Eczema is a complicated skin condition with no single cause and no single cure. If you've ever had it or you're currently suffering from eczema, you likely know first hand that prescription medications don't work because they only manage the symptoms as a band-aid solution and don't address any of the root causes of eczema.
For example, corticosteroid creams are one of the most commonly prescribed eczema treatments, yet they have been known to the skin long term and negatively influencing the skin microbiome. There are many other negative side effects to conventional treatments which I have outlined in further detail in my Eczema Healing Kit.
My experience with eczema has been a lifelong one. I’ve always had dry skin and been prone to eczema. I am no stranger to that dry, cracking and itchy skin. I’ve used my fair share of steroid creams only to have it flare up again. Looks like there are millions of you out there too because according to the National Eczema Association, 30 million people suffer from eczema in the United States alone and nearly 18 million of you have moderate to severe eczema. Babies and children who experience eczema are far more likely to also experience it as an adult. I never had it as a baby, but developed it in my teen years and into my twenties.
As I mentioned in my video, if I'm not careful, I can easily get a flare up on my hands. My triggers are wheat (gluten), stress and harsh hand soap. This is why I tend to get a flare up when I'm travelling -- airports and public washrooms typically do not have gentle soap coupled with the stress of air travel and not having access to my kitchen. That being said, I do my best to stay healthy while travelling but sometimes it's inevitable. I can always get my eczema under control quickly by slathering my hands with Smooth Like Butta after each time I wash them with soap but it's a constant battle when I am travelling.
In my latest video, I address common causes of eczema and natural solutions for them. The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis but all my recommendations will help every single form of eczema.
Here's a rundown of what I talked about in my video.
1. Avoid hot water when bathing or showering.
Hot water and soap/body wash significantly strip away your skin’s natural oil barrier making your skin dry . Add chlorine and fluoride to the mix and you’re also negatively impacting the microbes that live on your skin too. Without a healthy balance of microbes and plenty of natural oils to protect your skin from the environment, you are more susceptible to eczema flare-ups and itchy skin. The best solution is to have warm (not hot) showers and get a water filter to remove the chlorine and most of the heavy metals.
This is the wash I use in my daughter's hair: Earth Baby Wash (note: they've updated their packaging). For myself, I use fragrance-free goat milk or coconut milk based soaps that I buy from my health food store with as little ingredients as possible. Soap Works or the Rocky Mountain Soap company are both good brands. I ALWAYS avoid fragranced soaps, even the ones with essential oils can irritate your skin, so just beware of that.
2. Slather up with natural oils.
When your skin is still damp after a bath or shower, slather yourself with a natural oil. I use Smooth Like Butta on myself and I also slather it all over Vienna's body. That along with coconut oil on her bum when she was in diapers are the ONLY products I've put on Vienna's body (aside from her hair wash I already mentioned). My dad even uses this on his feet and it helps to prevent athlete's foot and prevents cracks in your heels!
No matter what oil or body but you use, just make sure it's free of fragrance, parabens and petrochemical-based ingredients. There shouldn't be a single ingredient you don't know. Preservatives in personal care products can really irritate the skin.
3. Eat good fats at every meal and snack.
Remember THIS video? I have two videos you can watch where I review the best fats to eat. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for reducing eczema because they are anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is at the root of eczema, so choosing healthy fats such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and other fish and seafood is essential for healthy skin. Of course, eliminating foods that promote inflammation and eczema is essential too.
4. Avoid foods that you may be sensitive, allergic or intolerant to.
It is estimated that 60-80% of eczema cases are provoked by foods. I've seen this first hand with hundreds of people over the years. Food, combined with stress or other triggers is a recipe for eczema.
There is almost always a food connection.
I know my triggers so I do my best to manage them. So you’ve gotta start by cutting out potential problem foods. If you have eczema, start with the most common foods: dairy, soy, corn and wheat. I talk about 7 Common Foods that Make Eczema Worse in this post because managing your diet is one of the most important aspects of eczema prevention. You can check out my Food Sensitivity Test here or do an Elimination Diet with the guidance of natural healthcare practitioner.
5. Avoid antibiotics when possible.
This one is simple, especially for children. Research shows that antibiotics before the age of 1 increase the risk of eczema by up to 40%. Now I realize that sometimes antibiotics are required and may have been prescribed by your doctor but in North America, they are way overprescribed. It's worth mentioning that research has shown antibiotics are not an effective treatment for eczema.
6. Support gut health with probiotics and fermented foods.
Eczema rates have increased rapidly over the last half-century. Eczema was a non-existent condition not all that long ago. But the changes to our gut microbiome over the last 50 years have been profound from antibiotics to a poor diet lacking in plant-foods, chemicals in our environment and so much more. Now more than ever, we are seeing a link between our skin health and our gut health.
We have microbes all over our body, not just in our body.
We have 1 billion microbes per square centimetre of skin and in the folds of skin, we can have up to 2000 microbes hanging out there!
Research has already shown that the bacteria that live on the skin and in the body have been implicated in inflammation and eczema. In the Eczema Healing Kit, I talk about a very telling study on infants. They found certain species of microbes implicated with inflammation on a baby's skin who suffered from eczema. There was also a greater abundance of a species of microbes that may impact the integrity of the gut lining, leading to leaky gut and therefore increasing the risk of eczema.
7. Reduce stress
Stress and anxiety are not the single cause of eczema, but several common skin diseases including eczema are found to be worsened by psychological stress. In fact, research shows that itchy skin which is a common symptom of eczema is upregulated (made worse) when the body’s stress response is activated.
It is absolutely essential to adopt habits that reduce stress. When I travel, I always do yoga in my hotel room and practice 4-7-8 breathing whenever I need it. I drink tea every night before I go to bed and when I have more time, I make this Maca Hot Chocolate (because Maca is a wonderful adaptogenic food that helps the body better adapt to stress).
These 7 considerations for eczema are really the tip of the iceberg in terms of the positive changes you can make to heal your skin from eczema naturally. I go into much greater detail and already, have helped hundreds of people with my Eczema Healing Kit. Whether you're a breastfeeding mama with a baby experiencing their first bout of eczema or an adult who's been suffering for years, I'm here to help you.
Here's to eczema free skin forever,