Recently, Jonathan I. Silverberg, M.D., Ph.D, M.P.H., of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, analyzed data he and his team collected from two U.S. population based samples of adults from 2010 and 2012 (27,157 and 34,613, respectively). For the first time they have begun to calculate the real cost of coping with eczema.
What researchers found was that in contrast to those without eczema, people dealing with the ailment missed more work, made more frequent doctor visits, and paid more out-of-pocket costs. Compared to an employee who didn't have eczema, those coping with the disease spend nearly a full week (six days) more out sick every year. Not only is there a cost associated with missing work and more doctor visits, but those with eczema often paid upwards to $500 more in outof pocket expenses than their counterparts (additional costs ranged from $371 to 489).
When you expand these numbers out over an affected adult population of about 8,000,000, you can see how these numbers very quickly add up in terms of lost time and money dealing with this itch.
Eczema is a manageable skin disease that comes in many different forms. A few symptoms listed by the National Eczema Association include dry sensitive skin, intense itching, recurring rashes, scaly areas, red, inflamed skin, and more. Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, can be triggered by a multitude of stimuli such as stress, heat, cleaning products, chemical residues, hormones, and environmental allergens. It is more prevalent in children and many grow out of it as adults, but a significant portion of those effected remain effected.
Although this data is new, it makes sense that those with eczema would need more medical attention, since the skin is the most exposed part of the human body and vulnerable to a plethora of irritants. But why hasn't this new data on the cost of adult eczema been collected until recently? Though many grow out of it as adults, one in twenty adults continues to cope with eczema. Perhaps with that small ratio, it is easily over looked, and with eczema ranging in different forms and severity in symptoms, that may give reason to why it's being overlooked. The notion that many often disregard eczema as a minor nuisance makes it easier for eczema to simply be ignored (similar to how many viewed asthma in the past). This current research, however, can help break some of the misperceptions and demonstrate a very real cost in dealing with this condition.
The hope is that as new data reveals a truer cost of dealing with eczema, it can help to effect change. With more awareness it could encourage improved insurance coverage for those who are suffering from eczema. On another level, this type of information could act as a catalyst to spur research and funding to better understand the ailment and perhaps find a cure for eczema.
To answer some of your Eczema FAQs
Author: R. Power
What inspired you to create these beauty products?
Well, I originally came from China, and I grew up in Asia. I've always been into traditional Chinese medicine, herbal medicine and Asian beauty products. Silk has been around for a long time and is very popular in Asian cosmetics, but it's not very popular in the West, not in the US or even Europe. My understanding is that, silk is a rare material; It's never going to be mass produced and the environment here is not suitable for growing mulberry trees (silk worms only food source) in large quantities. It's one of those rarities in the world, and it gets expensive so not a lot of companies can afford to put silk in their products. But, the beauty benefit of silk has been known for centuries in Asia and Asian women are very into natural skin care. Silk protein is used a lot in skin care and hair care for their beauty benefits. Number one, its a natural protein, a lot like the natural protein that's in our hair and skin so it's very easily absorbed. Because the molecules are tiny, they penetrate your skin and go under the surface creating a barrier to help prevent water loss. Silk protein has excellent moisturizing abilities that draw in 10,000 times its own weight in moisture from the air to keep your skin nice and soft.
How long did it take for you to create your products?
I started research specifically for this line about two years ago. So, it took me about two years to formulate the products, the texture and the natural scent. I don’t use any artificial perfumes or color. Everything is scented with essential oils or simply unscented. I officially launched the product line in June of 2014 but I did a lot work prior to that, including sourcing the material and finding a company that can make it in the United States - everything is made here in the US.
You mentioned before in Eastern culture women tend to like more natural products, versus the West where we are more comfortable with natural and synthetic perfumes and chemicals. Do you see any other differences between these two groups?
Oh yes, many differences! From an aesthetic point of view, Asian women prefer skin that's more youthful: flawless skin without freckles, darkness, wrinkles. They tend to go the route to have a more translucent look, something that is more on the lighter side. Dark spots indicate sun damage, aging, accumulative effects by the sun. So when they consider youthful skin, they consider translucent, pearly looking skin with no spots. In the West however, a lot of people like to tan. They like a slightly darker look with a glow. So they go after that, meaning they may try to achieve that through natural light or artificial light which are damaging to the skin. So over a period of time they age faster and it's not until well into their 40s and 50s that you can see a lot of the damage on the surface of their skin. But that can be prevented; it just depends on the individual.
