John Pietryka

Natural Health Expert & Medical Scientist

Adv. Dip. Health Sc. (Naturopathy), B. App. Sc. (Medical Laboratory Science), Adv. Dip. (Applied Biology) Member

Treating Eczema Naturally

By John Pietryka

Posted  June 17 2015 | 0 Shares

SHARE / LIKE

The only thing that’s less appealing than watching your child suffer from eczema, is probably the thought of pumping him with drugs to cure it. Fortunately, treating eczema naturally is not just a possible option, but one that is actually preferred by many modern health experts.

Over the last few decades, the prevalence of eczema (also referred to as atopic dermatitis), asthma, and allergic rhinitis has been rising in industrialized countries. 10% to 20% of children suffer from this condition, and so do 1% to 3% of adults.

Children with eczema often develop asthma, and as adults develop allergic rhinitis (an allergic inflammation of the respiratory airways). This progression from eczema to allergic rhinitis has been termed “the allergic march.” Effectively treating the child at an early age minimises the progression to asthma, and into adulthood of allergic rhinitis like “hayfever,” and possibly sinusitis.

How to Treat Eczema Naturally

Eczema will often lie dormant, unless something happens to incite a flareup. When this happens, patches of intensely itchy skin appear, which turn into blisters. Because it itches so much, children will often scratch until it bleeds, which can lead to infections and scars.

The first thing you do, of course, is to avoid common triggers. These include inhaled allergens, climate, emotional stress, hormones, food, irritants, and microbes. The most frequent inhaled allergens are animal dander, cockroach, dust mites, human dander, moulds, and pollens. Cow milk, eggs, fish, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, and wheat are the most common foods allergies that can serve as triggers in eczema.

Lesser-known triggers include preservatives, food additives, antihistamines, and corticosteroids.

An important thing to remember is that no cream will fix unhealthy skin. Chronic skin disorders require a holistic approach with a focus on dietary and lifestyle factors. It is necessary to not only remove any aggravating factors but also improve circulation, digestion, assimilation and elimination.

This, of course, is one of the most powerful arguments for treating eczema naturally.

Testing and Assessments for Allergy and Eczema

In initial assessment must include a thorough case history including triggers, family history and environmental factors.

  • > Testing for allergies like asthma can include the following:
    • >> Skin Prick Test – requires standardised extracts introduced into the skin by trained individuals. Can rapidly detect immunoglobulin E (IgE) related allergies but not non-IgE-mediated allergies.
    • >> Specific IgE Tests – identify specific reactive IgE antibodies in a blood sample to allergens. Only a limited number of IgE-mediated allergies can be detected, however. Therefore, results may be misleading.
    • >> Specific IgG Tests – delayed food reactivity reactions are identified by specific IgG antibodies to allergens. For completeness, an IgA antibody panel should also be done.
    • >> Full Blood Count (FBE) – a standard blood test will include an eosinophil count. These white blood cells can be elevated in allergy. However, they can also be elevated in parasitic infection and other diseases.

Conventional Treatment

Conventional treatment ideally would involve the identification of allergens and any aggravating factors that exacerbate the symptoms of eczema. Pharmaceutical treatment relies mostly on topical glucocorticoids to reduce chronic inflammation and antihistamine for the itching.

A Naturopathic Treatment Approach to Treating Eczema Naturally

1.) Dietary Approach

A simple approach is to eliminate all potentially allergenic foods, including: cows’ milk products, eggs, wheat, rye, barley, peanuts corn, shellfish, bananas, apples, oranges, potatoes, etc. I would highly recommend and support patients to do the Failsafe Diet as it also eliminates any foods containing artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives that can often be missed.

2.) Gastrointestinal Support

The most important consideration in the treatment of skin conditions is the gastrointestinal tract. The focus is on confirming “leaky gut” through an Intestinal Permeability Test.

Here’s how it works: Weakness between the cells in the gut lining allows toxins to enter the blood. As these are processed by the liver and immune system, they contribute to the symptoms seen in eczema and other skin conditions. Gastrointestinal support is therefore essential to promote a healthy gut wall.

It will also reduce the absorption of undigested food particles, which can lead to dysbiosis, or imbalance of gastrointestinal bacteria. Dysbiosis has been associated with the development of eczema. Identifying the extent of the dysbiosis through a Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis and appropriate treatment and supplementation with specific probiotic species can improve eczema symptoms.

There are a number of key treatment protocols to address the underlying cause of eczema:

  • > P  Dietary P Immune modulation P Stress
  • > P  Gastrointestinal support P Inflammation P Improve skin barrier function

In recent studies, it was proven that specific strains of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus resulted in a marked decrease in eczema symptoms. It is believed that they have an anti-inflammatory effect within the intestinal wall, contributing to the healing of the eczema.

3.) Immune Modulation

Modulating the immune response is inevitably involved in the management of inflammatory conditions such as eczema. This is done by reducing histamine (which contributes to the itching) and the use of anti-allergy herbs such as Albizzia lebbeck or nutrients such as vitamin C, zinc, and other nutrients.

4.) Inflammation Management

Inflammation is a key component of eczema, mainly linked to the overproduction of IgE antibodies, as a result of a dysregulated immune system. There is a role for essential fatty acids, such as gamma-linoleic acid and docosohexaenoic acid in the management of the inflammatory response. The use of immunomodulatory herbs, such as Echinacea, Eleutherococcus and Withania are often used, as well as zinc. There is substantial evidence that suggests that vitamin D and vitamin A help to modulate the allergic immune response. Vitamin A deficiency appears to increase the severity of eczema. This may be due to the importance of vitamin A in maintenance and repair of the gut lining.

