According to the National Eczema Association, eczema is Atopic Dermatitis . It is defined as an itchy, red rash that can appear all over the body. This is an inflammatory skin condition characterized by chronic itchy rashes, frequent skin infections, and sleep disturbances. The exact cause of eczema is unknown but studies show a connection with allergies. It could be an allergic reaction to environment or food.
A recent study performed by Arup Indra MD, Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Oregon State University/ Oregon Health and Science University, showed a link between genes and eczema. Therefore, eczema might be inherited. There isn't a cure for eczema but many ways to manage it. I would like to look at two treatments that the National Eczema Association and University of Maryland Medical Center recommend. A Nutritional approach and Dietary Supplements that includes an elimination diet and Herbal treatment. Most importantly removing as many triggers as possible from the food and environment and managing symptoms is the goal no matter the treatment.
Studies have shown common triggers such as dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, wheat, and soy products to impact eczema sufferers.
An allergy test can be given to help determine if foods or allergens such as dust, pets, or pollens can be a factor. Once this test and an elimination diet is conducted a person can avoid these common triggers. Along with avoiding triggers, University of Maryland Medical Center recommends some nutrition and dietary supplements and herbal treatment. They recommend a whole foods diet that is rich in antioxidants; limiting the intake of refined/processed foods. A study was done that showed significant decrease in eczema symptoms with the daily intake of 1.8 g of fish oil. Some research has shown improvement with adding probiotics but the studies are mixed so more research needs to be conducted. Additional oils recommended are Evening Primrose Oil and Borage Oil. Vitamin C can act as an antihistamine so it is highly recommended as well. Bromelain,an enzyme found in pineapple, helps reduce inflammation. Improving the eczema sufferer's diet can have a great impact on reducing inflammation which in turn lessens the redness and itching.
Many drugs and steroidal creams are prescribed but these can really take a toll on a person's liver and other organs. In the case of eczema, herbs can offer help without the side effects that come with pharmaceutical drugs. Care needs to be taken when administering herbs. Seek the counsel of a health professional along with a certified herbalist. Homemade creams and salves have been shown to help with itching and inflammation; especially creams and salves made with Chickweed, Chamomile, Calendula, Licorice, Plantain, and Comfrey. According to UMMC, one study showed that a licorice cream was more effective than a placebo. Witch Hazel is recommended to help relieve itching and help with "weeping" or oozing eczema. Another herb that has shown promise in a double blind study is St John's Wort. St John's Wort cream was rubbed on one arm and a placebo on the other. The St John's Wort arm showed more improvement. Sarsaparilla and Marshmallow have traditionally been applied to treat eczema.
My own 14 year old son has suffered from eczema from the time he was 2 months old. He has shown improvement as we have eliminated things from his diet. The trigger that effects him the most is seasonal allergies. After many trial and error attempts, we have learned to manage his eczema flare-ups with a Green Salve that I make with the herbs listed above. This salve has been a wonder salve for him. All the prescribed creams would burn his skin and result in screaming and crying. Green Salve is soothing and doesn't burn. It cuts down on his itching and scratching which can lead to infection. We also stopped using soaps on his body. We have a microfiber cloth from Norwex that he uses to clean his body when necessary. I also put a blend of essential oils together to rub on his 'trouble spots" to deal with the bad flare-ups that come. These oils are anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-fungal. This has helped to prevent infections. I also make an allergy herbal tea that he drinks during allergy season. In recent studies, I have learned the importance of using Milk Thistle to help support the liver and more importantly I have learned about leaky gut and how that impacts children with eczema. Solving leaky gut through diet and supplements is crucial to minimizing flare-ups
How about you? Do you or your little one suffer from eczema? I would love to read about your experience.