What causes Eczema?

We see a lot of people with the skin condition eczema. It’s unpleasant and unsightly on the face. Some people eventually get used to it and forget how clear their natural skin used to look.

What is eczema?

Eczema is a condition where patches of skin become red, itchy, inflamed, cracked and rough. It can become a chronic condition. Eczema is not contagious. 

Who has it?

Eczema affects children more than adults. Adults tend to get it on their hands and feet. Among young New Zealanders, it affects 15% of children and 9% of adolescents. It is more prevalent among New Zealanders of Maori and Pacific Island ethnicity. People with hay fever and asthma may be more susceptible to it, and it often runs in families.  
What causes it? 

The exact cause is unknown but there seems to be a strong genetic link as it typically occurs in families with atopic diseases such as eczema, asthma and allergies. Recent research has shown mutations in the gene for a protein which is important in building a healthy skin barrier have been described in some of the more severe cases. People can have unique or specific triggers which make their eczema flare and these include allergens, chemical irritants (e.g. some soaps, household cleaning products and even the type of laundry powder used to wash clothes) and even emotional factors like stress triggering the condition.

Our skin acts as a natural barrier helping protect the body from environmental challenges.  Any factor which disrupts the ability of the skin to protect the body can result in the loss of moisture, causing dryness and allowing entry to allergens, irritants and bacteria, which produce inflammation and infection.

Some of the factors or triggers are:

• Factors that cause the skin to become dry
• A family history of the disease
• A personal history of asthma or food allergies
• Immune system disorders
• Chemical and bacterial irritants
• Emotional stress
How is it treated?

The main goal of treatment is to eliminate the itching, which provokes or worsens the other symptoms and also, causes the most discomfort. 

Bacterial infection can also be treated with a course of antibiotics. Corticosteroids reduce the inflammation in response to an allergic reaction.

Our Kawakawa Balm contains an anti-inflammatory agent called myristicin which is shown to decrease inflammatory markers like nitric oxide in the skin cells. Further Kawakawa also possesses analgesic qualities as well as the oil itself is a humectant which can soothe inflamed skin. Along with our Mānuka Oil (which is an anti-bacterial) we have had extremely positive reviews on how these two products help reduce the symptoms of eczema significantly.