While most doctors will simply send you home with a steroid eczema cream or ointment, these often only provide temporary relief. Here’s your guide to the root cause of eczema, and our top tips to help you understand how to improve eczema naturally and permanently by making changes from within…
Our skin plays a subtle, but important, role in our physical and mental health. You may have heard that SKIN is the largest organ in our body. But did you know that the skin completely renews itself every 28 days? Or that it plays a major role in our immune function? 11. Yousef H, Alhajj M, Sharma S. Anatomy, skin (integument), epidermis. [Updated 2020 Jul 27]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470464/ | 22. Nguyen AV, Soulika AM. The dynamics of the skin’s immune system. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(8):1811. 2019 Apr 12. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6515324/
Our skin has even become entwined with how we describe our emotions. Consider adages such as “comfortable with the skin you’re in,” “get under your skin,” or “you have a thick skin.”
We use the skin to describe not just our physicality, but how we feel about our bodies and our interactions with others. And why not? It makes sense to describe intimate experiences through this sophisticated anatomy.
The unconcealed, forward-facing quality of our skin makes skin disease that much more impactful for those who experience it. There is nowhere to hide when we deal with issues such as eczema or acne. The largest organ, the part of us that comes into closest contact with others throughout our day, that we view when we glance in the mirror, is a source of discomfort, disease and maybe even pain.
Appropriately, most research on skin disease has evaluated the effects of the diagnosis on quality of life, focusing on physical and psychological effects. 3https://www. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6955769/4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC4031723/
Yes, skin diseases may itch or hurt, but they also affect our mental and emotional states. Our self-esteem may incur damage right along with our derma.
HEALTHY SKIN ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY
As mentioned in the introduction, the skin is a barrier — an integral part of our immune system that protects us from pathogens, chemicals, and UV light.
But it’s actually three separate layers of tissue. The epidermis is the top layer that we see and experience, with the dermis and a subcutaneous fat layer, called the ‘hypodermis’, situated beneath.
Now, to get even more complex: these three layers consist of their own subdivided layers containing structural amino acids, immune cells, melanocytes (cells that provide the pigmentation that gives our skin its color), as well as nutrient-providing blood vessels, hair follicles, and oil and sweat secreting glands.
Amazingly, the subcutaneous fat layer functions as an immune and endocrine organ! Adipocytes, or fat cells, assist us with glucose balance and fat metabolism. This layer also insulates us and, along with our dermis, helps us regulate body temperature 5https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6515324/.
The skin’s physiology is as varied as its anatomical layers. Along with serving as an immune barrier, the skin also contains our lymphatic vessels, the structures that allow our white blood cells to circulate throughout our body.
The skin helps us maintain body-wide equilibrium, or homeostasis, via the regulation of temperature and water loss. When exposed to amounts of sun, the skin produces one of the most physiologically diverse vitamins in existence — vitamin D.
And, last but not least, our skin allows us to feel sensations. The nervous system’s integration with our skin produces feelings of hot, cold, pain, and pleasure 6https:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470464/.
So what happens when things go wrong?
What causes symptoms such as peeling, redness, and rash?
In the next section, we’ll explore the underlying causes along with actionable lifestyle and nutrition-based solutions for common skin diseases.
THE ROOT CAUSE OF ECZEMA (ATOPIC DERMATITIS)
Eczema is an increasingly common skin disorder that results in red, itchy, and sometimes thick or leathery skin lesions. Eczema usually occurs on the backs of the knees, neck, inside elbow, or the hands and feet, though it can manifest anywhere on the body. People with eczema often have seasonal allergies and asthma too.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of several types of eczema. The “atopic” part of atopic dermatitis simply means that this condition is associated with allergies.
