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Eczema and Skin Infections: The Basics

By Debbie (Bio below)

Eczema is a relatively common problem that causes skin inflammation. It is also sometimes referred to as “dermatitis.” There are many types of eczema, but they all tend to cause similar symptoms. These symptoms include intense itchiness, and the scratching may cause damage to the sufferer’s skin. Eczema can also cause scaling, making it look rough and scaly. The skin might get red and even bleed. In severe cases, fluid-filled blisters form, eventually crusting and oozing. Finally, someone with eczema might find their skin develops deep, painful cracks. Eczema, though, is a very treatable condition and these symptoms can be reduced and repaired.

Tristan with an infection

Tristan with an infection

Types of Skin Infections Common for Eczema Patients & How To Recognize Them

Eczema is not an infectious disease. However, the damage it does to the skin can leave it vulnerable to infection. Below is some information about the types of skin infections common to sufferers of eczema.

  • Bacterial infections: Most sufferers of atopic eczema will have a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus on their skin, even if there are no signs of infection. According to National Eczema Association  “It is likely that people with atopic eczema have an impaired ability to deal with infection. In addition, as we know all too well from practical experience, eczema itches and the natural response to itch is to scratch. This in turn causes the skin to crack and split and become red and inflamed, warm and moist – a perfect home for bacteria.”
  • Viral infections: The most common viruses for eczema sufferers are herpes simplex or cold sore virus. Herpes simplex is very contagious and may show itself in the form of genital inflammation or conjunctivitis in the eye. For child atopic eczema patients, molluscumcontagiosum is another risk. It appears as small red bumps and can become red and crusted – but that means the body is fighting against it.
  • Fungal infections: Candida or “thrush” is a yeast infection commonly referred to as a fungal infection. It can appear on people’s skin that do not have eczema as well. Candida infections usually occur in warm, moist areas of the skin, like in the groin or in a baby’s diaper area.

Diagnosing and Treating Infection with Conventional Medicine

Many professionals like dermatologists and their nurses can spot an eczema infection just by looking at it. Patients that have already had infections can often spot new ones as well. Outside of these two groups of people though, most people cannot spot the signs and symptoms of infection. And even trained doctors will likely take a swab from the skin to send to a laboratory to confirm their hunches. If you think you might have an infection, go see your doctor and find out.

If you do have an infection, a conventional doctor will prescribe a treatment based on the kind of infection that you have. Staph for example is usually treated with topical steroids or bath oils with antiseptic. More severe cases may also be prescribed a cream or ointment. For viruses, some patients may be prescribed antiviral drugs like acyclovir, which can be taken orally, by injection, or topically as a cream. Candida infections can usually be treated with a cream available by prescription or through an over the counter purchase.

Natural Methods for Treatment (Jennifer’s addition)

Although there are limited studies proving any sort of infection can be treated via natural means, there are some remedies that have been traditionally used for centuries with success. But keep in mind with infections or suspected infections, they can turn from mild to severe very quickly. So, it’s best to be under the care of a physician if an infection is suspected. Below are some ingredients that may help with more mild infections. Many of these ingredients are found in topical creams like our Manuka Honey Skin Cream and especially those formulated for diaper areas and angry skin rashes like Emily’s Diaper Soother and the EczeHerbal Formula #1 and #2. Formulas with ingredients such as these can be helpful in preventing infection to begin with along with vinegar bathes. Just keep in mind to diligently watch the infection and remain under a physician’s care.

  • Tea tree oil or manuka oil
  • Honey (raw, non
  • Neem oil
  • Rosemary Oil
  • Lavender Oil
  • Zinc (non-nano partical is safest)
  • Oregano Oil (mostly for fungal infections, like yeast)

Take a look at these natural infection fighters for#eczema http://www.itchylittleworld.com @eczemacompany

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Do you have any at home remedies you use to prevent infections from occurring in the first place? If so, please share them with us!

Debbie

Debbie

Bio: Debbie spends her time writing health and beauty articles. She also reviews Advanced Dermatology, experts in acne clearing procedures. When she has some free time (which isn’t often) she cuts loose with a good book and a glass of wine. 

19 Comments Post a comment
  1. I have eczema and aloe vera works wonder for me.

    Like

    December 31, 2014
    • That’s great! Do you use aloe straight from the plant?

      Like

      January 6, 2015
  2. Janelle Rantz #

    My son seems to have the same looking rash as the child pictured. What was done to treat it?

