Different Types of Eczema

Information provided by – Sharrets Nutritions 

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Eczema is a general term that encompasses a wide range of skin inflammation or dermatitis. It is a particular type of inflammatory reaction of the skin that may result in redness, swelling, cracking and crusting of the skin, with severe itching. Unlike eczema on any other part of the body, eczema on the face can be seen clearly and sufferers may feel self-conscious about it. Dermatologists acknowledge that though the condition is inherited, there are things that trigger it. To prevent outbreaks of eczema, you should avoid pollen, mould, dust, dry air or dry skin, harsh soaps and detergents; fabrics like wool and perfume; cigarette and tobacco smoke; extreme heat and certain foods like tomatoes.

There are several different types of facial eczema:

Atopic Eczema/ Dermatitis
This is the most common type, both in adults and children. “Atopic” refers to diseases that are hereditary. The exact cause of atopic eczema isn’t clearly understood, but both genetic factors and the influence of the environment are said to play a role.

Seborrhoeic Eczema/Dermatitis
This is another common type of facial eczema. The result of excess sebum, it causes dandruff and other oily parts of the face such as the sides of the nose to be affected.

Irritant Contact Eczema/Dermatitis
As the name suggests, this type is one where the skin reacts in contact with an irritant. This is a common type of eczema and not limited to those with sensitive skin.

Allergic Contact Eczema/Dermatitis
This type of eczema occurs in people whose immune system reacts to a specific item in the environment, producing a specific allergic reaction. The item can range from cosmetics and hair dyes to nail vanish and metal (not silver or gold) jewellery.

Light Sensitive Eczema/Dermatitis
This type of eczema affects people vulnerable to the effects of sunlight. Sunlight can also make atopic eczema worse while in others it can help improve the eczema.

As there are so many types of eczema, it is best to consult a pharmacist or dermatologist for personalised advice.

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What is a Demodex Mite Infestation?

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What are demodex mites?
Demodex is a group of mites that live in or around the hair follicles. The two species that are typically found on humans are Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis. These mites are invisible to the naked eye, and can only be seen using a microscope.

How do demodex mites affect humans?
It is normal for demodex mites to be present in healthy individuals. Demodex mites are mostly found on the face in eyebrows and eyelashes, and on the cheek, forehead, and nose. Most individuals do not present with any symptoms despite the presence of the mites. However, symptoms will appear when there is a high amount of demodex mites present, especially in individuals with a weak immune system.

What are the symptoms of a demodex mite infestation?
Demodicosis is a term used to describe skin conditions related to demodex. The symptoms include skin itching, eye irritation, scaling of the eyelids, and blurred vision. While demodicosis has not been found to cause any serious conditions, blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) and rosacea (a facial condition in which the skin turns red) are commonly associated with increased demodex mites.

What can be done to treat demodicosis?
There are no approved medications to treat demodicosis. However, some doctors may prescribe anti-mite agents such as crotamiton cream to control the number of demodex mites. Also, some studies have shown that the use of tea tree oil preparations may help to manage the symptoms that are caused by a mite infestation.

How is symptomatic demodicosis best prevented?
The best way to prevent and treat demodicosis is to practise proper hygiene. All individuals should:

  • Wash their hair with mild shampoo frequently
  • Clean eyelashes twice daily with a mild cleanser
  • Avoid oil-based cleansers and make-ups
  • Change bed sheets and pillow cases regularly

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Managing Allergies at Home

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If you’re sneezing for no apparent reason, it may be due to allergies you are not aware of. Due to a multitude of factors, ranging from genetic family history to physical sensitivity, it is possible for you to develop allergies at any time, and to virtually anything. For example, one can develop allergies to household dust or cat fur; irritants abound everywhere.

What happens when you develop an allergy is that your system prompts the body to release a chemical that’s called histamine. This sets in motion such symptoms as sneezing, a runny nose or hay fever, all of which are intended to repel irritants. Antihistamines are drugs that reduce allergy symptoms by blocking the action of the histamine; a pharmacist or doctor will be advise you on a suitable antihistamine or other medication for you.

Tips for keeping your home allergy-free

  • Wash your mattress cover weekly. It is also good to get your mattresses professionally sanitised twice a year.
  • If you have people in the household prone to skin allergies, you may wish to avoid the following:
  1. Keeping a furry pet
  2. Having rugs and carpets
  3. Keeping the windows open all day long, as this invites dust and pollen into your home.

