Eczema is a relatively generic term for a set of skin conditions that are caused by inflammation. Today, over 35 million people suffer from this chronic and often heredity condition. While there are multiple medications and therapies, today we will briefly discuss some of these options and then explore some of the homeopathic and natural remedies that have been used with different levels of success.
Natural Treatments And Remedies
While I am not a fan of the phrase home remedies there are many things you can change in your lifestyle that can help with flare ups;
- Showers: instead of hot baths, take warm, but not hot, showers. Heat can actually cause you to have a flare up. By reducing the heat in your shower and avoiding taking baths, you can reduce the possibility of having a flare up.
- Soaps: Use mild soaps and body washes that don’t have a lot of harsh chemicals in them. I recommend you check out our article on organic soaps for an overview of the chemicals in typical soaps and how they may be the cause of your itching and redness.
- Drying: Dry yourself by patting instead of rubbing as this is an unnecessary skin irritation.
- Hydration: You need to keep both your skin and your body hydrated. This wouldn’t be an Organic Gods article without the mention of our good friend coconut oil and how it’s a great moisturiser without any chemicals which commonly aggravate the skin.
- Clothing: Don’t wear tight fitting or clothes that are rough on your skin such as wools and muslin.
- Diet & Exercise: Don’t do strenuous exercises. Sweating can cause a flare up or make a flare up worse. Eat healthy and do light exercises like walking or easy bicycling. By eating the right foods, you can boost your immune system.
- Stress: Studies have shown that stress can cause or make worse flare ups. That being said, reducing your stress can help. However, if you, like most people, have extreme amounts of stress and little understanding of how to reduce it, this may be an issue for you.
Stress reduction is big business and everyone is touting it. But, the ancient Chinese traditional medicine has long been treating the whole body, seeing disease as an imbalance within. One of the ways to reduce stress is through acupuncture. A study on how acupuncture reduced stress in patients with a severe health problem showed positive results and should be something included in any eczema treatment.¹
Another form of stress reduction is meditation. Regardless of any spiritual beliefs, meditation is simply a way to relax your mind through focused thought. You should set aside at least ½ hour aside 3 times or more a week and focus your mind, channeling your energy into positivity rather than stress.
Vitamin D: There has been some research² that shows that vitamin D during the winter may help relieve or reduce the number of flare ups. While the mechanism of this is not known, the use of vitamin D supplements will benefit your health overall.
In order to treat your eczema it’s important to have a good understanding of what exactly you suffer from.
Eczema also known a dermatitis, as mentioned earlier, is a set of chronic skin conditions that includes redness, skin swelling, itching and dryness, crusting, flaking, blistering, cracking, oozing, or bleeding. Often hereditary, it is most common in infants who will outgrow it before adulthood.
Children who have eczema as an infant are more likely to develop asthma and other allergies as they enter into adulthood. Eczema is rarely life threatening and is not contagious. However, severe infections that are caused by opening the affected area can lead to serious health issues and scarring.
Symptoms of eczema include:
- Skin: Patches of dry, itchy, reddened and thickened. Most commonly found on the hands, neck, face and legs. However, eczema can occur anywhere on the skin. There also may be fluid filled blisters that can burst and crust over.
- Children: Inner creases of the elbows and knees are also often places of eczema
- Scratches may open up these areas and a crust may develop. This can become infected.
There are a number of things that can trigger a flare up of eczema. These include:
- Skin contact with irritating substances like wool, soaps, and synthetic fibers
- Heat-this also includes sweat from exertion or heat
- Cold or dry climates
- Dry Skin
By reducing your skin contact with these factors will help you reduce the chances of having a flare up.
Types of Eczema
There are a number of different types of eczema. These include:
- Atopic Dermatitis: This is the most common form of eczema. Atopic dermatitis often affects those people who also suffer from asthma, seasonal allergies (hay fever) or those that have a family history of these. Rashes are commonly noticed in the inside of the elbows, behind the knees and on the buttocks.
- Contact Dermatitis: There are two types of contact dermatitis-one caused by irritants such as soaps, chemicals or harsh clothing and one caused by contact with an substance you are allergic to like poison ivy.
- Dyshidrotic Dermatitis: This type of eczema only affects the hands and feet. It may first start as itching, then fluid filled blisters will appear. Then these blisters will burst, crusting over. There also may be the appearance of deep cracks. This particular form of eczema may be chronic and painful.
- Nummular Dermatitis: This form of eczema affects men more than women. Women will get it in their teens or early adulthood while men will have their first outbreak after age 50. Characterized by coin-shaped red marks that can appear on various parts of the body.
- Neurodermatitis: This form of eczema is caused by scratching out of habit.
- Seborrheic Dermatitis: More commonly referred to as dandruff, it is found on the scalp of babies and the scalp, side of the nose, groin, behind the ears or the center of the chest in adults.
- Stasis Dermatitis: This eczema is caused when the veins of the legs don’t return blood back to the heart effectively. This causes the skin to weep which can crust over.
Eczema is a chronic skin condition that can be painful as well as unsightly. Finding ways to manage your symptoms when you have a flare up as wells as reducing the number of flare ups is imperative. Using this guide to some holistic, natural ways to reduce flare ups alongside and prescribed treatments is a great way to live your life not affected by eczemas symptoms.
¹Acupuncture Inhibits Sympathetic Activation During Mental Stress in Advanced Heart Failure Patients. Journal of Cardiac Failure Vol. 8 No. 6 2002.
²Low vitamin D serum level is inversely associated with eczema in children and adolescents in Germany. Allergy. 2013, (7):906-10