Eczema and Dermatitis: How to treat eczema and dermatitis naturally
Posted Jan 26 2009 3:37pm
Eczema and Dermatitis
Two types of eczema
Eczema due to external or exogenous factors (usually referred to as Contact Dermatitis) is usually treated by eliminating the irritant in the external environment, which will usually result in the successful treatment of eczema.
Endogenous eczema, or atopic dermatitis is a chronic, inflammatory skin disorder featuring blisters that dry to become scaly, itchy rashes due to excessive loss of moisture in the epidermis (upper layer of the skin). This results in the loss of the ‘Acid Mantel’, which serves to protect your skin and thus there is an increased risk of infection from bacteria and viruses.
Signs and Symptoms of Eczema:
Eczema occurs episodically; that is it flares up from time to time and does not cause any problems at other times.
Symptoms of an acute flair up of eczema commonly include:
Dry, irritated, extremely itchy skin
Blistering with oozing and crusting
Redness of the skin around the blisters
Red raw areas of the skin resulting from scratching, which may lead to bleeding
Dry, leathery areas with more or less pigment than the normal skin tone (also called lichenification) of unaffected areas.
Generally, infants may develop red, oozing, crusted rashes on the face, scalp, diaper area, hands, arms, feet, or legs. The rash may affect large areas of the body. In older children and adults, the rash often occurs (and recurs) in only one or a few spots, especially on the hands, upper arms, in front of the elbows, or behind the knees whenever an acute flair up occurs. However, it is not limited to these locations and has been known to occur on other areas of the skin.
Although the color, intensity, and location of the rash vary, the rash is always itchy and leads to uncontrollable scratching, which sets up a cycle of itching-scratching-itching, which exacerbates the problem.
Causes of eczema include:
A combination of hereditary (genetic) and environmental factors, such as allergies, which can cause eczema in susceptible people.
Exposure to certain irritants and allergens (see Lifestyle section for further definition of these substances) in the environment can worsen symptoms.
Dryness of the skin,
Exposure to water,
Temperature changes, and
There are a number of risk factors which can cause eczema:
Age: infants and young children are most affected by eczema. About 65% of cases occur before age one, and approximately 90% occur before age 5.
Exposure: Exposure of the skin to harsh conditions, such as wind, radiation from the sun, severe/moderate temperature; Sudden change in temperature.
Humidity: Living in a climate with low humidity, such as in land regions of Australia and other similar climates where humidity is usually low.
Predisposing factors: Personal and/or family history of allergies to plants, chemicals, or food
Nutritional deficiencies: Deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals (for example, zinc).
Emotional: Anxiety, Nervousness and/or Stress can make eczema worse.
Irritants: Irritants which may make eczema worse include:
Wool or synthetic fibres,
Washing detergents, soaps, perfumes, cosmetics (especially non-natural cosmetics), fumes from various chemicals including cigarette smoke, and dust.
Your health care professional will be able to make a diagnosis from a combination of factors: a) the appearance of the skin and b) a series of questions relating to your personal history and your family’s history. You may be asked questions about stress in your life, diet, medications you’re taking, chemicals you are using or are exposed to recent changes in your life, etc.
Prevention of Eczema
Learn as much as you can about eczema. It is always a good idea to inform yourself of what it is you are dealing with, what research is being done and what new information is uncovered. The Internet is a perfect medium to quickly and easily find quality information from a variety of sources. The more you know about your eczema, the more likely it is you can find helpful information and pick and choose from information which is most relevant to your situation.
Emotional balance is very important. Stress, nervousness, anxiety, irritability and depression all cause chemical changes in your body, which can trigger eczema to flare up. Techniques such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, autogenic training can help to minimise emotional swings.
Dietary considerations are essential to reducing flare-ups and may include foods such as peanuts, some types of fish, eggs, soy and many other foods, which could be aggravating your eczema.
Consult a qualified health professional to help you identify ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food for you to use/avoid in your diet.
Some studies, although somewhat controversial, suggest that children who are breast-fed for at least the first 4 months after birth are less likely to get eczema, especially if the mother has avoided cow’s milk in her diet. In addition, studies suggest that babies whose mothers were using probiotics during pregnancy and while breastfeeding were less likely to develop eczema up to 2 years of age.
Healing the skin
Prevent skin damage
There are primarily 4 factors, which when used in combination result in excellent results when treating eczema:
In addition to the information in the suggested articles, you will need to identify the factors that trigger flare-ups. Your health care professional should be able to help you identify those and suggest possible alternatives as part of your treatment plan. Products which will help to normalise your skin successfully are found at Natural Skin Care Systems for Dry and Sensitive Skin, where you have 2 options to choose from, depending on your skin type and you age.
Some other triggers may include: pollen, dust, dust mites, cat hair and animal dander, wool, synthetic fibres, detergents and soap, perfumes, cosmetics, lanolin, chemicals such as chlorine, etc.
Sound Nutrition and Water Intake:
Again, see the articles suggested above. They contain much information helpful to managing eczema, even though they were not specifically written with eczema sufferers in mind. The information is still applicable and useful.
One of the key factors is the adequate intake of pure water. This can not be underestimated. Eczema causes loss of fluids from the skin and therefore it is even more important to maintain high levels of hydration. Some cell salts such as Kali mur., kali phos., kali arsen., kali brom., calcium, iodine and others may be of benefit. Trace minerals too can help to balance the fluid balance in the cells of your skin. These include: Selenium and Zinc, which are particularly useful in treating eczema.
The use of Probiotics (the good bacteria which form the micro-flora of your intestines) is strongly suggested, as these can help the absorption of vital nutrients from your diet and counteract the ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut.
Become aware of your emotional swings, the stresses in your life and what factors (including foods) can change your emotional balance. Employ stress management techniques to help you get control of stress and its effects. Using cognitive-behavioural therapy, autogenic training, meditation etc., can help gain control over emotional factors affecting your eczema.
One study showed that regular group sporting activities improved the symptoms of eczema in participants, which participated in the activities for 3 weeks.
This effect may be related to the positive effect exercise has on the emotions, however, exercise improves cardiovascular fitness and promotes the circulation of blood, which helps to transport nutrients and oxygen to the surface of the skin in greater quantities, Thus, exercise is possibly helping in the reduction of symptoms associated with eczema and dermatitis.
Danny Siegenthaler is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and together with his wife Susan, a medical herbalist and Aromatherapist, they have created Natural Skin Care Products by Wildcrafted Herbal Products to share their 40 years of combined expertise with you.