In the book, “We Need To Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver, one of the many diabolical acts Kevin, the narrator’s evil son, undertakes is encouraging a young girl, Violetta, to viciously gouge her eczema inflicted skin after years of strict abstinence. In the book, Shriver gives one of the most vivid and haunting descriptions of the condition, writing that it, “itches like fury.” She describes little Violetta clutching her anti- itch ointment, although, “those antipruritics are only so effective anther self-control was impressive. She’d trace a fingernail tantalizingly over her arm and they grasp the offending hand with the other as if putting it on a leash.”
Shriver may or may not have ever known the experience of eczema, but, she surely puts it into perspective for those of us who haven’t. Eczema is a condition causing red, swollen and itchy patches of skin. There are many things in the environment that can trigger eczema and recognize and avoid them are key in keeping flare ups to a minimum.
Cold weather is no friend to eczema sufferers. Low temperatures cause the skin to become dry and prone to breakouts. Be sure to have moisturizing ointments handy in the winter and use a humidifier to combat dry air indoors. Try to keep humidity levels between 45 and 55 percent.
Synthetics, wool, and rough materials have been known to trigger eczema. Loose- fitting cotton is preferable. Always wash clothes before wearing them to get rid of excess dye and irritants and cut out tags.
Try to use a pH neutral, fragrance-free detergent and use the double rinse cycle to make sure you get all of the soap out of your clothes. Look for natural household cleansers and wear rubber gloves when cleaning.
Dust mites can trigger eczema flare-ups, particularly in small children. Made sure you get rid of dust magnets in your child’s room, like carpeting, rugs, and blinds. Wash sheets and curtains in hot water once a week and keep the room clean.
While it can never be totally avoided, excess stress may be eliminated with yoga and deep breathing. Relaxation will help to send your eczema plan in the right direction.
For those who suffer from atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, food allergies can trigger to the appearance of symptoms. Food allergies can be diagnosed with skin pricks and blood tests, however, the only way to know if your food is really the trigger is to have the doctor witness what happens after you eat the food, not a very enticing prospect. You must take the food challenge to know for sure.
If you are a makeup maven who has eczema, finding the right products can be a challenge. Try to avoid products with alcohol, lanolin, preservatives and perfume. Keep in mind the “unscented” label does not necessarily mean there is no fragrance; the fragrance may just be masked. “Fragrance-free” is a better guarantee, choose products with this on the label instead. Also, always test out a new cosmetic on a small patch of skin before deciding whether or not it is for you.
Unfortunately, Skippy and Fluffy may have to sleep outside for a while and they better keep off the furniture. Vacuuming can help keep down pet dander, a leading eczema trigger, as can regular grooming and bathing of pets.