I am often asked about which products work best for eczema.
Having had eczema since I was a child, I know there is no quick fix.
Even if I eat right, and do everything that I should; I am still susceptible to flair ups. All I can do is manage the flair ups as best as I can.
The best way to deal with this skin condition is to identify what triggers a reaction. There are many known triggers for eczema, and what triggers you may not trigger another person prone to a similar eczema reaction. This trick is to become a sleuth and start noticing what your body reacts to.
To start with, here is a list of items/symptoms to look out for:
Skin care products
Foods (typically foods that stimulate your nervous system or increase inflammation )
Environmental stimulants (contact allergies, fumes, dust etc.)
The next step is to identify exactly what ingredient or factor within
these categories is triggering the flair up and eliminate it completely
from your environment.
As sensitive people, we are increasingly at risk to chemicals or stimulants that don’t work for us personally. Chemicals come in natural and unnatural forms, so don’t just look at artificial or synthetics.
The following are common irritants that have now been eliminated from most sensitive-skin formulas. You can also find a lot of information on Google; here are some of the most common.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphates
Found in foaming soaps, shampoos, dish washing liquids, and even toothpaste. Keep an eye out. Remember, just because it foams, does not necessarily equal clean. We have been conditioned by the media to think that bubbles are good. “Bubbling” agents potentially strip the
skin of the good oils that work to form a protective layer on our skin, called the acid mantle. When these oils are stripped away, the skin has trouble protecting itself and gets damaged. This is why some sufferers get red and itchy from these ingredients.
Preservatives, Additives, and Fragrances
Some preservatives and additives can also irritate your skin (I will post a blog later this month on potentially irritating ingredients for you to look out for. In the meantime, purchase products that are designed for sensitive skin, as these have been formulated with fewer
known irritants). Artificial fragrances tend to irritate all sensitive wee poppets through their respiratory system and skin. Even essential oils have chemical components that can cause harm, so it’s best to go fragrance free if you can.
I’ve found that the simplest way to identify any potential triggers is to look at the ingredient list. If a product has a long list of ingredients and its designed to sit on a shelf forever, then steer clear!
Going clean and staying away from processed foods is a good start. I also advocate sufferers to look at an elimination diet. An elimination diet will take you back to basics (fresh vegetables and plain proteins) and then invite you to add in certain foods one at a time to
see if you notice a change in your health. A good naturopath can help you with a plan and offer a simple diet plan for you.
I can’t stress enough the importance of reading the ingredient list! Fresh is best; grown organic or through permaculture principles will ensure you are eating heritage and chemical free.
Food is also an important source of nourishment. If our food sources are pure, we have a much better chance of living a comfortable life, without itchy, scratchy skin. As an advocate of permaculture (I will be blogging more about this in the next few months), I believe growing your own food is the cheapest and most satisfying option for our families and our environment. The biggest bonus of growing your own food is you have organic home grown food at half the price and no preservatives. If you can pull in a few neighbours too, you have a wonderful organic source and a variety of foods for your families.
Topical Skin Care
Your skin is a living organ. As a dermal therapist with sensitive skin issues, I am particularly interested in the protective layer of the skin called the acid mantle.
This acid mantle is responsible for ensuring the skin’s PH balance stays normal, it stops bacteria from entering into our skin tissue, and also keeps the skin hydrated and moisturised.
If this acid mantle is compromised in any way, the skin starts to become what we call reactive. It is reacting to something in our environment (or our internal environment), which is getting through the skin’s external barrier. Lets say for example, we use a washing powder that is high in unnatural fragrance. Using myself as an example here, if I wear clothes that have been washed in a formulation that is not designed for sensitive skin, my skin starts to get itchy, red, and irritated. Boom, I have an eczema flair.
The trick in dealing with eczema is in trying to reduce exposure to potential skin irritants to that protective layer of skin. The not so easy trick is to also identify any internal triggers, such as food intolerances or stress.
As skin is my forte, I understand that not all natural skin treatments work for everyone, and different formulations work best for different people. This is why our focus for The Stillroom products is on diagnosis first. The function of a good topical skin treatment for both eczema and psoriasis is to help the skin’s protective barrier.
Eczema treatments usually are balms of some sort, and will act as an occlusive temporary barrier, while the skin’s own protective barrier is trying to repair itself.
Be careful of blends that include artificial fragrances and ingredients or essential oils that are not understood by a fully qualified aroma therapist. I say this as not all natural oils are good for the skin and when the skin is cracked and compromised, we do not want to be feeding essential oils or carrier oils onto our skin that may cause further irritation to the acid mantle.
Sadly, there is no cure for eczema, and what works for one person may not work for another. The good news is, that with just a few tweaks to your lifestyle here and there, you will be able eliminate potential irritants, which will allow your skin to heal itself and lessen reactive eruptions.
As always, we are only a click away, so feel free to send us photos via messenger or email so we can help to guide you to the best products or treatments available to you.