Another thing is that in the East, people like to focus more on internal medicine for skin conditions. So from a very early age women start taking all kinds of tonics and maybe collagen, even in their early twenties, they start doing that very early on to prevent premature aging of the skin because of the view that your skin reflects your overall health. So they put a lot of energy into what they eat to be able to achieve the results that they want. But in the west, people tend to put more creams and medicated creams on their face when they have a problem. It's not so much about prevention, but a solution to a problem. When they do have a problem maybe acne, dark spots, or things that could be turning into cancer, they go immediately to the doctor and put creams on their face. This is a good idea when you have a problem, but those medicated creams also have side effects. They make you break out, they dry you out- they aren't really a beauty solution. Its just treating the symptom not the problem.
In an earlier conversation you told me that mineral oil isn't good for your skin because the molecules are too large and clog pores. Is silk protein a non comedogenic (non pore clogging) ingredient because it's a small molecule, compared to mineral oil?
It's small and purely natural. Mineral oil is not really natural. It comes from a petro-base chemical and because they are large they can clog your pores as adults and even kids. They are highly processed. The silk protein is 100% pure protein. It's often a powder when it comes in but it's water soluble. It's not going to clog the pores, or cause rashes like some chemicals, which your body doesn’t know how to process. For people who have very sensitive skin, even the slightest amount of fragrance, color, artificial synthetic fragrance can cause problems, but not with silk proteins.
Like many women, my mother uses cold creams, but that has mineral oil in it. Do you recommend an alternative to cold creams and mineral oils?
My mom actually used to use that also, and it feels good but it does have a lot of artificial synthetic colors, which can really irritate skin. But then again, just like food, everybody has different levels of tolerance. Some people are very sensitive and some people have higher tolerances and have no problem that they can see right away. The more you can cut out the synthetic stuff, the better, because 80% of the chemicals or ingredients in skin care are absorbed into your blood stream. On a daily basis the average women in America has over 500 chemicals on her body. Starting from the shampoo and conditioner products and then go to personal care products - face wash, moisturizer, sunscreen; every single one of them probably has over 20 ingredients. Then you talk about makeup- foundation, bb cream, powder, so yes, over 500 chemicals on your body each day, all day long.
What is your favorite essential oil from your product line?
Oh there's so many! Lavender oil is my favorite, I've been using that every day, I just put it on my pulse point and smell it all day long, that's the easiest way to use it. That's my favorite for two major reasons. It is one of those oils you can use neat, meaning you don't have to dilute it to use it. Because a lot of these oils are highly concentrated, you have to dilute them before you use them otherwise you get a burn or skin damage. The second reason is that it's very good for the skin. It's called oil but it's very light and thin, and the consistency is like water. Spanish Lavender is one of my favorites because it's one of those oils that soothes and calms and make me feel good. Sometimes I use it before I go to bed, when I do yoga or do meditation, or whenever I want to relax. I have it in my silk lotions too. It helps with inflammation of the skin. So when you have rashes, breakouts, or little zits you can actually use it with witch hazel. You can use it on your face or where ever you have those problems. I use it for my homemade toner.
Do you think major brands carried in major department stores are somewhat complicated because they have both natural and synthetic ingredients in them?
I used to use some major brands myself, but I'm sensitive to synthetic perfume and it makes me breakout and rashes. Most major brands have synthetic perfumes and artificial colors, so I can't use them. It makes no sense to me to have them in cosmetics because all I want is something with no color, that's soothing to my skin. The price tag really means how much they spent on their marketing, not in the quality. Quality has nothing to do with how much they cost. If you flip over the bottle you'll often see "perfume" (or fragrance) in the ingredients. Perfume means synthetic, and by FDA rules, companies do not have to disclose the chemical composition of the perfume because its considered proprietary (meaning the company owns the exclusive rights to the ingredients and does not need to disclose details or chemical breakdown). But often, synthetic perfumes have over 300 different chemicals, and companies do not need to disclose that. Some of those chemicals in the perfumes and skin care are so harsh, its mind blowing! That's why people are breaking out into rashes, or experiencing premature aging and irritation on their skin and don't know why. In synthetic perfumes they create all of these different scents and inject stabilizers to keep the smell stable over time, and that's the major difference between natural scents and unnatural scents. Many of the EOs will evaporate quickly. As a perfume they won’t last very long. So that's why stabilizers are used in perfumes. But because they are so harsh, problems occur, like allergies, headaches, and more.
We discussed more of her personal experience creating these lotions, creams and essential oils, and I was able to try a few of her favorites along with some new products that she just added this season. Her lotions are silky and very soft, and the essential oils she adds to the lotions and creams give a subtle and pleasant scent to her products. She graciously gave me some products to take home and try, and I too am in love with her lavender EO, as well as the Eucalyptus EO. I put a little bit of the Eucalyptus essential oil in a small glass in my shower making my morning showers more like a spa treatment.
