When she was told that her four-week-old son had eczema, Rachel Ogola was at a loss. She had never heard of this skin condition. She didn’t know where to begin. Doctors recommended steroid creams but this still left her with questions.
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that is more common than most people think.
According to NCBI, eczema often affects children. It can get better with age although there are cases where the condition continues into adulthood. While there is no known cure for eczema, it can be managed, and the patient can live a normal life.
Common symptoms include an itchy rash that won’t go away. It flares up from time to time and can be gone for long periods of time. The intensity of the itch and consequent scratching can cause skin breakage and result in infection.
Areas where one tends to be affected include inside the elbows, the back of the neck and the back of the knees while in children it often manifests on the cheeks.
Eczema often affects people who have other allergies, or a tendency to get an allergy. Allergens like certain foods, dust mites and pollen can result in flare ups. Asthma is another condition that is usually common in eczema patients.
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When caring for an eczema patient, it’s important to dress them in cotton fabrics because this will allow the skin to breath. Keep them in moderate temperatures, avoiding extreme cold and heat as much as possible. Watch what they eat. Keep the skin moisturized. Avoid scented detergents, moisturizers or deodorants and perfumes. Ensure that their surroundings are kept clean at all times.
It can be difficult for an eczema patient to live an ordinary life. Flare ups can cause great discomfort, even sleepless nights. The publics’ perception of the condition can also negatively affect how patients handle their condition. Due to a lack of knowledge, most people think that they can get eczema just by touching a patient. They fail to understand that it’s an uncommunicable condition.
Growing up can also be difficult with people staring or asking insensitive questions, Rachel says. This results in low self-esteem and can lead to depression.
Rachel speaks about acceptance and watching out for triggers as a way to cope with the condition. She is also working towards spreading awareness on the management of eczema through her foundation, Eczema Society of Kenya. This, she hopes, will shed more light on this otherwise unknown skin condition.