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Eczema or 'atopic dermatitis' is a chronic, itchy skin inflammation that usually appears on the inside of the elbows and knees and on the face and the wrists. it can however affect any part of the body. Infants are the most common sufferers of eczema but many grow out of the condition as their immune system and digestion mature. It is not uncommon for babies with eczema to develop chronic ear infections.
Eczema is a hereditary condition so is passed on in families, and children as well as adults can develop it at any age. In the
The key to eczema is to understand the 'digestion-immune system' connection. The answer is not unfortunately a ‘magic’ cream, although specific creams are very helpful. Eczema is an inflammatory condition that most often comes from within the body, and that is where it needs to be addressed.
CAUSES OF ECZEMA:
Problems which can lead to eczema are often linked to the digestion and the immune system and these include:-
- Low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach
- A condition known as 'leaky gut syndrome' where the lining of gut has become too porous and allows particles of undigested food as toxins into the blood causing allergic reactions (see below for further information)
- The use of medication such as antibiotics which can upset the delicate balance of intestinal flora, and can cause Candida
- Candidasis (an overgrowth of yeast in the body) which creates an imbalance of 'good' bacteria in the gut
- Food intolerances and environmental allergies
- A weakened or underdeveloped immune system
- A deficiency in essential fatty acids caused by an inability to metabolise them properly.
Vaccinations have also been found to increase the chance of allergies such as asthma and eczema developing. If you feel this may be the cause see a practitioner of radionics or a registered homeopath - see Therapies below.
HOW TO DEAL WITH ECZEMA:
We have developed an effective step-by-step program which addresses the underlying causes of eczema:
test for food/chemical allergies so that any allergens can be eliminated and to investigate the presence of ‘leaky gut’
the use of specific supplements to strengthen the digestion, boost the immune system and heal the gut
the importance of diet - how to eliminate any allergenic foods and find good alternatives
advice with regard to lifestyle - additional treatments and considerations
Many cases of eczema are the result of allergies and are more common in people who have other allergies, particularly asthma and hay fever. The best approach for controlling eczema is similar to that for controlling other allergies.
Leaky Gut Syndrome - this is where the lining of the intestines has become porous and allows tiny particles of undigested food to pass directly into the bloodstream as toxins, provoking allergic reactions and causing poor absorption of nutrients.
It is now known that an increase in gut permeability is a key element in diseases such as acne, asthma, eczema, urticaria, psoriasis, chronic arthritis, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), childhood hyperactivity, autism, multiple food and chemical sensitivities and many more inflammatory and auto-immune conditions.
Common causes of this condition are; prescription drugs; bacterial, viral and parasite infections; junk food and alcohol; and the regular consumption of foods which cause allergic reactions – most commonly these are dairy, wheat, eggs, peanuts and citrus foods. Removing problem foods allows the gut lining to begin to heal, and specific supplements are essential to help this healing process (see Step 2 below). Tests are available either through a natural health practitioner or via various websites. You may not feel it is absolutely essential to have a test for this because researchers have found increased gut permeability in all children and adults tested who suffer from eczema and /or asthma. Instead it may be better to just concentrate on improving gut permeability.
Allergy tests - it is crucial to have an allergy test done so that you can avoid whichever foods or substances are making your eczema worse. The most common allergenic foods are eggs, milk and dairy products, chocolate, peanut, soya and gluten found in wheat, oats, rye, and barley, but also yeast, raw eggs, strawberries, chocolate, white flour products, fried foods, processed foods and alcohol can be direct triggers.
Your doctor should be able to arrange for you to have a Skin Prick Test done at your local hospital however unfortunately many GPs seem to think that they are not worth the bother. Insist on having one done. Although they are quite a basic test, they do test the most common allergens and they are available on the NHS. More comprehensive allergy blood tests are also available.
If your doctor cannot, for whatever reason, refer you to have tests done then you can have allergy tests done privately under medical supervision. Over 200 foods and substances (chemicals, dust mites, animal fur etc) can be tested - go to www.yorktest.com or call 0800 258 2052
Radionics practitioners and Bio-Resonance therapy can also test for allergies and the presence of leaky gut non-invasively i.e. you do not need to give a blood sample. This is therefore particularly ideal for children:
Radionics - if you seem unable to obtain a diagnosis or reason for your symptoms through conventional methods, or attempts to improve your health are not working, consider seeing a practitioner of radionics. Radionics is a method of sending precisely defined healing energy to people, animals or plants. It is entirely compatible with modern physics. Fundamental to radionics is the view that a living body has a subtle energy field which sustains and vitalises it. If the field is weakened, for example by stress or pollution, then eventually the physical body also becomes weak, leaving it susceptible to illness. The aim of radionics is to identify the weaknesses in this field and to correct them, and thereby alleviate or prevent physical or emotional disease - see www.radionic.co.uk or call Diana and Ivan Barrett on 01604 686678 to discuss using radionics to allergy test, discover any nutritional deficiences and pin-point the cause of your eczema.
