Eczema Symptom Relief: The Outside-In Approach
In last week’s article on eczema, I addressed the underlying causes of the condition and how you can address them. And, while eating an anti-inflammatory, low-histamine diet, healing your gut, and restoring your body’s natural flora are extremely effective in eliminating eczema, these are long-term solutions that may take some time to work. That’s why I wanted to write this follow-up article to give you some short-term solutions that will help provide more immediate relief to you or your child.
Address Environmental Concerns
Often, eczema can be aggravated by environmental triggers, including dust mites, animal dander, soaps or detergents, and chemicals contained in common household products. Luckily, there are natural alternatives to many of these products. Making sure the air you breathe, the water you drink and bathe in, and anything that touches your skin (including not only soaps and lotions, but also fabrics and furniture) are as clean and non-toxic as possible can go a long way toward giving your eczema a chance to heal.
Clean Air & Water
In order to keep eczema and allergic triggers under control, it is important to remove chemicals and toxins from the air that you breathe and the water that you drink. A HEPA air purifier cleans the air of chemicals, gases, and airborne particles. Water filters remove chlorine, chemicals, and lead from tap water, and can be purchased as filtered bottles and pitchers, faucet filters, shower filters, and even whole-house filters.
I know it’s hard to think of your sweet fur babies as potentially harmful. But, if you have pets, they can make your or your child’s eczema worse. Their dander is what is responsible for triggering allergic reactions, and they can carry dust mites and mold in their fur. Keep pets out of the bedroom and off of the furniture whenever possible. Bathe and groom your pet often, with natural, non-toxic products. Citrisafe makes shampoos, sprays, and drops that can eliminate mold from your pet, and there are also several other companies that make all-natural dander control pet shampoos and sprays. If you don’t have pets, but are considering getting one, be sure to do your research first—some breeds of dogs and cats are hypoallergenic and/or produce less dander compared with other breeds.
Chemicals, toxins, and allergens can all enter the body through the skin. Damaged skin (such as in eczema) permits even more of these substances to enter the body. Most body care products are full of harsh chemicals and toxins that can irritate eczema. I recommend that my patients get rid of products full of toxins and use all-natural ones instead. Ones that I like and recommend are products made by Keys, Babo Botanicals, and Milk + Honey. You can find these in the Body Care section of my store. My favorite all-natural and environmentally friendly makeup source is Beauty Counter, their products are allergen free and they last all day.
It may seem too expensive to throw away all of your products at once and buy all new ones. One tip to help with the cost is to replace things one at a time, as you run out (or, let other family members who don’t suffer from eczema help you use the old products up). Start with the soaps and lotions and then move on to hair products, makeup, etc. Of course, the faster you are able to replace your body care products with all-natural ones, the faster your skin will be able to heal.
Many materials used in common household items such as carpets, curtains, paints, furniture, mattresses, and bedding are full of toxic chemicals like flame retardants that can add to the toxin burden in your body. Take a close look at your everyday household items to make sure they are all-natural and toxin-free. Whenever possible, replace fabrics with organic, untreated cotton. I have used Eco-Wise organic bedding, as well as West Elm’s organic bedding, and can recommend both. For mattresses, I recommend choosing 100% natural latex. You can find them from Urban Mattress, and likely other sources now as well.
It is particularly important for eczema that anything that touches your skin be all-natural, so you might want to take a look at the clothes you wear, as well.
Mold & mycotoxins
Mold allergy is a common trigger for eczema. I will be covering this in an in-depth series starting next week, so stay tuned for more information on this very important topic! If you think mold is contributing to the issue, you can have your home tested for mold. Check out Citrisafe’s line of cleaners and body products, and thoroughly remove mold from your home.
Get Your Allergies Under Control
Allergies and eczema go hand in hand. If you know that allergies and hay fever are a problem for you, you might be surprised to find out how much of an effect getting your allergies under control can have on your eczema. While traditional medicine prescribes corticosteroids and antihistamines for allergies, there is a natural remedy I always recommend.
I begin by asking whether patients may have a histamine intolerance. Histamine is responsible for blood vessel dilation that causes inflammation as part of the body’s normal immune response. When the body is functioning normally, histamine is broken down once its job is done. The problem occurs when your body fails to break down histamine, allowing the inflammation to continue. This is called histamine intolerance, which you can read more about in this article. If you suspect that histamine intolerance may be an issue for you, then I recommend eliminating histamine-containing and histamine-releasing foods (including fermented foods, cured meats, aged cheese, bananas, pineapple, and milk. You can also try taking my Histazyme supplement, which contains the enzyme that breaks down histamine, for immediate relief.
Try Alternative Topical Remedies
Conventional practitioners usually prescribe topical steroids and newer immunomodulating creams that can have long-term side effects. I recommend to my patients with eczema that they use alternative topical treatments with fewer side effects, like Keys Meta Care lotion. It is chemical-free and contains healing neem and karanja oil to soothe and moisturize the skin. Try applying it in small amounts at first, and make sure there are no open sores.
Another technique I recommend for eczema relief is taking a bleach bath. It may sound a little strange at first, but remember, bleach is highly effective at killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi that may be exacerbating your eczema. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends bleach baths as a treatment for eczema, and I assure you it is perfectly safe.
How to take a bleach bath
- Fill your bathtub with warm, but not hot, water.
- Add 1/4 cup of bleach to a half-bath or 1/2 cup of bleach to a full-bath.
- Get in the tub and soak your torso or the parts of your body affected by eczema for approximately 10 minutes. Be sure not to submerge your head, and avoid getting the water into your mouth or eyes.
- Step out of the bath and immediately rinse off with fresh (not too hot) water in the shower.
- Dry your skin off gently and apply a natural, chemical-free moisturizer.
- Limit taking bleach baths to 2 or fewer times per week.
I hope you find these outside-in remedies helpful as you work to address the underlying cause of your or your child’s eczema!
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