There’s nothing wrong with being a little flaky. In fact, the Mayo Clinic estimates that the United States sees around three million cases of eczema per year. And according to the National Eczema Association, more than 31 million Americans have one form of eczema or another.
Nevertheless, it’s not necessarily fun to live your life with itchy, flaky skin. Although eczema is extremely common and many resources are available for those who deal with it daily, it’s hard for some to get what they need when it comes to treatment—whether it be a product recommendation that actually helps or someone to commiserate with.
Well, dear eczema-riddled or eczema-curious reader, you’ve come to the right place. Your clean beauty-obsessed, knowledgeable and helpful friends at Odele are here to help you soothe your worries (and itchy skin).
What is eczema?
Known scientifically in its most common form as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a condition that can result in itchy, dry skin, inflammation and changing skin color. It’s not contagious, but it is rather irritating.
While there are many different types of eczema, the symptoms of atopic dermatitis usually include a rash—which might occur more often in places where your skin creases—and small bumps. Your skin might also turn lighter or darker and show gray, brown or red patches, depending on your skin tone. Other symptoms include rough, leathery or scaly (cool adjectives, huh?) patches of skin, oozing or crusting (less cool) and swelling or raised areas.
Curious about other types of eczema? We wouldn’t leave you hanging!
Atopic dermatitis: What you just read about. Scroll up!
Hand eczema: It’s eczema, but only on your hands! Folks who frequently work with your fingers, this one might apply to you.
Nummular eczema: Named after the Latin word for “coin,” nummular eczema results in coin-shaped spots on your skin.
Dyshidrotic eczema: Characterized by tiny blisters on your hands and feet.
Contact dermatitis: A type of eczema that’s triggered by direct contact with something disagreeable, like a specific allergen or irritating chemical. Hello, poison ivy!
Stasis dermatitis: A bit different from the rest, stasis dermatitis is caused by fluid buildup in your lower legs.
What causes eczema?
While eczema may come out of the blue for some (it typically shows up in childhood), it can also be hereditary. Other factors that can contribute to its intensity include dry skin, your immune system and environmental triggers (climate, food, certain fabrics, stress and allergens, to name but a few). Often, a flare-up will have to do with a combination of causes.
According to the National Eczema Foundation, a breakout often comes after “an irritant or an allergen from outside or inside the body ‘switches on’ the immune system,” thus producing inflammation.
How to care for eczema-prone skin
Because there’s no singular cause of or cure for eczema and no exact way to diagnose it, a one-size-fits-all treatment plan is impossible. This is a bummer, because we like to keep things simple around here.
However, hope is not lost. While your doctor, dermatologist or allergy specialist is an extremely good source of eczema information and treatment ideas, there are some things you can do from home to soothe your tortured skin. The best tip? Treat it with tons of kindness.
For some people, this might mean simply taking the time to figure out—to the best of your ability—what triggers your flare-ups and avoid those things at all costs. You can also play around with water temperature when it comes to your showers and baths (stay away from extremes, lukewarm is best!), add some colloidal oats or baking soda to your tub and try, try, try not to scratch.
Other tips include making sure to moisturize plenty, avoid rubbing your skin, use a humidifier if you live in a dry area, wear soft, natural fabrics and use only mild cleansers. Speaking of which...
Best products for eczema-prone skin
As fate would have it (just kidding, it’s thanks to plenty of painstaking care and intensive research by us), our newly launched Ultra Sensitive Body Wash is accepted by the National Eczema Association.
Fragrance-free, sulfate-free and made specifically for sensitive and reactive skin, this cleansing wash is infused with restorative oats to hydrate your dry and sensitive epidermis. It’s also pH-balanced to moisturize, soothe and protect your skin’s natural barrier.
Any other itches you need us to scratch (or to tell you not to scratch)? We’re listening at @odelebeauty!