My Eczema Story…
I have had a few issues with skin conditions through the years and this is one of them. The first time I noticed a bad irritation on my skin and knew it wasn’t hives was when I was in college. Eczema is probably the most annoying skin condition that I have had to battle for a longer period of time in my life. Luckily, I have been victorious as I can happily report that I have not had an outbreak in about a year. I believe the reason I haven’t is because I changed my diet which I will explain more in detail under “Causes” in this article. What I will share regarding my own story with eczema (or now seemingly lack there of) is that my diet currently consists of coconut milk and vegan cheeses. I also share would like to report that I don’t use the same cream for eczema anymore either. I didn’t stop using it because I felt it didn’t work. I mean because after all the other eczema treatments that was the magic cream! I stopped because at the end of the day, it is something that I am putting on my skin that could be harmful. Natural is always best for me. The rest of the article will also fully explain why I changed my diet overall to result in hopefully no longer getting any skin irritations or breakouts from eczema ever again.
At first, I had my breakouts in a very concealable place which were located on my wrists. Then, sometimes it would spread in large areas up and down my arm if I scratched it. My dermatologist reassured me that it isn’t contagious but it can spread if you scratch the itchy dry patches—at least in my experience. It also can progress from dry raised patches to something that mimics a rash or angular cheilitis as I explained in my previous article. As I said before, my practitioner gave me this cream that made the symptoms go away quite rapidly but there are natural treatments for eczema that will work just as effectively. There are also some things you can do to prevent flare-ups of eczema in the future that has worked for me.
What is Eczema?
Unlike my story with eczema, it is more commonly detected within the first months of life by the mother and is said to be genetic. However, there are actually different types of this condition. It is widely known as a rash-like skin condition; however, doctors refer to it as atopic dermatitis which is a chronic skin condition. Doctors refer to it as atopic dermatitis because atopic refers to a collection of diseases that involve the immune system and dermatitis means inflammation of the skin.
If you had eczema as an infant, you most likely may have already grown out of it as an adult. However, there have been other cases where this condition has continued into adulthood becoming a lifelong issue. It is common for babies to have it on their face specifically the cheeks and chin. Then there’s the eczema like what I have where it develops from adulthood. Most people notice symptoms of it in their early twenties, like I did.
What are the Symptoms?
If you are experiencing an itchy irritation in an area of your skin beginning to look like a rash, it most likely is a symptom of eczema. And don’t worry if you do have eczema because you are among 30 million Americans that are suffering from the ugly symptoms of this condition. Affected areas of the skin can appear extremely dry and scaly for people who have eczema. When you touch the area it will also feel like a patch of raised skin or a welt. Depending on an individual’s skin tone, there are various ways this skin condition can affect pigmentation. I am fair skinned unless I am out in the sun; therefore, it sometimes starts out reddish especially if I have been scratching it, then after time it becomes a light flesh tone. If an individual has a darker skin tone, it is likely that eczema will make the skin lighter and in others darker. Sometimes, it can actually start itching before you even see the signs of it. If you are unsure of your symptoms it is always wise to contact a medical practitioner such as a dermatologist because they are trained to determine what you have by looking at the affected areas. Besides, while you are with the dermatologist, he or she can test you to determine what is causing your skin condition.
What are the Causes?
During my research I came across an unsettling four causes of eczema. Please carefully pay attention to the causes because it will be very beneficial in determining how you can properly treat eczema or possibly eliminate incidents of the symptoms of it.
I actually did my own research years ago to find out what was caused me to get eczema as an adult because something in my gut was screaming the word “diet”. Unfortunately, I was right! I say unfortunately because I love cheese but I am intolerant to dairy, especially cow diary. Dairy causes so much havoc in the body because many humans cannot digest it well– probably because cow milk is intended for their calves and not us . It is actually really bad for us because it has become a brew of biochemical toxins and considered a processed food! If an individual has stomach issues from dairy then that is the common link to skin conditions such as eczema because I believe that it is your body screaming “I can’t digest this crap”.
2. Allergies & Food
According to Livestrong.com, it is common to see someone with eczema have allergies and/or parents that have them. A good medical practitioner will test you for food allergies when a patient comes in with eczema, especially if there are repeated cases of breakouts. Moreover, studies have shown if the mother has allergies there is a 1 in 3 chance that the baby will have eczema. Other foods that have shown to either worsen or cause eczema are soy, eggs, wheat, corn, tree nuts, peanuts, beef and fish.
