Written By Jennifer MacDonald, ND
Eczema is a common childhood skin condition that is characterized by being extremely itchy. The skin is typically dry, with redness or loss of colour. In adults eczema affects flexor surfaces such as the elbow and behind the knees. In infants and children the face, scalp, and limbs are affected and the rash can be oozing and crusting in appearance. The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, and these two terms are often used interchangeably.
Eczema is thought to be caused by the immune system overreacting to an irritant. That irritant may be exposure to chemicals such as household cleaners, detergents, or environmental allergens such as animal dander and dust mites. There is frequently a family history of eczema, asthma, and allergies. Stress is another important contributing cause. Stress causes the release of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol increases inflammation in the body, aggravating eczema.
Naturopathic medicine offers many valuable strategies for managing eczema. A naturopathic approach will consider the diet, nutrition, immune system and stress. Avoiding food sensitivities and allergies is important for managing eczema. Your food sensitivities need to be discovered if you are breastfeeding and your infant has eczema. Some common food allergens include gluten, dairy, and soy. Adequate digestion is also important to help reduce reoccurrence, and gut healing needs to be considered in many cases. A strong immune system is also helpful for treating and reducing the reoccurrence of eczema. Brightly coloured vegetables and fruits are rich in bioflavonoids that will help boost the immune system. Avoid giving your child sugar and sugary drinks such as juice because sugar can depress the immune system. Reducing stress by such methods as meditation and yoga can help to reduce the reoccurrence and severity of eczema.
To help decrease the itch and improve dry skin, applying lotions, oils, and creams after a shower is recommended to help lock in the moisture. Natural creams with coconut oil, cocoa butter, and Shea butter can be helpful. Oats can help calm the skin and can reduce the itch, and an oatmeal bath is a treatment your child may enjoy. To make an oatmeal bath, cut off the foot of a panty hose or use cheesecloth, add 2 cups of oats (non-instant), and tie the panty hose together. Steep the oats in boiling water and pour the water and panty hose into the bath. Ensure you test the bath temperature before placing your child in it.
If you or your child are suffering from eczema, book an appointment in order to properly manage this condition with an individualized treatment plan.
Rakel, David. Integrative Medicine, 3rdedition. Elsevier.
Atopic Dermatitis. Clinical Key. https://ezproxy.ccnm.edu: