Dermatitis is inflammation or irritation of the skin and eczema is a type of dermatitis. Eczema and dermatitis are terms used to describe a variety of inflamed and irritated skin conditions that can result in redness, rashes, itching, dry/flaky skin scabs, weepy sores or blisters.
Dermal conditions can originate from many things but often the underlying causes are allergic reactions to some kind. These can be either by direct contact with chemicals or other irritants (contact dermatitis) or through some genetic disposition to intolerance of any number of common allergens (atopic dermatitis or eczema).
Intolerance to primary irritants, dairy or wheat products are most common, but it can be very hard to discover what is causing this itchy, dry, red and raw skin condition. Allergies, psychological troubles (such as stress), fatigue, weather, chemicals, dishwashing or washing your hands or even working on projects which may expose your skin to harsh oils and grease, coarse clothing, even fragranced lotions can cause dermatitis.
Although it can affect any part of the body, the most common sites for eczema are on the face, hands, wrists, ears, in the bends of the elbows and behind the knees.
Eczema can appear in two main forms; dry (where the skin cracks and flakes), or weepy (where blisters form, then continue to ooze).
Although these skin conditions can afflict sufferers at any time, it appears to get worse this time of the year. Winter is always brutal to our skin! To help your skin soft and moist you must do several things:
- Protect it as much as possible from extreme temperature changes.
- Help prevent moisture loss by applying body moisturiser or a good body oil regularly.
- Drink plenty of liquids. Many people drink less fluid in the cooler winter months without realising that winter weather can dehydrate the skin very quickly.
- Avoid the use of harsh chemicals and cleaners (Tri Nature’s Body Wash, Gentle Face Wash, Chamomile Dishwashing Liquid and Baby Bath are the gentlest products of their type anywhere in the world and will not put any further stress on the skin during the healing process).
- Avoid synthetically fragranced cosmetics and perfumes. You may also need to discontinue using soaps.
- Allow yourself limited exposure to sunshine (this helps the body with the photo-chemical reactions it needs to make certain hormones and vitamins that keep the skin healthy).
How can Aromatherapy help?
Creating a barrier by applying oils, lotions or creams that place essential oils between your skin and the outdoor elements should shorten the time it takes for your skin t heal. Some of the best essential oils for eczema are:
All have wonderful healing properties and can help with secondary infections (bacterial and fungal) that can develop on itching and raw skin. Oils to help with itching and inflammation for example, include Roman Chamomile, Lavender and Bergamot. The lavender and Bergamot also help deal with stress or other psychological reasons that might be causing the skin to react.
Be sure to mix your essential oils with lotions, cream or carrier oils. Try using an unscented lotion or base cream and add a few drops of essential oil and apply several times a day.