There is currently no cure for eczema.
Researchers have found that dry, irritated skin can be traced to a defective gene. The filaggrin gene codes for a protein that’s responsible for organizing the keratin barrier between our skin the outside world. Imagine your skin as a vast tile floor that someone has neglected to properly grout. External irritants are able to get down between the skin cells causing irritation, redness and itching. This may even contribute to allergies. It also can make it difficult to modulate body temperature and sweat.
Since the filaggrin defect is at the genetic level, there is no known way to correct it right now. So there is no cure for eczema—it remains a chronic skin problem with dryness, irritation, and itching.
Eczema can, however, be controlled. The key is emollients. These are the rich moisturizers that pave over the filaggrin problem and beef up the skin’s barrier.
The best moisturizers are emollients: these are the greasier ones like Eucerin, Aquaphor, Cetaphil, etc. Avoid lotions, creams and gels: they can be drying.
One way to care for eczema is the Moisturizing Bath Regimen.
- Soak in the bath water for 15 minute minimum without any soap.
- Wash with the minimum amount of gentle soap and shampoo.
- Rinse with clear water.
- Pat dry briefly once out of the tub.
- Apply emollients after the bath and repeat as needed.
Another way of treating eczema involves avoiding frequent bathing as this can strip oils from the skin. As your pediatrician about the best way to treat your child’s eczema.
Keep in mind that a defective skin barrier can increase the risk of skin infections. Some very bad eczema flares may also need to be treated like a bacterial infection before they can heal.
Read more about eczema from the American Academy of Dermatology here.
Read more about filaggrin research here.