National Eczema Week calls for more awareness and varied treatment of the condition
Getting that annoying little itch that simply won't go away can drive even the most saintly people up the wall. However, the impact of eczema, which leaves sufferers with permanently irritated and itchy skin, is far more damaging.
In the UK, one in five children and one in 12 adults have eczema, while eczema and contact dermatitis account for 84-90 per cent of occupational skin disease.
The condition leaves skin raw, red and scaly. It stings and it can look very unsightly when not covered by clothes. Yet there is surprisingly little information about how to treat eczema.
The National Eczema Society is running National Eczema Week from September 17-25 and hopes to raise awareness of the emotional fallout from living with the condition.
Many patients have reported that nobody ever asks them how they feel in themselves but only occasionally that their skin looks very sore.
Luke Burrows, 20, of Union Street, Ulverston, has suffered from eczema for his whole life and says the condition deserves more awareness and compassion. He said: "More needs to be done to educate people about eczema because hardly anybody seems to be aware of how it can affect your everyday life.
"I think if people understood more about how it works, hopefully doctors will find something in the future to help cure it maybe or something better to help people live with it."
A common misconception is that eczema is a condition only seen in children. Many people do 'grow out' of their childhood eczema but then may see it recur in later life. Eczema can affect people of any age and although with some people it can be intermittent, some people like Luke suffer with it every day and it can affect their work life too.
He said: "I work as a personal trainer at a gym in Ulverston and my eczema can be a real problem for me at work.
"Eczema is aggravated by heat and if I sweat at the gym it can make the irritation almost unbearable. Of course that also causes problems with sleeping too and it wakes me up a lot in the night.
"I have to have some sort of cream or treatment with me at all times because I don't know when it will flare up. Especially now we are getting into the winter because the air is dryer and everyone has heaters on which makes it really bad.
"I have to be on top of it all the time every day, it is quite tiring. I know that a lot of people are suffering with much worse conditions than me but it would be brilliant if there could be something found to cure eczema."
Many sufferers are turning to holistic treatments for their eczema as the steroid creams that are often prescribed are very harsh. Advice from the therapists at Grange Skin Clinic include a few simple lifestyle tips that can greatly improve the quality of peoples skin:
-Take proper ‘down-time’, both mentally and physically.
-Keep well hydrated throughout the day.
-If the skin is inflamed, it is best to go to bed early if you can, as it gives the body more time to rest and repair.
-Don’t plaster the skin with large amounts of cream as this can keep heat in that is trying to escape via the skin.
-Avoid foods that irritate eczema and psoriasis such as tomatoes, mushrooms, yeast products, alcohol and pickled/smoked foods.
-If you need to scratch lesions, make sure your nails are short to minimise chances of causing bleeding.
To find out more about National Eczema Week, visit: www.eczema.org.
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