Bio-resonance therapy (BRT) - this can be used to treat a number of ailments including irritable bowel, eczema, hay fever, arthritis and asthma. Popular in the Nineties, BRT works on the belief, as with radionics, that we have our own electromagnetic fields and unique vibrations or "oscillations". According to Rheinhold Will, a German BRT specialist, it is the physical vibrational properties of matter rather than their chemical properties, which trigger allergic responses. During BRT the exact frequency or energy field of an allergen is found using a bio-tensor, a gold-plated rod, similar to a divining rod, which senses a person's personal resonances. A Bicom machine is then programmed to convert the frequency to a mirror-image frequency and then transmits the frequency back, a process which is believed to kill the offending allergen permanently. It takes about 15 minutes to treat each allergen. The therapy has been practised in
The British Institute for Allergy and Environmental Therapy recommends a diagnostic method that is simple and without discomfort. The treatment method is by way of isopathic de-sensitisation. Diagnosis and treatment are painless, without the side effects usually associated with conventional medicine, and are suitable for infants and children as well as adults.
These therapies are suitable for everyone, including babies, pregnant women and the elderly.
Please see our DermaSkin Kits
Other useful links are:
NB. Due to EU legislation we are not able to make specific supplement recommendations for any health condition, including eczema on a website. Therefore if you would like to discuss any of the information in this particular section please contact us.
SKINCARE FOR ECZEMA:
Creams and lotions - we have a NEW range of skin care which contains Colloidal Silver and MSM (organic sulphur) specifically developed for allergic skin.
For babies and children see Special Care for Babies & Children (eczema, very dry and allergy-prone skin)
The problem with the skin care products that GP's recommend for eczema - aqueous or oliatum skin products (Diprobase, Doublebase etc) - is that they contain liquid paraffin, petroleum and often sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate. All of these are chemicals that can irritate the skin. Petrochemicals coat the skin like plastic, preventing it from breathing properly and create heat which can make eczema worse. They may protect the skin from external or environmental irritants, and from additional moisture loss, like a barrier, but they will never nourish, moisturise or heal the skin. Steroid treatments thin the skin and again are not dealing with the real problem, they are merely supressing the symptoms.
All chemical ingredients are best avoided. Please check your current skincare and household products for chemical ingredients (examples of which are listed below) then remove them from your home:
• Propylene Glycol and Butylene Glycol
• Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES)
• DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoathanolamine) and TEA (triethanolamine)
• Polythelene Glycol (PEG)
• Sodium Hydroxide
• DMDM Hydantion and Urea (Imidazolidinyl)
• Parabens (methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, and butyl-)
• Isopropyl (SD-40)
• Mineral Oil, Liquid paraffin, Petroleum
• FD&C Colour pigments
• Perfume, Fragrance
These and many more chemicals can cause dry skin, eczema, allergic reactions, sensitivities, asthma, rashes, hives, contact dermatitis, and can block pores and exacerbate acne. The skin absorbs up to 60% of the substances we apply to it. There is also evidence of internal damage from some substances as well i.e. damage to organs, disruption of hormones and the development of cancers.
The eczema products recommended at 100% Nature are:
• Formulated without synthetic detergents, perfumes, colours or preservatives
• Free of petrochemicals i.e. liquid paraffin, mineral oil, petroleum
• pH balanced to match the pH of the skin (4.5-5.5)
• Many are without essential oils and herbs, which although natural, can irritate the skin
• Formulated with essential fatty acids
• Award-winning and 'profoundly effective' at treating skin disorders
• Tested on people with eczema and allergies
• Suitable for babies, children and adults
NB. It is important to remember that eczema does need to be addressed internally as well as using suitable skincare products to help heal the skin.
TO TREAT YOUR ECZEMA:
If your eczema is bleeding, weeping and raw, consider using 'Colloidal Silver' topically - it is a suspension of the element silver in water. Spray onto the affected areas daily - see Colloidal Minerals. For more information on Colloidal Silver read 'The Colloidal Silver Report' - see Books.
