Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Aloe Vera and Eczema

The word eczema comes from the Greek word “ekzein” which means “to boil.”
Eczema (also known as dermatitis) is a dry skin condition. It is a highly individual condition which varies from person to person and comes in many different forms. It is not contagious so you cannot catch it from someone else.
In mild cases of eczema, the skin is dry, scaly, red and itchy. In more severe cases there may be weeping, crusting and bleeding. Constant scratching causes the skin to split and bleed and also leaves it open to infection.
Eczema affects people of all ages but is primarily seen in children. Those who “grow out” of their eczema during early childhood may see it recur again in later life.
In the UK, one in five children and one in twelve adults have eczema while eczema and contact dermatitis account for 84-90% of occupational skin disease(According to published data). 
Atopic eczema is a genetic condition based on the interaction between a number of genes and environmental factors. In most cases there will be a family history of either eczema or one of the other ‘atopic’ conditions i.e asthma or hay fever.
Aloe vera is often touted as being a miracle cure for eczema but does it really work? There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that it can be helpful but is there any scientific evidence? The ScratchSleeves team have been digging into the scientific literature to bring you the ultimate fact based guide on using aloe vera for eczema in children.
How Aloe Vera Can Help Eczema
  • Hydrates the skin: There is good scientific evidence that Aloe Vera gel is an effective moisturiser which can increase the water content in the top layer of the skin (the epidermis). This is thought to be due to the high sugar content of the gel which allows it to act as a humectant, attracting and holding water in the epidermis. Increasing the water content of the skin can reduce the ‘tight’ feeling of eczema.
  • Reduces infections – Eczema is often aggravated by infections so minimising them can often make a big difference to a overall eczema symptoms. This is especially true of young children who are prone to getting mucky and scratching and whose immune systems are still developing Several studies have shown that Aloe Vera gel can inhibit the proliferation of various strains of Streptoccocus bacteria and Candida albican (a yeast).
  • Calms the itch: A number of known anti-inflammatory substances have been indentified in Aloe Vera gel which can help calm inflamed eczema and reduce the incessant itching. It also feels really cool when applied to have an immediate calming effect too.
  • May help hydrocortisone work better: There is an indication that Aloe Vera gel may enhance absorption of hydrocortisone into the skin, which suggests that using Aloe Vera gel in conjunction with prescription steroid cream more effective in calming eczema flare ups than just steroid creams alone. While more research is needed to understand and verify this finding, Aloe Vera/hydrocortisone cream is already available in some parts of the world.
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