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A hot (and slightly itchy) topic in the beauty industry, Eczema has been a persistent sore spot for over 30 million Americans. Our founder of Intoxicating Beauty, Teresa Norvell, is one of these sufferers and has suffered from Eczema off and on for many years.

Eczema sufferers, despite some not necessarily having the diagnosis, deal with symptoms on an all too regular basis. Since October is National Eczema Awareness Month, we’re breaking down the enigma that is Eczema (pronounced “egg-zeh-muh”) – debunking myths you might’ve heard, decoding symptoms you may be experiencing, and delivering sound solutions to soothing your skin.

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WHAT IS IT

Eczema is actually an umbrella term used to describe a range of different conditions that cause your skin to become red, itchy, inflamed and highly sensitive to irritants. According to the National Eczema Association, there are eight types of Eczema: atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, hand eczema, lichen simplex chronicus, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and stasis dermatitis. It may sound like a lot, but over 10% of the U.S. population are dealing with one form of it or another.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS

Eczema symptoms will vary depending on the kind you have and will range in severity from person to person. The unifying factor though, is an insatiable itching. You may feel compelled to scratch at your skin until it becomes red and inflamed or maybe even until it bleeds – which, as you can imagine, only makes things worse. Skin may be extremely dry, leathery or scaly, discolored, or oozing, crusty, and swollen at the itching site. You needn’t experience all of the aforementioned symptoms at once, or at all times for that matter – you may only experience them on a monthly or bi-monthly basis during a “flare-up.”

WHAT CAUSES IT

Eczema could be caused by a variety of factors – from genetics, to irritants in your environment, allergies, or food allergies, certain activities that increase skin sensitivity, or defects in your skin barrier which allow moisture to escape, and bacteria and viruses to make their way in. You’ll probably want to see an allergist to help determine exactly which irritants or allergy triggers are yours, if any. Unfortunately, emotional stress can also be a trigger. While the causes may be somewhat tricky to pin-point and it affects everyone differently, there are a few certainties: 1. Eczema isn’t contagious, and 2. Genetics do play a role in your chances of developing it.

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HOW TO TREAT IT

While there isn’t a steadfast cure for Eczema, there are many different options to try, and a range of prescription and over the counter treatments you can bring into your arsenal to soothe your symptoms. But, before you slather yourself with every self-proclaimed antidote you can get your hands one, we advise you see your local dermatologist or allergy specialist beforehand.  A specialist will be able to tell you which type of Eczema you’re dealing with and the best approach for managing it.

There may be certain foods rich in salicylates, amines, MSG, nitrates, and other triggers that you may need to avoid if you suffer from this mysterious skin condition.  And, although we love an occasional cocktail or two, too much alcohol can be drying to the skin and could cause Eczema flare-ups for some people.  If you’re an Eczema sufferer, you may need to take this into consideration and determine if drinking alcohol is having an affect on your condition.  Keeping a food diary for several weeks by recording what you eat, how much you eat, and any Eczema symptoms that occur soon afterwards could help you determine if alcohol or other foods are an issue. We recommend that you talk to your doctor to find out if any of these options can help you.  The National Eczema Association also has a wealth of information that could help educate you on the topic.

Surefire methods you can start implementing to help your situation? Moisturize daily. Our line of hops powered body care products are designed with sensitive skin in mind, with good-for-you ingredients to soothe, calm and moisturize irritated and inflamed skin. Another pro tip? Ditch the scalding hot water while you shower or bathing, as the heat dries out your skin and will only agitate your already angry skin. Give your skin all the moisture it can get by opting for lukewarm or (if you’re brave enough) cold water instead.  And, for the stress in your life, work on keeping it to a minimum. You may want to try breathing exercises, daily meditations, yoga, biofeedback, getting enough sleep, taking daily walks and listening to relaxing music.  How about laughter? Watching funny movies or going to your local comedy club to introduce more laughter into your daily routine is a fun way tohelp r educe stress with your family and friends.  

However dry and itchy you may be, Eczema symptoms can be managed, for most people.  Just remember, Eczema can affect people differently and the methods of treatment may vary from person from person.  So, it’s important to talk to your doctor on which methods are right for you. While the scaly symptoms can be more than a little discouraging, we hope we’ve lifted your chin up even a little bit. The most important thing you can do is eat healthy, stay positive and as stress-free as humanly possible – because your skin doesn’t define you.

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