More technically, allergies are called type 1 IgE-mediated hypersensitivity responses, or true allergy. We are most familiar with this exaggerated immune response when someone has an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts, for instance, one of the most common food allergens, but with atopic dermatitis, the allergic reaction and resulting inflammation primarily affects the skin, specifically the outermost layer, the epidermis 7https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/dermatitis/atopic- dermatitis-eczema | 8: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/immunology-allergic- disorders/allergic,-autoimmune,-and-other-hypersensitivity-disorders/overview-of-allergic-and-atopic- disorders.
Frustratingly, the underlying cause of eczema is different for every person. Genes that code for skin and immune proteins may play a role, as well as the pathological interplay between different parts of the immune system that create perpetual, escalating inflammation.
The root cause of eczema is a disturbance in your immune system. Your body is overreacting to something attacking you or inside you. It’s a disease caused by an overactive immune system that leads to inflammation in your body. It is this internal inflammation that causes the symptoms you know. Atopic dermatitis is called the “itch that rashes” for a reason.
Let’s go in deeper for the two primary root causes of eczema:
So what is leaky gut? The gut is like a tube – food passes through it, and we only absorb what we need. But when damage occurs to this tube, holes can develop and allows undigested food into the bloodstream.
When undigested food is in the bloodstream, the immune system responds because it doesn’t recognize the food. It responds by causing inflammation. This can lead to intolerances because the body now sees that food as ‘the enemy’. This is what is known as leaky gut.
Leaky gut can cause eczema due to a lack of bacterial diversity in the gut, which can interfere with immune system development. In other words, gut bacteria is important for the immune system to work properly and not cause eczema.
Leaky gut can present with mild skin and gastrointestinal symptoms including, but not limited to, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, headache, fatigue, brain fog, and skin problems such as acne, or eczema.
Abnormal Gut Flora:
Getting rid of the overgrowth of bad bugs and yeast can make a huge difference to eliminate eczema. This is called dysbiosis. It is when the 3 pounds of bugs in your gut become out of balance driving inflammation.
Yeast overgrowth is a common root cause of eczema. It can be caused by a high-sugar, refined carb, low-fiber, processed diet. Yeast overgrowth also can be triggered by the use of antibiotics, steroids, hormones and even the birth control pill.
Now, there are other culprits. Triggers include dust mites and pollen, or the common food allergens: cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish.
The skin can also be irritated by other substances that increase local or systemic stress, such as scratchy materials like wool, cigarette smoke, extreme temperatures, or emotional upset 9https://www. nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279399/ .
Common irritants, such as chlorine disinfectants, bubble baths and detergents, toiletries and home cleaning products should be avoided because it has hidden the toxic chemicals ingredients. Also, limit exposure to allergens, such as pet dander, pollens, and molds.
It’s possible that women may be more susceptible to eczema flare-ups, as an increase or decrease of certain levels of hormones can be the culprit.
The question is, why are you so reactive? Why is your immune system so out of whack?
Many people don’t make the connection between gut issues and immunity.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine apparently claimed that “All Disease Begin in the Gut”! That’s right!!! Over two-thirds of your immune system resides in your gut.
Small changes in the intestinal tract from multiple insults – such as too many antibiotics, aspirin, acid-blocking drugs, ibuprofen, stress, infections, food sensitivities, even toxins – allow food particles to enter your bloodstream and get exposed to your immune system, creating systemic havoc.
Learn more here how doTerra Cleanse and Restore will help you to eliminate Eczema and Gut pain issues.
Put another way, creams, antibiotics, and other conventional solutions are really just short-term solutions that fail to address the root cause of eczema. They are just covering over the symptoms.
HOW TO IMPROVE ECZEMA
Here are 7 strategies to improve skin eczema and relieve itchy skin:
1. DETOX YOUR BODY THROUGH FOOD AS MEDICINE
Food is medicine. Bad food is bad medicine and will make us sick. Good food is good medicine that can prevent, reverse and even cure disease. Take away the bad food, put in the good food, and magic happens. It really becomes that simple.
The problem with current medical thinking is that it treats diseases individually, requiring specific diagnoses and labels such as “you have eczema.” And then you get the antibiotic, the immune suppressant, that sort of thing.
