CALLING ALL ECZEMAMIS OVER HERE! Over the holidays, we connected with our DotCom community about Black Friday, what they were purchasing, and how everyone’s holidays were going. In doing so, we noticed a ton of our members were struggling with eczema flare ups. Many of them noticed this was due to the foods they were eating over the holidays and the dry winter weather. At least 1 in 10 individuals are affected by eczema over a lifetime representing all races and ethnicities (National Eczema Association, 2022).
WHAT IS ECZEMA?
Eczema (eg-zuh-MUH) is an inflammatory skin condition that causes itchiness, dry flaky skin, rashes, scaly patches, blisters and skin infections. The skin barrier of eczemamis can't function as effectively and may be “leaky, allowing intruders – bacteria, viruses, pollen, dust, pollution and others – to enter and irritate our skin and wreak havoc in our immune system (National Eczema Association, 2022).
Have you heard of a “flare-up”? It's definitely a common term bounced around when talking about eczema. It’s used to describe a phase of eczema when they are experiencing one or more acute symptoms or side effects like prolonged itchiness. An eczema flare up can last for several days and up to weeks at a time (National Eczema Association, 2022).
However, it is important to remind everyone that eczema is not contagious! You can’t “catch it”! While the cause of eczema is unknown, researchers do know that people develop eczema due to genes and environmental triggers (National Eczema Association, 2022).
HOW DOES IT AFFECT BIPOC DIFFERENTLY?
In America, 19.3% of Black children have eczema, compared to 16.1% of white and 7.8% of Asian children. Another study found that Black children are 1.7 times more likely to develop atopic dermatitis than white children (National Eczema Association, 2022). Eczema affects more Black people (about 20%), Hispanic people (about 8%) and Asian people (about 8%) (National Eczema Association, 2022).
What does eczema look like for darker skin? Since redness may be hard to see for darker skin tones, eczema flare-ups may present as pigment changes like darker brown, purple or ashen grey in color. Other symptoms for darker skin tones include skin swelling, warmth, dryness/scaling or itching and oozing (National Eczema Association, 2022).
Even when the skin is healed, it may still appear darker or lighter than the surrounding normal skin; called hyperpigmentation or hyperpigmentation. Unique forms of eczema may be seen in darker skin tones – Black Americans more commonly develop small bumps on the torso, arms and legs (called papular eczema). Sometimes, bumps develop around hair follicles and resemble goosebumps (called follicular accentuation) (National Eczema Association, 2022).
TIPS FOR OUR ECZEMAMIS
There may not presently be a cure for eczema, but there are so many treatments available, and more on the horizon as new treatments are currently in development! (National Eczema Association, 2022).
Here are some ways to stay on top of your eczema & strengthen your skin barrier (National Eczema Association, 2022):
- Know your triggers! Are they stress? Foods? Products?
- Have a consistent bathing and cleaning routine.
- Look for moisturising and barrier-strengthening products
- If you’re prescribed over-the-counter (OTC) and/or medications, use as advised. However, be careful about topical steroid dependency which for some may cause topical steroid withdrawal in the future (National Eczema Association, 2022).
- Watch for signs of skin infection — pus-filled bumps, pain, redness or heat.
- Keep an eye on your diet as some foods have been studied to cause flare ups in eczema.
- Stress management
Strengthen Our Barriers!
Here are some ingredients that have been suggested to be helpful for improving barrier function:
- Squalene and jojoba oil, which are also components found in the skin’s sebum and help retain water content in the skin (Rasayan J Chem)
- Ceramides and Centella Asiatica are also great for your skin barrier
- NMFs (amino acids, lactic acid, glycerin, sodium pca) help restore water content to the skin
Read more about NMFs in our journal!
OTC eczema treatments are both topical and oral medications that you can buy without a prescription. You can find a range of OTC treatments that can help with eczema symptoms such as itchiness, redness and irritation. Other OTC treatments can help prevent flare ups and assist with sleep when that night-time itchiness is keeping you up. Many OTC products are available in both brand-name or generic forms (National Eczema Association, 2022).
Along with having a family history of eczema, many common household items can also trigger allergic reactions leading to up to an eczema flare up. To avoid being triggered by a household product, make sure to use products with the National Eczema Association Seal of AcceptanceTM. (National Eczema Association, 2022)
Some people have had experience with certain foods that can cause eczema or make it worse. Foods that have been linked to eczema include eggs, dairy, chicken, soybeans, fish, nuts and wheat (Harvard Health Publishing, 2019). Try keeping a food journal and note those triggers! You can also try taking a food intolerance test to check those triggers. Seeking help from a naturopathic doctor can also help you manage your future flare-ups!
A great way to start managing your stress is to check your routine, lifestyle and habits. Read more in our journal on stress and how to manage it! We talk about ways to manage stress by meditation, self-care, reading a book, movement, skin care, hair care, having fun with friends, eating clean whole foods and more!
Now that we’ve definitely covered everything we need to know about eczema and how it affects BIPOC communities differently, we hope you eczemamis have the right tools to fight it! If you want to join our DotCom community where we talk about eczema and all sorts of other topics, sign up here :) Cheers to less flare-ups, feeling good and doing good!
“The Science of Eczema on Darker Skin” National Eczema Association, 20 September 2022, https://nationaleczema.org/blog/the-science-of-eczema-on-darker-skin/
“Eczema: Atopic Dermatitis” National Eczema Association, 15 July 2021 https://nationaleczema.org/blog/skin-directed-atopic-dermatitis-report/
“Get Relief from Eczema.” Harvard Health, 17 October 2019, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/get-relief-from-eczema
“Eczema in Skin of Color.” National Eczema Association, 2 September 2022, https://nationaleczema.org/blog/eczema-in-skin-of-color/
“Treatment.” National Eczema Association, https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/treatment/bathing/
Sandha, G.K. and Swami, V.K., 2009. Jojoba oil as an organic, shelf stable standard oil-phase base for cosmetic industry. Rasayan J Chem, 2(2), pp.300-306.
“Topical Steroid Withdrawal” National Eczema Association, https://nationaleczema.org/topical-steroid-withdrawal/
DISCLAIMER: THIS POST DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AS MEDICAL ADVICE. THIS POST IS NOT MEANT TO TREAT, CURE, PREVENT, OR DIAGNOSE CONDITIONS OR DISEASES; AND IS MEANT FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. AS ALWAYS, PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TRYING ANY NEW TREATMENTS OR SUPPLEMENTS.