Eczema is a now common skin condition affecting many adults and children. It’s uncomfortable and can be unsightly, but unfortunately, too little attention is given to the root cause and proper care of this condition.
With the strong focus of topical treatments for skin conditions like eczema, it’s easy to ignore the idea that it has an internal, root cause. But whereas a topical treatment will result in a temporary solution or reduction in symptoms, an internal treatment will result in a long-term, possibly even permanent, solution.
The upside to a topical treatment is often immediate relief, but discovering and then treating the root cause will take much longer.
There are several main causes of eczema:
- Food intolerance
- Toxin build up
- Environmental allergies
- Contact reactions
Contact reactions are not always the easy to recognize, but are the easiest to remedy. If you experience contact dermatitis, a rash caused by coming into contact with something, all it should take is the removal of that substance or material. This could be certain types of fabrics, soaps, laundry detergents, and even car seats for kids! To rule this one out first, pay attention to any changes you’ve made in your routine, the products you’ve used, or things you’ve bought. If you just recently switched to a new laundry detergent and your child has broken out in a rash, stop using that detergent and see if that makes a positive impact.
Environmental allergies will often cause seasonal eczema. If your eczema flares up every spring and summer but generally goes away in the fall and winter, you may want to consider getting tested for allergies to grass, pollen, or other plants. If your eczema flares up in the fall and winter, it could be an allergy to molds or fungus, depending on the humidity of where you live. There are homeopathic solutions that a naturopath or homeopath can provide that gradually build up your body’s tolerance to specific allergens so that you don’t have a response anymore.
If the eczema lingers year round, with flare ups randomly throughout the year, then food intolerances or toxic build up may be to blame. It could primarily be one or the other, but often it is a combination of the two and it all stems back to poor digestive health. You can get allergy testing done through a doctor or lab and intolerance testing done through a naturopath, which will help you to know which foods to eliminate temporarily to provide relief for your skin and also give your gut a chance to heal.
In my experience, and from what I’ve heard from many other frustrated moms, is that elimination dates are ineffective. Which food should you eliminate first? For how long? What if you don’t notice a difference? When do you reintroduce it?
And to complicate matters further, sometimes physical reactions don’t occur unless two or more of the trigger foods are eaten in combination or closely together. How on earth are you going to be able to predict which foods you shouldn’t eat when there are limitless combinations?!
Seeing a naturopath costs money, but you may be able to save yourself a lot of time and frustration.
In the meantime, following the guidelines in The Detox Lifestyle as well as following a gut healing diet like the GAPS diet, will help to heal your digestive system and support your body to remove toxins in a healthy, natural way so that your skin can release some of the extra burden.
While you’re treating your eczema from the inside, it can also be helpful and comforting to treat your skin on the outside also. As I mentioned in a previous lesson, you want to avoid steroid creams as much as possible as they push the toxins back into the skin and prevent elimination. Other lotions and creams can also clog your pores, dry out your skin, or exacerbate the condition. The two most healing options are neem and tallow.
Creams made of neem smell terrible, but they are very soothing to the skin. Although neem didn’t work well for my daughter, many others find it brings relief.
Tallow was our go-to for nourishing our daughter’s skin. Tallow is rendered beef fat and the cellular structure of this type of fat is closest to the biology of our skin cells, so it is easily absorbed into the skin to nourish it. You can purchase tallow products from the company I trust, Vintage Tradition, or you can make it yourself. If you make it yourself, you can also add soothing essential oils like lavender, cedarwood, geranium, and pathchouli.