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Tips On Managing A Sore Throat

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Even the nicest food wouldn’t look delicious when you have a sore throat – a common term used to describe the sensation at the back of the throat as being painful, scratchy, burning or irritated.

This sensation worsens when swallowing or talking, which is why the thought of enduring the pain is often enough to make you lose your appetite, or refuse to talk.

What causes a sore throat?

Sore throat is not an illness on its own, but a symptom of pharyngitis (swelling at the back of the throat) which is caused by various reasons, including the following.

  • Viral infection (e.g. influenza, common cold, measles, chicken pox)
  • Bacterial infection (e.g. Streptococcal pharyngitis)
  • Allergies due to pet dander, mould or dust
  • Dryness of the throat due to the lack of water intake or staying in a dry, indoor environment for a long period of time
  • Irritants such as tobacco smoke, spicy food or alcohol
  • Muscle strain from persistent shouting or talking for long periods of time
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Treating sore throats

A sore throat caused by a viral infection generally does not require any treatment as the symptoms will resolve within 5 to 7 days. If you wish to relieve the pain and irritation, you can consider taking lozenges or using a throat gargle.

Lozenges

Over-the-counter lozenges containing antibacterial or soothing agents may be used to relieve a mild sore throat. For stronger lozenges containing antibacterial agents with anaesthetic, consult a pharmacist.

Throat gargles or sprays

Over-the-counter or pharmacy-only throat gargles containing antibacterial agents are often recommended for the relief of sore throats. Throat sprays containing anti-inflammatory agents may also be used to relieve the pain.

When consulting a pharmacist, do inform him/her of your existing health condition or any medications you are currently taking.

Self-treatment at home

You may wish to go DIY when it comes to treating a sore throat. Here’s how you can do it.

  • Get sufficient rest and avoid straining your throat
  • Keep your throat moist and your body hydrated by drinking sufficient water
  • Take warm liquids (e.g. honey lemon water) or cold ice pops to provide relief

When to consult a doctor

A sore throat may not be as innocent as it feels. If any of the following occurs, you should see a doctor immediately.

  • Your sore throat has persisted for more than a week
  • You have very frequent, recurring sore throats
  • The hoarseness of your voice has persisted for more than 2 weeks
  • You have difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Your sore throat is accompanied by earache, joint pain or rash
  • You have a fever of more than 38.3°C
  • There is blood in the saliva or phlegm
  • You discover a lump in your neck
  • You have a weak immune system due to an illness or the use of long-term immune suppressant medications

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Essential Preparation for Winter Travelling

Information provided by – Sharrets Nutritions 

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Winter is a favourite time of the year for families and friends to make their trips overseas during the holiday season. Most of us in Singapore would be happy to get away from the heat and humidity for a nice colder environment elsewhere. However, any great plans would be ruined if preparations are not made in anticipation of your winter travel.

Clothing
Depending on the country that you are visiting, suitable winter clothing is required for cold countries. You would not want to be caught off guard with sudden changes in weather and not having enough cover for it. It is therefore important to be aware of the current and forecast weather conditions in the countries you are travelling to. Know the temperature and be prepared with thermal insulating layers such as fleece, wool jackets, windbreakers and gloves. Proper winter clothing should keep you comfortable inside. However, it is also important to keep clothing modular as you would find it easier to adapt if there are large temperature differences between the indoors and outdoors.

Medicines
When going into an environment that is very much different from Singapore, individuals adapt differently and consequently, some may fall sick. Boosting your immunity before a trip may be useful if you are prone to falling sick. Supplements containing Vitamin C and zinc, echinacea or more recently, black elderberry can build stronger immunity, making you more resistant to cold and flu.

Cold countries tend to give you runny nose and nasal congestion more often. Antihistamines such as cetirizine, loratadine or fexofenadine can be more appealing as they are non-drowsy. They can also be easily obtained without prescription, upon consultation with your pharmacist.

Antihistamines that cause drowsiness, while inconvenient during day travel, may be handy at night if nasal symptoms are making it difficult for you to rest. Topical nasal decongestants are also available over the counter should you prefer not to take oral tablets, but you should limit their use to a maximum of five consecutive days.

