Beach Metro Community News
Dry Skin or Something More Serious?
During these winter months, one of the most common complaints is dry, itchy skin. This is usually due to the drier air and to the heating indoors. However, there is a more serious, chronic condition that is becoming more and more prevalent today. This condition is called eczema or “atopic dermatitis” and it manifests as chronic itchiness of the skin, leading to scratching, rashes, and inflammation. Eczema can be aggravated by: eating allergenic foods, stress, irritants such as wool, jewellery, chemicals in laundry detergent, and even pollen and dust.
In Canada, approximately 12-25% of children suffer from eczema, while 10 to 15% of adults are afflicted with this condition. Furthermore, 40 to 50% of children with eczema also have other allergic conditions, such as asthma and/or hayfever.
Key to Treatment and Cure
One of the main things that we have to remember about eczema is that it is not just a “skin condition”, therefore, treating it from the outside will not result in a cure. The condition of your skin is a reflection of what is happening inside your body. If your main organs of elimination (liver, lungs, colon, kidneys, and the skin (through perspiration)) are not working optimally, then toxins will be forced to come out through the secondary sources of elimination – the skin (through rashes, acne, eczema, etc.) or the mucous membranes (in the form of allergic rhinitis or congestion). Therefore, any skin condition must always be treated from the inside out.
Identify/Eliminate Allergens and Decrease Inflammation
Because eczema is predominantly an allergic condition, one of the main focuses of treatment is to identify and eliminate any foods (or other allergens) that could be triggering the symptoms. Avoiding the most common food triggers of eczema, such as: dairy, wheat, eggs, soy, peanuts and shellfish can be beneficial, but you can also have other less common food allergies specific to you. Therefore, it is recommended to get a personalized food allergy blood test for more accuracy. Following an anti-inflammatory diet by increasing omega 3 fats such as those found in fish and flaxseed oil and decreasing bad fats in the diet is also helpful to alleviate symptoms.
Support the Immune System and the Nervous System
Along with avoiding the allergenic triggers, we must also balance the immune system (using nutrients and immune-balancing herbs) so that the body does not overreact to these triggers. Another factor which should be considered is an imbalance in the good and bad microorganisms in the body (dysbiosis). Research has indicated that dysbiosis is often related to allergy-related symptoms such as eczema. Studies have also shown that eczema and itchiness are very closely related to the nervous system. This is why it is often aggravated by stress. Stress management (exercise, yoga, massage, deep breathing) and adequate sleep is often helpful for patients with eczema.
Ensure Optimal Function of Primary Elimination Organs
Liver and kidney support is also essential as we must ensure that these organs are working optimally to clear out toxins from the body and to prevent itchiness. Regular bowel movements should also be encouraged, as a backup of toxins in the digestive system can also cause toxins to be released through the skin.
Treating the Eczema Patient
As we are treating the eczema from the inside, we must also do our best to manage the condition on the outside, without suppressing the symptoms. It is often very tempting to try to mask the symptoms by applying topical steroids which do not address the root of the problem and will only make the condition worse in the end.
For eczema patients, it is also important to prevent infections. Parents should try to keep children occupied so that they are distracted from scratching. Also keep hands clean and fingernails short to further prevent against infection. Do not use very hot water for bathing and remember to moisturize immediately after. Avoid using harsh chemical detergents or antibacterial soaps which breakdown the integrity of the skin barrier. Use natural, unscented detergents and soaps instead.
Finally, eczema is one of those conditions that can be very frustrating for the patient or the parents as aggravations or flare ups can often occur during the course of treatment. However, by treating the cause and supporting the body, the eczema can be cured, as the body discovers its inherent ability to heal.
Note: This article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace proper diagnosis and treatment by a qualified healthcare professional.