Eczema is an inflammatory response of the skin due to an irritant individual to the sufferer. A person with eczema may have multiple triggers for their condition. These triggers may arise from irritants that are either exogeneous (environmental) or endogeneous (from our internal environment). The latter generally occurs due to food sensitivities in which food fragments react at the skin to form delayed hypersensitivity reactions.
So the simple answer to Eczema is to remove the irritant?
To a large extent, yes. Although it is not always so simple to identify the irritant. The problem is that there are many types of skin irritants and each may be individually responsible or part of a larger cluster of irritants including:
Maldigested Food Fragments
Medications- oral or topical
Soaps and Hand Washes
Hair dyes, shampoos, conditioners etc
Any aerosol packed substance including insecticide and air fresheners
Plastic (Latex) and Polyester worn in gloves, stockings, suspenders and clothing
Patches, Band Aids, sport’s strapping tape
Plant pollens and matter
So I need to Avoid these Irritants. How?
Identify any foods through a Food Elimination Regime and remove them from your diet. By far, the most common cause of eczema, especially in children, is cow's milk. Trial without any products containing milk for 1 month, then slowly reintoduce each item separately, including lactose-free milk and A2 milk (different form of the milk protein casein).
Assess any topical and oral medication you are using as to whether it has been linked to eczema.
Review your use of any skin, hair and beauty products and aim to use natural varieties.
Investigate the contents of insecticides/ fly sprays etc.
Use low allergy taping products
Have a blood test for allergies (RAST) or skin prick tests for air borne sensitivities such as pollens etc
Review the safety data on any industrial agents you use at work
Is there anything else I should consider?
If you identify food intolerances, it is important to investigate the state of your gastrointestinal system as the gateway of food fragments to the skin.
Skin on the outside of your body is basically just the same as skin on the inside of your body: The two are intricately connected.
Read through the section on Gastrointestinal Dysfunction and Disease to identify what is appropriate for you. Do not be alarmed, we are only suggesting that your gut is sub-optimal and needs a little work on it to help prevent the effects of maldigested food fragments reaching your skin.
In particular, many people with Eczema are achlorhydric ( lack the necessary levels of HCl secreted in their stomach to digest food effectively) and/or have an imbalance of probiotics.
Both may be supplemented for, although care needs to be used when supplementing for HCl (Read the section on Gastrointestinal Dysfunction and Disease to understand why) and therefore it should only be used under practitioner guidance.
Are there any other Nutrients/Herbs I should use?
Fish Oils up to 6 to 9 standard doses, in particular concentrated with EPA, are important to down regulate the immune system and improve skin tissue function.
Zinc is an important immune system booster (35-50mg at night-time).
Vitamin D is also important for skin health. Vitamin D comes from the sun but many topical creams contain Vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements can also be taken orally in tablet or liquid form.
Medical Honey may be used as a topical cream and had been found to be benefical for eczema.
A high quality multivitamin supplement is also recommended. Various nutrients are required for healthy skin function, such as biotin.
What about Sunlight?
While skin cancer is of concern, so is insufficient activation of Vitamin D. Follow safe sun exposure guidelines in your region, but maximise the sun within these suggestions. You should never burn or attempt tanning including the use of a solarium.
Yes. Don’t scratch the skin lesion as it will induce even more inflammation.