As with most trips overseas, you should also prepare yourself with medicines for other conditions as well. Diarrhoea and stomach upset can be common in a foreign country as the food may not be agreeable with your stomach. Loperamide or diphenoxylate is useful for stopping diarrhoea while other medicines, such as activated charcoal, can reduce milder symptoms of diarrhea. Activated charcoal is useful in food poisoning as well.

For indigestion or bloatedness, domperidone should help while omeprazole should do away with increased stomach acidity or acid reflux. For those having motion sickness, taking dimenhydrinate half an hour before a trip on a car or boat would prevent nausea and vomiting. Ginger tablets are claimed be a non-drowsy alternative medicine for motion sickness, but their effectiveness is still debatable.

Topical Applications
Travelling during winter usually poses problems of skin dryness as the environment tends to be a lot drier than tropical Singapore. As such, it is important to properly hydrate the skin, especially the facial region, hands and lips. Skin moisturisers suitable for the face can be applied liberally to prevent skin dryness and peeling. Lip balms prevent lips from cracking as wounds from the cracks can be very painful.

Sometimes, when the sun shines in places with snow, there are also a lot of UV rays that are reflected from the snow to our skin. In such situations, it is important to apply sunscreen to prevent sunburn. We may not notice the effects of the sun as the cold temperature masks the burning sensation.

With proper planning, you and your loved ones should be well prepared for a wonderful winter trip to your favourite countries. One more thing: don’t forget your passports!

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What is Eczema?

Information provided by – Sharrets Nutritions 

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Friendly Farmacist Friday: Incurable, but not unmanageable; learn more about eczema and how you can better manage it with these simple tips.

What is eczema?
Eczema affects our skin and can cause chronic reddish wheals, peeling and itchiness.

Is it curable?
Unfortunately, eczema is incurable and it can permanently scar the largest organ in our body. But, the good news is that eczema is manageable. Thankfully, about 90% of all eczema occurs in young children and many people grow out of the allergic phase.

What are the common triggers of eczema flares?
Eczema flares can occur for the most trivial reasons including food allergens (e.g. peanuts, seafood), environment allergens (e.g. dust mites, pollen, mould) and even stress or weather changes!

How can eczema be managed?
Kill the bud before it blooms! Early management is associated with positive response to the normal steroid and antihistamine therapies.

Figuring out individual unique potential causes and eliminating them can also help to drastically improve eczema outcomes.

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All You Need To Know About Allergies

Information provided by – Sharrets Nutritions 

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“Eeew, go away, I’m allergic to you!” – does this sound familiar? A term often used when teasing friends, an allergy is, however, far from a joke.

An allergy is used to describe a group of disorders related to the immune system triggered by harmless environmental substances known as allergens.

What causes an allergy?

Airborne particles such as pollen, dust and cigarette smoke could cause different types of allergic reactions, depending on the areas in contact with these particles.

Common types of allergies affecting people in Singapore

Allergies such as allergic conjunctivitis, allergic rhinitis, asthma, eczema and hives are common in Singapore.

Allergic conjunctivitis

When one’s eyes are affected due to an allergy, he/she may get allergic conjunctivitis, which is characterised by the itching and redness in the eye.

Allergic rhinitis

This allergy occurs when allergens enter the nose and the nasal airways get inflamed, resulting in runny nose, sneezing and nose itching. If the allergens reach deeper into the airways, asthma may be triggered.

Asthma

Asthma refers to the inflammation of the airways which causes the airways to be narrowed. This in turn leads to wheezing, chest tightness and breathing difficulties.

Eczema

Allergens coming in contact with the skin may lead to an inflammation of the outer layer of the skin, resulting in a condition known as eczema.

Hives

A kind of skin rash, hives is commonly triggered by consumed allergens (e.g. peanuts, shellfish) and appears red, raised and itchy.

Treating allergies

Here are some steps to help you avoid allergic reactions.

  • Avoid allergens as much as possible
  • Do a skin patch test or blood test to identify what you are allergic to
  • Wear a mask to minimise contact if you are sensitive to airborne allergens
  • Do housekeeping regularly to reduce the amount of dust at home
  • Avoid pets if you are allergic to materials shed from animals
  • Always watch what you eat if you are allergic to certain foods

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