This subject is very close to my own personal experience, I have been suffering with severe eczema for the previous 6 weeks. I write this in the hope that for any of you that may have this condition whether acute or chronic, this gives you some helpful tips and relief in some way.
Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis. One of the most distinguishing features is its itchiness, it drives you crazy and begs for you to scratch it, if only for momentary relief. Other symptoms include dry red cracked skin, with weeping, bleeding and crusting occurring in creases and if left untreated can result in bacterial infections.
In my case I also experienced swelling and a lot of heat and so much redness. My skin literally felt like it was on fire and that something was moving underneath my skin, I was crazily trying not to scratch it, to no avail.
It is important to try and identify the triggers and things that irritate your condition. These can vary from a genetic disposition (which you can’t change, but an awareness is a true gift), food allergies/intolerances, environmental factors, chronic stress, chemical exposure, dietary deficiencies and a diet high in simple carbohydrates (sugars) and or saturated fats (from sub optimal choices).
Remembering our skin is our largest organ and is like a mirror image of what is happening on the inside (Gut), with the skin often being the last organ to show these imbalances. Often toxins are not able to be released through other eliminatory pathways, like the bowels, lymph system, sweating etc, so they try to get released via the skin.
To help correct these imbalances it makes sense that we need to work on the inside (Gut) to help relieve and repair the outside (skin).
As a naturopath we look at the person as a whole (holistic), so the areas that may need addressing are the liver (toxic load), bowels (ensure daily, complete elimination is happening to prevent toxins recirculating), nervous system (to reduce stress impacts on the Gut and body), Gut (to reduce the load, so the Gut can seal and heal, there is a chance that there may be some intestinal permeability (Leaky Gut). This is where small fragments of proteins are making their way into the blood stream, not optimal, as this can cause symptoms like inflammation and flatulence as the toxins are searching for ways to be eliminated. Also supporting the immune system is important, as this underpins your overall wellbeing on many levels and you need this functioning optimally to get really well.
I also found that I became super sensitive to almost any food, except the very basics. For four weeks I followed a basic diet, of easily digested proteins, minimal carbohydrates (sugars were making my skin more irritable), lots of greens, warm foods (easier to digest), lots of home made bone broth (soul food, plus great amino acids and collagen for healing the Gut and skin), lots of filtered water and soothing herbal teas (to calm down my nervous system, even though I didn’t feel stressed, just irritated by my itchy, inflamed skin). I ate lots of home cooked kitchari or dahl with lentils and green vegetables, so easy to digest and satiating. I avoided anything processed and any fruits except blueberries. Listening to your body is the best advice, as we are all uniquely individual.
For me acupuncture was a blessing and really helped relieve the itchiness, redness, inflammation and oedema that was forming in my feet. I practised lots of restorative yoga especially ‘Legs up the Wall’, I was forced to rest whenever I could as my feet were huge and in pain after standing for any length of time. Cold packs were great for the swelling and to relieve the build up of heat.
Omega 3 helps reduce the inflammatory activity of skin cells. Increasing these in your diet through fish, fish oils and flaxseed oil are all beneficial. Choosing a fish oil that has recommended amounts of both EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is best. ALA is found in flaxseed oil.
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) has also been shown to help in cases of eczema. Borage, black currant or evening primrose oil, can all be beneficial in the treatment of eczema.
Vitamins A, C, E & Zinc are beneficial in supporting the skin, they are powerful antioxidants which help reduce inflammatory skin conditions. B vitamins are also helpful in supporting the production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins in the skin.
If you would like any more information, please contact me.