Eczema ( atopic dermatitis) is most recognised for the intense itch that accompanies the condition. An itch that can prove to be almost impossible to NOT scratch. While your nearest and dearest and well intentioned people around you beg you NOT TO SCRATCH. The itching can lead you on a journey to crazy town. Before you know it, you've scratched so much that your skin is ripped open and bleeding. Then the stinging begins. It's an all too familiar scenario that eczema sufferers endure. It's the vicious itch- scratch cycle. The trick to getting better is to prevent the cycle from happening in the first place. Cut it off before the itch gets you.
I liken solving the eczema condition to solving a jigsaw puzzle. You have all the pieces in front of you, you just need to know where they all fit so you can get the full picture. Sometimes fresh eyes may pick up something which you miss because you've been staring at it for so long. I hope I can help you to solve the eczema puzzle by giving you some fresh eyes.
Eczema is a reflection of what is happening within the body. It is a sign that the body isn't working at its ideal state- internally, externally and both. The most common causes of eczema include malnutrition (deficiency of essential nutrients and/or nutrient imbalance) and internal pollution (foreign substances including heavy metals, drugs, waste products, pollutants, toxins produced by yeast/candida or parasites ) and allergic reactions.
That's all good and well, but when you have a baby who is scratching themselves until they bleed, information can be overwhelming and useless when all you want is a quick fix and to ease their suffering. There is no quick fix in healing eczema as it is a whole body issue. There are, however ways to ease the suffering and manage eczema, while you heal the body. By learning to manage your eczema you will enjoy a greater quality of life. The first step is to identify your triggers.
Identify your triggers
Identifying what triggers your eczema is one of the most rewarding things you can do. If you know what is causing flare ups they will be easier to avoid.
- Your genetic disposition plays a role in whether you will develop inflammatory conditions such as eczema, asthma, allergies, hay fever, sinusitis or arthritis. If both of your parents have had eczema there is an 80% chance you will develop eczema too. There's not a lot you can do about being genetically predisposed to eczema, asthma or allergies. Blaming your parents or yourself (if your child has eczema) won't help. If you know you are susceptible to eczema, you need to be extra vigilant and aware of what your triggers are and work towards avoiding them whenever possible.
- This is an important trigger that I place high priority on because it was the reason behind my son's severe eczema when he was a baby. Those who know my our story will know how the dermatologist refused my suggestion that his eczema was food related. I was 'just a mum' you see and he was a qualified 'professional'. Having my opinion disregarded like that only made me more determined to find the reason behind his eczema. I wasn't prepared to settle for his idea that the ONLY choice I had was to cover my baby in steroid cream!
Sorry, I'm digressing, I guess I'm still abit annoyed, especially when I hear so many other mums have gone through a similar experience with close minded health professionals. The good thing was that after eliminating foods that were affecting my son, including The Top 8 food allergens
, his eczema cleared up perfectly. He even got his smooth baby soft skin back. His skin has been perfect ever since. If you suspect food may be a trigger, even if you don't, I would suggest getting an allergy test done. The results will help to determine if food is a trigger or not.
- While an allergy is an immune response, a food intolerance is an adverse reaction to a certain food. If an allergy test shows that no allergies are present, perhaps the symptoms are the result of a food intolerance
. Food intolerances are different to allergies. Intolerances are based on individual threshold levels of certain foods, food chemicals
etc Many people find the best way to determine a food intolerance is by going on an elimination diet. There are many books and resources to help you with this.
(Food Intolerance Network) has developed a range of books, cookbooks and DVDs that has helped thousands of people (including my family) on their journey to finding answers. If you suspect food intolerances, I highly recommend Sue's resources.
- Our world is full of toxic chemicals. Wherever we go, whether we are aware or not, there are chemicals that can be having detrimental affect on our health and wellbeing. Household cleaning products, personal care products, pest control sprays, perfumes, paints, hair chemicals can all contribute to toxic build-up in the body. When the body can't cope with the overload it can manifest in eczema. By becoming aware of and avoiding these toxic chemicals, we can see a dramatic improvement in our eczema and in our general health and wellbeing. There are companies that provide non -toxic personal care, nutritionals and cleaning products.
Knowledge is power they say and although knowing what chemicals you and your family are exposed to on a daily basis will shock and anger you and knowing the truth will set you free so to speak. I've listed a few of my favourite resources, to help you identify the hidden dangers we are exposed to ....
Illness - Viral and bacterial infections (glandular fever) or fungal infections (candida albicans) can weaken the immune system by depleting the body of vital nutrients. The immune system can then become over sensitive to substances that would normally not react to such as food. Gut health is vital in improving your eczema. When our gut health becomes unbalanced it can lead to leaky gut syndrome which can present in many conditions including eczema.
- The last time I went to the doctors I was covered in eczema and the only solution I was given was to take immunosuppressant drugs! (which I refused ) and antidepressants (which I refused). The doctor told me that my eczema was so bad because I was stressed
! Well, of course I was stressed, my whole body was constantly itching, I wasn't sleeping more than 2 hours at a time and I looked like a modern version of the elephant woman. Of course I was STRESSED!!!!
I don't want to undermine the effect that stress has on our lives because stress can definitely contribute to eczema. Chronic stress can be incredibly bad for your health and caused by many factors beyond our control including grief, financial problems, relationship problems etc. Your skin can suffer because of it. Be aware if you are stressed and do what you need to do to combat that stress. Whether that be meditating, yoga, exercise - whatever works for you.
- Eczema can be linked to certain nutritional deficiencies such as, omega 3, Vitamin B Complex (including Biotin), Vitamin C ( natures antihistamine), zinc and magnesium.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's) are key ingredients to feed the skin and eliminate eczema. The best EFA’s come from unrefined seed oils. These oils are sensitive to heat. light and oxygen. It is best to buy small quantities at a time and keep them in the fridge. In his book - Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill
, Udo Erasmus lists the Top 3 oils as Hemp seed, Flax and Pumpkin.
Please refer to your dietician or Naturopath for more information about dietary supplements
The Eczema Diet: Eczema-safe Food to Stop the Itch and Prevent Eczema for Life
Pollen - Spring can be a particularly bad time for those of us with eczema. With the increase in temperature and all those beautiful flowers blooming. Avoid hanging washing out in windy conditions and when pollen counts are highest. Depending of course on where you live and which plants affect you, generally speaking the highest pollen counts are early in the morning (just after dawn) when plants release pollen. So if you live near the plant source, the highest count will be early morning.
Pollen travels in warm, dry and breezy conditions. Therefore, in urban areas, pollen counts often peak around noon. The time of day the pollen count is highest in your area will depend on the time of year and what plants are growing. The temperature, wind, humidity and rain also affect the pollen count.
Excellent for dry, irritated eczema skin and psoriasis. Try it in the bath or apply directly to the skin.
There will of course be many other triggers not mentioned. It's impossible to list everybody's triggers, which is one of the many things that makes eczema so frustrating. It's not a straight forward one fits all model. I personally have found keeping a diary/ journal extremely helpful in pinpointing what is triggering eczema. By recording your everyday diet and other potential triggers that may be contributing to your eczema, you are better able to see the whole picture and thus identify potential triggers. You can download your FREE FOOD DIARY
from my website CLICK HERE
Hope this has helped you. Please feel free to comment and let me know your experiences.
Take care of you and yours
More Allergy Resources...