NB: If you use any new creams on your skin whilst it is in an inflamed or infectious state, it may create new sensitivities, regardless of whether the products are natural or not.
Natural products - once the skin has improved you can introduce new and natural products. Cleanse and then heavily moisturise your skin with either of the natural skincare products specifically for eczema. Constantly re-apply creams as areas begin to dry. You may need to do this every hour if necessary.
NB. It is important to remember that everyone's 'triggers' for eczema are different, and even a natural ingredient can be a trigger. Always test patch your skin with a new product before use.
Application and 'time out' - you might want to consider taking a week off work, or asking family and friends to help with children, to be able to constantly apply creams to your skin and concentrate on getting better. You need to be as stress-free as possible throughout this process. Wearing old clothes while you do this is a good idea. The aim is to keep the skin's moisture levels up and constant.
Cleansing and moisturising - after moisturising your skin heavily it can become clogged. Skin needs to breathe. Too much cream on your skin can make it hot and itchy again. Try to achieve a good balance between using moisturisers, creams, and oils and a very mild and gentle soap or wash, at bath or shower time. When eczema is at its most intense a hot bath will make things worse. Try a cool bath with oil in the water, or perhaps showering is a better option.
Gentle exfoliation - finally when your eczema is under control, and has been for at least a month try gentle exfoliation perhaps once a week. Try using a soft, freshly washed towel to exfoliate, and ensure that you nourish the fresh layers of skin with plenty of moisturiser - or see Body Care for exfoliants.
DIET & ALLERGENIC FOODS:
Follow a healthy diet and eat plenty of colourful 'rainbow' and raw food - these are vegetables and fruits of all colours to ensure that you consume all the beneficial enzymes and nutrients available for your bodily functions. Drink plenty of quality water and herbal teas, and choose organic produce as much as possible.
Essential Fatty Acids - the body cannot produce these fats so they are essential to everyone. They are crucial for skin disorders however and many people with eczema have a problem metabolising essential fatty acids, and therefore are often deficient. Over half of eczema sufferers improve when they use omega 3 fish or flax oils as a supplement as well as topically. These fatty acids contain EPA which can relieve the symptoms and inflammation of eczema, reduce irritation, help to heal the skin and the gut, and help to normalize absorption levels. Breasfeeding mothers whose babies have eczema can take an EPA supplement themselves to pass the essential fats on to their baby. The skincare products available at 100% Nature for eczema also contain essential fatty acids.
Fatty fish, a natural source of the omega 3 oils that help relieve the improper fatty acid digestion, are a great aid to people with eczema. It is therefore important to have fatty fish like herring, organic salmon, fresh tuna or mackerel at least twice a week.
Once you have the results from allergy-testing the following information should help you to find good alternatives to foods you may now need to avoid.
Allergenic foods - dramatic improvements can often be seen when allergenic foods are eliminated from a person's diet: eggs, milk and dairy products, chocolate, peanut, soya and gluten found in wheat, oats, rye, and barley are common offenders. All or any of these can be safely cut out without a detrimental affect upon your diet. You will need to alllow six to eight weeks in order to see an improvement.
In infants, cows' milk is the most common allergen, so to reduce the risk of eczema developing try to breast-feed your baby as long as possible, especially if there is a family history of eczema or other allergic conditions. If as parents you are allergic to certain foods, your children might carry that allergy as well, and those foods may need to be avoided.
If you are breastfeeding and your baby has eczema try eliminating the common allergens from your diet and see if there is any improvement. If you do cut out dairy products when you are breastfeeding it is important to take a calcium supplement (see below).
Wheat and dairy - these are usually the two main culprits. Eczema sufferers have been found to be sensitive to a protein in milk called casein. The casein in goat and sheep's milk however is often less of a problem than that in cows' milk, although for some this may not be the case. Goats, sheep, soya or rice milk are alternatives to cows milk. Rice and soya milk are entirely dairy-free. Rice milk is an excellent dairy-free alternative which is non-mucous forming and very easy to digest. It is naturally sweet and can be used as a substitute for cows' milk for babies over one year old but you will need to add a calcium powder supplement (see below). You will need to check whether soya is an allergen before using soya products. Hard and soft goat's cheese, fresh goat's milk and yogurt, soya milk and soya yogurts (Alpro®), and rice milk are all available in good supermarkets.
For babies who are bottle-fed ask your health visitor about hydrolysed infant formula. The proteins in this have been partially digested making it less allergenic than regular cows' milk formulas and more suitable for babies with allergies. It is available on prescription however you may need to be 'forceful' as some GPs do not prescribe it readily.
