Technically, eczema refers to a broad group of skin conditions that cause your skin to become inflamed. The most common type of eczema is Atopic Dermatitis. Being atopic means you develop allergies and are extra sensitive to the external environment. Your immune system responds violently which results in your skin becoming red and swollen, a bit annoying like a nettle sting!
Eczema can also be genetic, i.e. it runs in family. Other main causes of eczema include hypersensitivity, which means your skin and immune system is oversensitive or over reactive. Even the slightest exposure to an allergen or trigger can cause your skin to get inflamed and your white blood cells become more reactive.
Why don’t traditional eczema treatments work?
Majority of eczema treatment methods used today focus on controlling eczema so that your skin looks fresh and normal.
Oral and Topical Steroids
Your doctor may prescribe topical steroid medication such as creams, lotions and ointments which need to be applied directly to affected areas. Your skin may sting badly on application if severely inflamed or raw, and your doctor might assure that this irritation will go away gradually as eczema improves.
If your eczema is very severe, your doctor might prescribe oral steroid medication or injections to control symptoms. While oral and injectable steroids are very effective, they have some serious side effects with prolonged use and are quite expensive.
Generally, people taking oral steroids for a very long time suffer from side effects that include cataracts, weak and fragile bones, muscle weakness, increased risk of infections, high blood pressure and thinning of skin.
You may be prescribed to take cortisone cream. However, beware. Cortisone cream causes skin to thin down when used long-term. Skin would then be prone to bruising and infection. When the body has detected an extra source of cortisone, it decreases its own cortisone production. Cortisone is important to regulate blood pressure, so if you’re hypertensive, you may want to ditch cortisone cream.
Other creams which are based on hydrocortisone, are the following: triamcinolone, clobetasol (Temovate), fluocinonide (Lidex), betamethasone (Valisone, Diprosone, Diprolene) and also mometasone (Elocon). There are many more creams than the ones listed. They all work the same way which is by reducing inflammation but as an eczema patient, use them at your own risk. All these creams don’t really hit the root cause of eczema.
In addition to topical and oral steroids, you might be prescribed “oral antihistamines” to control itching. These medications might make you sleepy and interfere with your daily activities. You have to be extremely careful while driving and operating machinery when using oral antihistamines that make you drowsy.
Doctors are also interested in using a special category of medication called immunomodulators, which interfere with the normal functioning of your immune system. These medications are used only when other methods fail and might have serious side effects.
Sometimes, your doctor might recommend you to go for phototherapy, or treatment that uses artificial light. Your skin will be exposed to artificial UV light to reduce inflammation and this therapy increases your risk of developing premature aging and skin cancers.
With that said, here is how to get rid of eczema safely and naturally.
Natural Skin Cures for Eczema
These natural cures are safe for adults and infants. The only downside is that they take a little preparation and sometimes, it can be hard to find a good, high-quality variant. You may use these natural cures anytime you wish.
People with eczema using Emu oil experience improvement within as little as 4 hours. The primary component that makes emu oil very effective for eczema is oleic acid, which composes 70% of its fatty acid. Aside from eczema, emu oil does wonders to oozing burns, acne, psoriasis, dandruff, wrinkles, muscle pain, surgery scars and stretch marks (red and silver/white types).
Aloe Vera is also great for treating burns. To use it for eczema, buy a whole aloe vera plant, cut a section, put it in the freezer and apply the gel to the eczema. It contains anti-bacterial enzymes so it can be left overnight under a gauze pad dressing.
Sweet Almond Oil
Sweet almond oil can be mixed with cocoa butter or used alone. It is rich in oleic acid and ursolic acid which are proven to reduce inflammation.
Fish oil is often compared with emu oil because both come from animal sources. What makes it effective is its 2 anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids namely docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is a great option for vegetarians. If you prefer non-animal products, evening primrose oil is a great substitute for emu oil because it has almost the same composition as emu oil. Like fish oil and emu oil, it has linolenic acid which soothes inflammation. Additionally, unlike fish oil, evening primrose oil has linoleic acid (not to be confused with linolenic). Linoleic acid is a precursor to anti-inflammatory enzymes in the skin.
Virgin Coconut Oil
This oil comes with a nutty coconut scent that may bother some people but it is rich in essential fatty acids and has antibacterial properties so reduces inflammation and dryness and coconut oil helps your skin fight any infection.
Chamomile oil is antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory. It contains bisabolol, apigenin and chamazulene (gives a light blue color). All of these compounds have the aforementioned benefits. However, do not take chamomile oil if you are allergic to celery, daisy, or chrysanthemum.
You can also use the following natural remedies to speed up the natural healing process.
- Eat balanced diet and eliminate all offending food such as canned and processed items. If you have food allergies, make sure you remove all ingredients to improve the health of your skin.
- Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water every day to keep your skin hydrated. If you drink more, it’s even more helpful.
- Avoid physical exertion and mental activities that make you feel tired.
- Be happy and keep stress at a minimum.
- Enjoy peaceful sleep and make sure you sleep for 8 to 10 hours every night.