Food is information-carrying detailed instructions for every gene and every cell in your body, helping them to renew, repair, and heal or to be harmed and debilitated, depending on what you eat.
Read here more << Why Your Body Needs A Detoxification? >>
What if you could send messages and instructions to heal your cells and turn on healing genes? And what if, by some simple changes in your diet, you could get rid of most of your chronic symptoms and diseases in just 14 days?
That is entirely possible. You simply have to trust your body. It will tell you very quickly what it likes and doesn’t like.
If you are constantly putting in information that is making your body toxic, sick, and fat—hyper-processed industrial junk food, sugar, flour, chemicals, additives, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, inflammatory foods, or what I call anti-nutrients—it acts as a poison in the body.
These foods inflame your gut and your cells, leading to whole-body inflammation that you experience as numerous problems, including eczema, as well as diabesity and all its repercussions.
So the solution becomes to pull the junk and replace it with healthy foods.
From that approach came 14-Day Clean Eating Diet with whole food which eliminates processed, sugary, and inflammatory foods, while adding in healing, detoxifying, anti-inflammatory foods.
Read more here “6 Ways to Detox Through Clean Eating”
This plan gives you the power to heal in a way that medication won’t and never will be able to. In fact, this approach can work faster and better than any medication, without the adverse side effects.
Getting rid of the bad stuff and putting in the good stuff can often reverse the most difficult-to-treat medical problems like eczema and give people the experience of profound wellness, even if they don’t have a serious illness. Everyone should try this just once.
If you want to do just one thing to reverse eczema and revamp your health, take 14 days of a Clean Eating Diet to see just how powerful a drug called real food can be. There is nothing to lose but your suffering. It doesn’t take months or years to see change. It happens in days or weeks.
The Clean Eating Diet becomes the perfect solution to get rid of more than just unwanted pounds and so much more. This is your chance to heal your body on every level.
Read more here “The Complete Guide to Clean Eating for Weight Loss“
Clean eating is more than a strategy.
It’s a step in making healthy choices for a better quality of life. You’re about to embark on a life-changing experience because you’re about to ditch the diet mentality forever.
2. ELIMINATION DIET
A short-term, whole-food-based elimination diet including reintroduction is a safe and low-cost method for identifying inflammatory foods.
The process of identifying and eliminating true food allergies is an important one and should occur with the help of an allergist 10https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ articles/PMC6156835/ [/mfn]. However, eczema-related food reactions can be broader than true allergies.
The most accurate way to assess for problematic foods is the elimination diet — yes, more accurate even than popular food sensitivity tests.
We emphasize that the reintroduction stage of an elimination diet (bringing foods back into the diet) is just as important as initially taking them out. This final step of an elimination protocol helps you understand the foods you react to and the foods you don’t, ultimately informing an individualized but highly varied diet.
3. PREBIOTICS AND PROBIOTICSPrebiotics and probiotics may be helpful in the management of eczema. Prebiotics are food for our good bacteria — and only our good bacteria. These special, selective compounds are present in garlic, onions, oats, leeks, burdock root, artichokes, and kiwis. They have been shown to both prevent and minimize the severity of eczema 10https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/ pii/S1756464621000013.
Specific probiotic strains may also be helpful for people with eczema. An animal study of Lactobacillus sakei WIKIM30, isolated from kimchi, was shown to be beneficial for eczema-like skin lesions 11: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6102352/.
So include condiment-sized portions of fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha in your diet. These are the highest probiotic foods and can support gut and immune health improving the cause of eczema. Remember, just a little of these foods goes a long way!
Reach me if you are interested to learn Fermented Cooking Class!
“Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients (mainly carbohydrates and fibers) that promote the growth of healthy gut microflora by creating a nutrient-rich intestinal environment in which the ‘good bacteria’ may thrive.” 12: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/ pii/S1756464621000013
4. NATURAL HEALING WITH ESSENTIAL OILS
If you’re eczema sufferers and are ready to take the plunge into natural skincare, looking for an alternative to the drug store and prescription eczema treatments, you might consider essential oils. Let’s learn how to use essential oils healing for eczema.