3. Detergent & Fabric Softener
Please be conscious of the fabric softener and detergent that you use, because caustic, toxic ones will make any skin disorder or condition worse especially eczema. I had to change my mine to Method Naturally Derived Concentrated Laundry Detergent found here because even after I cut out foods that were causing it, I would still get the occasional break out and found out it was also from the chemicals from my detergent on my clothes and bedding. Anyway, the brand is amazing because Method as has an awesome chemical-free fabric softener!
If baths are your favorite way to wash yourself, I would throw a few tablespoons of Himalayan salt into the water before getting in because our water is riddled with fluoride which has also been linked to causing eczema. They initially found it to be the cause when giving babies bath time but if your immune system is low, fluoride will only make it worse causing you to be susceptible to skin conditions—that one being eczema. Even though you may have the best immune system it won’t hurt to throw some of that salt in there anyway. There are also other things you can throw in your bath water too, such as vitamin c crystals. And I know how fun bubbles in a bath are but it’s best to ditch the bubbles and use coconut oil instead. If you cannot part with the bubbles then make sure whatever you use is SLS-free, sulfate-free, paraben-free, sodium benzoate-free and dioxane-free.
Treatments for Eczema
Now that you know what not to do, I am going to discuss what you can do to treat eczema and the not so fun breakouts that come with this skin condition. I also want to give options to those of you reading that are “die-hard diary fans”, even though eliminating this out of your diet would make this (and other things) so much easier to manage. Although there are many types of methods to treat eczema, I broke it down into two internal solutions and two topical remedies. Thus, here are four of my favorite and I believe optimum treatments for eczema.
1. Probiotics for Eczema Treatment
Many people say that yogurt is a good way to get probiotics into your diet, but there we go again with the dairy. In this case, particularly, it is a very bad choice. Shockingly, there are articles out there that will suggest this, but don’t believe the hype. It is very important to consume a vegan probiotic. But let me explain what probiotics are and what makes this option so magical when it comes to eczema.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics consists of beneficial microorganisms such as strains of live bacteria and yeasts in foods, drinks, and supplements that promote a healthy gut. The good bacteria in probiotics are paramount for the immune system because it helps the body absorb nutrients and minerals which will result in balancing the digestive tract. We eat so many things that our gut doesn’t like and won’t digest thus why so many people have food allergies and digestive problems. Therefore, it is wise to consume probiotics for overall health.
Probiotics consists of many different strains of bacteria but the most important bacteria that is vital for eczema treatment is Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG which is also known as LGG. It is a live bacteria that tends to stay the happiest in the most irregular conditions such a digestive system with acid reflux. What does this have to do with treating eczema? Well, as I mentioned previously eczema reacts to what is going on inside of your body resulting from what you are consuming or even absorbing through your skin which is also considered an organ. If something is going wrong with your digestive system, eczema will let you know.
Forms of Probiotics
Personally, I take probiotic supplements because then I know I am getting what I need to eliminate the flare-ups from eczema. Since I have been taking hyperbotics probiotics found here, I have hadn’t had a flare up yet. I have been taking these supplements since November. Also, while we are on the subject there are probiotic with prebiotic supplements that I also recommend. Prebiotic will help the good live bacteria of probiotics grow in your gut and will also help other issues you may be struggling with as result of a compromised digestive system. I haven’t tried it but plan to get Trust Your Gut Prebiotics found here because of the amazing reviews!
If taking supplements are not your thing then another great way to get your probiotic for eczema treatment is eating foods that contain it. My top favorite five probiotic foods are:
- Fresh Raw Kimchi – This food is available at most local stores now though I usually get mine at an Asian store because more of a variety of kimchi is there. The kimichi you will see in most stores is called Baechu Kimichi. I have mentioned it when I wrote about all the amazing benefits of cabbage. I absolutely love the kimchi you can get at any local store in the organic section, but there are others you can only get at a specialty store such as white kimchi, cubed radish kimchi, ponytail radish kimchi and mustard leaf kimichi.
- Organic Raw Sauerkraut – You can find this food in my article about cabbage too. I provided instructions on how to make it yourself. Just like kimchi there are different types of sauerkraut too. I have found a delicious variety of sauerkraut at Sprouts Farmer’s Market.
- Naturally Fermented Pickles – The first time I had these pickles was at Ted’s Montana Grill. It’s now my favorite appetizer there. I always ate kosher pickles but these taste much healthier. It is quite simple to make these at home with your cucumbers. If you don’t wish to make it yourself then you can purchase a jar of them at stores like Sprouts, Trader Joes and The Fresh Market.
- Miso Soup – My favorite miso soup is with vermicelli noodles and mushrooms. I also will spice it up with sriracha sauce. There’s white, yellow and red miso.
- Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate – Most people think dark chocolate doesn’t have dairy in it but there is actually is enough to make some people that have a dairy intolerance sick. I always check the labels to make sure the chocolate even in my coconut milk ice cream has no trace of dairy. It is best to eat cacao (not cocoa) as they are different. You can get cacao nibs or powder to add to smoothies on amazon here. This is best because most chocolate candy bars contain sugar which will worsen eczema.
If you like the idea of adding a prebiotic to your probiotic, add organic raw garlic to these foods.
Probiotics foods are not yummy enough for you? How about trying some probiotic drinks. There are some that you can make yourself and even buy at your local store. The most popular drink is Kombucha which is a fermented tea. I am very picky with Kombucha and it was an acquired taste for me. The other popular drink is Kefir—famously known to have dairy in it. Well, yes the kefir sold in the local stores have dairy but you can also buy water kefir which is made with coconut water. If you prefer a thicker consistency you can also find kefir made with coconut milk by Lifeway. You also can always make it yourself by getting water kefir grains. The directions are typically on the packaging or separate in the box it came in with cool recipes that very simple!
My favorite probiotic drink is Kevita. They are so many different flavors to choose from and most are pretty good. The Lemon Ginger Kevita helps me when I feel nauseated. The second favorite is GoodBelly which you also can get in your local grocery store usually right next to Kevita. The only thing about the GoodBelly available in the local store, most do not carry Cultured Probiotic Coconut Water, the StraightShot or the Supershot which contain much less grams of sugar. Although GoodBelly states that the sugar in their drinks keep the bacteria stable and happy in a non-dairy and acidic juice environment, I really try to stay away from sugar because I have too many family members with diabetes.
I have heard that Go Live has an amazing drink mix option that I have been dying to try. It is prebiotic and probiotic and can found on amazon by clicking here.
2. Digestive Enzymes for Eczema Treatment
If you are going to get your daily intake of probiotics then it would be a great idea to add digestive enzymes to your diet, especially if you do not have a dedicated raw food diet. Enzymes are a type of protein that will help you digest cooked and processed foods that you consume. I can’t tell you what to eat but I do not recommend processed foods by any means—they are the worst for your health! Anyway, there are three enzymes metabolic, food/plant and digestive. The food and plant enzymes are what I was referring to if you only eat raw foods because they naturally exist in them. Digestive enzymes are secreted by the salivary glands, stomach, pancreas and the small intestine. I would feel like I was committing a crime if I didn’t tell you to supplement this with your probiotics because it cleanses your system from allergic reactions and improves overall digestion. PuraDyme suggests that enzymes are “the spark of life that runs your entire body”. And if you can remember what I stated earlier in this article, allergies are one of the main causes of eczema; therefore, if enzymes cure allergies, couplimg them with probiotics is the perfect treatment for eczema. I cannot imagine you ever having any flares up again!
Forms of Enzymes
Again, I prefer to take supplements because I am unable to eat food all day. I also feel like I am getting my daily intake of enzymes; otherwise, I could get too busy and forget. Besides, I lack dedication when it comes to eating the same foods every day. There are times I miss breakfast, lunch or dinner—which I know is bad but at least I do have time to take all of my supplements. Therefore, I know I have all the healthy nutrients that my body is craving for. With that said, the best enzyme supplement in my opinion and many others is Now brand super enzymes found here.
If you rather consume nutrients thru food then that is great because honey has multiple enzymes. Some time ago I wrote about Manuka Honey and learned about the importance of enzymes. That honey is the healthiest! Honey can be added to your smoothies, food such as sweet potatoes and spread on peanut butter instead of jelly. Also, if you love fruit then consuming pineapple, papaya and mango should be fun. Eating those fruits make me want to go to a tropical place and just listen to the waves of the ocean.
3 & 4. Natural Topical Options for Eczema Treatment
First, I want to emphasize how important internal eczema treatment and prevention is because a natural topical cream is only going to clear the symptoms of eczema when you have an outbreak. This is not going to prevent eczema from recurring which is why I spent so much time on explaining the causes and remedies for a healthy digestive and immune system.
There are two things you can get that will be very helpful for quickly curing the irritating and unflattering symptoms of eczema. I am actually torn between the two and will do both because not all of my breakouts have been the same. Sometimes just putting Manuka Honey on the infected areas will stop the itching and sometimes burning sensation almost immediately. I will only use the honey if the area is small and minimal. If it is on my face and I am that I have to be somewhere, honey will obviously be too messy. In those situations, this all natural cream by Puriya is amazing! I started using that after the cream that my doctor prescribed me was almost gone. Plus, I am sure that Puriya Cream for Eczema is much healthier because it is all natural. You can get this wonder cream on amazon by clicking here. If you have other skin conditions, they will cure the symptoms of pretty much all of them, even rashes.