Eczema is also sometimes referred to as dermatitis, is a visible inflamed, sensitive, and itchy skin condition.
The National Eczema organization defines this as “ Eczema is an umbrella term used to describe a group of medical conditions that cause dry, discolored, itchy, and inflamed skin.”
We must pay attention to the largest organ in our body that shields us from heat, light, cold, dust, etc. Therefore, maintaining a healthy skin demands a routine to protect ourselves from both internal or external factors.
Skin conditions like Eczema could develop at any age due to genetic, environmental, seasonal, or lifestyle reasons. Subsequently, its severity and treatment could also vary based on individual conditions.
Moreover, apart from the physical condition, pain, and discomfort that eczema causes, the mental and emotional health also gets disturbed as carrying out day to day activities becomes difficult.
Further, let us briefly understand the common types of eczema.
Types of Eczema
According to studies, some of the most common types of eczema are:
Atopic Dermatitis (AD)
It is a condition that involves irritation and itching, generally accompanied by rashes. It is also said to be caused by a malfunction in the immune system and problems with the skin barrier.
For example, face, neck, arms, legs, skin folds, behind knees and elbows, are regions where AD begins to show up.
Contact Dermatitis or Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD)
ACD is generally a case that develops because of touching or using some objects, as a result of which the skin tends to develop an allergy. Contact with certain chemicals could also irritate the skin, such as detergents, soaps, bleach, nickel, jewelry, perfumes, tobacco, etc.
Touching or smelling some plants could also trigger allergic reactions. For example, Parthenium plants, Poison ivy, Amarnath, Chrysanthemum, Ragweed, English plantain, and many others.
Dyshidrotic eczema is a burning or itching sensation coupled with a blistering rash. It is also called hand eczema that occurs on palms, fingers, feet, and soles.
This is also known as lichen simplex chronicus that develops as a thick, scaly patch on the skin, often caused by too much scratching and rubbing. This condition can also be compared with psoriasis, because of the excessive itching in the face, arms, underarms, legs, back of the neck, scalp, anal and genital areas.
“Psoriasis tends to cause milder itching and in some less common types, it causes a terrible burning sensation. Eczema, on the other hand, can lead to intense itching leading to hard scratching and bleeding. - Dr.Millstein”
This is also known as discoid eczema that appears as lesions and generally forms a shape. Typically in a circular or oval shape that can happen due to skin allergies or even insect bites.
This is caused by a combination of genetics, hormones, and microorganisms. This is not an allergic condition and hence affects the immune system.
Studies say that Seborrheic dermatitis appears like Atopic Dermatitis. Hence it calls for detailed diagnosis to determine the cause to prescribe appropriate treatment. It adds that this condition affects people with a weak immune system and nervous system that includes certain diseases such as HIV, and Parkinson’s.
Stasis dematitis is a condition that could be caused due to poor blood circulation in the veins. If left carelessly can lead to swelling and sometimes fluid leaking. People affected with varicose veins are more prone to be affected by this condition.
Causes of Eczema
Studies say that the causes of eczema remain unknown, but it is believed to develop due to genetic and environmental factors. Moreover, eczema is not contagious.
So what causes eczema?
Firstly, genetic factors which cause eczema in infants and children. They are prone to such conditions due to family history, even if one or both parents have this medical condition.
Secondly, environmental factors also could trigger deteriorated skin conditions. This includes the use of chemicals such as soaps and detergents. Some people could get exposed to allergic conditions due to the consumption of meat, vegetables, plants, or exposure to dust, pets, insect bites, attack from bacteria, microbes, viruses, fungi, conditions of dandruff, etc.
Moreover, hormonal imbalances in women due to pregnancy or irregular menstrual cycles could also trigger mild to chronic symptoms of eczema.
Did you know?
1. According to a 2012 study that focussed on the emergency department (ED) visits for Atopic Dermatitis (AD) in the US, concluded that,
- The cost of ED visits significantly increased from $86,865,154 in 2006 to $172,761,783 in 2012
- There appear to be major healthcare and socioeconomic disparities associated with emergency department visits for AD.
2. According to a 2018 major study that conducted a worldwide survey of 12-month prevalence of atopic dermatitis (AD) provides new insights into global disease trends. The findings of the study were:
- AD prevalence rates varied widely from country to country around the world, as well as by age groups (see graphic).
- The highest disease rate in adults was observed in China. South Korea shows the highest rates in both children and adolescents. The top AD rates in infancy occurred in France and the United Kingdom.
Prevention & Remedies
Remember the adage ‘prevention is better than cure’.? Thanks to the Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus for coining the fundamental principle behind great health!
