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Common misconceptions about eczema and tips to prevent its onset - CHOICE # 351

  • 2006.01.13

For people with recurring eczema problem, prevention is truly better than cure.

This simple advice was borne out in a comprehensive two-part report of the Consumer Council dealing with pathology and prevention, and pharmacology and medication of this common skin disease.

The disease afflicts some 10 to 20% of infants between 3 months and 2 years old, but people of all age groups are also susceptible to it. 

Despite its prevalence, most parents and patients have apparently scant knowledge of eczema. On the contrary, they have associated the disease with many misconceptions.

First, eczema is a kind of common allergic inflammatory dermatosis, an immunological reaction in the skin. It is not infectious but sadly it cannot be totally cured.

The fact is that eczema will recur if the daily skin care is inadequate. The better the skin care the less the chances of recurrence.

Consumers should, therefore, be wary and consult their doctors if any medication makes claims to be able to stop the recurrence of eczema.

Second, parents tend to think that their children are weak and therefore seek hard to pursue some dietetic or medicinal therapy in a bid to enhance the children's health.

The fact is that eczema patients are not necessarily weak but they have more sensitive immunological reactions. There is no need for special dietetic or medicinal therapy to make the patient "stronger". Maintaining a healthy life style, such as a balanced diet, adequate rest and exercise, would be enough to enhance one's health.

Third, parents should not blindly avoid what they believe are "allergic food". For instance, many Chinese tend to avoid beef but the fact is that there is no scientific evidence to support that all eczema patients should avoid beef.

Patients are advised to consult their doctors and to understand their allergic reaction to food before deciding on what particular food to stop eating. 

Lastly, some patients believe that they can rely solely on medicines to the neglect of daily skin care. The fact is that there is no substitute for proper skin care for the effective treatment and prevention of eczema.

Here are some tips on daily skin care to prevent the onset of eczema:

  • Bathe with tepid, not hot, water
  • Keep skin well hydrated with cream or ointment
  • Avoid contact with irritating products such as perfume and products with alcohol or irritating chemicals and materials such as metal alloys, dyes, second-hand smoke, soap, etc.
  • Keep the environment clean and free of dust mites
  • Wear clothes that are made of cotton, loose and with good air ventilation
  • Refrain from scratching
  • Stay stress free
  • Avoid hairy pets

The report also contains information on the pharmacology and side-effects of common eczema drugs, and skin moisturizing and cleansing products.

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