Essential oils are organic compounds extracted from plants with tremendous healing properties. Using essential oils for healing purposes is often called aromatherapy, which is a holistic treatment seeking to improve physical, mental, and emotional health.
It’s interesting to learn more about “What is Aromatherapy“
This includes calming and soothing to relieve itchily, one of the primary causes of eczema. Pure essential oils are generally safe to use, and you may see positive results. You should stop using essential oils if you notice irritation or sensitivity on the skin.
Several best natural healing with essential oils for calming and soothing to relieve itchy:
- Melaleuca (Tea Tree)
Tea tree oil has been proven to beTrusted Source of an effective antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory treatment
Peppermint helps to relieve itchy skin.
Bring circulation to skin cells
Contains anti-bacterial properties, soothes allergic reactions.
Cedarwood oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Cedarwood oil holds calming and grounding properties for both the mind and body, it’s good to help to calm and soothe skin eczema.
Treats skin irritations: soothes, chapped or cracked skin.
A 2010 study reported that Myrrh essential oil helped maintain elevated white blood cell count throughout the healing period after dermal injury; this implied it was also able to induce activation of the immune responses involved in wound healing. 13Haffor.AS (2010 March). Effect of Myrrh (Commiphora molmol) on leukocyte levels before and during healing from gastric ulcer or skin injury Jimmunotoxicol. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19995243
Eczema Ease. Mix a teaspoon of coconut oil (cold press) with 5 drops of geranium oil and then rub the mixture onto the infected area two to three time daily until results are noticeable.
Need samples to try for your skin eczema?
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5. VITAMIN D
Ensuring adequate vitamin D levels is important for people at risk of eczema, or those already dealing with symptoms. Some research shows that vitamin D deficiency may play a role in susceptibility to the disease and its effects 14https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-D. The tolerable upper intake level (UL) of vitamin D is 4,000 IU per day for people nine years of age and older 15https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK56068/table/ summarytables.t7/?report=objectonly, while sun exposure, in appropriate amounts, is the original source of vitamin D!
Whole food sources of vitamin D include trout, salmon, mackerel, liver, and egg yolks. Eat these foods along with vitamin K2-rich foods, a vitamin D synergist. Natto, a traditional Japanese soybean ferment, and aged cheeses, like parmesan, are great sources of K2. If you do decide to supplement, be sure to speak with your doctor before beginning a new regimen. Refer to the list of “The Source of Vitamin D” here.
6. FOODS TO EAT
Essential fatty acids
Wild-caught fish and flaxseed oil can reduce eczema symptoms.
- Pumpkin or chia seeds:
These seeds provide zinc, which is essential for wound healing and for metabolizing fatty acids.
- Probiotic-rich foods:
Consume goat milk, miso soup, kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and amasi. These are the highest probiotic foods and can support gut and immune health improving the cause of eczema.
- High-fiber foods:
Constipation can lead your body to look for other ways to expel toxins, and the skin can become one of the avenues in which toxins are expelled. Aim for at least 30 g of fiber per day from vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, coconut and sprouted grains/legumes. Refer to the list of Fiber-rich foods.
Vitamin A-rich foods:
Increase your intake of orange- and yellow-colored vegetables, which are high in vitamin A and necessary for skin health. Learn the sources of Vitamin A here.
7. FOODS TO AVOID
Eliminate additives and processed foods, which can make eczema worse.
- Foods intolerances
Avoid any potential allergens, such as gluten, dairy, shellfish or peanuts.
Margarine and other non-essential fats
These fats can interfere with the absorption of essential fats critical for healing.
Increases inflammation and reduces immune function.
Can increase inflammation.
Contain gluten, phytic acid and carbohydrates that may cause gut inflammation leading to eczema.
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To Your Wellness,
Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
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