    Like

    December 2, 2014
    • Hi Janelle – Our son actually had a topical infection, so we used a prescription topical antibacterial cream. That was before we move to more natural treatment methods. I would now recommend letting your son soak once a day in a tub full of luke warm water and 1 cup of raw/natural apple cider vinegar for 20 minutes. Then I would apply a natural balm from one of our products made for red, inflamed, angry skin.

      Like

      December 4, 2014
  3. Great post, Debbie. I developed eczema on my hand one week after my son (21 months) was born. I have been trying Apple Cider Vinegar for the past couple days which seems to be helping.

    Like

    November 10, 2014
  4. For me regular bath with a natural tea tree oil is best defense against skin problems 🙂

    Like

    September 18, 2014
    • Hi James – So glad that works for you. Yes, tea tree can really help in many cases – very healing. Jennifer

      Like

      September 22, 2014
  5. great post

    Like

    May 1, 2014
  6. Selina #

    Related to a comment about probiotics, I too think these are important.

    For immediate relief, natural yoghurt contains probiotics which can help with skin infections, a mask of it alongside other helpful ingredients such as honey/Apple cider vinegar, neem etc can be helpful 🙂

    Just patch test for stinging! It used to help clear my eczema quite dramatically naturally and now I use it for my acne prone skin too… yoghurt is an amazing natural product 🙂

    Like

    April 4, 2014
    • Wow, very interesting idea. Thanks for sharing!

      Like

      April 8, 2014
  7. RihoZN #

    Hi!
    I have`t eczema but I have psoriatic artritis and five years ago it really flared up in my joints so I couldn’t exercise anymore and two years ago patches started appearing on my skin and under nails. But about a year ago I started taking a new natural Omega 3 North- Europe producer product that was suggested to me and now for all practical purposes my psoriasis is gone. I measure Omega 3 effect and Omega 6:3 ratio due to its importance. I use a blood test from leading laboratories. They analyze the sample to determine your fatty acid profile as a reflection on your diet (the ratio and several other data). For example my first test ratio was 8,4:1, second after four months 3,4:1 and third a year later 1,6:1.

    Like

    March 24, 2014
    • That’s great news! So happy you found what works for you! Congrats!

      Like

      March 25, 2014
  8. Thank you, Debbie and Jennifer! This is really helpful! My son is in a pretty constant state of at least some kind of eczema, with the addition of hives, infection, etc. fairly often. It’s exhausting trying to play detective/triage nurse all the time, trying to sort out what’s going on and how serious it is. I dabble in some of the essential oils and natural treatments but also know that our case is a lot more severe than typical and we have also had to see doctors for infections so I appreciated this balanced article, covering both possibilities.

    Like

    March 19, 2014
    • Hi Christy – I’m so sorry to hear about what you and your son are going through. It’s tougher than most imagine, trying to help our little ones find some comfort when eczema the eczema is raging through their little bodies. We can only try our best for our children, and it sounds like you are doing just that. Jennifer

      Like

      March 25, 2014
    • RihoZN #

      By the way- if you hold Omega 6:3 ratio 3:1 or lower then all life style diseases (skin diseases, asthma, allergies, diabetes 2, high blood pressure, thyroid problems, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases and so on) are disapeared.

      Like

      April 2, 2014
  9. Dan #

    I occasionally will add 1/2 cup bleach to a bath to help control staph on my skin.

    http://topicalsteroidsurvivor.blogspot.com/

    Like

    March 11, 2014
    • Hi Dan – Have you tried apple cider vinegar as a healthier option, like discussed here? Bleach is effective, but it can be absorbed into the skin, deeper into the body. Anyway, it’s just another option for you to try. Jennifer

      Like

      March 25, 2014
  10. Tracy #

    I’m so happy to have found your sight! My 5-month old daughter has been battling severe eczema, primarily on her face, for about 2 months and it’s been maddening trying to treat it as naturally as possible and keep her comfortable. You may have written about this, but what are your thoughts on this coming from the gut? I keep coming back to this and started her on a probiotic yesterday, hoping and praying this gives her some relief. Thank you again for this blog, I’m so happy I found it.

    Like

    March 11, 2014
    • Hi Tracy – I do believe a big part of eczema is based on issues in the gut, which is why I think so many foods can trigger eczema flare ups. We’re going to be doing a series on gut healing in the next few weeks – maybe you’ll find some answers there. Jennifer

      Like

      March 25, 2014

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