Do you find that no matter what you do, you can’t get yours or your child's eczema under control? It’s really important to get to the root cause of any skin condition which is what naturopathy aims to do.
Here are 5 simple lifestyle tips that can be done at home to reduce eczema itching and help manage eczema symptoms:
(1) Moisturise moisturise moisturise!
Eczema typically come with a weakened skin barrier, a tendency towards dry skin and itchy skin. For these reasons it is so important to keep the skin barrier strong and hydrated. If the skin gets too dry and the skin barrier becomes impaired, itching and subsequent infections can occur.
Choose moisturisers that are free from synthetic fragrances and chemicals. Eczema skin will usually need moisturising from 1-3 times per day depending on the severity and the time of year. A good tip to lock in hydration is to smother the skin in moisturiser within 10 minutes of coming out of the bath or shower. Book an express consult for a customised moisturiser.
(2) Shower and bath in lukewarm or room temperature water
Don't have hot baths and showers. Showering in hot water dries the skin out and also strips it of the healthy fats found in the skins top layer. These healthy fats are essential for normal skin function.
Showering or bathing in lukewarm or room temperature water helps maintain normal skin barrier function and prevents the skin from drying out.
(3) Carefully choose your soap
Don't use regular soap or body wash. Skin with eczema usually has a higher pH than healthy skin. Regular soaps and body washes also have a high pH. A high pH environment is a favourable environment for Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) growth and the skin of those with eczema have a large amount of this organism to begin with. When the pH of the skin is increased further with soaps, we are encouraging the growth of staph increasing our risk of infection. Soaps can also be drying on the skin which impairs the skin barrier further and causes itch.
Choose soaps free from chemicals, preservatives and synthetic fragrance. DO NOT use products containing sodium lauryl sulfate as this is drying and damaging to the skin. Choose moisturising soaps with ingredients such as vitamin E, olive oil, shea butter, coconut butter, natural oils such as evening primrose, avocado, sweet almond, and some essential oils if tolerated. Of course you can just use water and this is completely appropriate for babies and young children!
(4) Choose your washing power/liquid wisely
Standard washing powders, like soaps, typically have a high pH which can irritate the skin and cause a favourable environment for staph growth – see point 3 for more detail.
Choose fragrance free, sensitive formulas. Liquids are best as they leave less residue on the clothes. Some of my favourites include Molly Suds and Soap Nuts which amazingly are tree berries containing natural detergent compounds! You can use Soap Nuts straight in your machine but you can also make your own laundry liquid with them. I also recommend double rinsing clothes if using a powder.
(5) Eat a balanced wholefood diet abundant in fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts & seeds, small oily fish and fermented foods
These foods will provide good levels of essential fatty acids such as omega 3’s, antioxidants, phytonutrients, zinc, B vitamins, and pro and pre-biotics which are necessary for our gut and skin health. There is a huge link between our gut health and our skin health which is called the gut-skin axis. Therefore looking after our internal environment, really does show on the outside.
Nutrition is extremely personal and individualised so if allergies or sensitivities are suspected it is best to work with a practitioner. There is a huge amount of research that demonstrates that food allergy and intolerance are major factors in childhood eczema.
Zoe is a naturopath, pharmacist and medical herbalist from Auckland, New Zealand.
At Sage & Well, we aim to identify the root cause of the eczema and treat it holistically using nutrition, oral and topical natural medicines & lifestyle medicine. The treatment is entirely customised for the individual as what suits one person may not suit another. Reasons for this can include differing climates, triggers, age, diet, skin sensitivities, and type and location of eczema.
If you are struggling with a persistent skin condition and looking for a natural alternative, Book an appointment and get started on your journey toward improved skin.
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