You must have heard it often: wash your hands regularly to fend off germs and bugs, especially if you work in a hospital or in healthcare industry. But those squeaky-clean hands can make you vulnerable to an itchy skin also known as eczema. A study conducted on over 2,000 healthcare workers revealed that about 50% of people who washed their hands more than 10 times a day suffered from hand eczema, compared with 43% of those with no hand eczema.
Experts believe that our mania with “ultra-cleanliness” is one of the important factors causing eczema and can agitate the development of a good immunity system.
“Skin is not simply a beautiful garment to be moisturized and botoxed”, says Colin, consultant dermatologist. Skin is an important organ of our body and we should care more about its functions and prevent from lifestyle risks.
How the condition can affect kids?
Latest reports from the National Eczema Society revealed that a startling one in five kids are currently suffering from eczema. Eczema usually starts in early days that cause the skin patches to become dry and intensely itchy.
One of the factors that increased the probability of eczema included with kids younger than age 4 – not really surprising when we mull over how often children need cleaning up.
There is evidence that germs and dirt can protect against disease and our ultra-based cleanliness can actually be bad for health. Without exposure to germs and dirt in childhood, the immune system wouldn’t learn how to control its reaction to such invaders and can further lead to allergies and other diseases later in life.
If not taken good care, outbreaks can weep, bleed and become infected and cause severe discomfort – including children’s sleep.
Why is it on the rise?
Here are few key triggers:
- It runs in the family: That suggests a hereditary role in the development of eczema. If one or both parents have or had eczema, it’s more likely that their kids would suffer from eczema too. Studies claim that if a parent is suffering from eczema, the child has 60% chance to get it.
- Our homes are too clean: Early exposure to bacteria and bugs strengthens our immunity system for keeping us healthy and the body doesn’t react excessively to innocent substances.
- We bath kids too much: In old days, “bath day” was just once or twice a week, but today it has become a daily activity for kids. Bathing kids with something that creates foam – strips the skin natural oils that lack in moisturizer and forms a protective obstruction.
So how can we stay both clean and itch-free?
For obvious reasons, we cannot avoid washing our hands. Cleanliness protects us from germs and illness, thus finding the middle ground is necessary. Here are few tips:
- Use Lukewarm water and apply moisturizer – When washing your hands, use lukewarm water and a mild soap and apply an optimizing moisturizer as soon as possible. Also, if you are wearing ring, make sure to remove it before washing your hands, as it can trap soap underneath and induce irritation.
- Use gel – When washing your hands, apply a skin barrier optimizing gel which is preservative-free. This would help keep soap and water OUT and water IN the skin.
- Avoid fragrances – Avoid harsh soaps and touching metal objects. Antibacterial soaps contain a chemical called triclosan, which induces resistance to the bacteria in our environment.
- Avoid products that contain essential oils – Essential oils contain many of the allergic chemicals. Read the labels carefully before using such products.
- Use a steroid cream – Dr Bewley says, they are still most effective to get eczema under control immediately. But there are many misconceptions that parents use them sparingly. However, if applied properly, steroid creams can be very effective in controlling flare-ups. Yes, steroids can cause thinning skin and should be applied under supervision.
- Control the itching – Continual itching is the worst things about the disease for babies and children. Itching can lead to skin infections that need antibiotic treatment. Use can use cotton clothing for babies and keep children’s nails short.