Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It's estimated that approximately 10-20% of the population has some form of eczema, and it can affect individuals of all ages, races, and genders.
Eczema is characterized by red, itchy, and inflamed skin that can appear anywhere on the body. It typically starts in infancy and childhood, with about 60% of cases developing in the first year of life. Common areas for eczema to occur include the face, neck, hands, and feet, but it can also appear on other parts of the body.
Eczema symptoms can vary in severity and can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include dry and scaly skin, intense itching, redness, and inflammation. In severe cases, the skin may become thickened and cracked, which can cause bleeding and infection.
Causes of Eczema
The exact cause of eczema is not yet fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic, diet and environmental factors. People with a family history of eczema, asthma, or allergies are more likely to develop the condition. Other factors that can trigger eczema include foods, exposure to certain chemicals or irritants, stress and changes in temperature or humidity.
Eczema is also sometimes referred to as “the itch that rashes.” This term refers to the fact that intense itching often precedes the development of a rash or skin lesions.
Natural Treatments for Eczema
Run a Food Sensitivity Test. Eczema can be allergic in nature, and food sensitivities are a very common cause of skin conditions including eczema. Once food sensitivities are identified, keeping them out of the diet can drastically improve eczema symptoms.
Use Probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help improve gut health and reduce inflammation. They may also be helpful in managing eczema symptoms. Incorporate probiotic-rich foods like kefir, or kimchi into your diet or take a probiotic supplement. But avoid any of these foods that you're sensitive to!
Take Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of eczema treatment. They help to maintain the skin's natural moisture barrier, which can help to prevent dryness and improve the texture and appearance of the skin. Eating a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, can help to improve the health of the skin (as long as you’re not sensitive to these foods).
Take Vitamin D. It has several important effects on the immune system. According to a systematic review conducted in 2018, which analyzed 21 publications, individuals with lower levels of vitamin D tend to experience more severe eczema symptoms. Moreover, in 67% of people, supplementation was found to improve eczema symptoms. Similarly, an earlier review conducted in 2016 also supports the notion that vitamin D supplements can mitigate eczema severity and that they are a safe and well-tolerated treatment option.
Moisturize. Keeping the skin moisturized is one of the most important things you can do to manage eczema. Choose a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer and apply it regularly to prevent dryness and itching. Coconut oil is an excellent moisturizer for this. It can help reduce inflammation and soothe eczema symptoms. Apply a small amount to the affected area and massage gently.
Soak in Oatmeal Baths. Oatmeal is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe and moisturize the skin. Add a cup of oatmeal to a warm bath and soak for 15-20 minutes for symptomatic relief.
Eczema treatment begins with identifying and removing food sensitivities, and adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet in general. Supplementing with Vitamin D, Omega-3 fats and probiotics can reduce skin inflammation that’s responsible for eczema.Keep the skin well moisturized and avoid chemical detergents on any clothing or linens that come in contact with the skin.