Natural Eczema Treatment
Whilst you will see people recommending various topical products to treat Eczema it is important to understand a cream may never offer a complete solution. We strongly recommend you try to get to the bottom of the root causes of your eczema, consider lifestyle changes and keep your skin in good condition at all times. We are focussing on ways to mange eczema naturally.
There is so much information (good and bad) available these days. We do recommend reading eczema blogs - written by real sufferers and listening to other people's stories. We have learned that eczema affects different people in different ways and what works for one individual won't for another, so it's helpful to hear as many stories as possible and approach the problem with an open mind. Here are some of our suggestions based on customer feedback and our own research.
Maintain good skin barrier
When you understand how your skin works, you will know that the stratum corneum (the outer layer of our epidermis) is our first line of defence against the outside world. It is absolutely vital to eczema sufferers that this defence is properly maintained at all times (even when your skin is in a state of homeostasis - ie normal condition). Weakness in the stratum corneum allows invasion by pathogens and allergens and loss of moisture (trans-epidermal-moisture-loss). Once moisture is lost more cracks appear and on a microscopic level the skin will look like the cracked, baked surface of a dried up river bed. The dryness, inflammation and consequent scratching cause further damage to the barrier, perpetuating a vicious cycle. Once you re-seal that lipid barrier moisture is sealed in. Drink plenty of water as it will be drawn through the dermis into the outer layer of the skin to keep it hydrated and healthy.
Maintaining your skin barrier function is essential to breaking this cycle. The skin makes natural oils which seal the stratum corneum keeping moisture in an pathogens out. it has been proven that plant oils improve skin barrier and can even have an anti inflammatory effect with out side effects Sunflower oil, shea butter, rosehip oil and borage oil are all rich in linoleic acid which is used by the skin to sythesise ceramide no 1 (check). Shea butter and calendula contain plant compounds (eg triterpenes, tocopherol, phenols, and sterols) that are precursors to ceramides (this means you body uses these compounds to make ceremides).
Soap detergent and bubble baths will damage the skin barrier and studies have shown using soap-free cleansers are preferable, so employing the oil cleansing method may be helpful to those suffering from eczema who want to treat it naturally.
Avoid skin irritants
Eczema sufferers have very sensitive skin and using the most gentle and simple skincare products is advisable. Unfortunately, many topical creams contain irritants that exacerbate the problem (that's why products sometimes sting). Fragrances (for some people, even essential oils), urea, lanolin, retinoids, foaming agents emulsifiers and alcohol can all irritate sensitive skin, Preservatives are designed to kill bacteria that can populate the water element of a product, and as that are designed to kill cells they are often irritant. For more information read our Skin Irritants page.
Dead Sea Salt
We hear great reports from customers putting Dead Sea salt in the bath as a natural eczema treatment and it has been clinically proven to help. It is rich in many minerals and seems to be very helpful.
Diet, nutritional deficiencies and triggers
Identifying and redressing any other dietary deficiencies can work miracles. Generally following a varied healthy diet is a good start. There is lots of information out there including our page Foods For Healthy Skin. There are certain deficiencies related to eczema, some listed below. A Herbalist or Nutritional Therapist can help you find a good diet specific to you (find one with a recommendation).
Many sufferers of atopic eczema have a deficiency or imbalance of essential fatty acids, so addressing this can be an effective natural eczema treatment. Specifically, they are often lacking in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is normally metabolised from linoleic acid, but there seems to be a problem with this process in eczema sufferers. All of our Calendula products contain Borage oil which is rich in GLA. Taking a daily supplement of GLA in the form of evening primrose oil (9% GLA) or borage oil (22% GLA) can be of great benefit too.
It is also important that Omega 6 and Omega 3 is in balance in the body. In the western world, we tend to consume far more omega 6 rich food and this causes the omega 3's to become inactive. This leads to many problems including inflammatory skin disease. Taking an Omega 3 supplement often improves cases of eczema as it redresses the imbalance.
B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and selenium are all vital in the conversion of linoleic acid to gamma-linolenic acid. Eczema sufferers may be lacking these nutrients. Vitamin B3 increases ceramide production.
The baddies are predictable. sugar, cows milk and gluten often trigger flare-ups. Feeding these foods to babies too early often cause life-long food intolerances and are linked to adult eczema and asthma.
It's claimed that Hippocrates said "All Disease Begins in The Gut.” and many therapists now believe that eczema is often caused by leaky gut syndrome.
If you have any gut problems however minor it's worth investigating, you might just find it's a much more effective natural eczema treatment than you ever could have imagined.
Stress and eczema
There is little doubt that stress can trigger eczema. Managing stress can help avoid flare-ups (easier said than done). Yoga, Meditation and a positive mental attitude are obvious suggestions. But managing your blood sugar is a practical way to improve your ability to handle stress. Most people don't know there is a connection - read more here.
Topical steroid addiction and withdrawal
Finding information about the dangers of using topical steroids and topical steroid addiction is difficult. The drug companies certainly don't acknowledge any problems and doctors seem to carry on prescribing steroid creams even when patients claim they are doing more harm than good.
Using natural emollients with calming herbs can help reduce regular steroid use by keeping the day to day condition at bay so that steroid creams can be reserved for severe flare-ups.
Here are some links to information and blogs that deal with topical steroid problems:
Other useful links
Lyonsleaf asked Instagram for their eczema advice you can read comments here:
Amazing eczema blogs
Read Abby Lai's amazing, first hand record of exactly how she overcame severe eczema when doctors said there was no cure. Her blog 'Prime Physique Nutrition' has lots of helpful information
Eczema (and any other skin condition) can be really hard to deal with emotionally especially if it affects your face. It can knock your confidence and stop you living life to the full. We love this blog because it is a real inspiration and positivity, check out Becky Bose.