Eczema – What’s Below the Surface?

Every day we see people come into the Dispensary seeking relief for eczema; a dry, itchy, inflamed rash of the skin that often has no easily identifiable cause. It affects 1 in 3 New Zealanders at some stage of their lives and is especially common in children.

Topical products such as creams and ointments can offer relief of dryness & itchiness, for example our naturopaths formulated our Eczema Relief Cream specifically for management of eczema. It contains herbs which may help to reduce inflammation in the skin and the likelihood of infection, as well as specific oils to help repair the skin’s barrier. We often recommend this followed by an ointment such as Manuka & Kawakawa or Calendula & Hemp to seal in the moisture and create a barrier.

However, topical treatments only manage symptoms. It is vital to consider the causes & drivers of your eczema and work to address these. The below are the most common we see:

Food Intolerances

Food intolerances are less obvious than food allergies but can build up over time and result in inflammation in the body, including the skin. The two most common culprits for eczema are dairy and gluten. Although we recommend that with any long-term dietary change you seek advice from a qualified practitioner, you can safely trial cutting our dairy and/or gluten for a few weeks initially to see if this improves your symptoms. However, if you also have gut symptoms and/or coeliac disease in your family, do not cut out gluten without first getting screened for coeliac disease.

Gut Health

Linked to food intolerances, the gut can play a large role in eczema presentation. Avoiding the foods that cause you inflammation is a good starting point. However, an easy way to make a start on good gut health is taking probiotics. The strain most widely researched for reducing eczema symptoms is Lactobacillus rhamnosus, LGG.

Stress

Most of us know that stress affects many areas of health and skin is no different! It’s been shown that stress can be a big trigger for those who experience eczema. Finding ways to manage stress therefore is key; exercise, mindfulness exercises, spending time in nature, or finding ways to reduce your workload. 

Allergens & Irritants

Eczema can also be caused by contact with allergens and irritants in the environment e.g. chemicals in the home or workplace, exposure to dust mites, pollens, pets, or even strong soaps and laundry detergents! Start by noting where on the body it appears (e.g. hands) and considering what you are touching throughout the day (e.g. strong dishwashing liquid, sanitizers, soaps, etc.). When practical, swap any strong or chemical laden products for a gentler, more natural alternative, for example a natural alcohol-based hand sanitizer or Eco Store body & home products.

Pop in store to speak to one of our qualified Naturopaths, or book a consultation, if you'd like more support with eczema or similar skin conditions!