We know that ‘genetic’ (inherited) factors play some part and probably make a child more at risk of developing eczema or other dry skin conditions, asthma and hay fever. However, it’s not all down to genetics, there are also a number of environmental factors that trigger atopic eczema in a susceptible child. Interestingly, these triggers are not always allergies. In fact, irritation caused by ordinary soaps, wearing wool next to the skin, overheating at night or even contact with water, dusty materials and pet hair may be more significant for eczema than specific allergies to foods or house dust mites
A recent study has shown that an abnormality in the gene that helps to maintain the skin barrier has been closely linked to the onset of eczema. A defect in the skin barrier makes the skin more susceptible to infection and irritation and allows allergens to penetrate the skin, causing itching and inflammation.
In children, the condition is quite easy to recognise. The skin might appear drier than normal. The location of atopic eczema is also quite typical. Patches of atopic eczema in infants and children up to the age of two usually appear first on the cheeks, forehead and scalp. They may occasionally also be seen on the neck and the body. Once the baby starts to crawl, eczema can be seen on the ankles, shins, wrists and forearms. From the age of three onwards, eczema is less frequently on the face, instead of appearing on the skin creases in front of the elbow and behind the knee. The upper arms and legs may also be affected, as well as hands and feet.
As you would expect if the skin barrier function is less than ideal, germs are attracted to the skin, which spells trouble for children with atopic eczema as infected eczema becomes more inflamed, itchy and more difficult to treat. One particular bacteria, called Staphylococcus Auresus, love to live on the skin of children with atopic eczema. An infection is obvious: skin has a yellowish crust and discharge is visible, while eczema itself is unstable and painful. The bacteria is not always obvious, however, so it is important to maintain a daily skincare routine (as recommended by the National Eczema Society) that will help to improve the skin’s overall cleanliness and prevent eczema flare-ups. Moisturisers should be applied several times every day to help the outer layer of your skin function better as a barrier to the environment. The drier your skin, the more frequently you should apply a moisturiser. Don’t forget: when choosing a new moisturiser it’s vital to test a small area of skin to check if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.
Atopic eczema may be troublesome for people in certain jobs that involve contact with irritant materials, such as catering, hairdressing, cleaning or healthcare work. Fortunately, while there is no known cure, many effective natural treatments are available to alleviate your symptoms and reduce inflammation and soothe your skin. Many doctors would prescribe cortisone based products. We believe in a more natural and holistic approach and would recommend first to try a different bathing option and explore some diet changes (removing gluten from the diet).
How Can We Help?
Organic New Zealand Manuka Oil, known for its amazing healing powers, is combined with organic, tree, nut-free oils to create this gentle, nourishing manuka oil product that will not irritate the skin. Our Manuka Biotic Body Lotion is a surprisingly soft and creamy balm, that’s excellent for healing open wounds and soothing irritated eczema skin.