I'm excited to try more Silk Swan products like their face lotions and shampoos and order some for Christmas this year (Shh, don't tell my mother). It was great to interview a business woman who makes her own natural beauty products, and to learn more about the importance of going more natural when it comes to skin health.
NOTE: Silk Swan products are formulated without the use of phthalates, parabens, sulfates, benzene, mineral oil, petroleum, peanut oil, triclosan or FD&C color.
For more information about preservatives in cosmetics
Author: R. Power
Key Features Include
- Made from USDA certified organic cotton
- Great for winter but light enough for year round use
- From start to finish, made right here in the U.S.
- Free of pesticide and fertilizer residues as well as chemical treaters and dyes that are common in textiles
- Gentle for those with sensitive skin, eczema, chronic dermatitis, or other skin conditions
- Available in four sizes
- Machine Washable
Both Daphnie the Duck and Freddy the Frog are cool mist humidifiers that use ultrasonic technology to quickly and effectively disburse moisture back into indoor air. Compact and lightweight, these models are perfect for a child's bedroom. Holding about a gallon of water each, both can help relieve symptoms of eczema (like itchy skin), asthma (like a dry night time cough), or just general symptoms of dry indoor air, like chapped lips, dry or painful nasal passages.
You simply remove the tank, fill, then set your humidity level and let it run! If you have hard water, you can pick up an optional demineralization cartridge/filter to remove mineral content. No hard water or you use distilled water? Then it's ready to go right out of the box.
As a couple other notes about these humidifiers, there are no BPAs or phthalates in the plastic used, and since both are cool mist humidifiers, there are no heating elements or boiling water to worry about if it gets knocked over or spills. And, both the Crane Duck humidifier and Crane Frog humidifier will automatically shut off once the tank is empty.
Each of these are in stock and ready to ship today or can be picked up from our showroom. I like them for a few reasons - cost, simplicity, and they're much easier on the eyes (especially in a kid's room) than most other models. Granted they lack some of the snazzy features and length of warranty of models that cost two to three times as much, but as basic way to restore humidity back into your indoor air, this duck (and frog), might fit the "bill."
And the last reason why I like these humidifiers? Bad puns galore! Just as a side note... is the "Crane Duck" anything like a "Lion Tiger"?
First, William is very quiet, nearly inaudible even when running at its highest setting. Second is the robust moisture output. Winter time means people are using furnaces, heaters and wood burners - all of which can dry out a house in no time at all. To combat this, William can pump out up to three and a half gallons of moisture back into the dry air in your home. This capacity is a bit more than comparable ultrasonic humidifiers.
Another feature I really like about Stadler Form's William is the control panel. There's a nice big digital display that shows you the current humidity, output level, and whether or not the prewarm feature is activated. From this panel you can set your humidity level, use the "sleep" or "automatic" modes, and adjust your output. This is important since even during the winter months just enough humidity is good and comforting, and too much can be a little too comforting for things like mold or dust mites. As the foam finger in the picture points out, it's large enough to let you know all you need to with just a quick glance.
When you open up the William, there are two things you might notice. First, to help prevent the growth of microbes, germs and bacteria, William has a small white device located in the nebulizer compartment. This Ionic Silver Cube emits silver ions which keep the water in the tank hygienic and free of microbes. You also might notice the water is warm in the compartment (if you have the prewarm feature on).
Overall the Stadler Form William humidifier is small but powerful (put two regular size cereal boxes back to back and that's about the size of this model). So whether you find yourself waking up with a dry cough, dry or painful sinuses, itchy skin or chapped lips, the William can help!
For more information about the popular Stadler Form William humidifier or to see the full line of Stadler Form humidifiers.
Author: K. Gilmore
Since bringing the manufacturing of Allergy Armor Organic dust mite covers in-house, we looked at a few different options when it comes to raw cotton fabric. Now we are proud to introduce a redesigned and upgraded product. First, we actually reduced the average pore size our Allergy Armor Organic. Instead of 6 microns, we've managed to drop that down to just over 4. What does this mean for you? The smaller the average pore size, the more effectively, the covers can block allergens like dust mites, dander, and pollen, which means a better night's sleep for you, and fewer mornings waking up with congestion, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, or sinus pressure. This is one of the best, if not the best, available today.
The second thing we looked to improve was with the design of your covers. Unlike our basic design, we've integrated a new feature with our covers. The organic pillow covers now have an offset zipper with a sewn over flap. Once zipped up, the flap hides the zipper and slide. This gives the cover a more streamlined look and feel, more like a pillow without a cover at all. This same fabric zipper cover is also now integrated into the design of our organic mattress covers.
