All You Need to Know About Eczema
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, can occur at any age, even as early as a few weeks after birth. It commonly presents as itchy, red, and flaking skin, which may look like inflamed and oozing areas anywhere on the body, usually at the creases of the elbows, knees, and groin. It can later appear on the face, scalp, and behind the ears.
Remember the widespread use of antimicrobials? Well, turns out it may not be so helpful! When we protect, or try to protect, our children from every single germ possible, we’re not allowing their immune systems to develop and mature. This causes their system to be constantly triggered by environmental factors – food, dust, pollen, chemicals, etc. As their immune system is triggered, it causes widespread problems such as inflammation, redness, and much more.
Conventional treatments for eczema, usually consisting of steroids or anti-histamines, are often prescribed to children, and while they can lessen the symptoms and provide some relief, they don’t allow for the complete resolution of the underlying issue. For sustainable change in our health, we need to get to the root cause of the concern. Remember, eczema is a symptom of the body not in balance; a message the body is trying to communicate to us loud and clear!
If your child is suffering from eczema, here are a few easy tips on how to protect their skin:
- Trim fingernails, to reduce bleeding and potential infection caused by scratching
- Avoid anything that seems to make the symptoms worse (food, clothing, creams, etc.)
- Avoid hot showers or baths
- Keep a cool environment
A few holistic ways to re-establish a healthy immune balance, correct nutritional deficiencies and care for the skin to be considered are:
- Food elimination: Eczema most commonly presents as a symptom of food sensitivities, specifically dairy, gluten, eggs, and citrus fruits. Eliminating them from your child’s diet (or yours if you’re breastfeeding), may result in clear skin.
- Irritating ingredients: Be mindful of what is coming into contact with your child’s skin. Personal products that contain fragrance, parabens, or sodium laureth sulphate can be especially irritating to sensitive children, so be sure to dispose of them! Check the EWG’s Skin Deep database to see healthy alternatives for these products.
- Probiotics: A large part of our immune system is localized to our gut! Children with eczema are often thought to have unhealthy bacteria leading to symptoms such as irritated skin. Feeding our healthy bacteria will help repopulate it and modulate the immune response.
- Sunlight: Sunlight helps our bodies produce Vitamin D – an essential vitamin for the immune system! Get outside and experience these natural benefits for a little while – just try to avoid the direct sun exposure between 10am-2pm, and don't stay out in the sun for long periods of times.
- Fish oil: A good quality fish oil with high EPA to DHA ratio, will help decrease inflammatory processes within the body. Check with your health care provider for appropriate dosage in kids.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory, thereby reducing symptoms like itchy and red skin.
- Calendula cream: The marigold flower contains a variety of botanical properties that helps relieve itching and burning, and promotes healing of the skin.
- Oatmeal bath: Wrap 1 cup of oatmeal in a cheesecloth or nylon pantyhose, tie it with an elastic or string, and let it soak in the bath under lukewarm running water. Letting your child soak in this bath, washing their body with the compress to help relieve itchy skin.
Although you may feel helpless when you see your child in discomfort, using these recommendations will help your child’s skin and immune system get back on track by addressing the underlying issue! If symptoms persist. visit your local naturopathic or family doctor for further guidance.