to resolve itself as they grow older, but it can re-occur at any time in life thereafter.

Eczema can also be known as allergic dermatitis (inflammation of the skin)

It is generally accepted that eczema is an allergy problem, usually to something that has been in contact with the skin, such as detergent, creams or chemicals, but eczema sufferers can also react to substances ingested such as foods, drinks, artificial flavourings and colourings (E numbers).

eczema skin rashAnother frequent cause of eczema is contact with the house dust mite and its droppings. People often find that if they go away on holiday to a hot country where the floors are not carpeted, there is no central heating, and the surfaces are wiped down by the maid each day, their eczema starts to disappear, only to quickly re-occur once they get home again. Once this is realised, they can begin to take evasive action, such as damp-dusting bedrooms every day, special mattress and pillow protectors, removal of carpets and other soft furnishings etc.

Eczema is affected by stress

However, another reason why they may improve on holiday is a reduction in the overall stress levels of the body. Here again, emotions and psychological factors come into play, as worry, frustration, irritation and other negative emotions have the effect of depressing the immune system so that resistance to allergy is also reduced. Once the person is feeling more relaxed and at ease, the immune system starts to recover and the allergy threshold goes down again.

Obviously, people can't be on holiday all year round, but another efficient way of reducing stress levels and dissipating negative emotions is with Health Kinesiology, a holistic therapy that releases stress trapped in the body in a gentle and acceptable manner. In this way, it is possible to get to the cause of why the eczema started in the first place, rather than just trying to suppress the symptoms. Read more about this at www.hk4health.co.uk

Hydrocortisone (steroid) creams

Doctors may provide soothing creams to rub on or put in the bath, and often also prescribe hydrocortisone (steroid) creams. These are quite successful at suppressing the eczema symptoms, but need to be used continually. The side effects of steroid creams can be quite dramatic thinning of the skin.