Gentle, natural and non-toxic remedies to treat eczema

If you struggle with eczema, you know too well that it’s not only unsightly, it’s desperately uncomfortable. You’ve tried everything conventional medicine has to offer and still can’t control your red, raw and raging skin. Steroid cream probably worked for a while. You put it on your skin and get some much-needed relief. But it only suppresses the itch without addressing the cause, so no wonder the symptoms are soon back with a vengeance. It’s time to explore natural remedies to treat eczema.

Side effects of steroid cream

Topical steroids have a number of side-effects. First, they thin the skin and may cause discoloured patches and stretch-marks. Secondly, they reduce local immunity. This leaves your skin defenceless against infections. Thirdly, the cream itself can trigger burning, itching, swelling and redness. This reaction aggravates symptoms you are trying to relieve. And finally, long-term topical steroid use leads to increased tolerance, meaning you need more and more to achieve the same effect. Plus, if you discontinue topical steroids, you experience withdrawal symptoms. This is the very definition of addiction. Red Skin Syndrome (RSS), Topical Steroid Addiction (TSA) and Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW) are debilitating side-effects of prolonged topical steroid use. What happens is that your skin simply goes ballistic. The International Topical Steroid Awareness Network offers a lot of information about these dreadful conditions.

Patients who no longer respond to topical steroids may get tacrolimus or pimecrolimus ointment from their doctor. It acts by suppressing local immune response and has been linked to increased risk of skin cancer and lymphoma. Doesn’t sound like a good trade-off to me.

Gut health and eczema

Eczema is a very common condition affecting up to 30% of children and 10% of adults. I treat a lot of eczema cases in my practice, and in my experience, addressing gut health is crucial for successful eczema treatment. There are many studies that show a link between microbiome and atopic disease. I also often find that there is a genetic component in most cases I see. Atopic conditions such as hay-fever, asthma, and allergies run in the family. Fortunately, homeopathy is able to address the root of the problem. As a result, it’s very effective in helping people who suffer from eczema, even though it’s considered incurable by mainstream medicine.

In addition to remedies, I recommend a number of natural approaches to help with the symptoms.

Natural remedies for eczema relief
  • Dietary approach: eat foods high in essential fatty acids such as flax or hemp seed oil, avocado, wild salmon. Drink plenty of water. Include bone broth and fermented foods. Reduce the amount of refined sugar, gluten and dairy. Eggs, soy, food additives and spices are also common triggers. Try a six weeks elimination diet, it may help to identify possible irritants.
  • Supplements: vitamin C with bioflavonoids, vitamins E, A, B complex and Zinc. Healthy sun exposure and fermented cod liver oil help increase vitamin D. Take good quality probiotics. Borage oil and blackcurrant seed oil are great sources of GLA, which helps fight inflammation.
  • Skin care: avoid parabens and petroleum products, as these are known carcinogens and xenoestrogens. Petroleum-based creams are occlusive, denying air flow, and may lead to more dryness and skin cracking.
  • Healthy alternatives for skin care: calendula oil, lavender oil, borage oil, chickweed oil, evening primrose oil. Experiment with lanolin- and water-based creams to see what works for you. Shea butter is another option to use as a base.
  • Oatmeal bath: bath with homemade oatmeal bags is very soothing and softens the skin. And a little tip – use the bag instead of soap to wash your baby.

Eczema can make your life hell. There is no doubt about it. It’s no wonder that most people who come to see me are at the end of their tether. Having a baby or a child who suffers from eczema is often a perpetual nightmare. Time and time again I hear the same story from moms. Night after night, they lie awake listening to their child tearing their skin to pieces. I am fortunate that I can help people with this struggle. It’s never a quick and easy fix, and it takes time but we can definitely help your skin.