Treating Eczema With Natural Medicine and Stress Reduction

Eczema can be classified as either an allergic reaction or an autoimmune condition, but in either case it involves the body’s immune system running out of control in the layers of the skin. This causes the symptoms of eczema, which include a red and itchy rash, with dryness, thickening, and scaling of the skin. Most often it will appear on the hands and feet, face, knees and elbows, though it can affect any part of the body.

Eczema is increasing in incidence, and is more common in babies and children, though it affects many adults as well. It is estimated that as high as 30% of the US population has been afflicted by eczema at some point in their life. The cause of eczema is unknown, though it has a genetic component and is associated with other autoimmune type conditions such as seasonal allergies or asthma.

For sufferers of eczema, you know how difficult it can make life at times. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help relieve the symptoms of eczema as well as prevent breakouts.

First, there are some basic tips you can follow to help with eczema.

Avoiding harsh soaps and detergents with synthetic chemicals can reduce the sensitivity of your skin. Try to use natural products instead.
Avoid extremes of temperature, especially heat. Overheating and excessive sweating can trigger outbreaks.
Don’t wear clothing that can irritate the skin, such as wool.
Use a quality natural moisturizer daily. Dryness of the skin increases eczema attacks.

Conventional treatments of eczema are unfortunately few, and some of the ones that are available come with potential unwanted side effects. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream can help with the itching and reduce inflammation, and stronger corticosteroid creams can be prescribed, but while these help with symptoms they do little to reduce the occurrence of outbreaks. Other prescription creams are available that help to modulate the immune response in the skin, however they come with warnings that they may increase the risk of skin cancer. Antibiotics have been shown to reduce outbreaks as well as prevent infection, however as with the use of any antibiotics long-term, this carries the risk of developing resistance to the antibiotics as well as disrupting the immune system.

For this reason, unless your eczema is severe, it is likely you will want to try natural treatments first. There is no one-hit-wonder for treating eczema naturally, so effective natural treatment for eczema will involve understanding more about the triggers of eczema and what systems of the body are involved.

The two most important areas to consider in relationship to your immune system are your digestive system and your endocrine system.

The digestive system contains a large number of immune cells in it, so an unhealthy digestion will make your immune system weaker and make eczema outbreaks more common.
The endocrine system involves your hormones, and in the case of eczema, the hormones involved in stress specifically will have a negative effect on your eczema if your stress levels are too high.

To keep a healthy digestion with eczema it is important to avoid foods that increase inflammation in the body. These include foods high in sugar and saturated fat, red meats, dairy, and eggs, as these increase the processes in the body that produce inflammation. While it may not be possible for everyone to completely avoid these foods, try to consume them minimally or in moderation. Some people have allergies to certain foods like wheat or dairy, so if you notice certain foods making your digestion worse, try and avoid these foods. Overall, keeping a healthy and balanced diet with adequate protein, healthy carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and fiber will go a long way in creating a healthy digestive system and reducing eczema outbreaks. Also, drinking adequate water to stay hydrated helps the body resist the allergic response associated with eczema.

Stress is not just a mental concept, but a very real physical condition. When the body is in a constant state of stress, it affects the hormonal production in your body, which will then affect a variety of your bodies systems. In the case of eczema, increased stress hormones weaken your body’s immune system, leaving your immune system more hypersensitive and likely to have an outbreak of eczema. In addition, chronic stress over time will fatigue your body, weakening your adrenal glands and metabolism, and make it harder for your body to keep your immune system stable and more likely for eczema to occur.

With stress and eczema, there is also a potential for a cycle of stress and eczema outbreaks to take place. Eczema is a stressful condition to deal with, and the stress it causes can actually lead someone to become more susceptible to eczema, which of course can then become a vicious cycle. It may seem counterintuitive, but worrying and being overprotective too much about outbreaks of eczema can actually make it worse.

The mind-body connection in eczema may be something to consider. Your skin serves as your first layer of protection from harm for all of the sensitive internal organ systems making up your body. It follows then that an overprotective mindset may lead the skin to become overprotective as well, and hypersensitive to its environment. Remember that eczema is an immune condition, and the immune system is responsible for protecting the body from threats.

My personal suspicion as to why the incidence of allergies and eczema is increasing so drastically in children these days is that parents in today’s world are becoming more overprotective with their children, which can cause stress as well as make it harder for kids to have fun. Whether you’re an adult with eczema or a parent dealing with a child with eczema, it is something worth considering that feeling overly protective can be a factor in causing eczema outbreaks. It may sound like a silly theory at first, but the body is very sensitive to the state of your mind and emotions. Try to find a balance where you are protecting yourself (or children) where it matters, but still leaving room for adventure and fun so that life can take its natural course.

There are also some natural medicine supplements that may help with eczema:

Topical creams or salves containing aloe, calendula, chickweed, comfrey, calendula, echinacea and other herbs can help heal and soothe the skin, reduce itching, and prevent infection
Fish oils supplements contain EPA/DHA which help reduce the inflammatory response in the body and strengthen the immune system
Adaptogens such as ashwaghanda, rhodiola, licorice or eleutherococcus can help improve your resistance to stress, increase your energy, and improve the quality of sleep
Natural anti-inflammatories such as turmeric, bromelain, or boswellia can decrease the inflammatory response associated with eczema

Overall, there are a number of things to try in treating eczema naturally before resorting to harmful prescription medications. Regardless, in dealing with eczema it is important to be patient and recognize that symptoms may not disappear overnight, but if you are consistent in your treatments you will see improvement over time.