Written by Stacy Tse Tein

Eczema: chances are, you are interested to continue reading this article because you yourself or someone you know have eczema. It’s so common that about 20 percent in Malaysia and Singapore have been diagnosed or previously been diagnosed with eczema.

Eczema (eg-zuh-MUH) is a general term used to describe skin conditions that cause the skin to become red, itchy, dry, cracked and inflamed. Eczema can appear in any part of the body, typically on skin folding, such as inner elbows, the back of the knees, neck and ankles. Rest assured, eczema is not contagious, you cannot ‘catch it’ from someone else.


What are the causes of Eczema?

Medical experts don’t really know what causes of eczema, but it’s thought to be linked to an overactive response by the body’s immune system to an irritant. It is this response that causes the symptoms of eczema.

In addition, eczema is commonly found in families with a history of other allergies or asthma. Also, defects in the skin barrier could allow moisture out and germs in where it leads to inflammation and infection.


The Cost of Eczema

The most typical tube of 15g steroid cream from pharmacy can cost you ranging from RM5 or more, depending on the type, brand and duration needed to treat. However, the total cost might be higher than what you could imagine! The total cost is usually higher when you include the cost of those creams, moisturizers and hypoallergenic soaps needed to control and prevent eczema. Not to mention those costs for doctor/specialist visits and supplements recommended to improve the skin condition.


How to control Eczema?

The first step is to get a consultation from your doctor or skin specialist. Your doctor can recommend you the correct types of cream whether there will be steroid or non-steroid depending on your age, types of skin eczema, areas affected and severity.

Short term steroid creams or even oral steroids might sometimes be prescribed to control the flare of eczema, they are very useful in relieving inflammation and discomfort fast.

However, steroid carries a range of side effects: –

  • Steroid Creams: thinning of the skin, acne, red skin lesions
  • Oral Steroid: Glaucoma, gastric, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, weight gain, mood swings etc.

Discuss your treatment plan with your healthcare professionals so you may achieve significant benefits with a reduced risk of such side effects. Pairing with some non-drug remedies might also reduce your need to use steroids.

Other tips include:

  • Moisturize frequently with good moisturisers (sometimes trial-and-error is AneeD to find the most suitable one for you)
  • Avoid sudden changes in temperature or humidity.
  • Avoid sweating or overheating.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Avoid scratchy materials, such as wool.
  • Avoid harsh soaps, detergents, and solvents.
  • Be aware of any foods that may cause an outbreak and avoid those foods.

Supplements that might help to reduce Eczema

Probiotics: works by maintaining healthy gut flora and influencing your body immune response. Clinical evidence of the use of probiotics in treating eczema is somewhat mixed. Strains like Lactobacillus rhamnoses GG, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus Fermentum PCC and Lactobacillus acidophilus probiotics in single or multi-strain formulations show promise for prevention and treatment of eczema. Some studies also suggest that consumption of probiotic during pregnancy or breastfeeding may prevent the occurrence of eczema in the infant.

Others supplements that have increasing popularity in the community for eczema includes, turmeric extracts, elderberry extracts, olive extract, fish oil and supplement with gama-linolenic acid (GLA).

You can always drop by to speak to your friendly pharmacists if you have any questions and ask them for some good product recommendations.