It’s my birthday! I’m still currently out of the country, but oh well! We’re going to talk about me! Or at least one of the issues that’s plagued me my whole life: eczema.

Eczema is an inherited, allergic, skin condition. People with a family history of eczema are more likely to also suffer from eczema, but people without a family history can still have it. That does not mean that eczema is contagious—it is not. It causes the skin to be abnormally susceptible to drying out, which in turn causes red, scaly, itchy patches. As seen in the picture above, some of the rash spots on my arm haven’t completely tanned out. If blisters form, usually with clear liquid inside, the skin is infected.

Children and infants are more likely to suffer from eczema than adults. Typically, it tends to get better and fade as the individual grows up, but it has the potential to stick with people throughout their whole life. Mine seems to have improved in the last several years, but I still get flare-ups now and then.

Lots of things can trigger an eczema inflammation: dry skin, scratching, swimming pool chemicals, rough clothing/carpets, perfumes/scented lotions or soaps, stress, or heat and humidity. Even random things, such as shaving, can cause a patch of eczema to flare up. It’s a very annoying condition.

Dealing with eczema is not easy, but there are some things you can do to relieve the symptoms. The first is DO NOT SCRATCH! I will admit that I have poor self-control and will scratch a patch of eczema with reckless abandon, but I always regret it later as scratching just makes it worse. So don’t scratch. Cold compresses/wet wraps can help reduce the itchy sensation, but just covering the area to create a barrier against scratching helps a lot. If you feel you can’t 100% control the scratching, clip your nails short so any scratching that occurs will be less harmful.

 Drink a lot of water; keep you and your skin hydrated. And if you know what’s bound to trigger your eczema, avoid it, obviously. Try to avoid using scented products on your skin. Your doctor can prescribe creams, ointments, and moisturizers to help treat eczema or they may suggest allergy antihistamines to control the allergic reaction in general.

As mentioned, heat and humidity can cause eczema reactions, so being out in the sun too much doesn’t help. Sweating definitely irritates a rash, so that’s two strikes against the sun. Even the temperature of your shower can affect eczema. As a fan of really hot showers, this is very disappointing because it dries out your skin afterwards.

I don’t know if I could ever cover every aspect of eczema in a single blog. There are so many ways that people treat and manage and cope with eczema that a single internet search will give you a variety of answers. I haven’t tested them all so I can’t really vouch for any, but definitely consult a doctor before going to any drastic measures in search of eczema relief.

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