Sensitive skin: Eczema -dermatitis-Psoriasis
Healthful natural rx inside and out
What is Atopic skin condition? – or eczema and psoriasis similar skin conditions on an allergic skin continuum .If you have it it means you are more sensitive to changes in weather, things you touch and eat. It is not an illness that we can give a medicine and it does not come back. Think of it like a life long condition. Like being allergic to cats. You have to keep constant maintenance of your skin and vigilance regarding irritants to control the severity. Being aware of your personal irritants is the best approach to helping maintain healthy skin. Changing your lifestyle, your habits, what you eat, touch, and what touches you are the cornerstones of minimizing long term inflammatory flare ups and progressive eczema and psoriasis. Like anything else we discuss please check with your physician or Pediatrician before making any changes or starting treatments natural or otherwise. This post involves a more natural approach to Atopic skin. There are many useful and successful medical treatments that your physician and Dermatologist can prescribe for successful dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis care. These modalities including the standard skin maintenance with moisturizers and cortisone creams are very useful and I advocate their use for relief and treatment when the lifestyle I suggest below is less than adequate. . Sticking to a rigorous natural regimen is not practical or possible for everyone. Getting the best and timeliest medical care is more often than not the best choice when you or children are suffering with significant atopic skin.
Like any other condition it is important to find the source of the problems not just treating the symptoms.
These conditions can start at birth. We get a hint of things to come with babies that show signs of sensitive skin. Namely rashes, bad infant acne. Dry skin. Etc.
With the help of one of my patient’s moms who suffers tremendously from psoriasis and keeps her daughter as healthy as possible I have developed a go-to outline of natural eczema skin care. All the below also apply to breastfeeding moms as well.
[Always seek medical advice for any severe reaction or before starting any new treatment whether it is labeled natural or not].
Main points of interest for skin care:
- Eliminate and limit-anything you touch, eat, or wear could irritate your skin.
- Foods- eat healthier-cleaner. Natural food changes and anti inflammatory diet are helpful
- Cream- natural organic aloe products, and healthy oils. Moisturize consistently.
- Gentle soap- olive oil soap, oatmeal bar
- Reduce stress-exercise, yoga, meditate.
Details on each point below. Scroll down to the end for more information on eczema conditions.
1.Eliminate and limit
- Allergic foods and products and irritants. Review your diet and see what change or new food could be causing a recent skin flare up ( something you might have been eating more of lately)
- Stay away from all creams and lotions with scents for you or your children ( remember anything you touch can be an irritant if you don’t wash your hands and then go on to touch yourself or your children) Cleaning solutions, perfumes, soaps, foods, oils. etc. are all are potential irritants).
- Clothes and sheets should be made of plain untreated cotton.
- Stay cool. Inside air conditioning if possible
2. Foods changes- improve your diet, include foods herbs and teas that heal
- Eat healthier- generally processed, fried, sugar dairy, meat, all contribute to atopic skin .
- Increase fiber to help keep your bowel and toxins flowing through and not absorbed
- Make sure you and your children are hydrated. When the weather is hot and humid drink more.
- Refine your anti inflammatory diet-increase organic colorful foods, greens, purples, oranges, yellows.
- Increase healing, immune enhancing, anti inflammatory spices particularly the main ones turmeric, garlic, ginger, cinnamon,chili peppers, and oregano.
- Teas are helpful in calming inflammation -green and red teas, chamomile tea,
- Start a probiotic or adjust the amount of probiotic.to maximize it’s immune support and bowel proctection
- Oils to take for additional anti inflammatory and immune support- fish oil , flaxseed oil, black currant oil.
- Vitamin D3- seems like everyone is deficient in vitamin d and may help with eczema.
3.Creams lotions skin soothing support
- Use California baby aloe cream or other organic aloe products..
- Calendula cream reduces inflammation of skin, as well as lavender,chamomile, and rosemary based creams.
- Coconut oil or coconut butter on skin has been shown to help. Also linseed and primrose oil.
- Bathe in Earth Mama Baby Angel (no fragrance), Other fragrance free bath agents generally made of natural ingredients like oatmeal.
