In the medical world, the word natural can mean a plethora of things. Some people imagine a witch doctor deep in the Amazon while others see a new revolution in the medical community fighting against big drug companies. I’m sure you know someone on each side of the extremes: someone who believes strongly in essential oils, foot-zone therapy, and natural healing versus someone who panics when they hear the word, thinking the devil has been summoned. So who is right? As is usually the case with extremes, they’re both right… and wrong.
If you’ve done any research on eczema treatment you’ve probably found the same two extremes. There are those who encourage heavy usage of steroid creams while there are others who suggest avoiding steroids like the plague while employing a change in diet coupled with a steady supply of different oils and herbs to the irritated skin. The right answer is almost certainly in the middle somewhere. Here is our guide to natural eczema treatment.
These simple lifestyle changes are aimed at eliminating the things that cause flare-ups and irritation:
- Wear non-irritating clothing, like cotton and silk
- Minimize stress as much as possible
- Bathe as frequently as you would like, but avoid excessively hot water and some soaps
- If you must use soap, use a soap that has an acidic pH so as to optimize the production of lipids in the skin. Do not use antibacterial soaps.
- Sleep with a humidifier on in your room
- Apply a very thick, heavy skin lipid-replacement cream or ointment at least twice a day. Studies have show that the use of a non-toxic and hypoallergenic moisturizer can actually prevent the onset of atopic dermatitis and asthma.
What Are Real Natural Treatments?
Unfortunately there isn’t one right answer, but try a combination of these until you get results:
1. Repair your skin barrier
Use a natural ointment or cream aimed at fixing your skin barrier with skin lipids. Be sure to use products that have cholesterol esters and not cholesterol. The skin of atopic dermatitis has too much cholesterol and is low on cholesterol esters.
2. Address the pH
Make sure that all lotions and creams are optimized to the ideal skin pH of 4.6 to 5.6. If the pH is higher than this, it will actually slow down the production of the skin lipid barrier, slow down healing and may encourage the growth of Staph. aureus. Ointments don’t have a pH so you don’t need to worry about the pH issue there. Ointments are great at sealing the skin off so it can do its job of manufacturing more lipids so the skin barrier can heal.
3. Address the inflammation
The gold standard anti-inflammatory solution is a topical steroid. There are however, other options. Ingredients like Niacinamide and 18-B glycyrrhetinic acid (from licorice root) have been shown to be effective in treating atopic dermatitis and eczema. If these are not strong enough however, don’t be afraid to use topical steroids if you need them.
4. Avoid chemical allergens and toxins
Eczema-prone skin is particularly prone to developing allergies to chemicals that come in contact with the skin, especially fragrances and preservatives. In general, it is a good idea to use the most hypoallergenic products you can find so as to prevent the development of allergies over time.
5. Address the susceptibility to Staph. Infection
If your skin is crusty, bleeding or scabby at all, this is often a sign that there is too much Staph. Aureus (bacteria) growing on the skin and that the skin barrier CANNOT heal because of it. In this case, I recommend that you use a bleach bath to decrease the amount of Staph. on the skin.
- If you have a normal-sized tub that is filled ½ way, then use ¼ cup of bleach. If it is ¼ full, then use 1/8 cup of bleach. Hang out in the water for at least a few minutes and then rinse off.
- If you do not want to take a bleach bath, there are a few new products on the market that are kind of like a bleach bath in a bottle; NcLN
6. Eliminate the oozing
If you skin is particularly wet and oozing, consider taking a vinegar bath to help draw out infection. I usually recommend about six cups of vinegar to a half full tub every day when the skin is particularly bad.
7. Be cautious with Essential Oils
These have not been tested or proven to work. Ingredients are not regulated and you never know exactly what you’re getting. Many of them are irritants or allergens themselves.