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Skin Matters

You might never have thought of it that way but your skin happens to be the largest organ of your body. Treating skin problems, however, is mostly just guesswork that may help relieve the symptoms, rather than get to the root causes. No wonder that medical researchers are hard pressed to find truly effective treatment for skin conditions. Eczema could well be first on the check list.

"Recent studies gave us more than a hint that the malfunction of a protein called Ctip2 plays a crucial role in eczema cases," says Dr. Márta Boros-Gyevi, dermatologist and cosmetic expert at Dr. Rose Private Hospital. "This particular protein takes part in our fat metabolism, indirectly influencing the healthy functioning and hydration of skin cells. Eczema is the result of blocked Ctip2 activity, leading to dry, chaffed, scaly, itchy skin with impaired immune capacity, which is again aggravating the symptoms with allergic reaction and inflammation."

Eczema is twice as common with children – every fifth child is affected to a certain degree, while only ten percent of the population suffers from some form of eczema. There are various treatments to choose from, yet no permanent cure is available just yet. Steroid medication is fast and effective, but not without side effects in the long run. "Revealing genetic factors, however," adds Dr. Márta Boros-Gyevi, might give a clue to treating eczema for good."

Until science can catch up with this unpleasant condition, health conscious prevention seems to be the best option for eczema patients. Hydrating and oiling the skin is paramount. Natural and organic cosmetics – facial cream, body butter or shower gel – without fragrances, additives and preservatives are a must for them. Skipping the evening ritual of applying a copious amount of body lotion is a sure way to dry, itchy skin and trigger the spread of eczema.

Cosmetics that contain alcohol should be avoided, as they dry the skin. Wool and synthetic fibers could irritate the sensitive skin.

So could traditional detergents and washing powders, so the rule of thumb in the bathroom and laundry is simple: the more natural the better.

As with most chronic health conditions, there's a healthy diet to the rescue: fresh fruit and raw vegetables, oily fish – such as salmon – are proven to be beneficial. Taking food supplements, particularly zinc, vitamin B, fish oil, omega-3 and grape extract usually mitigate the symptoms, and are recommended for prevention in critical conditions, much like the winter cold or windy spring weather. So, if you have neglected your itchy patches, now is the time to save your skin with good food and pampering.

Good to know

Washing your hands more frequently – with skin-friendly soap or hand-wash, of course – and then hydrating with a natural hand lotion can prevent not only dry skin but fends off bacteria that could potentially infect the affected skin.

Avoid taking a bath, just take a quick shower instead in lukewarm water, using shower gel specifically made for eczema, rinsing your skin for as short a time as possible.

If you are dying for a soak in the tub, use special bath oil designed to coat your sensitive skin in a protective layer.

Do not scrub your skin with a towel. Dry yourself only blotting the excess water, because applying body lotion to wet skin enhances the hydrating effect.