6 Natural Ways to Treat Eczema
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Are you looking for natural ways to treat eczema?
I remember it clearly.
Our son was a few months old.
I had taken him and his sister to a local park when a lady walks up to me.
She commented on how cute he was then noticed his cheeks.
“Oh does he have eczema? My daughter had that.”
“What did you do?” I asked.
“We saw a dermatologist and used a lot of creams. You should do that.”
“Oh, I’m not into those creams, I prefer to find natural ways to treat it.”
“You’re not going to find anything natural that cures this!”
I have to say that interaction with a total stranger left me wondering if I had really made the right choice in saying no to the conventional treatment of eczema: steroid creams.
The problem with Steroid creams
Topical steroid creams contain something called hydrocortisone which is a medication for most skin disorders. It works to reduce inflammation as well as reduce itching.
On the surface this sounds like a good idea but because eczema patients have this condition for long periods of time, you have to question the safety of using this as a solution long-term because eczema is a chronic skin disorder.
For babies and toddlers especially, whose immune systems are still developing, using steroids is not a good idea. Babies and toddlers are prone to side effects of this drug and one has to question the safety of it’s long-term use on them.
But there’s another problem with long-term use of this drug:
As the drug is continually applied the body learns to depend on it for relief from the inflammation and itching. If the medication is stopped, usually symptoms worsen or flare up again. This keeps the patient in constant need of using this drug indefinitely.
Is this the only way?
Is this the way to treat something that is clearly deeper than just the skin?
What if true healing began from within?
What if the root of the problem is actually in the gut?
So instead of treating the skin, I looked deeper and worked to fix the root of the issue.
Here are 6 natural ways to treat eczema that worked for us
1. Remove allergy foods
Since eczema is an inflammatory condition there are certain foods that aggravate the condition and worsen it.
The top inflammatory food groups eczema patients react to are: dairy, gluten and sugar.
Since we didn’t do specific testing to find out exactly which foods our kids were sensitive to we cut out all three until symptoms improved.
Other foods that some people react to are:
- citrus fruits
- some spices like cloves and cinnamon
Keeping a food journal to take note of what might be causing or contributing to flare ups is a good idea. If you can’t do that then remove the top three inflammatory foods of gluten, dairy and sugar.
Removing trigger foods is one of the best natural ways to treat eczema.
2. Remove all sources of sugar
According to this meta-analysis of 13 studies,
“…dietary sugar consumption contributes to increased inflammatory processes in humans.”
Since we know that eczema is a chronic inflammatory disease, sugar is most definitely something to stay away from.
But, I’m not just talking about refined white sugar (which nobody should consume anyway!) or even natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup.
There are lots of places sugar is found that might surprise you.
In general, there 3 different types of sugar:
- Sucrose, and
Glucose, commonly found in carbohydrates has the least impact on the body.
Fructose and Sucrose can be more harmful.
So what foods contain these two sugar groups?
Sucrose is commonly found in table sugar. Extracted from sugar cane of sugar beets, it is then heavily processed to what it is sold on supermarket shelves.
Sugar is added to almost all processed foods. From sodas to yogurt to ketchup and salad dressings, sugar is everywhere. If you’re trying to avoid sucrose, avoid all processed foods and only eat homemade real food made from scratch.
Fructose is a natural sugar found in fruits, some vegetables and natural sweeteners like honey. Fructose, even though a natural food can still make eczema worse as the body processes it as sugar.
To avoid high levels of fructose stick to low sugar fruits like berries, green apples and grapefruit.
3. Support the Gut
For us, this was where we began with treating eczema in our kids.
While historically, people thought food allergies were the cause of eczema. Now, a new cause has been suggested by alternative health care providers as leaky gut.
Leaky gut is a condition where a person has gaps in their intestinal lining which allows undigested food particles, toxins and other substances through the wall and into the blood stream.
So healing the intestinal lining and populating the gut with beneficial bacteria are 2 fundamental keys to improved health.
There are 4 areas to focus on when addressing the gut:
Broth and Meat Stock
Bone broth and meat stock have been used for thousands of years as healing foods for the body. For example, in Chinese medicine, dated to over 2000 years ago, bone broth was used to support digestive health, kidney function as well as improve the blood.
According to Dr. Natasha Campbell of ‘Gut and Psychology Syndrome’:
“Meat and fish stocks provide building blocks for the rapidly growing cells of the gut lining and they have a soothing effect on any areas of inflammation in the gut. That is why they aid in digestion and have been known for centuries as healing folk remedies for the digestive tract.”- Pg. 145
Bone broth and meat stock should be consumed frequently when addressing the gut.
Another facet of the a healthy gut and healthy body is good amounts and diversity of beneficial bacteria. Focusing on a healthy gut can be foundational to the natural ways to treat eczema.
Unfortunately, many kids today have compromised guts due to more pathogenic bacteria than beneficial ones.