How long will it take for the symptoms to improve? Well, the answer depends on how long your body has been suffering and how long you were on medications. Remember, your body will start getting better gradually with the right kind of treatment applied.
Managing Eczema with Proper Nutrition
The right kind of nutritional program works as a magic bullet for clearing eczema and you can actually feel a great difference. It is highly recommended that you understand your body’s natural behavior before designing your healing meal plan. Plus, the diet you take should have the ideal combination of nutrients to boost the detoxification and repairing process.
From 4am to noon every day, your body is busy eliminating wastes and worn out cells and this is also the ideal time for repairing body tissues. Hence, your breakfast plan should include foods that boost the detoxification so that you get rid of body toxins really quickly.
From noon to 8pm, your body focuses on digesting and breaking down food components to provide energy. This is also one reason experts recommend that you take your biggest meals during this period.
At night, your body absorbs nutrients that are released from your diet and transfers them to all the cells.
Your Perfect Diet Plan
Your day should ideally start with raw fruits and make sure you eat apples, oranges, bananas and pears. If you cannot eat raw fruits, try making a fruit smoothie. All you have to do is add some fresh fruits to the blender along with some fresh water. You can eat any fruit you like, however, you must avoid grapefruit and melons. If you’re looking for some good breakfast options, try apples, cherries, peaches, plums, pears and oranges.
Use unheated coconut oil for preparing your lunch and if you’re going for a cold preparation, try extra virgin olive oil. Slightly steamed and raw veggies are an ideal choice with most lunch options that can help you cure eczema.
When it comes to managing those itchy rashes, salmon, oysters, brown rice and sweet potatoes should be your preferred choice. Even boiled eggs, raw goat cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and steamed green beans can be used to fight and heal eczema naturally. What’s even better is the fact that all meal options listed above can be paired with vegetables to further strengthen their eczema healing properties.
Veggies you can try include kale, spinach, garlic, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnip, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, leek, cucumber and radish. Fresh herbs such as cilantro, mint, thyme, rosemary, sage, basil and ginger can also be added to your favorite vegetable soup, baked fish and salad and you’ll surely be tempted to refill your dinner plate.
Suitable Dinner Options
You might be interested to explore some healthy dinner options, and here a few suggestions to help you design an ideal dinner. Well, make sure you include plenty of veggie juices in your diet to get rid of eczema quickly. Some recommended vegetables you can juice for dinner include celery, carrots, kale and cucumber. You can also add apples, parsley and cilantro to your fresh veggies juice to speed up the detoxification process.
You might want to try something different with vegetable juices so it is recommended that you make a bowl of fresh salad and add small portions of brown rice, green beans, eggs, quinoa, carrots, cranberries, brown rice and other hypoallergenic foods you like.
You can also eat raw veggies and fruits in case you don’t want to prepare a special meal. One thing you need to keep in mind is that hydrogenated oils and margarine cannot be included in your healing diet plan.
If you need to cook something on low or medium heat use sunflower oil, flax seed or olive oil. Cold preparations such as salad dressings and condiments can be made using extra virgin olive oil, hemp seed oil. Meals that require frying over high heat can be made using clarified butter or coconut oil.
Foods to Avoid
- Empty “foods” such as alcohol and soft drinks
- Coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa and soda even if decaffeinated
- Artificial sweeteners, food colorings and preservatives
- Dairy including all cheese, milk, cream and whey
- Acidifying foods such as tomatoes, beef, pork and chicken
- Grains high in starch and this includes wheat, oats, corn and barley
- Products containing yeast or smoked and preserved meat and fish
If you can’t avoid meat, go for organic beef and chicken and reduce the number of times you consume every week. If you really want to enjoy some sweet stuff, make sure you only use stevia sweetener, which actually is 300 times sweeter than normal sugar.
You have a skin that overreacts easily; therefore, it needs extra special care. The first thing to do is change whatever you apply on your skin and that includes shampoos, conditioners, soaps and lotions. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is found in many products used to improve lather, including toothpaste. Using products with SLS dries up the skin’s natural oils. Next we have parabens. Parabens are a known preservative and estrogen-mimicking compound which disrupts the skin’s natural good bacteria coating. The best solution to this is to switch to organic shampoos or shampoo bars. They’re more expensive but will do your skin more good.
Do not stay in the shower for too long. If you live in a humid country and you shower twice a day, make sure to shower quickly. Water hitting the affected area would aggravate it. If you have very persistent eczema, find the root cause. It could be caused by food intolerance or allergies. Cut out milk, caffeine, gluten and egg white one by one and see to which food absence would make your eczema improve.
This may be the last thing you want to hear but exercise helps to speed up recovery from eczema by promoting fast circulation and removal of toxins. However, the toxins in sweat could aggravate severe eczema so always have a quick shower after exercising.
To summarize, eczema is not just an issue of the skin, it’s an issue of the entire body. Fuel your body with healthy foods and eliminate the toxins and your body will proceed to its natural healing instinct. Remember that there are millions of people suffering from eczema, you are not alone in this.