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Eczema: Finding the root cause and providing natural treatments for symptom relief

Jul 31, 2023 | Blog, Gut Health

If you suffer from eczema, you probably know how uncomfortable and inconvenient the condition is. But did you know that the root cause of eczema could be coming from the gut. Yep—the gut. Keep reading.  

 

Eczema is a common skin condition characterized by itchy, dry, and irritated skin. It typically starts during infancy or childhood but can persist into adulthood and it affects people of all ethnicities and ages. Complications of eczema may include:

 

  • Sleep troubles. Persistently itchy skin can cause difficulty getting a good night’s rest.
  • Skin infections. Frequent scratching of affected areas can leave the skin open to bacteria.
  • Thick scaly skin. Scratching causes skin to harden and thicken.
  • Asthma and hay fever. Patients with eczema often also experience upper respiratory conditions, especially in children younger than 12.

 

Eczema can appear anywhere but is normally seen on the arms, inner elbows, cheeks, and scalp.

 

Thankfully, the symptoms of eczema can be managed through simple home remedies and lifestyle changes. But in addition to this, identifying and fixing the root cause is always the ultimate goal. 

 

What Causes Eczema?

 

The precise cause of eczema isn’t entirely known, however, research shows a few potential causes such as an overactive immune system, the inability to produce enough of a protein called filaggrin, which helps keep the skin moisturized and healthy, as well as poor gut health.

 

The gut-skin axis

 

An imbalance in the gut or skin microbiome is known as dysbiosis. This is characterized by too many bad species of bacteria in the gut, not enough good species or not enough diversity of species of bacteria in the system. In people with eczema, dysbiosis may be the root cause.  

 

With dysbiosis it is likely that the immune system is detecting harmful levels of these bad microbes on the skin and reacting to them. Therefore dysbiosis and eczema can create a vicious cycle of inflammation that perpetuates symptoms.

 

Those who suffer with intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, may also suffer from eczema since they lack the beneficial species of bacteria that produce byproducts that help the intestinal barrier work more effectively.

 

External irritants

 

When the skin is exposed to an external or internal irritant, the immune system overreacts. These common eczema irritants include toxins such as:

 

  • Chemicals or preservatives found in soaps or detergents
  • Scented products
  • Cigarette smoke

 

Other external irritants include: 

 

  • Allergies to pollen, dust, mold or mites
  • Rough and scratchy material such as wool
  • Synthetic fabrics
  • Temperature changes
  • Stress
  • Food allergies

 

Natural Treatments For Eczema  

 

During an eczema flare up, there are numerous natural remedies that can provide relief. 

Here are a few we recommend:

 

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil contains fatty acids that help add moisture to the skin. It also is known to protect the skin by combating inflammation and strengthening the skin barrier. Studies have found the use of coconut oil for eight weeks improves eczema symptoms. Using coconut oil is simple. Just apply pressed or virgin coconut oil to the skin after bathing, once or twice a day.

 

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is another topical treatment that can be beneficial for soothing eczema symptoms. Studies have found it to be antibacterial, antimicrobial, immune-boosting, and wound-healing. These properties will help promote healing on eczema skin.  You should aim to find an aloe vera product with few ingredients — avoid preservatives, alcohol, fragrance and dyes which may further irritate the skin. Natural aloe is clear, not green!

 

Colloidal oatmeal

Also known as avena sativa, it is made from oats that have been ground and boiled and is commonly used to treat irritated skin. Studies have found colloidal oatmeal to be highly efficacious at healing and soothing skin dryness, scaling, and itching.

 

Dietary changes and gut health assessment

Certain foods can cause inflammation in the body, which may in turn trigger an eczema flare-up. Making a few dietary changes can help prevent the occurrence of these flares. 

Add anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, such as: fish, leafy greens, colorful fruits, turmeric and cinnamon.

Avoid inflammatory foods like dairy, eggs, soy, and wheat as they can be common triggers for eczema prone skin.

It is also highly recommended to get a thorough gut health assessment from a qualified practitioner because, as mentioned earlier, poor gut health is likely to be a trigger for eczema. Treatments for both dysbiosis and leaky gut can lead to dramatic improvements in skin health.  

 

Vitamins and supplements

 

These can be useful for lowering inflammation and boosting the immune system. Common vitamins and supplements to manage eczema include:

  • Vitamin D, an immune strengthening vitamin
  • Fish oil
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Prebiotics and probiotics
  • Melatonin to ensure good sleep
  • Turmeric
  • Primrose oil

 

Reduce stress

 

Stress is another well-known trigger for eczema symptoms to flare up. Stress produces inflammation in the body, and inflammation underlies the condition. Try reducing stress through one or more of the following:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Listening to relaxing music
  • Journaling (my favorite) 
  • Ensure you get a good night’s sleep (I’m currently obsessed with getting an 85 or better for my Oura ring sleep score) 

 

Use gentle soaps and detergents

 

Laundry detergents, body washes, and soaps often contain harsh detergents and lathering agents that can dry out the skin of people with eczema among other harmful, hormone disrupting ingredients. Be sure to use natural, gentle, no-lather cleansers that have no fragrance. Many people who suffer from eczema find that this helps their symptoms.

Eczema is a common skin condition that can vary in severity. The cure is identifying and fixing the root cause, which  frequently starts in the gut.  In addition, you can treat the symptoms of eczema using natural home remedies and simple lifestyle changes. Avoiding irritants, minimizing stress and maximizing skin hydration will help keep your eczema at bay and allow you to live comfortably in your own skin. 

 

Eradicate Eczema By Fixing the Root Cause 

 

For more information on dealing with eczema the natural way and finding the root cause, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Our root cause approach to wellness treats many conditions and eczema is no exception.  

 

Free Workshop on Gut Health & More

 

Do you suspect you might have gut dysbiosis or another gut related health condition that could be contributing your eczema? Join me, Dr. Libby Wilson for an upcoming free workshop to learn about how I treat the gut and more. Click Here to Register

 

Sources

 

Zagórska-Dziok M, Furman-Toczek D, Dudra-Jastrzębska M, Zygo K, Stanisławek A, Kapka-Skrzypczak L. Evaluation of clinical effectiveness of Aloe vera – a review. J Pre Clin Clin Res. 2017;11(1):86-93. doi:10.26444/jpccr/74577.

 

Reynertson KA, Garay M, Nebus J, Chon S, Kaur S, Mahmood K, Kizoulis M, Southall MD. Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015 Jan;14(1):43-8. PMID: 25607907.

 

Lambers H, Piessens S, Bloem A, Pronk H, Finkel P. Natural skin surface pH is on average below 5, which is beneficial for its resident flora. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2006 Oct;28(5):359-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2494.2006.00344.x. PMID: 18489300.

 

Intahphuak S, Khonsung P, Panthong A. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil. Pharm Biol. 2010 Feb;48(2):151-7. doi: 10.3109/13880200903062614. PMID: 20645831.

 

Katta R, Schlichte M. Diet and dermatitis: food triggers. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 Mar;7(3):30-6. PMID: 24688624; PMCID: PMC3970830.

 

Kim SO, Ah YM, Yu YM, Choi KH, Shin WG, Lee JY. Effects of probiotics for the treatment of atopic dermatitis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2014 Aug;113(2):217-26. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2014.05.021. Epub 2014 Jun 20. PMID: 24954372.

 

Park H, Kim K. Association of Perceived Stress with Atopic Dermatitis in Adults: A Population-Based Study in Korea. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016 Jul 27;13(8):760. doi: 10.3390/ijerph13080760. PMID: 27472355; PMCID: PMC4997446.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916842/

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