Itching, burning, oozing skin; these are the symptoms seen in eczema. About 15 million Americans suffer from atopic dermatitis, the most common type of eczema. It often begins in childhood, but adults can also develop eczema even after an itch-free childhood.
Corticosteroids are the most common conventional treatments. They work by suppressing the skin’s natural reactions. They can cause thinning of the skin, infections, stunt growth in children, cause stretch marks and more serious problems. The detox that the skin is trying to express gets suppressed, so it gets driven into a deeper layer of the body, and the next layer is the lungs. Approximately 75% of children with atopic dermatitis will go on to develop asthma or hayfever.
Instead of stifling the bodies responses, I try to tackle the problem at its source with the immune system. Here are some steps to treat the condition.
1. Find the Cause. The gut makes up about 60-70% of the immune system. When we take in food that we don’t digest or assimilate properly, the immune system creates an inflammatory response. That inflammation, for people predisposed to atopic dermatitis, will show up in the skin. The most common food allergies are eggs, milk, wheat, peanuts and soy. Common environmental triggers are harsh laundry detergent and cleaning products.
2. Treat the Condition. Gentle topical treatments such as Calendula and Yarrow based creams relieve itching without suppressing the immune system’s processes. Oatmeal baths are also soothing.
3. Improve nutrition. Cut out inflammatory fried and processed foods as well as foods that trigger an allergic response. Focus on whole foods and add omega-3’s DHA and EPA (fish oils) to reduce inflammation. Probiotics also balance the gut flora and improve digestion.
4. Boost the immune system. Astragalus helps modulate the immune system. Meadowsweet and poppy fight inflammation. Adults often have difficulty with the liver’s ability to detoxify. Good liver support includes burdock, yellow dock, red root, poke root, figwort and greater celendine.
Check with your health practitioner for a true diagnosis and testing for allergies. Getting to the source of the problem will help prevent those uncomfortable eczema symptoms in the long run.