For those of us with sensitive skin, changes in the seasons can cause flare-ups that leave our skin red, dry itchy and raw. Eczema and dermatitis is a chronic problem for loads of people – including myself. It affects a staggering 35 million Americans: 1-3% of adults, and 10-20% of children.
The odds are good that if you don't have eczema, you know someone that does. Until very recently, it was assumed eczema was just a topical (but highly uncomfortable) skin problem- but evidence is pointing towards an overactive immune response in the body.
The most common form is atopic eczema, which is thought to be a genetic and immune response triggered by allergens and/or stress. I suffered for years from this type of eczema too. Unfortunately, there isn't a cure per-se, but there are a few things I’ve learned that I hope will help you, your kiddo or loved one.
1. Try an elimination diet. Wheat, eggs, dairy, nightshades (these include eggplant and tomato) and sugar seem to really aggravate eczema. If you haven’t been allergy tested it might be a good idea to eliminate one of the above food groups for 2 weeks. (I know how hard eliminating wheat can be- it’s in Every.Single.Thing.) Keep a food diary during the two weeks and note when/if you get itchy or stressed.
Gradually re-introduce very small amounts of the food back into your diet. If you begin having flare-ups (within 48 hours) after eating that food, you’ll have a better idea of what negatively affects your system.
A true allergic response will begin almost immediately. Sensitivities react within a 48 hour window of time, not right away. This is why the elimination diet is so helpful to rule in or rule out foods that don’t work for your body.
2. Keep skin hydrated internally and externally. I use a humidifier at night, drink lots of water, take an EFA (essential fatty acid) supplemet and moisturize with our Dry & Sensitive Skin Body Butter. The whipped texture is heavenly and it really soothes my sensisitve skin. Make sure your bath or shower isn’t too hot either as it can deplete moisture.
When I feel a flare coming on, I'll begin using Organic Eczema Cream with calendula. It was the first product I created (for myself) and has since helped so many little ones and adults stop itching, reduce inflammation and begin healing. It’s my go-to little miracle worker!
3. Consider a probiotic regimen. More importantly, start with prebiotics. Prebiotics help break down food in your system and help repair the tight junctions of your GI, which is important for nutrient absorption. If your GI system is wacked out, it can contribute to a host of immune issues, including eczema. Without a good healthy gut, no amount of probiotics will work well.
4. Toss out harsh detergents and soaps that use SLS (Sodium Laurel Sulfate), fragrance, dye, parabens or synthetics. Try to use natural products as much as possible. I make my own laundry detergent because even the natural detergents are too much for my skin.
SLS is a lab-created ingredient that makes soap “foamy” and it’s in everything from shampoo to toothpaste. It’s also a major culprit of skin flares. Seriously, toss that stuff out if you can and read labels- always! Get in the habit. It takes work upfront but after a few weeks it gets easier and you’ll be more informed.
5. De-Stress. Try breathwork or meditation - even just 3-5 minutes is helpful. Meditation and breathwork helps calm the limbic system, which controls the flight-or-fight response (ie Stress!). You can utilize breathwork virtually anywhere without someone noticing, so why not give it a go.
Finally, always trust yourself and use your intuition. You actually DO know your body best and CAN take care of it proactively.
If you think a food or personal product isn’t sitting right, listen to that small voice within. Learn to clue into the subtle changes in your physical body, energy levels, mood, etc.
I hope these tips help you as much as they’ve helped me! If I can help answer any questions you may have, don't hesitate to reach out.
This is not written as medical advice and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your Physician.