This is for a number of reasons but mainly because the Western diet promotes the growth of pathogenic bacteria. If parents grew up on this diet then they will pass on an unhealthy dose of microbes to their children.
Probiotics are a combination of live bacteria and yeasts. The best way to get them is through fermented foods like fermented vegetables, homemade yogurt, kefir (like this blueberry lime kefir smoothie) and fermented tea like Kombucha.
As well as increasing probiotic foods in your diet you can take a probiotic supplement. We use this Bio-Kult Advanced 14 Strain Probiotic Supplement and still take it regularly for maintenance.
Quercitin is an anti-inflammatory flavonol found in foods and plants. It helps to reduce inflammation in the gut. This is super important because eczema is an inflammatory condition.
Apples are a potent source of quercitin, particularly the skin. We made sure to consume apples daily as part of our healing protocol.
Last but definitely not least is the amino acid L- Glutamine.
L-Glutamine helps improve immune cell counts in the gut which in turn lowers inflammation. It also soothes the intestinal lining. While L-Glutamine is made by the body itself and is plentiful, some people still fall short and need a boost.
We looked to natural sources rather than supplementation. The best sources of L-Glutamine are meat and fish. Regularly adding cooked meat and fish to bone broth based soups is a great way to get an extra boost.
The role of probiotics in human health has gained so much attention from the public in recent years. This is not surprising since what we are learning about beneficial strains of bacteria and how they impact human health is pretty astounding.
I touched a little on probiotics in supporting the gut but since this is so important to a healthy body. Probiotics are one of the best natural ways to treat eczema from within.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are simply beneficial (or good) bacteria that live in the human digestive tract and perform many tasks that keep a person healthy. To be honest we wouldn’t be here without them!
Here are just some of the ways they assist us:
- helping in the processes of digestion and absorption of nutrients
- fighting pathogenic (or bad) bacteria and stopping any infection and disease
- protecting the lining of the intestine to stop any harmful organism from entering into the bloodstream
- lowering excessive inflammation
- and much more!
On our skin we have trillions of bacteria. People with eczema, for example, have an increased amount of the bacteria Staphyylocus aureus than those who don’t have the condition. That’s why when the skin is broken from scratching, infection sets in with pus. This is due to this specific strain that causes the infection.
So what does the role of probiotics mean for eczema patients?
According to the National Eczema Association:
“We now know that eczema patients have an imbalance of bacterial make-up in the gut and skin, a term called dysbiosis, with too many harmful bacteria and too few beneficial ones. Recent research has shown that taking probiotics (live, beneficial bacteria) orally can improve eczema.”
What can you do to fix gut dysbiosis?
Add more probiotics.
Focus of probiotic foods like real live yogurt, Kefir, whey from strained yogurt, fermented vegetables of all types and add them into the diet everyday as well as taking a probiotic supplement like this one.
Some people say you shouldn’t bathe too often when you have eczema as it dries out the skin. That might be true and good for some but for us we found that bathing everyday helped keep infection at bay and keep the body cool.
Since we were dealing with this in the hot summer months, the heat of the day really made the kids’ skin more itchy.
For bath time we used:
- No soap (because it dried out the skin)
- Baking soda (relieves itching and soothes the skin)
We also tried:
- Chamomile tea baths (anti-inflammatory, safe for kids and may relive itching)
- Oatmeal baths (soothes the skin and relieves itching)
But we found the best that worked for us was either a bath with only water or baking soda baths.
How to make a baking soda bath:
Dissolve 1/4 cup to 2 cups of baking soda in warm water. Bathe for 30-40 minutes.
How to make a chamomile tea bath:
Boil 1 liter/1 quart of water in a pan. Add 1 cup of dried chamomile flowers. Steep for 15 minutes. Strain and pour into bath making sure the overall bath temperature is not too hot.
How to make an oatmeal bath:
You’ll need oatmeal powder for this. You can either grind oatmeal in a coffee grinder or purchase it directly.
Add about 1 cup (or more if desired) of ground oatmeal powder to the bath water and stir until dissolved.
After bath time you can try natural topical ointments for relief.
Here are some options:
- Coconut oil
- Pure Organic Aloe Vera Gel (soothes the skin and gives a cooling effect. I use this brand of organic aloe vera gel on my family)
- Natural lotions with calendula (known to gently soothe skin and relieve itching)
6. Prayer and Patience
The whole journey of natural healing taught me a lot. But if I could sum it up in one word it would be:
Our world is fast paced and instantaneous. We hardly have to wait for much anymore. Natural healing is quite the opposite.
It takes time and patience.
We did a lot of praying, waiting and more praying until we saw some results. Was it worth it?
Here’s our son before we started the protocol…
And here he is about 8 months later…
I’m so glad we went the natural route and worked the fix the root instead of the symptom.
And if you’re in the same situation there’s hope!
With a little work, discipline, prayer and patience you’ll be sure to find healing in time.
How about you? Do you struggle with eczema? Have you tried a natural approach?
Let me know in the comments below!