Eczema happens to be one of the most common conditions that I see in my clinic, and I think this is because it is usually poorly managed by a medical model of treatment. Medical treatments are usually limited to steroid creams, and occasionally antibiotics and oral steroids are needed to get a bad flare under control. Unfortunately, these treatments are ‘bandaid’ treatments only, and usually the eczema returns as soon as these medicines are ceased.
Naturopathy has a lot to offer the treatment of eczema as we aim to identify and treat the root cause of the condition, not just reduce outbreaks. Once the causes of your eczema are identified we can put together a treatment to get your eczema under control for good. Here are the most common causes of eczema that I see in my clinic:
1- Food intolerances or sensitivities
This is the number one strategy that I use with my patients to control their eczema. I undertake a food intolerance/sensitivity test with all of my eczema patients- both adults and children. There are many different foods that could possibly be contributing to your eczema flares- wheat, dairy, gluten, corn, nuts and eggs are all common ones. For many of my patients simply identifying what (if any) food intolerances they have and eliminating these from their diet for a period of time is enough to get their skin clear.
2- Poor digestive health
Digestive health has a huge roll to play in both skin and immune health, and is therefore paramount when treating eczema. For many, poor digestive health is the cause of their eczema. Classic naturopathic medicine principles suggest that one of the main causes of eczema is an insufficiency of stomach acids and enzymes, and I have seen this correlation in my patients. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria living in our gut can also contribute to eczema and further disrupt immune balance. It is interesting to note that many of my adult eczema patients also often suffer from digestive complains such as IBS.
3- Nutritional deficiencies
Simple nutritional deficiencies can be a contributing cause of eczema. The two most common deficiencies that I see in clinic are zinc and essential fatty acids. Both are crucial nutrients for skin health. Zinc happens to be one of the most common deficiencies we see in Australia. It is important for digestive and immune health and a common deficiency in eczema patients. Likewise, a diet lacking in essential fatty acids can cause eczema. Underneath our skin cells is a lipid (fat) layer that keeps our skin moisturized and watertight. It is thought that this lipid layer is defective in eczema patients, causing the skin to crack and dry out. Increasing essentials fatty acids in your diet with fish, nuts, seeds and avocado can help eczema. Supplementing with fish oil can also help as it is not only an essential fatty acid source, but also an anti-inflammatory that can help to reduce skin based inflammation seen in eczema.
4- Poor immunity or immune imbalance
Eczema is known as an atopic, or allergic condition. Many eczema suffers also struggle with asthma, hayfever and allergies. Environmental allergens that can cause eczema include pollens, grasses and dust and as you can imagine these are very difficult to avoid. However improving your immune balance, to promote a less allergic immune response is a huge part of treating eczema. Often patients will see a flare in eczema when their immune system is low or if they have had an infection such as a cold or flu, so boosting immunity can also help to control eczema.
These 4 points make up the most important aspects of naturopathic treatment of eczema, however every patient has individual health requirements, and needs to be assessed and treated as an individual. If you are struggling to get your eczema under control, please email Hayley to make an appointment- [email protected]