- Healing Tree natural first aid anti itch cream helps with the scratching.
- Vitamin E can also have anti inflammatory and soothing effect.
4.Soaps detergents water
- Use olive oil soap bar or oatmeal bar for bathing
- Limit bathing and swimming when skin is irritated. Water tends to dry the skin out.
- Only use gentle natural clothes detergent. Baby detergents, even soap free.
Well known that stress can exacerbate most illness including eczema and psoriasis
- Meditate and become mindful of what sets you and your skin off. Big events and life changes as well as illness can be the instigator of a breakdown in immune defenses including skin changes
- Exercise- always has a positive and mood lifting effect
- Do something you love. Read, travel, cook, calm your internal and external flames with peaceful activities.
- Yoga is built around exercising and mindfully paying attention to your body.
For more severe cases resistant to the above or medical treatments including steroids, the suggestions below may be helpful in improving your atopic skin condition and boosting your immune system.
- Clean healthy vegan diet – no oil, no salt, no sugar,( possibly gluten free) – Switch to a soil based vegan probiotic .
- Nutritional yeast to help immune protection
- Take lauricidin, an immune booster to support good response to illness and challenges to your system.
- Gluten free diet.
- Eliminate nuts and seeds
- Raw Shea butter lotion.
Genetic- it’s difficult to get past your family tree. Generally speaking children and individuals with atopic profile , sensitive, allergic skin, have first degree relatives, parents, siblings,uncles , aunts, grandparents with similar symptoms
Atopic allergic – from the foods you eat to the perfume you wear many things can be irritants and elicit a skin reaction . Usually more sensitive to bug bites, and skin contact with scents and creams.
Seasonal weather- many people have dry itchy exacerbations or their eczema during cold season. In climates such as South Florida the dramatic change in temperature in the winter and the heat and humidity in the summer are the two more prevalent times for eczema patients seeking treatment.
Even babies react to change in temperature, over bundling, creams and lotions.
Man made diet- poor inflammatory eating habits especially dairy, processed
foods, eating specific-allergic foods.
Water makes most atopic skin conditions worse by drying it out. Limit the bathing , especially for babies to few times a week. For older children and adults quick shower with room temperature water not very warm .
Summers are a particularly bad time for sensitive skin with sunscreen, swimming , lots of showers, sweating , hot cars, intense sun,and insect repellent
What we touch and what touches us
Chemicals in our clothes, hands, lips, sheets, pillow cases. Even the car seat, couch. Your clothing material on your baby’s face. When you are cooking or eating and then touch your skin or that or your child’s .
Pay attention to all ingredients when applying to yourself or your child. Lotion detergent perfumes . sunscreen , etc.
[Wash all members of the family’s clothes in gentle detergent so whoever rubs up against you or holds the baby will not cause irritation
Always wash your hands before handling your children and baby and your face particularly if they have sensitive atopic skin Anything you or anyone who touches your children touch can be an irritant ( perfumes, cologne, insect repellent). What you touch touches them, when you are cooking – all the foods you touch can be an irritant.
Every towel cloth napkin wipe that you use has ingredients and previous irritants that could be the culprit
Try to stay cool as much a possible when the sensitive skin is acting up, moisturize vigilantly in am, after swimming, immediately after bathing.
Pay attention to the part of the body that is most affected- scalp, arms, shoulders, behind knees.
Think about something that might have been new or has ingredients that are not being tolerated, new shampoo, hot seat in the car.
The more natural the better. The less added chemicals and scents the better. Try to find products free and clear of anything but the essential ingredient .
For instance in sunscreen the two main ingredients in all natural products are titanium and zinc oxide which are considered safe and usually not a source of irritation for dermatitis sufferers
Eating healthy makes a difference. If you look at eczema ( atopic dermatitis) as the inflammatory process, it is easier to understand how anything you do or eat that would disrupt your body’s health and cause more inflammation would make your eczema worse. As in my other posts, the approach here is to be organic, natural, healthy and limit your sources of inflammation to limit your inflammatory conditions of which eczema is a prime example of one.
Warren Krantz MD, FAAP