Eczema is a skin condition and inflammation of the outer layer of the skin (epidermis), for which many individuals seek eczema treatment. Although eczema can affect people of various ages, it is most common with infants.

Eczema often gets confused with other skin conditions such as heat rashes or psoriasis. There are many different types of eczema, but atopic dermatitis is the most common one, which is an allergic reaction. Carefully monitoring the rash when the skin condition occurs, along with keeping a list of foods and products that may trigger a reaction, may help to identify the skin condition and causes.

Eczema Symptoms

Itching is the most common symptom of eczema, along with a rash and redness of the skin. Dry and crusty skin sometimes cracks open, and oozing may be present. These symptoms can manifest on different parts of the body such as the face (cheeks and forehead), neck, scalp, arms, legs, ankles, knees and elbows.

Eczema Causes

Medical studies have not been able to determine the exact cause of eczema, but reports do suggest that a weakened immune system or poor skin barrier may be prevalent with this skin disease. Factors that may bring on an episode of eczema are harsh fabric detergents or household cleaning products, fragrances or perfumes, stress, extreme temperatures, improperly drying of the skin (gentle but thorough drying), dust mites and food allergies.

How Moisturizers Help Eczema

Moisturizers that contain petroleum jelly and mineral oil may help with eczema. An oatmeal cream or lotion has also been known to help to soothe and heal the skin. It is important to select products that do not contain fragrances or perfumes, because these might make eczema flare-ups worse.

Studies show that moisturizers do help to maintain the protective skin barrier and help to keep the skin soft and flexible. Moisturized skin tends to not dry up and is less prone to cracking. Moisturizers that are greasy, rather than creamy, tend to have fewer preservatives and will be more beneficial for the skin.

How to Use

It is recommended to apply the protective moisturizer immediately after bathing and gently drying the skin. Lukewarm water is best instead of hot temperatures, as well as bathing or showering every second day, rather than daily. Although this may prove to be difficult for many, a light sponge bath with only the use of water and gentle cleaning may be the answer. The moisturizers can be applied to the clean and dry skin, usually once or twice daily. It may be necessary to try several types to see what works best.

Caring for the Skin

There are other ways of preventing and protecting the skin from an eczema breakout, such as wearing gloves to protect the hands from detergents or extreme temperatures (being careful not to allow the hands to sweat profusely, as this could worsen the skin), wearing cotton clothes, using mild unscented soaps and avoiding scratching the affected skin. It is important to take proper care of the skin even though the eczema treatment has healed the affected areas, because the skin condition can recur.