Eczema is a chronic skin disorder characterized by scaly itchy skin.
Symptoms of eczema may include:
- Blisters with oozing and crusting
- Ear discharge or bleeding
- Raw areas of the skin from scratching
- Redness and inflammation
- Thickened or leather-like areas
Eczema is due to a hypersensitivity reaction and is similar to an allergy. This allergic reaction in the skin leads to long-term inflammation of the skin. Eczema is most common in infants and some people seem to grow out of it as they get older. A naturopathic view of eczema is that it is a sign of inflammation in the body and adults who “grow out of it” have simply started to store inflammation in other areas other than the skin.
Children with eczema often have asthma and/or allergies as well. These are all inflammatory issues and the key to managing them naturally is to discern a root cause or underlying issue that is allowing the inflammation to inundate the skin, lungs or upper respiratory tract.
Many things can make asthma worse including allergies, illness, contact with rough materials, sleep issues, stress, fragrances and digestive problems. Naturopathic doctors believe that eczema is most often related with bowel health. The digestive system regulates inflammation and if there is an issue in the digestive tract such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating and/or food allergies, the result will be the body storing inflammation in the skin.
One of the first signs of inflammation in an infant is cradle cap. If the cause of the cradle cap is not address, the next sign is often eczema. If the cause of the eczema is not identified, the next sign is often allergies and/or asthma. We know that these early inflammatory signs identify children who are at higher risk for heart disease as adults so it is very important to work at figuring out the underlying root cause of eczema, reparing the digestive tract and removing the inflammation effectively from the body.
Natural Tips for managing eczema:
- Identify and remove food allergies – common foods include dairy, gluten, citrus
- Give your child essentially fatty acids
- Use probiotics to help get rid of inflammation and improve digestion
- Topically, castor oil helps many children with eczema – this should never be given orally because it causes severe diarrhea
- St. Francis Red Clover salve is also an excellent topical treatment