I live in the Midwest. Many dread the arrival of late fall and the oncoming winter onslaught. Oh, it’s not the snow or the cold weather. The problem is the trauma inflicted upon our skin. The colder dryer weather is tough on our skin. For some of us, the underlying problem is eczema. What you are about to read, although simple in nature, is the result of a 29 journey, my journey fighting eczema. It is a journey that started as a workplace chemical exposure that induced life long skin allergies and/or eczema for me and my fellow co-workers. This endeavor involved countless experiments using prescription ointments, steroidal creams, and over-the-counter lotions. Until recently, all met with failure or undesirable side effects and a closet full of junk. I know many who suffer from eczema, even those poor souls who think they just suffer from dry skin. The GOOD NEWS is that I have found great solutions for eczema relief.
What is Eczema?
The National Eczema Association provides the best descprition of eczema. They state:
“Eczema is the name for a group of conditions that cause the skin to become red, itchy and inflamed. There are eight types of eczema: atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, hand eczema, lichen simplex chronicus, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and stasis dermatitis.
Eczema is very common. And in many cases, it’s also manageable. In fact, over 30 million Americans have some form of eczema.
Living with eczema can be an ongoing challenge. The word “eczema” is derived from a Greek word meaning “to boil over,” which is a good description for the red, inflamed, itchy patches that occur during flare-ups.”
Before we go any further, I want to mention the wonderful resources available with the National Eczema Association (nationaleczema.org). This organization was not available to me at the onset of my symptoms. I encourage you to check out their website. They have had a positive influence on the development of commercially available over-the-counter treatments. The NEA provides a wealth of information on eczema avoidance & treatments. They provide great solutions for eczema relief. Click on the button to download their latest brochure on NEA certified personal care products.Download NEA Eczema Personal Care Products
What are the Symptoms of Eczema?
The symptoms can vary from person to person. Simply stated, eczema is itchy. For the average person, eczema is moderately itchy. For some, the condition is very painful with extremely inflamed skin. The cycle can get destructive with the itchiness driving people to scratching which results in bleeds. Here are some of the symptoms to look for:
- Rough, leathery or scaly patches of skin
- Oozing or crusting
- Red, inflamed skin
- Very bad itching
- Areas of swelling
- Dry, sensitive skin
- Dark colored patches of skin
Again, you many only have a few of these symptoms. The key is awareness and patient advocacy.
I suffer from hand eczema. Due to long-term workplace exposure to the petroleum solvent Isopar H (while using protective gloves & clothing), my hands now will crack and breakout in itchy painful inflamed spots when exposed to specific chemicals (more on this later). I spent 14 years fighting with doctors, firing doctors, etc. until I actually obtained an accurate diagnosis. Once I got the diagnosis, the dermatologist informed me that the only effective treatment was steroidal-based ointments. What I soon found was that steroidal-based skin creams & ointments resulted in a terrible side-effect for me. The side effect? Little sleep to literally no sleep. My dermatologist’s (now ex) response was “so what’s the problem?” I realized that I would have to employ my skills as a research scientist to discover a solution. Because my condition is a result of chemical allergies, I have discovered that I am actually allergic to some of the eczema personal care products available in America. Based upon my recent great results, I decided to create this post in order to offer encouragement to other eczema sufferers.
What Triggers Eczema?
No one knows for certain what causes eczema. Eczema sufferers typically have over-reactive immune systems. When their immune system is exposed to an allergen, the immune system attacks the body, The result: inflammation yielding itchy, red, & painful skin sores. Recent medical research indicates that there may be a genetic component to The National Eczema Association states “that people with eczema may have a mutation of the gene responsible for creating filaggrin – a protein that contributes to creating a healthy protective layer – or skin barrier – on the very top layer of our skin. Without enough filaggrin to build a strong skin barrier, moisture can escape and bacteria can enter. This is why people with eczema have extremely dry skin and a tendency to get infections.”
