Educational Series: Everything about Eczema

by | 30 June 2023

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is the most common form of dermatitis.  

The development of Eczema involves a combination of genetic, nutritional, and environmental factors that contribute to its pathogenesis. Although eczema is predominantly observed in children, it can also manifest in adults. Individuals afflicted with this condition often experience dry and itchy skin that is susceptible to infections. Eczema is often referred to as the “itch that rashes” because of the dry skin that leads to a rash when scratched or rubbed. Identifying the primary causes and triggers that provoke eczema flare-ups is crucial in its treatment.

Individuals with eczema have a dysfunctional skin barrier which causes various problems. The cells that make up our skin are essential for optimal skin hydration and protection. Individuals with eczema tend to have dry skin due to the dysfunction in the skin barrier. Water can more easily escape from the skin leading to impaired enzyme activity AKA “dehydrated skin.” Individuals with eczema are also more susceptible to infection and tend to have heightened inflammatory immune responses, with their skin easily irritated by fragrances, allergens and pathogens.

Research shows there is a genetic component to atopic dermatitis. One common mutation has been observed in the gene filaggrin, a vital gene for skin cell maturity. This gene is responsible for creating the tough, flat corneocytes that form the outermost protective layer of skin (stratum corneum). In individuals with normal skin cells, the corneocytes are tightly packed in an organised manner. An individual with a filaggrin mutation will have a dysfunctional skin barrier due to the haphazard organisation of the skin cells. This dysfunction causes a “leaky” skin barrier allowing water loss and decreased protection from harmful substances.

 

Treating eczema

 

Different Types of Eczema

Not only are there various types of eczema, but the condition affects everyone differently. A professional diagnosis is essential to ensure that your treatment corresponds accurately to your specific symptoms. The 8 conditions most commonly referred to as eczema are:  

  • Atopic Dermatitis: The most common form which leads to red, scaly patches of skin 
  • Contact Dermatitis: A rash caused by contact with an allergen 
  • Dyshidrotic Eczema: Typically appears as blisters on the hands 
  • Hand Eczema: Any type of dermatitis on the hands 
  • Neurodermatitis: Chronic itch that leads to thickened, scaly patches of skin 
  • Nummular Eczema: Itchy, coin-shaped spots on the skin 
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis: Scaly, red or itchy skin on the scalp 
  • Stasis Dermatitis: Redness or inflammation of the legs, caused by chronic swelling 

Treatment of Eczema

When it comes to the treatment of eczema, hydrating and barrier-repairing ingredients are mandatory for the repair of the skin barrier defence systems. It is generally not recommended to use topical corticosteroids on a daily basis, as prolonged usage can lead to atrophy (thinning of the skin), stretch marks (striae), acne, telangiectasia (vascular threads) and rebound eczema/dermatitis. Careful consideration should be given to determining the strength and formulation of the topical corticosteroid, taking into account the specific location of the affected skin. If used improperly, topical corticosteroids can induce steroid withdrawal, leading to detrimental effects on both the skin and the affected individual’s self-esteem. 

Eczema and Nutrition

The pathophysiology of eczema involves a complex interplay between the immune system, nervous system, genetics, environmental factors and nutrition. Speaking of nutrition, it is widely recognized that maintaining a healthy nutritional status is vital for the optimal functioning of the immune system. When imbalanced, it can contribute to the onset or worsening of eczema symptoms. 

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are paramount for healthy, functioning skin. EFAs play a crucial role in various bodily functions and cannot be naturally produced or metabolised by the body. Therefore, it is necessary to incorporate a diet that naturally contains a high amount of EFAs. As EFAs mainly consist of unsaturated linoleic acid (Omega 6) and alpha-linolenic (Omega 3), to form the building blocks of our body’s fats, biological cell membranes, and prostaglandins. 

