Eczema is a skin condition that causes inflammation of the skin. Atopic dermatitis is the most common kind of eczema which affects around 1 in 3 babies and 16% of Australians. For babies presenting with eczema, it is often only temporary and is outgrown as their skin develops. However, it is not uncommon for the skin condition to carry on into adulthood. Flare-ups of eczema can cause a lot of discomfort, itching, and inflammation.
What Are The Signs Of Eczema?
Eczema can affect any area of your body, and symptoms can come and go. A flare-up of eczema is when the condition becomes particularly inflamed, which can present symptoms such as:
- Red or brown patches of skin
- Severe itching
- Scaly skin
- Small bumps which can seep fluid
- Brittle patches of dried pus-like fluid
Aside from these uncomfortable and frustrating physical symptoms, eczema can also cause social anxiety and self-consciousness particularly for teens and adults as it often manifests in easily visible areas like the hands, arms, behind the knees, and cheeks. Eczema is not contagious, so if you think you have contracted eczema from someone else, it’s more likely that you have another skin condition.
What Causes Eczema?
While the root cause for eczema has not been confirmed, there are several culprits that researchers and doctors suspect, involving the following three factors.
Our immune systems are responsible for fighting off foreign bodies that they detect as potentially harmful like bacteria, viruses and infection. If your immune system is overworking itself in response to being exposed to mild triggers, it causes excess inflammation which can manifest itself as skin rashes like those seen in eczema.
Eosinophils are a part of your white blood cells which when they raise, they cause tissue irritation, inflammation and can drives eczema, asthma, dermatitis etc…
Gut health can influence many different components of your overall health, including your immune system, brain function, and hormone production. If you have a poor diet lacking in enough probiotics, prebiotics, micronutrients, and hydration, the chances are that you may have poor gut health. Ensuring you are looking after your gut by drinking enough water and maintaining a balanced diet may improve your immune response and prevent flare-ups. You can read more about the importance of gut health on our blog.
If you have too much bad bacteria or not enough good bacteria this can lead to leaky gut which in turn drives inflammation in your digestive tract. This inflammation can directly drive eczema. Naturopathically we often heal the gut to clear eczema and other skin conditions.
One of the main jobs of your liver is to clear toxins from your body. If your liver is struggling to effectively clear toxins it can often use the skin to help with toxin elimination. (The skin is our biggest elimination organ in our body.) If the skin is struggling to clear these toxins it can often cause irritations which will manifest in eczema. Supporting your liver function through improving gut health, eliminating food intolerances and nutritional liver support can result is elimination of eczema.
Eczema may also be triggered by food intolerances. Consuming certain foods may be causing irritation or inflammation by provoking an immune reaction. Aside from eczema, food intolerances can often cause other immune reactions like allergies, asthma, and arthritis. If you notice your symptoms becoming worse after consuming certain foods, it may be worth having a food intolerance test. In our experience food intolerances are a major driver of eczema and one which is often not considered by GPs.
Natural Treatment For Eczema
There are numerous treatments for eczema available. Applying hydrocortisone creams topically to the affected skin or taking prescription medication are both common methods that people use to try to manage their physical symptoms. Unfortunately, these kind of creams and medications often come with side effects like:
- Skin irritation
These topical treatments also do not treat the root cause of the symptoms, which is the irritants, immune response, and overall health.
A naturopathic approach considers all of these possible causes and develops a personalised treatment plan that focuses not only on alleviating symptoms but also on preventing flare-ups. We would look at how your gut, immune system, liver, stress and food intolerances combine to drive your eczema. WE look at ways to correct the underlying drivers of your eczema so that you correct the problem and not just mask it with steroids.
At Capalaba Natural Health, we offer food intolerance tests as well as naturopathy consultations in order to discover the trigger for your eczema. To find out more about how naturopathy can treat eczema naturally, contact us here or call us on 07 3823 3103.