You may be surprised to know that eczema is a very common skin condition in Singapore.
Described as a condition where patches of skin become inflamed, itchy, red, and scaly. Those that have experienced it would tell you that it’s no walk in the park. They often suffer from relentless itchiness on affected body parts.
Typically, eczema symptoms range in severity. It also depends on whether you're actively seeking treatment or leaving it to get worse. This condition is really pesky and sticks around for a long time!
Fortunately in Singapore, we have dedicated dermatologists from Singapore's National Skin Centre (NSC) to help.
Dr Lucinda Tan, a consultant from NSC, was invited for a QnA feature on DxD Sessions. She answered readers' questions relating to eczema, including the causes, best treatment options and more.
Is eczema a life-long condition?
This is one of the most common questions asked by patients with childhood eczema. Here's the good news: eczema doesn't have to last for life!
If your eczema is well controlled throughout your childhood, with infrequent flares, there's a pretty good chance of outgrowing the condition as you get older.
However, if it was poorly controlled, resulting in skin alterations, it could be much more difficult to get rid of in adulthood. If it comes down to that, there's still hope! You can seek treatment and aim for good control with minimal flares.
No, eczema is not contagious
Don't worry if you thought it was, we don't blame you. Eczema can be pretty visually intimidating, especially in severe cases. However, you can't get eczema from being in contact with a person who has it!
Dry skin is the driving force behind eczema
If you have eczema, you either have naturally dry skin due to genetics or you somehow developed dry skin along the way. Dr Lucinda's advice? Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!
Moisturising the skin frequently is very vital in treating eczema. However, be sure to use gentle moisturisers that prevent skin dryness.
At all costs, avoid cleansers and moisturisers with fragrances or harsh preservatives! These chemicals can irritate the skin.
Find a moisturiser that suits you best
Moisturisers are super important in controlling eczema. So take note of this important point; moisturising products are generally divided into 2 broad categories.
- Oil-based moisturisers which last longer and allow minimal water loss
- Moisturisers with varying ingredients that repair the skin barrier
One size does not fit all, so you'll have to sample different options before you can make the right choice.
Choose a doctor you're comfortable with
To evaluate your eczema condition, doctors will have to examine your skin up close. It's best to choose on that you feel most comfortable and at ease with.
Consider recommendations by friends or family. Similarly, a clinic's track record can be used as a measure to reassure you before making that an appointment.
Excessive scratching can damage the skin
Isn't that eczema itch just the worst?! Unfortunately, you have to resist the urge to scratch and pick at the affected spots!
Giving it a good long scratch will most likely cause damage to the skin and leave gaps which allow bacteria to enter.
This leads to infections that can be pretty nasty.
Try taking cold, short baths to help with the itch
If you're at your wits ends, here's a good way to curb those pesky itch symptoms. Take a cold short bath! This will help rejuvenate and refresh your skin.
Also, remember to wipe off your perspiration and reapply moisturisers whenever possible.
Still feeling itchy? Try wet wraps
If your itch still feels like it's raging, Dr Lucinda suggests you try wet wraps.
After you apply your moisturiser, you should wear a layer of clothes/tubifast that had been soaked in warm water and wring dry. Then, go on and put the second layer of clothes/tubifast.
You are probably thinking to yourself, what is this strange concoction?!
Here's the low down. The wet first layer helps the moisturizer to penetrate better and the dry second layer keeps you from feeling too cold. Wet wraps are highly effective for the management of eczema and itch.
It might be a little troublesome at first, but you'll get used to it.
Food allergy is a possible culprit
Eczema stems from many causes, most of the times it's due to genetic predisposition. However, if you only suffered from skin rashes after they introduced a new type of food into their body, doctors might investigate the condition as a food allergy.
If a patient had been eating the same food all along without any skin or gut problems, it's unlikely to gain a food allergy out of the blue.
In any case, skin rashes due to food allergies can be pretty severe, so seek professional medical evaluation if it happens.
If all else fails, oral antihistamines might do the trick
If you’ve tried all that was mentioned earlier and you’re still feeling as itchy as ever, it is generally safe to take oral antihistamines to help deal with severe itching. It provides sufficient relief, especially at night which probably means you'll get better sleep.
Don't be shy, seek help!
If you’re in dire need of help with your eczema issues, fret not! There are a lot of good dermatologists in Singapore that can guide you through the best treatments for your condition.