Eczema is an external expression of the body trying to eliminate
certain things from the body and is often a result of allergies.
It can be a good idea to do thorough allergy and intolerance testing, however common culprits of eczema are dairy, gluten and egg. Eliminate all three for a minimum of a month (three months is better) and if your eczema improves or disappears during that time you can gently introduce one food group at a time to find out which one is the main culprit (it may be more than one). Elimination diets are best done under the guidance of a naturopath and it is important to be 100% committed to the elimination or it may not work.
While eliminating potentially reactive foods, adding in gut healing foods such as bone broth and slippery elm can help to heal the lining of the gut and prevent the strong reactions in your skin in the future. Again, this is best done under the guidance of a naturopath to ensure you get the best results.
While a topical treatment can soothe the symptoms of eczema, it won’t ever heal the cause of the issue. While you are eliminating foods and healing your gut, your skin can initially get worse – it may be more itchy, flaky or inflamed so to soothe these symptoms using creams or balms sparingly can be very helpful. Herbal ingredients such as calendula, chamomile, manuka, chickweed and liquorice are particularly helpful.
Calendula is a vulnerary (healing) herb so can help with healing the skin, particularly if your eczema has resulted in open or raw wounds. It also has antimicrobial properties so can prevent infections in the wounds.
Chamomile is also a gentle vulnerary herb, anti-inflammatory and antipruritic, meaning that it can help soothe the itchiness of eczema.
Manuka is a fantastic wound healer, traditionally it is used specifically to treat skin conditions such as eczema and acne. It is also anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial.
Chickweed is a strong antipruritic – if you’re lucky you may even find this in your garden. If you do, you can turn it into a poultice and apply directly to your skin. You could also add it to bath water or add to oil and heat very gently to create an anti-itch oil to apply to your skin.
Liquorice is often used topically for eczema as it has a very similar action to steroidal creams used in main stream medicine – it is a good alternative to wean off topical steroid creams which can have very detrimental effects if used long term.
Eczema can be tricky to treat due to all the possibilities of the cause, however with the help of a naturopath there are many ways to improve your condition naturally and get some relief.