Eczema: Natural Treatments, Diet and Nutrition

Eczema and Natural Treatments

 

What Exactly is Eczema?

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is an inflammation of the skin that is usually itchy and very dry. The condition is frequently caused by some form of an allergy, which may include foods or inhalants.

Description of Eczema

Atopic dermatitis or eczema is sometimes described as the itch that rashes.  The scratching of the inflamed areas may very well start the rash in some people. The skin of those affected by eczema is extremely dry, because of excessive loss of moisture. Severe situations of it can cause the affected areas to form thick plaques (patches of overgrown skin that rises), develop serous (watery) exudates, or sometimes become infected.

These areas of the body that are affected by eczema or atopic dermatitis usually vary with age. Children who are five years old or younger are more likely to have eczema, but it can occur at any age. It can be mild and come and go, or chronic. Toddlers commonly experience it on their face and other areas of the head. Their stomach, arms and legs may also become involved. Older children commonly have the worst parts on their inner wrists and elbows, backs of knees, and ankles.

What Causes Eczema And What Are The Symptoms

Genetics play a role in who will get eczema or other allergies. There is approximately a 50–80% chance that a child of two parents with allergies will also develop some form of eczema. The genetic predisposition of the individual, combined with early exposure to strong antigens, will determine whether the person will develop allergies. Aside from a predisposition to eczema, increased use of soapy detergents and baby wipes is probably responsible for higher incidence of childhood eczema as well as allergies to food, nutritional deficiencies, bowel permeability and toxins.

The usual sign of eczema is an itchy, red rash. The persons age determines what regions are most likely affected but exceptions do occur.

 

How to Diagnose Eczema

To this date, no laboratory test can reliably diagnose eczema, although some people will register positive to tests designed to diagnose allergies. These include tests like skin injections, patch or scratch tests. There is a blood test available that measures levels of antibodies (immune system cells) to suspected allergies. Diagnosis is usually made by the location or appearance of the rash.

Natural & Alternative Treatments For Eczema

The basis of natural and alternative treatments for eczema are keeping the skin clean, moist, avoiding irritants and known allergens. If the skin becomes infected further more aggressive actions are needed.

Conventional thoughts have been that minimal bathing of the person with eczema is ideal. The belief was that bathing would break down the natural oil on the surface of the skin and cause more drying. Research in the last few years has shown that soaks are hydrating to the dry skin that eczema produces.  There are many different types of soaks and some can make your particular situation worse.  I have helped many people with eczema if you are in need of assistance feel free to call me.

Environmental factors can give some relief for many people with eczema. Animal dander and cigarette smoke are triggers. Keeping these out of the home, clothing and bedding should be 100% soft cotton, and laundered in a natural detergent with no perfumes.

Clothes should be loose fit to prevent inflammation from rubbing. Wash the bedding in hot water that will help to kill any dust mites. Running laundry through a double rinse cycle will help to remove any vestiges of detergent. Avoid the use of fabric softener or dryer sheets as these are frequently scented and may be an inflammatory. Drying bedding or clothes outdoors should be avoided, because potential allergens are likely to cling to them. Mattresses and pillowcase can be covered by special casings that microscopic dust mites can’t infest. Under normal conditions mites cause no problem, but they can be a major trigger for the person with asthma or eczema.

Temperature extremes can make eczema worse, so heating and cooling should be used when appropriate and adding humidity when needed. People with eczema tend to have an abnormal regulation of body temperature, and sometimes feel warmer or colder than other people. Sweating will frequently irritate eczema. Room temperature should be adjusted so the person is comfortable. Air conditioning is the best option for cooling the home. Air conditioning should be used instead of open windows and also to cool the car. Electrostatic filters and vent covers can be used to remove irritants from the air that are in the house. These should be frequently changed or cleaned.

In the person’s room, items that collect dust such as carpeting, curtains and stuffed animals are best to avoid. Cleaning the room for dust should be done regularly when the  person is not in the room. HEPA filter units and vacuums with built-in HEPA filters remove a very high percentage of pollen and dust from the environment.

Simple mechanical measures will reduce the amount of scratching caused by eczema. Keep fingernails short and use a nail file which will produce a smoother nail edge. It is particularly difficult to keep children with eczema from scratching, but using clothing with maximum skin coverage will help to protect the skin. Socks or mittens can be used to cover the hands at night to reduce the effects of scratching.

In addition to the skin care and environmental measures to relieve eczema, there are some complementary therapies that may prove helpful.

Dietary Modification

Eczema can be triggered by allergies. Majority of children with eczema have food allergies, according to research. A holistic, alternative medicine doctor should be consulted to determine whether allergies are an issue. Once the trigger for the allergy has been identified, avoidance of the allergen can lead to significant improvement.

However, common food allergens (e.g., cows’ milk, egg, wheat, soy, and nuts) are sometimes the cause of eczema in adults. A diversity of substances have been shown to trigger eczema reactions in sensitive individuals.  Eliminating these substances has similarly been shown to improve eczema.

Meditation

Meditation instructors help people with eczema to achieve and maintain a relaxed state of positive concentration. This can be done individually with proper training.  Even ten minutes of practice per day can produce beneficial results for eczema Studies have shown eczema to be one of the conditions that is improved by this technique.

Herbal therapy

Herbal therapies can be useful for skin conditions. Among the herbs most often recommended are:

  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis) ointment, for anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
  • Chickweed (Stellaria media) ointment, to soothe itching.
  • Evening  Primrose Oil (Oenograceae) topically to relieve itching, and internally to supplement fatty acids.

There are individual differences in the effectiveness of the topical treatments. When the condition is chronic, guidance from a holistic health care professional should be consulted before attempting self-treatment.

Hypnotherapy/Hypnosis

Hypnotherapy/Hypnosis has the ability to improve eczema through using the power of suggestion to reduce itching. Since damage to the skin is done by scratching, which can irritate, or cause, the rash, any measure that reduces scratching can be beneficial.

 

 

 

Nutritional Supplements For Eczema

There are several nutrients and natural treatments that can prove helpful for treating eczema. Oral doses of evening primrose oil which contains gammalinolenic acid have been shown to significantly reduce itching. Fish oil has also been shown to improve eczema, at an approximate dose of 1.8 g per day. Vitamin C, as ester-c, can affect both skin healing and inflammation. Vitamin E is very useful, with many studies supporting it.

Expected Results

There is no known cure for eczema, although most people will experience significant improvement with diet, nutrition and natural treatments. As many as 75% of those who have eczema in childhood will go on to have other allergenic problems such as asthma, food allergies, and hay fever. Daily care of the skin and avoiding known triggers will control majority of eczema cases.

Prevention of Eczema

One very important thing a mother can do to for her child to avoid getting eczema, is to breastfeed. It is optimal for the baby to have breast milk for at least six months, especially when there is a family history of eczema or other allergies. If breastfeeding is not an option, a hypoallergenic formula (non soy) should be used if there is a family history of allergies. Consult a natural health care provider for help with determining the best type.

The person with eczema can decrease flare-ups by avoiding known triggers and following the skin care program outlined above. It’s important to continue to follow guidelines for a daily emollient routine (moistening skin twice daily) even when skin is under control to prevent flare-ups.

CALL 201.618.3534 TO DISCUSS NATURAL TREATMENTS FOR ECZEMA.

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