My top tips for eczema

Woman scratching her armEczema is one of the most common conditions I treat in my clinic. I see babies, toddlers, teenagers and adults suffering from eczema and most are frustrated with how poorly it is controlled through the standard medical strategies. Medical treatment is typically a steroid based cream, which may improve your eczema in the short term, however can lead to pigmentation and thinning of the skin when used long term.

When we treat eczema naturopathically, we aim to treat your health from the inside, out. Eczema flares are often a results of what is happening on the inside- in your immune and digestive systems as well as your endocrine and stress response. Health in these areas is what enables you to rid your skin of eczema for the long term. Below are some of my top tips for keeping your eczema under control-

  • Use a natural moisturizers where possible. As stated above, there are side effects associated with long term steroid cream use. I have had best results in my patients using the Moogoo products and Hope’s Relief cream. These are completely natural products with no nasty chemical or synthetic ingredients and use a combination of herbal medicines (such as aloe vera, chamomile, liquorice and calendula) to reduce inflammation in the skin, add moisture and promote healing of the skin.
  • While you are there- switch to natural and chemical free body products. Avoiding the harsh chemicals found in most soaps, body wash, moisturizers, shampoos and other beauty products can help some people with eczema- and is generally better for your overall health and toxicity status. Aim for chemical free and natural products that are gentler on your skin. Always have a quick read of the ingredients panel yourself as many products are labelled as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ when they may only include 1 or 2 of these ingredients.
  • Include lots of healthy fats into your diet. The healthy fats and oils found in foods such as nuts, seed, fish and avocado are important to lock moisture into the skin and reduce inflammation. Below our skin cells, we have a layer of lipids (or fats) which acts as a waterproof membrane to lock moisture into the skin and prevent it from drying out. This is especially important at change of season times when the temperature changes often lead to dryer skin. Add a handful of mixed nuts and seeds into your daily snacks. Use avocado regularly in salads or on toast and aim to include an oily fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel or sardines 4 times each week.
  • Try an oatmeal bath. Oatmeal can help to soothe itchy, inflamed and irritated skin and is a great way to manage an eczema flare. The easiest way to do this is by adding around 1 cup of oatmeal (or you can grind your whole oats in a strong blender or coffee grinder) to a stocking. You can then float the stocking in your bath without having to worry about being covered in oats afterwards! Make sure you let the oat stocking soak in the bath for a few minutes before you hop in.
  • Try to minimise extreme temperature changes. The most common times for my patients to flare in eczema is at the peak of summer or winter. This is due to quick changes in temperature caused by going from a stable outside temperature to inside an air-conditioned or heated house or car. Avoid showers that are boiling hot.
  • Check to see if you have food intolerances. I find these to be the number trigger for eczema and identifying food intolerances gives you a great long term strategy for controlling your skin health and can be done via a very simple finger prick blood tests- please email me if you would like more information
  • Start each day with 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar in water. People with eczema often have a low stomach acid secretion level which has been linked to eczema flares. Before breakfast each day, add 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar into 30-100mls of water and take a ‘shot’. This has many other health benefits such as improving liver function, supporting digestion and alkalising the body.
  • Take a probiotic. This helps to balance your immune response and can make your immune system less allergic/atopic. Make sure your probiotic has the strain Lactobacillus rhamnosis (LGG) which is the specific strain of probiotics that the research shows improves eczema.
  • Increase your zinc intake. Zinc is a very important mineral for immune balance and reducing inflammation in the skin. It also promotes healing of the skin and can help to prevent scarring. Zinc rich foods include oysters, egg yolks, lamb, sunflower seeds, pepitas, cashews and green leafy veggies.
  • Reduce your exposure to dust and dust mites. These are the most common environmental allergens linked to eczema and are present in every household and as the bedroom is where we spend hours each night sleeping, it is the most important to take care of. Keep the bedroom clean and dust free where possible. Use mattress and pillow dust protectors on your bed. Ensure you wash your sheets, pillow cases and doona covers once a week in hot water, as dust mites are killed through heat but will not die with a cold wash. If possible, throw your sheets in your hot dryer for 10minutes or so before you put them back on the bed to take care of the last of those dust mites!

Need some support and direction to get your eczema under control? Email Hayley or call reception for an appointment on 9518 0722

Hayley Stockbridge Naturopath Sydney