Some good practices are:
- Takin lukewarm baths: New studies recommend innovative treatments such as wet wrap therapy where the treatment includes three lukewarm baths a day, each followed by an application of topical moisturizer and sealing the affected area with a wrap or a wet gauze.
- Keep the skin moist: Moisturizing before and after every shower is very important to keep the skin hydrated
- Choosing cotton and soft breathable fabric, and avoiding tight-fitting clothing
- Prefer using a mild soap for bathing and washing
- Always practice gently patting skin dry with a towel, rather than rubbing the skin dry after bathing
- Avoid exposure to a sudden change in temperatures by protecting yourself from heat, and cold.
- Avoid swimming in chlorinated pools
- If you have sensitive skin, it is always good to keep fingernails short to prevent scars from scratching.
Prescription Creams and Ointments
Besides, self-care measures, dermatologists may generally suggest Corticosteroids for eczema that controls flare-up, andCalcineurin inhibitors that work on the immune system. They can curb flare-ups but have serious side effects, so you’d probably only use them if other treatments fail.
Moreover, the intake of prescription medication or opioids for reducing pain or improving sleep could lead to further complications. Before you jump in to over the counter pain medication it is always the best practice to understand the performance and quality of pain medications so that you know what triggers your eczema.
Role of Cannabis in Dermatology
It would be apt to begin to discuss the role of cannabis in treating skin conditions with a quote from Dr.Piffard (1842-1910) a leader in the study of dermatology and the founder of the world-renowned journal, Jama Dermatology.
“a pill of cannabis indica at bedtime has at my hands sometimes afforded relief to the intolerable itching of eczema.”Dr. Henry Granger Piffard
The discovery of the human endocannabinoid system, and the receptors, paved a way to the inclusion of phytocannabinoids (present in the cannabis plant) and its potential for medicinal use. Several studies have revolved around medical applications of cannabis. The key outcomes of these studies have contributed profound insights into the therapeutic value of Cannabis in dermatology.
- In Atopic Dermatitis, symptoms such as itching, dry skin, and release of histamine, a compound in the immune system that mediates itching, is common.
Cannabinoids, however, have a powerful anti-itch effect,anti-microbial effect, and exhibit anti-inflammatory properties.
- The topical application of cannabinoids inhibited mast cell activation according to a study. The mast cell is responsible for histamine release that causes itching and inflammation.
- According to a 2019 study cutaneous cannabinoid signaling is deeply involved in the maintenance of skin homeostasis, barrier formation, and regeneration.
Also, its dysregulation was implicated to contribute to several highly prevalent diseases and disorders, e.g., atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, scleroderma, acne, hair growth, and pigmentation disorders, keratin diseases, various tumors, and itch.
- CBD was found to exert complex anti-acne effects by exerting anti-proliferative and anti-inflammatory actions.
- CBD was shown to suppress the proliferation and differentiation of human keratinocytes and to exert potent antibacterial effects.
- According to an observational study, 3 cases of self-initiated topical CBD use in patients reported faster-wound healing, less blistering, and amelioration of pain. This is due to the anti-inflammatory activity of CBD, and CBD might have beneficially modulated the keratin expression profile as well.
- Likewise, in another study, three EB patients, who were prescribed pharmaceutical-grade sublingually administered cannabinoid-based medicine (CBM) comprising THC and CBD, reported improved pain scores, reduced pruritus, and decreased overall analgesic drug intake.
- A scoping review on cannabinoids in dermatology reports the ability of CB2 to mediate both the exaggeration and inhibition of inflammatory responses in allergic contact dermatitis. This study reviews several other case studies of patients with different types of Eczema and other several other skin conditions and the therapeutic application of medical cannabis for treatment.
- To sum up, we can come out of our inhibitions that dermatological conditions like Eczema, Psoriasis, are not life-threatening but do impair the emotional quality of life.
- Studies recommend Black seed oil as a folk remedy to soothe skin conditions including eczema, acne, and psoriasis, facial care, massage oils, and in general skincare.
- The immense potential of medical cannabis in the treatment of skin disorders comes as good news. However, this domain calls for a large scale and volume of high-quality research and studies on both clinical and non-clinical levels to facilitate safety and efficacy.
- Although this blog article was able to analyze the literature on the application of CBD in dermatology, most studies conclude with an open-ended question. Hence, this defines the existing knowledge gap in the domain of medical cannabis for various therapeutic conditions and opens up opportunities for further research.
- By the way, why don’t you try Nordic Oil skin CBD calming cream?