Control and heal your eczema
If itchy, dry skin is affecting your quality of life, you might benefit from a comprehensive, holistic approach that gets to the root cause of your eczema.
Eczema or atopic dermatitis is an itchy skin disease that affects 15- 25% of the children. In about 30% or more this condition will persist into adulthood. Causes stem from genetic mutations that impair the skin barrier to inner imbalances that include inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, food allergies or other intestinal imbalances such as dysbiosis.
Some common symptoms of eczema include small, raised bumps on the skin, dry scaly skin that cracks, persistent itchy rash, inflamed and sensitive skin. Itching and inflammation can lead to skin irritation and damage. Many children suffer from a triad that includes allergy, asthma, and eczema, which are all the symptoms of immune dysregulation.
There are a few root causes that can lead to this immune dysregulation:
- Gene variation that affects skin
- Allergies to foods, beauty products, laundry detergents or other chemical allergy
- Changes in the gut flora. The diet consumed by many children and families that include high amounts of carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods as well as common food additives can increase the population of certain microbes that promotes inflammation. An ideal diet would be rich in whole foods and high in fiber to keep the GI barrier intact.
- Frequent use of certain medications that disrupt the GI tract lining, such as anti-inflammatory medications: Aleve Motrin, anti-acids such as Pantoprazole, or antibiotics. The lining of our digestive tract has tight junctions that should be closely linked together. Unfortunately, the use of antibiotics, anti-acids and chemicals disrupts those tight junctions, a condition called increased intestinal permeability or Leaky gut. When people develop a leaky gut they can have symptoms such as food sensitivities, autoimmune diseases or eczema.
- Chronic stress
The conventional medicine approach includes topical creams such as steroids, anti- itch medications and sometimes antibiotics. However, many patients who experience ongoing symptoms are interested in integrative approaches that are seeking to address the underlining causes rather than suppressing symptoms.
Here are 7 strategies to control and heal your eczema:
1. Combat Dry Skin
Dry skin plays a role in the development, triggering, and exacerbation of eczema. Therefore, you want to do what you can to combat dry skin, especially during the winter months. Here are a few recommendations:
- Use a humidifier to keep the humidity in your home around 40%
- Take lukewarm showers and avoid using harsh, scented soaps
- Use lotions or other emollients (moisturizers)
Moisturize the skin daily by using emollients to lock in the moisture such as virgin coconut oil ceramide, sunflower seed oil.
2. Avoid allergens
Avoid allergens in the environment such as dust mite control and remove irritants such as perfumed soaps, laundry detergent, body wash, dyes in soaps and detergent and clothing that exacerbates your condition, especially wool or tight items.
3. Avoid food sensitivities
Remove certain foods such as egg, soy, milk, wheat, fish, shellfish, and peanuts. These are food allergens implicated in one third to one half of children with atopic dermatitis. Other sensitivities and allergies can be measured in the blood.
4. Optimize gut health, addressing dysbiosis and leaky gut
The integrity of the gut lining and gut microbiome have a significant impact on immune system development, and whether a child develops allergies, eczema, or asthma. When there is dysbiosis or a disrupted gut microbiome, one is at increased risk for eczema, allergies, and abdominal bloating and discomfort.
Approaches can include targeted probiotics, gut repair supplements such as L glutamine, DGL, zinc, quercetin.
Diet should be individualized. Use an anti-inflammatory diet with frequent sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as cold-water fish, walnuts and flaxseed, green tea or Oolong teaEncourage a diverse microbiome by consuming fermented foods and beverages.
Replacing certain nutrients such as vitamin A, D, fish oil can be very helpful especially in people who are deficient on their blood work.
7. Control emotional stress
Work on ways to control emotional stress. Psychosocial stressors trigger flares of atopic dermatitis. Therefore, stress relief activities and therapies may also help reduce your eczema, especially if you have a flare up around the times of increased stress. We can guide you on different researched approaches that might be right for you, such as acupuncture, cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise, or hypnosis.
If you are not finding relief from your symptoms, it is time to work with a functional medicine physician who can help you identify the root causes of your skin condition and guide you towards healing it rather than covering it up. We are here to help, call us to schedule your consult!