There are many wheat and gluten-free products available now in supermarkets, health food shops and via websites. A good brand of wheat and gluten-free breads is Village Bakery® and some of their products are available in supermarkets and health food shops. Many supermarkets also stock Stamp® bread, which is wheat-free. Tru Free® and Orgran® produce an excellent range of gluten free pasta, savoury and sweet biscuits and are in most supermarkets. Pasta made with rice and corn is very similar to ordinary pasta, much more so than those made vegetables. Most supermarkets now stock gluten-free cereals and the company Ulula sell organic gluten-free rusks, biscuits and porridge (millet) for babies and children.
Other foods - refined white sugar can make eczema worse. Check food labels and avoid it as much as possible. Also avoid yeast, raw eggs, strawberries, chocolate, white flour products, fried foods and processed foods. Alcohol also needs to be eliminated at least until your eczema is under control.
Additives - one study found that the food additive tartrazine can provoke eczema in some people, though the reaction is not common (sometimes it's difficult to make a connection between eczema and a particular cause because the symptoms can vary from one day to the next). It was reported that of the children studied, one showed severe eczema symptoms after the ingestion of tartrazine. Tartrazine or FD&C Yellow Dye No. 5 is found in many foods. It is best to avoid all processed foods and eliminate additives and preservatives from the diet.
At first these changes to your diet may seem impossible, however if you follow the guidelines for a healthy diet you will find you are generally already avoiding the main problem foods. Once old habits are broken new habits just become the norm, and if every now and again you eat something you know is a problem for you any reaction to it should be minor in comparison to when you were eating them more often.
LIFESTYLE TREATMENTS FOR ECZEMA:
Below are some practical measures that you can take to relieve the symptoms of eczema, outlined below.
Homes have also become more of an allergy risk in the past forty years. The increased use of carpets, central heating and double-glazing, for example, has significantly raised the average temperature of homes and created a perfect breeding ground for dust mites - another common trigger.
Wash all bedding and clothes at 60 degrees - air your bed all day, and try to keep rooms a little cooler. Dust mites thrive in warm environments. Allergen bedding is also an option.
Use natural household products that do not contain chemicals and perfumes, which are common irritants to the skin. Chemicals in household products and skincare products can trigger 'contact dermatitis' and exacerbate existing eczema. The majority of ingredients in many household brands tend to be chemicals, and these irritate and upset the skin particularly of babies and children. Try and eliminate them from your home and use natural alternatives.
Humidify the air in your house - although you can buy a humidifier, it is possible to achieve this in winter by having containers or vases of water above or near radiators if this is practical.
Filter the water that you use - the chlorine in tap water and in swimming pools can also make eczema worse. In an ideal world we would all have water filters on the mains of the house to protect the skin and body from chemicals, and in particular chlorine, however this can be expensive. Try looking at shower head filters and De-chlorinating Bath Crystals or the Crystal Ball Bath Dechlorinator to remove the chlorine from the water you wash with.
Oatmeal can be very soothing - add one cup of organic oatmeal to a muslin bag or pop sock, tie it and hang directly beneath the hot water tap of your bath. Run the hot water through the bag until all the 'goo' has come out and then add cold water to make a warm bath. Soak in the milky water, using no soap or cleansers. This can help to reduce itching.
Exercise on a regular basis and drink plenty of filtered or bottled water - the flow of fresh water and oxygen through your body helps to flush toxins from your system and improve your overall health.
Sunlight can be beneficial - after moisturising well sit in the garden for about 10 minutes after 4 pm, to avoid burning. Sunlight is needed for our skin to produce vitamin D.
Get plenty of rest - sleep is very healing. It is worth avoiding nights out until you have the eczema fully under control.
Relaxation is important - try and take some time to relax. Yoga and meditation are excellent ways of keeping calm and reducing stress levels.
Some further steps to relieve symptoms:
• Do not use hot water for bathing and showering. Use warm water.
• Use bath oil to soften skin (ie. Lavera's Neutral Oil
• Do not use over-the-counter ointments that contain benzocaine or antibiotics.
• Try to avoid temperature extremes and any activity that will involve excessive sweating.
• Aerobic exercise is beneficial to eczema and other skin ailments. Just be sure to take a warm shower after exercise to wash away sweat.
• Try to wear cotton and other natural fibres next to your skin with the exception of wool, which you should avoid.
Please contact us for specific advice
NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.