Eczema is a broad term used to describe different types of skin conditions. The underlying symptom of eczema is inflamed, dry skin that can be easily irritated, resulting in an itchy and painful condition. Although there are up to eight different types of eczema, the most commonly recognized forms are Atopic Eczema and Contact Eczema.
Treating atopic dermatitis
To date, there is no cure for atopic eczema, but there are treatment options to control symptoms. Studies continue to be carried out for this complex condition in order to come up with an effective solution. A focus has been given to repairing the skin barrier first. If this step isn’t taken, then foreign allergens will continue to enter the skin’s surface, sparking the production of more antibodies.
Many treatments help to reduce the symptoms of atopic dermatitis, rather than cure it completely. Treatment involves reducing contact with any known substances that create an allergic reaction. There are many substances which are known to aggravate symptoms such as types of clothing materials, hot water or high temperatures. Like many other diseases, stress has also been considered a common aggravator, therefore a focus is given to methods that help to reduce stress in your life.
It is vital to use a fragrance-free moisturizer frequently throughout the day on the affected area when you suffer from atopic eczema. This is important to keep the skin hydrated and prevent itching from dry skin, which can lead to scratching and open wounds. Your doctor can recommend the best type of moisturizer for atopic eczema.
The types of medication or creams that will be prescribed by your doctor to reduce the severity of your symptoms include:
- Topical Corticosteroids: These are creams that are applied topically to the skin and range from mild strength to very strong for severe atopic dermatitis cases. If you find you suffer from flare-ups, then corticosteroids will be recommended for daily use until cleared up. They can also be applied from time to time when you experience your symptoms.
- Oral corticosteroids: This is a short-term treatment often given to those that suffer from very severe flare-ups of atopic eczema, often in combination with topical corticosteroids. It is only a short-term treatment as it comes with side effects when taken for a long time.
Various other treatments are continuing to be trialed including the use of antihistamines for severe itching, phototherapy and bandages to help the healing of the skin. Many of these treatments are aimed to suppress your immune system in order to control inflammation.
Treating contact eczema
After your testing is complete, whether patch testing or photo patch testing, any allergic reaction to a particular substance will give you an idea of what products or environments to avoid. Your doctor will give you the best advice on how best to reduce exposure.
Other than avoiding the substances in which you had an allergic reaction to, your doctor will also provide you with a list of other things to avoid which commonly trigger reactions. This can include harsh soaps, moisturizers with fragrance or any other body product. You will find that you’re certainly not alone when it comes to having sensitive skin and there are many products specifically designed for your skin type, which is much more gentle than regular products. Common treatments for contact eczema include:
- Soothing oatmeal baths
- Taking consideration into the type of clothing material that you wear
- No harsh washing powders, cleaning products or bleaches, rather use plant-based products
- Ensuring you thoroughly dry your skin after showering or swimming, especially increases such as arms, backs of knees or any other problem areas.
- Using only nature-based cosmetics or beauty products
Any of the treatment methods used for atopic eczema can also be used for contact eczema.
Holistic approaches to healing eczema
Eczema is a sign that something isn’t right below the skin level. The body has too much inflammation, which can be reversed with an improvement in your diet. Fresh, whole foods can eliminate inflammation as your body is craving these types of foods to heal itself.
Improving your immune response system
When you suffer from eczema, it’s important to consider the types of foods you are eating that may dampen your immune system. Eczema is a sign that there is inflammation within the body and that’s likely caused by an overabundance of acidic foods and a high sugar diet. It’s worth looking into the “pH reading” of all your common foods, which measures how acidic or alkaline a food is. Aim for 80% inclusion of the alkaline foods. You can find a pH food chart here to get started.
Your immune system can turn on itself when it is upset by many poor foods and even additives or preservatives not recognized by your body. Again, stress also has an impact on how strong your overall immune system is.
As 80% of your immune system is actually located in your gut, your diet has a huge part to play in how your immune system functions. Methods to increase immunity include:
- Increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables
- Eating foods high in vitamin C
- Manage your levels of stress
- Look after your digestive health
- Eliminate processed foods
- Eliminate high sugar foods
Probiotics show promise in the future treatment of eczema
As mentioned, atopic eczema is carried in your genes and often experienced in your early years. Studies have shown that mothers-to-be who supplemented with probiotics during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, significantly reduced the chance that their baby would experience eczema.
Allowing that balance of good and bad bacteria help to keep your immune system in tip-top shape and prevent allergies. Start by increasing your intake of foods that contain a high probiotic count, rather than milk probiotic products as they contain a large amount of added sugar. These include eating more miso soup, kimchi, tempeh, yoghurt and sauerkraut.
Ultimately, eczema is a complex condition that needs continual attention to approaches that help to limit the severity of your symptoms. Modern medicine can go a great way in reducing pain, redness and itching, however, for a long-term approach, it’s best to focus on holistic approaches. These help the body to heal from the inside out, not just approaching eczema from a skin level perspective.