Natural ways to help treat eczema
Eczema is one of the most common childhood disorders. About one in five children in the UK have eczema, although most will outgrow by adulthood. Those of us who have to manage it daily will know just how troublesome it can be to avoid irritating eczema-prone skin.
This chronic skin disorder is due to a hypersensitivity reaction (that may be an allergy), which leads to a long-term inflammation. This causes a range of problems, very often rashes, which may be red, scaly, dry and/or leathery. Sometimes the skin becomes blistery, and may become weepy, oozy and/or crusty. There are many different types of this condition, including atopic and discoid eczema.
There is no cure for eczema so it’s important to learn how to control the triggers – and to remember that what works for one person may not work for another. Although tough to treat, there is some hope for all with these helpful skin-saving strategies. The most important thing to remember in the prevention of eczema irritations is to be gentle to skin. Dry skin makes the condition worse.
Natural ways to help treat eczema
– Take lukewarm, not hot, baths, and if possible wash or bathe quickly to lessen contact with water.
– Gently pat skin dry with a soft towel and moisturise within three minutes to help lock moisture in.
– Avoid any products containing sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate. This can be found in soap, detergent (including shampoos), baby wipes, most bubble baths or gels. Even aqueous cream, which may come from a doctor, can have drying affects on the skin.
– Avoid all perfumes and fragrances in toiletries and skincare (it is the most common skin sensitiser).
– Wear soft, natural fabrics next to the skin, avoiding synthetic fabrics and tight clothing. Choose cotton or silk bedding.
– Look out for underwear and children’s wear made with colloidal silver fabric, which can help soothe sore skin. Innovative companies providing eczema-friendly clothing include Skintoskin and Silver Sense.
– In dry or cold weather using a humidifier at home can help to prevent dry skin. Install one in your bedroom.
– Avoid scratching and keep fingernails short so as to not break the skin. Scratch-mitts are helpful for babies and smaller children to avoid night-time scratching whilst asleep (breaking the itch-scratch-itch cycle is important).
– Removing carpets from the home and replacing with wood or tiles is said to help reduce allergic symptoms for some.
– The droppings of the house dust mite, which thrives in warm damp places such as mattresses and bedding, as well as soft furnishing and carpets, may trigger attacks, so hot-wash bedding weekly and air thoroughly.
Natural prescriptions to help treat eczema
In addition to using purified paraffin wax and steroid creams from your GP, there are a number of natural remedies and foods that can also help support eczema-prone skin.
– Blood-purifying herbs such as red clover, dandelion, burdock and sarsaparilla may all help reduce signs of inflammation.
– Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) found in flax seed oil, hemp seed oil, evening primrose seed oil (the Rigel seed variety) and borage seed oil are vital for restoring the lipid levels within outer skin cells, helping to prevent flaking and dry skin. They also have natural anti-inflammatory properties.
– Calendula is a trusted botanical used in tinctures and creams that has helped to improve many skin problems.
– Manuka honey, a staple of traditional medicine in New Zealand and now respected worldwide for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and skin repairing properties, has been shown to bring relief for many skin problems.
– Oat grain contains lipids and compounds called avenanthramides, which have a wide range of actions to help inflamed, itchy skin. Adding a handful of oats to a warm bath can help soothe skin.
– Purified Lanolin (medical grade) is an excellent emollient for helping to soothe sore, irritated, eczema-prone skin.
– Essential oils can actually increase eczema-prone skin irritation and should be avoided – even though they are natural.
– Pellamex is a food supplement which has been tailored to nourish the skin’s protective barrier. Liz Earle Wellbeing intern Becky took this sweet tasting gel every day, and within two months her severe eczema had almost entirely disappeared. The research backs up this anecdotal evidence, too. The supplement’s primary active ingredient is an amino acid which is a vital building block for filaggrin. Very often, those with eczema have a deficiency in this protein, which can lead to the epidermis becoming vulnerable to pollutants and irritants. Pellamex also contains vitamins B and E and zinc, which are known to help maintain healthy skin. You can order a month’s worth of sachets here.
If you want to find out more natural ways of helping smooth and sooth the skin, download Liz’s newly revised ebook now for her holistic approach to help treat eczema and other dry skin conditions.