Monday, March 1, 2010

NONTOXIQUE March Madness

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The following info is an excerpt from the NONTOXIQUE blog.

This time of year we may notice that our bodies are more dry and for some of us, we even have small patches of dry skin or cracked skin that seems more prevalent in one area or one part of the body than others.  The hands are one such place for this and often times, irritant dermatitis seems to be the culprit for a few short but sometimes painful months.
I cannot stress enough how damaging and sensitizing synthetic chemicals are for your skin and even more so, how toxic they are for your health.  I have listed several types of eczema / dermatitis to help you figure out what your problematic skin might be from and what it may be telling you.
I refer to March as the winter month of madness when it comes to my skin because every year, this is about the time my skin is ready for the tropics and humidity.

Types of Eczema

There are various types of eczema, with slightly different causes and symptoms. Most are related to allergies or contact with irritating chemicals such as synthetic chemicals often found in cosmetic products.   Some are associated with underlying medical conditions that cause fluid retention in the legs.  This list is meant only as a guide, not as a means of diagnosis.  If you suspect a problem it is best to see a naturopathic, homeopathic or internal doctor.
Contact dermatitis – When irritants touch the skin, they can produce two types of contact dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis is direct irritation of the skin. The problem is called allergic contact dermatitis when an allergic reaction occurs in the skin. Irritant contact dermatitis can be caused by prolonged contact with mild irritants such as bubble bath, soap, sweat, saliva, urine and even water. Allergic contact dermatitis only occurs in people who have an allergy to a specific substance. Common substances that trigger skin allergies include construction materials, cleaning products, deodorants, cosmetics, medications, chemicals in fragrances, skin cream and lotions, shampoos and shoes or clothing.
Hand eczema is a chronic eczema and is limited to the hands. It can be related to atopic eczema or it can occur because of repeated hand washing or exposure to strong detergents. Hand eczema can also be caused by an allergy, such as a latex allergy.
Nail eczema often accompanies hand eczema and manifest as flaking or pinpoint holes.
Irritant dermatitis of the hands, although appearing to be similar to hand eczema, and it is but tends to appear more mid-way through the winter and is often caused by constant hand washing using soaps and other cleansers that contain synthetic or harsh ingredients such as Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate , Lauramide DEA , Sodium Chloride , Cocamidopropyl Betaine , Fragrance , DMDM Hydantoin , Citric Acid , Tetrasodium EDTA , Polyquaternium-7 , Glycerin, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate , Benzophenone-4 , Triclosan, and Parabens.
These chemicals tend to strip the skin but also cause skin irritations and sensitizations.  With the dry winter air, what moisture is left in your poor hands is being sucked right out worsening the eczema.
It is important to wash your hands year round and even more so when the winter flu or cold sets in but it is vital to both your health and your skin to use products that are both non-sensitizing and irritating and also provide nourishment to your hands as they make their way through the winter battle field. As winter nears an end, irritant dermatitis of the hands tends to remedy itself as the air is filled with more moisture and we feel a little more comfortable about not washing our hands with everything we touch.
Varicose eczema affects the lower legs of those in their middle to late years, being caused by poor circulation. Commonly the skin around the ankles is affected, becoming speckled, itchy and inflamed. Treatment is with emollients and steroid creams. If left untreated, the skin can break down, resulting in an ulcer.
Discoid eczema occurs in numerous round patches affecting the arms and legs, usually in middle-aged men. It is usually found in adults and appears suddenly as a few coin shaped areas of red skin, normally on the trunk or lower legs. They become itchy and can weep fluid. This eczema is usually treated with emollients (and steroid creams if necessary).
Nummular eczema causes round, coin-sized patches of irritated skin, typically on the legs, arms or chest. It usually occurs in adults. It can be related to atopic dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. In a few cases, it represents an allergic reaction to a fungal infection such as athlete’s foot. In this case, nummular eczema still appears typically on arms, legs or chest, even if the fungal infection is elsewhere on the body.
Asteatotic eczema is a dry-skin eczema causing fine cracks in the skin, usually first involving the lower legs, where there are fewer oil glands. It commonly occurs in the elderly, especially during winter months spent indoors in a low-humidity environment.
Stasis dermatitis occurs on the calves, ankles and feet in people who have varicose veins or other conditions that lead to poor blood circulation in the lower legs. Leg swelling leads to itching, fine red bumps, skin darkening and, sometimes, ankle sores.
Lichen simplex chronicus is reaction to repeated scratching or rubbing the skin in one location. A nervous skin-scratching habit can lead to thickened, discolored skin on the wrist, the ankle, groin or the back of the neck. Skin picking can lead to smaller bump-like areas of the same type of rash called prurigo nodularis.
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