Eczema Treatment – A complete programme

The term ‘eczema’ comes from Greek word which means ‘to boil over’ and is broadly applied to a range of persistent skin conditions. These include dryness and recurring skin rashes that are characterised by one or more symptoms including redness, skin oedema (swelling), itching, crusting, flaking, blistering, cracking, oozing or bleeding.

 

The red, itchy and flaky skin that appears in eczema is the result of skin’s inflammatory response to physical or environmental irritants. Anybody can get eczema although those with a family history have a greater predisposition to developing the disease. There is currently no cure for this condition although there are treatments that help alleviate symptoms by reducing inflammation and by relieving itching and dryness.

 

The following factors should be included in a complete programme for the treatment of eczema.

 

  • DIET

Eczema can be indicative of poor nutrition, a build-up of toxicity in the body or sensitivities due to genetic makeup. Changing diet can have a significant impact in treating eczema. Recommended foods for helping with eczema include brown rice, millet, fresh fruits, vegetables and salmon. It is also recommended to take fibre supplements daily such as ground flax seed or psyllium husks to keep the colon clean. Eating fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants flush out toxins from the body and help maintain healthy skin.
Drinking adequate amount of water to keep the skin hydrated also helps alleviate dry, itchy skin.
Gluten is often a major factor in eczema and other skin disorders and all foods containing gluten should be monitored carefully to establish whether gluten is contributing to rashes.

 

  • LIFESTYLE AND DETOXIFICATION

Detoxification is the process of clearing toxins from the body or neutralizing or transforming them and clearing excess mucous and congestion. Many of these toxins come from our diet, drug use and environmental exposure. Internally, fats especially oxidized fats and cholesterol, free radicals and other irritating molecules act as toxins. Functionally, poor digestion, colon sluggishness and dysfunction, reduced liver function, poor elimination through the kidneys and respiratory tract all add to increased toxicity and have a negative impact on the skin.
Lifestyle changes that reduce intake of toxins and encourage elimination should be made. Avoidance of chemicals from food or other sources, refined food, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and many drugs helps minimise the toxin load and help reduce dryness and itchiness of the skin associated with eczema.

 

  • FOOD ALLERGENS

Recent evidence suggests that food allergies can be a major factor in eczema particularly in children. It may be worth reducing or eliminating common food allergens such as milk, wheat, nuts, soya and yeast and then slowly reintroducing them one by one over a period of time whilst monitoring reactions. Food exclusion diets in children should always be supervised by a medical professional.

 

  • CANDIDA

Some nutritionists believe that eczema can be related to an overgrowth of candida or yeast organisms.
If the rash is itchy and one has an upset bowel or other symptoms of candida, it may be worth considering going on an anti-candida diet which will reduce the overgrowth of yeast and help bring back balance to the system.

 

  • CLOTHING

There are other factors to consider when treating eczema which offer both immediate relief of painful symptoms as well as fewer incidents of flare-ups. People suffering from eczema should avoid wearing denim or other harsh fabrics. They should also avoid becoming hot and sweaty whenever possible as this can aggravate eczema and cause inflammation.

 

  • HERBS

Many herbs have traditionally been used to help relieve the symptoms of eczema. Depending upon the cause, anticatarrhal, anti-allergic and relaxant nervine herbs should be considered.
Burdock and Oregon mountain grape are excellent remedies for treating dry, itchy flacky skin and should be considered when treating eczema.
Sarsaparilla is also commonly used for the treatment of dry, scaly skin.

 

  • NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS

Supplements are an important addition to dietary changes in treating eczema and can improve overall skin health. Vitamin B complex, biotin, natural iodine or iodine-rich supplements, essential fatty acids in the form of fish oil, flaxseed oil and evening primrose oil are the key supplements to be considered as part of the treatment plan.

 

  • OTHER SUPPLEMENTS

Some research has suggested that people with eczema may not process essential fatty acids from food normally leading to low levels of a fatty acid called gamma-linoleic acid (GLA). This helps the immune system to work properly so taking a supplement could help reduce the skin inflammation associated with eczema.
Evening primrose oil, starflower oil and blackcurrant seed oil all contain GLA. A number of studies have found that taking these supplements could not only reduce the number of eczema flare-ups but also how severe they are and the length of time they last. Borage Oil, another source of GLA has shown in some studies to reduce skin inflammation, dryness, scaliness and itchiness.
B Vitamins play a supportive role in managing eczema. Evidence suggests that eczema may be made worse by deficiencies in Vitamin B12. Other studies suggest that a deficiency of other B Vitamins like riboflavin may be involved so levels of vitamin B complex supplement should also be considered when treating eczema.

 

  • MEDICAL TREATMENTS

Corticosteroid cream is a topical anti-inflammatory drug used to treat a variety of skin disorders including eczema. There are over the counter creams available for milder cases and should be considered.
Immunomodulator is another newer drug which is available to help treat eczema. These medicines help control inflammation and reduce immune system reactions when applied to the skin.
Antihistamines block the action of histamine and help to reduce eczema symptoms particularly itching and therefore can help relieve eczema symptoms.
In the most extreme instances of eczema, ultraviolet light therapy may be considered.

 

  • OTHER FACTORS

Using unscented laundry detergent, fabric softener, shampoo and soap can also help reduce flare-ups.

 

Moisturizing is one of the most important self-care treatments for sufferers of eczema. Keeping the affected area moistened can promote skin healing and help relieve symptoms.

 

A room-temperature bath which will help remove crusted skin and the application of good natural moisturiser afterwards will help to retain the skin’s natural moisture.

 

Some studies have suggested that a number of environmental factors such as air exchange rates, relative humidity and room temperature might also have an effect on the condition so these factors should also be considered in the treatment plan.
Using medicated skin powder, when necessary to soothe, cool and dry the skin before and after physical activity will also help reduce symptoms.

 

Using Vitamin E oil or evening primrose oil topically on patches of eczema can also promote healing and soothe the skin.