What is known is that certain components in your daily surroundings can trigger and even worsen your eczema. The key is identifying the triggers and eliminating them. In my case, the triggers are certain sulfur based compounds such as methyl lauryl sulfate & methyl laureth sulfate along with various petroleum derivatives. Here is a list of some of the more common irritants:
- Hand and dish soap
- Surface cleaners and disinfectants
- laundry detergent, shampoo
- Bubble bath and body wash
- Metals, in particular, nickel
- Certain fabrics such as wool and polyester
- Formaldehyde, which is found in household disinfectants, some vaccines, glues and adhesives
- Paraphenylene-diamine, which is used in leather dyes and temporary tattoos, among others
- Antibacterial ointment like neomycin and bacitracin
- Cocamidopropyl betaine used to thicken shampoos and lotions
- Isothiazolinones an antibacterial that is found in personal care products like baby wipes
- Cigarette smoke
Now the Good News!
And now for the good news! Yes, today there are successful treatments for relieving eczema pain. I am going to talk about 2 solutions that I have been using successfully over the last month. 1 month ago I went “back to the drawing board” when one of my older solutions, Neosporin Eczema Essentials Daily Moisturizing Cream, turned into a nightmarish trigger. This is something I have run into in the past. A solution may work for a time until the manufacturer changes ingredients. Chemical ingredients are financially viewed as commodities. When a different commodity becomes cheaper on comes a production change. All I know that is my tried & true Neosporin induced 35% coverage of eczema sores on the palms of both hands. And I had to go to my emergency supply of steroidal ointment. Game over! So I went back to the internet and got on Walgreens website. I like Walgreens because their team investigates & evaluates the OTC products they offer. Better still, their customers contribute extensively to product reviews. Eczema sufferers are a very active group. If something does not work they will “gun it down”. Lo’ and behold I found 2 new candidates. I went out and bought them, started using them, and began to have immediate relief which I have not experienced in the past. Both products have been tested by the National Eczema Association and have received their seal of approval. Let’s look at them in closer detail. Please note that I and the MakeTrix do not receive nor accept financial payments for product endorsements. Our assessments are based solely upon objective testing & experimentation.
Aveeno® Active Naturals® Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm
Due to the severity of my hand sores, I started using this product immediately. Aveeno® Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm is truly an ointment/balm that one must rub in. However, it does not leave a long term greasy fealing. I received immediate relief from the itchy pain when I applied the balm to my sores. This ointment is fragrance free, hypoallergenic, and steroid free. It sells currently for $19.49 per 11 oz. container at Walgreens. However, the 11 oz. container will last between 2-3 months as you only use a small amount with each application.
GOLD BOND® ULTIMATE Eczema Relief Skin Protectant Cream
The next morning I switched to the GOLD BOND® Eczema Relief cream. Why did I buy 2 different creams? Past experience with poorer performing products (not the case with these 2 wonderful products). I needed relief. As anyone who has suffered a severe burn or poison ivy knows, itching can be awful! This product is tested & approved by the NEA. It is fragrance free & steroid free. It sells currently for $11.99 per 8 oz. container at Walgreens. As a wild side note, while I was looking at the Aveeno product a retired NFL player walked up next to me (he had on an NFL Alumni jacket). Don’t ask me who it was because I am quite ignorant when it comes to football (not true with hockey). I saw he was looking over the GOLD BOND products. I asked him what he thought of this particular product (no I did not ask for his name but will if I run into him again). This friendly down-to-earth giant (compared to me) said that he highly recommended it as he has had great success with the product. GOLD BOND states that 8 out of 10 saw significant relief of dryness, scaling & roughness in 2 weeks. They also indicate that 9 out of 10 saw significant relief of redness/irritation in 4 weeks.. What is remarkable is that the GOLD BOND cream has completely removed all traces of eczema from my hands, a first in 29 years! For me, all of the eczema was 100% gone in less than 3 weeks. All of the previous products I have tested/used (and there are many) always left a percentage of remaining eczema spots, approximately 7% to 12% that would require me to sparingly apply a milder steroidal cream. That’s right, for the first time in my life I have actually experienced total relief. It sells currently for $11.99 per 8 oz. container at Walgreens. This cream will last approximately from 1-2 months use.
- You need not suffer from eczema. Great solutions for eczema relief are available from the National Eczema Association.
- Based upon my personal use, GOLD BOND® ULTIMATE Eczema Relief Skin Protectant Cream and Aveeno® Active Naturals® Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm are 2 great candidates for successfully treating eczema.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This remedy is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.