Some of the things that stayed the same? You still get quality mattress and pillow covers, made right here in the U.S. Unlike our competitors, our fabric is certified organic by the leading international organic certification agency, GOTS (Global Organic Trade Standard). The cotton is certified to be free of chemical finishers, flame retardants, dyes, harsh bleaching agents, and fertilizer/pesticide/insecticide residues. This makes our fabric a great solution for those with chemical sensitivities, eczema or sensitive skin and allergies or asthma.
We expect to begin making your new organic mattress, pillow and duvet covers in just a couple short weeks. Pre-ordering ensures that your organic allergy bedding will be made and shipped as soon as our raw fabric arrives. You can place pre-orders now, or wait until they are officially back in stock.
*NOTE: The color is now a natural cream/beige, not the older style white color. New product images coming soon!
Author: Kevin Gilmore
Polyunsaturated fatty acids is a broad category that includes many compounds, including the most commonly known Omega 3 (n-3) as well as the lesser known Omega 6 (n-6) and Omega 9 (n-9) fatty acids. The role these acids play in the human diet is complex and still continues to evolve, though Omega 3 and others are most commonly associated with anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies over the last few decades have shown a general lack of these compounds in the western diet and associated it with an increase in inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, COPD and even asthma. Omega 3 fatty acids are most commonly found in fish oils as well as some plant oils, and as a more recent trend, have been appearing in increasing amounts on store shelves, as dietary supplements. More recent research blurs the lines a bit by suggesting that things like Omega 3 may not be the miracle cure all the hype would lead you to believe, yet most concede that while the positives may not be as grand as originally billed, there are few drawbacks.
This latest piece of research builds upon a piece originally published in 2008 that produced similar results but on a smaller scale. In this Swedish study published in PLOS One, roughly 800 children were chosen from a population based group of 1228 born in the same year. From this group, samples of the umbilical cord serum were taken then analyzed and compared with standardized allergy test results taken over the course of the next 13 years.
The results showed that in children at age 13 demonstrated higher rates of respiratory allergies than those whose mothers had lower levels of PUFAs at birth. Not only did children with respiratory allergies exhibit this link but so did children who suffered from chronic skin rashes. Those who exhibited higher rates of allergies also had lower levels of mono-unsaturated fats found in the cord blood sample. So to simplify this - Higher levels of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids found in the cord blood correlated with higher rates of respiratory allergies and chronic skin rashes (think eczema), and it did not matter if the mother had a history of allergies or not. The correlation rates were still higher regardless of maternal allergy history.
So what does all this mean? For now, not much. This research piece is just another step along the way of understanding the origins of allergic disease. Though researchers demonstrated this correlation, what they could not determine was the mechanism behind this. The working theory is that the PUFAs dampen inflammation and the immune activation process, the same process that is thought to "train" an infants immune system to determine is harmful and what is not. This seems to fit since much of allergic disease is the immune system's overreaction to harmless "allergens." Further research is still needed to discover what the exact mechanism behind this is as well how to approach the consumption of PUFAs during pregnancy.
To read the full research article.
Author: Kevin Gilmore
While my approach in cleaning the pacifier is probably not taken by many, this recently published study I mention focuses not only on how parents cleaned their children's pacifier but also how it may impact the development of eczema and allergies. In examining 184 children, researchers studied what the children were sensitive to, how parents cleaned their pacifiers, and analyzed the bacteria in the children's mouths. At 18 and even 36 months, children whose parents cleaned their pacifiers by sucking on them, showed remarkable protection against eczema and asthma. Yes, you read that correctly. Some parents clean their child's pacifier by sucking it clean then giving it back to the child. Odd as it may sound, this is believed to be the key findings of the study.
Regardless of how "clean" we, as a species, think we are, there are literally billions of bacteria living on and even inside of us. On our skin, in our digestive tracts and in our mouths, bacteria play a very important part in everything from our immune system to the way in which we break down our food. The theory is that by sucking on the pacifier the parent not only cleans visible dirt or debris from it, but they actually place bacteria back onto it. That bacteria is then introduced to the child, exposing the child's immune system to a broader array of bacteria. This ties into the hygiene hypothesis in that many believe children in western societies are "too clean," and because of this, are at an increased risk of developing things like eczema, asthma or allergies.
