Natural Approaches To Eczema
Eczema symptoms include itchy, red, and dry skin caused by inflammation. The most common type of eczema is called atopic dermatitis.
Most infants who develop eczema outgrow it by age 10, however, if the underlying cause is not uprooted, eczema is a red flag that further hypersensitivity reactions like asthma, allergy and autoimmunity might emerge.
Eczema is commonly found in children of families with a history of other allergies, asthma, or other immune-system related illnesses.
What Causes Eczema?
Eczema is understood as an overactive response by the body's immune system to an irritant. Other contributors could be malnourishment in the skin barrier and poor detoxification pathways.
There is typically a trigger that initiates the symptom of eczema. Some triggers might be hot or cold temperatures, creams, additives, foods, coarse material, animal dander, stress. It is quite common for children who are constipated to develop eczema. Relieving the constipation will often help.
Child Eczema - Conventional Treatment
The goal of conventional treatment for eczema is to relieve and prevent itching by identifying the trigger and soothing the skin so that the area doesn’t get infected.
Lotions, creams and cold compresses can be a short term solutions to relieve itching, but do not get at the underlying cause. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream and antihistamines or prescription corticosteroid creams can lessen localized itching and inflammation, but do not get at the underlying cause. Topical immune modulator creams have been approved but these drugs have been linked to cancer, should be only used for a short time, and are not used for children under the age of two.
Child Eczema - Natural Treatment
The holistic approach to eczema is to help the body function better so that the trigger no longer initiates symptoms.
An irritation on the skin indicates an irritation elsewhere in the body. So we need to sooth the symptoms without suppressing the body's expression of the irritation. That way we can still use the symptom is our “window” into the body, telling us if we are making progress.
Then we need to identify the trigger and relieve the body of that stress, support the body’s detoxification system, and support the body’s immune system and nourish the skin itself.
We can accomplish a lot of this using food, but sometimes supplements and botanicals can be helpful.
A few places to start
- Reduce toxic load by eating organic food, reducing soaps, creams and detergents, removing additives, colourings and any non naturally occurring food chemicals
- Avoid Tylenol (acetaminophen) because it reduce the body’s ability to detoxify by depleting glutathione
- Conduct an elimination diet to try to identify food triggers
- Try to eat more dark leafy greens (in children over 1 yr), berries, fatty fish, and coconut oil
- Dandelion tea, water, and lemon are helpful to the liver. Milk Thistle is helpful for adults.
- Fresh pressed juice (homemade, using a juicer) - A combination of carrot, green apple, celery and beet - will help the liver
- Add in foods with nutrients that support the immune system and the skin - bone broth, organ meats, cod liver oil, avocado, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables are all great sources of vitamins A, C, D, E, glycine, collagen, fatty acids and antioxidants.
- Fermented foods or a probiotic can be helpful to start to normalize gut bacteria and improve overall digestion, which will in turn help increase nutrient assimilation, modulate immune function, and detoxify
Note that these interventions might provoke a more severe flare up before reducing the problem. This reaction is common as the body goes through a process of rebalancing. Move slowly and use topical herbal ointments that are free of medication and chemicals to relive the symptoms.
Are you starting your baby on solids? Are they highly reactive? For more details on starting your baby off on real, whole foods that support digestive and immune health click here...