Any deficiency of the EFAs will lead to compromised cell membranes, oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation. Essential fatty acid deficiency (EFAD) is a leading cause of eczema and other atopic skin disorders resulting in inflammation. It is important to consult with a highly trained naturopathic practitioner to ensure you maintain the correct balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 in your daily diet.   

Other nutritional requirements that support the skin’s structure and function include: 

  • Vitamin C 
  • Vitamin A 
  • Copper peptides 
  • Magnesium and calcium 
  • Bioflavonoids 
  • Coenzyme Q10 
  • Zinc & iron

Corneotherapeutic Repair of Eczema

Here at Derma Aesthetics, we understand that each persons journey with eczema is unique, and because of this, we follow an individualised approach to the treatment of skin, known as “Corneotherapy.” Corneotherapy is an approach to practice and thinking that follows a systematic approach in identifying the causes and triggers of skin barrier conditions or disorders. This method focuses on selecting suitable topical interventions that primarily aim to correct and restore the stratum corneum and enhance the barrier defense systems. 

The corneotherapeutic repair principle is to use ingredients that mimic the skin’s structure and function (hello dermaviduals!). When the skin is fed the right cellular nutrition, the barrier defence systems become stronger and water loss is subsequently reduced. Skin with a compromised barrier triggers continual inflammatory responses of the immune system, and by repairing the skin following the principles of Corneotherapy, it is possible to reduce the inflammatory response of the immune system to restore overall homeostasis (balance). 

 

Before and After Eczema treament with dermaviduals

 

Skin conditions that have compromised the initial three lines of the skin barrier defence often worsen when exposed to numerous skincare products containing conventional emulsifiers or other foreign ingredients. Therefore, it is necessary to utilise topical formulations that are free from such ingredients in order to alleviate these conditions. Instead, it is recommended to utilise physiological ingredients like phosphatidylcholine (PC), along with ceramides, cholesterol, triglycerides, and free fatty acids, which constitute the initial three lines of our skin’s barrier defence. 

Fortunately, dermaviduals offers formulations called “Derma Membrane Structure” (DMS) that contain these ingredients, enabling the repair, replenishment, and regeneration of the skin.

Our top 5 dermaviduals products to support and manage eczema:

Cleansing Milk with DMS
Formulated with dermaviduals unique Derma Membrane Structure, its composition is similar to our DMS Base Creams. The Cleansing Milk with DMS is free of tenside components, for care and cleansing all in one.  

EGCG Liposomes
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) modulates and controls keratin and filaggrin in the skin. It supports the formation of filaggrin that increases skin thickness and slows skin ageing. It is commonly identified that irritated, impaired, blemished, reddened and cracked skin is often filaggrin deficient. 

Evening Primrose Oil Nanoparticles 
Nanoparticle encapsulation of evening primrose oil preserves its long-term effectiveness and optimal transportation into the skin. It regulates trans-epidermal water loss and increases skin hydration. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are vital for the human body, and since the body cannot produce them on its own, it is necessary to supplement EFAs through dietary sources, high-quality skincare products, and supplements. 

DMS Base Cream High Classic
Formulated with dermaviduals unique Derma Membrane Structure, the DMS Base Cream High Classic is made up of high-quality skin-caring substances including phosphatidylcholine, shea butter, ceramides, squalene and natural moisturisers without conventional emulsifiers. 

Oleogel N
Rich in essential fatty acids, Oleogel N supports the prevention of inflammatory skin disorders, whilst urea inhibits itching without irritation. Ideal for very dry and atopic skin, especially in the case of fatty acid deficiencies. The content of natural phosphatidylcholine means that it is readily absorbed into the skin. 

Are you or your clients struggling with eczema? What have you learnt throughout your journey? Please email education@skincorrection.com.au, we would love to hear from you.   

With so many options available, the treatment solutions for eczema are endless. To learn more about becoming a dermaviduals stockist click here, or to find a dermaviduals clinic to experience a customised treatment click here! 

Written by Kai Atkinson