When we are infants, our bodies' systems are developing. Think of the immune system like a defense mechanism that is untrained. By nature, this system is designed to find things harmful to us and fight them, so at a very early age, the immune system is trying to determine what is dangerous and what can be ignored. The hygiene theory suggests that lack of exposure to a variety of bacteria and germs means the system doesn't get thorough training and often identifies innocuous substances as harmful. "Well, we have to find the shady characters to defend you against, and I don't like the looks of these guys." So when they immune system cannot find real enemies, they start identifying harmless substances as dangerous.
The hygiene hypothesis is just that, a hypothesis, and there are some studies that run counter to this. This piece of research, though, suggests that there is some validity to it. While it is too early to suggest that parents start sucking on their kid's pacifier to clean it, it really can't hurt. Oh, and just for the record, most parents simply rinse the pacifier. I guess I all into that "other" category.
For an abstract of the pacifier study.
Using a combination of IgE blood tests, skin prick tests and close examination of parental history, researchers studied parents and monitored their children for their entire childhood. In collecting and analyzing the data they found that when a mother had asthma or eczema their female children demonstrated a nearly 50% increase in the risk of developing that same condition. The same was not true for male children. However, this a near identical increase in risk was seen when examining paternal conditions and their male offspring. Simply put, if a mother had asthma or eczema, her daughter was 50% more likely to develop the same condition. Her son, saw little to no appreciable increase in risk. If a father had asthma or eczema, his son was 50% more likely to develop the same disease while his daughter was not.
This is important for two reasons. In the more long term, it more clearly defines the genetic link between parents and children when it comes to allergic diseases. The genetics behind conditions like eczema will ultimately be key in preventing them. In the short term, because this link has been more readily defined, it could make it easier in the future to diagnose allergies and eczema. Patient history is a critical factor in determining asthma but even more so for allergies. Blood and skin prick tests can show sensitivities but it is not until a doctor sees the full picture of the patient's medical and family history that a most accurate diagnosis can be given.
To read an abstract of the study.
To view eczema friendly personal care products.
Author: Kevin Gilmore
Go to the Beach - Salt water has been known to work miracles on eczema. Like many mysteries sounding eczema, no one really understands why salt benefits eczema skin, but there are theories the magnesium in salt helps soothe dry skin. A word of caution, although therapeutic for some, salt can be painful to others with eczema, particularly if there are open wounds. If you're beach bound, test the waters and listen to your body.
Spend Time at the Pool - At home chlorine baths are sometimes recommended by physicians to kill bacteria on the surface of eczema skin. Since the pool is essentially one big chlorine bath, it's no wonder that some eczema sufferers find much needed relief poolside.
Time in the Sun - The sun is another natural wonder for eczema. For many, the sun seems to dry up their eczema and leave them flare free, most likely due to the body's spike in vitamin D production after time in the sun. What about sunscreen? This is a tricky one. Applying sunscreen is important to block the damaging UVA and UVB rays, but sunscreen can also reduce the amount of vitamin D the body produces. Although it will be tempting to soak up hours in the sun in hopes of banishing eczema, limit this time (15 minutes) if you don't apply sunscreens and stick to early morning or late afternoon hours when the sun's rays are weaker. For prolonged exposure in the sun, or during peak hours, find a good sunscreen and lather-up. Yes, eczema is a beast, but skin cancer is deadly.
Choose Sunscreen with Caution - Many sunscreens can burn or sting delicate eczema skin. The best bet for choosing a gentle sunscreen is to look for one which creates a physical barrier on your skin, rather than a chemical sunscreen, which destroys the absorbed UVA/UVB rays. The barrier versions usually contain zinc, which is great in treating eczema. Also, read ingredient labels for any known allergies or triggers. And always stay away from fragrance or perfume. Natural, unscented, zinc based sunscreens with as few ingredients as possible, are safest.
Wear SPF Clothing - If you're not the sunscreen type – either can't be bothered or nervous about finding the best one for you, then SPF clothing is the answer. SPF protection is now available in all sorts of clothing – hats, shirts, pants, socks, bathing suits. You name it. Look for clothing made from natural fibers when possible and be sure the SPF rating is from the tight thread weave and not from a chemical added to the fabric.
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize - Spring and summer bring humidity, which helps skin retain its moisture. However, don't be fooled as these months also bring more time under the sun, at the beach, and at the pool, which can all be very drying. So, stick to your daily moisturizing routine and keep an extra bottle of your favorite cream handy to apply after prolonged exposure to the sun, or after a dip in the sea or the pool.
Author Bio: Jennifer is a mother of two. One with severe eczema, food allergies, and asthma. One with mild eczema. She writes about her family's journey with these health conditions at It's an Itchy Little World. She is also the founder/owner of The Eczema Company which provides specialty clothing and natural skincare for children with eczema.