5.) Stress Management

Stress has been found to enhance the allergic response. This may be due to cortisol (the stress hormone) having an inflammatory activity. Stress may also affect eczema by contributing to intestinal dysbiosis. This maybe due to increased bacterial adhesion to the bowel wall or decrease in the amount of Lactobacilli species in the gut. There are many herbs that can help with stress, such as Eleutherococcus and Rhodolia. Nutrients that support the nervous system, such as mag- nesium and the B-group vitamins may also be prescribed.

6.) Improving Skin Barrier Function

Maintaining the skin barrier (in other words, keeping skin strong and healthy) is an important component to minimising the damage caused by eczema. It is understood that most of the issues surrounding the disturbance of the skin layer are due to altered fat composition in the skin layers. Nutrients that support the maintenance and repair of the skin, such as vitamin C, lycine, copper and others need to be considered. Herbs that promote the healing of the skin, such as Centella can be beneficial.

Caution: When to Seek Professional Help

You should always see a qualified health practitioner to ensure your treatment of any childhood ailment is done correctly with the right dosage.

Children and teens with eczema are prone to skin infections, especially with staph bacteria and herpes virus. Seek professional help if you notice any of the early signs of skin infection, which may include:

  • > increased fever
  • > redness and warmth on or around affected areas
  • > pus-filled bumps on or around affected areas
  • > areas on the skin that look like cold sores or fever blisters

Warning

Herbs can be very effective in the treatment of many conditions. Unfortunately, however, there are many manufacturers that do not do any independent testing of their raw material. Therefore, many products contain the wrong species, are adulterated with other substances, and do not contain the active part of the plant. Only use practitioner-quality herbal products to ensure the product contains the correct active herbal ingredients to get the required clinical results.

© All Natural Advantage

John Pietryka

Sources:

New insights in the pathogenesis of atopic disease. J. Ionescu. J Med Life. 2009 Apr-Jun;2(2):146-54.
Allergic to Antihistamines—really! G. Stadtmauer, Allergy & Clinical Immunology, Oct 17, 2011.

Reviewed by John Pietryka 17 June 2015 references
  • current version

  • PEER REVIEWER

  • document id

  • next review

This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

make a comment

0 comments

latest articles

view all

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED - MEET THE EXPERTS VIEW ALL

Treating Eczema Naturally

The only thing that’s less appealing than watching your child suffer from eczema, is probably the thought of pumping him with drugs to cure it. Fortunately, treating eczema naturally is not just a possible option, but one that is actually preferred by many modern health experts.

Over the last few decades, the prevalence of eczema (also referred to as atopic dermatitis), asthma, and allergic rhinitis has been rising in industrialized countries. 10% to 20% of children suffer from this condition, and so do 1% to 3% of adults.

Children with eczema often develop asthma, and as adults develop allergic rhinitis (an allergic inflammation of the respiratory airways). This progression from eczema to allergic rhinitis has been termed “the allergic march.” Effectively treating the child at an early age minimises the progression to asthma, and into adulthood of allergic rhinitis like “hayfever,” and possibly sinusitis.

How to Treat Eczema Naturally

Eczema will often lie dormant, unless something happens to incite a flareup. When this happens, patches of intensely itchy skin appear, which turn into blisters. Because it itches so much, children will often scratch until it bleeds, which can lead to infections and scars.

The first thing you do, of course, is to avoid common triggers. These include inhaled allergens, climate, emotional stress, hormones, food, irritants, and microbes. The most frequent inhaled allergens are animal dander, cockroach, dust mites, human dander, moulds, and pollens. Cow milk, eggs, fish, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, and wheat are the most common foods allergies that can serve as triggers in eczema.

Lesser-known triggers include preservatives, food additives, antihistamines, and corticosteroids.

An important thing to remember is that no cream will fix unhealthy skin. Chronic skin disorders require a holistic approach with a focus on dietary and lifestyle factors. It is necessary to not only remove any aggravating factors but also improve circulation, digestion, assimilation and elimination.

This, of course, is one of the most powerful arguments for treating eczema naturally.

Testing and Assessments for Allergy and Eczema

In initial assessment must include a thorough case history including triggers, family history and environmental factors.

  • > Testing for allergies like asthma can include the following:
    • >> Skin Prick Test – requires standardised extracts introduced into the skin by trained individuals. Can rapidly detect immunoglobulin E (IgE) related allergies but not non-IgE-mediated allergies.
    • >> Specific IgE Tests – identify specific reactive IgE antibodies in a blood sample to allergens. Only a limited number of IgE-mediated allergies can be detected, however. Therefore, results may be misleading.
    • >> Specific IgG Tests – delayed food reactivity reactions are identified by specific IgG antibodies to allergens. For completeness, an IgA antibody panel should also be done.
    • >> Full Blood Count (FBE) – a standard blood test will include an eosinophil count. These white blood cells can be elevated in allergy. However, they can also be elevated in parasitic infection and other diseases.

Conventional Treatment

Conventional treatment ideally would involve the identification of allergens and any aggravating factors that exacerbate the symptoms of eczema. Pharmaceutical treatment relies mostly on topical glucocorticoids to reduce chronic inflammation and antihistamine for the itching.

A Naturopathic Treatment Approach to Treating Eczema Naturally

1.) Dietary Approach

A simple approach is to eliminate all potentially allergenic foods, including: cows’ milk products, eggs, wheat, rye, barley, peanuts corn, shellfish, bananas, apples, oranges, potatoes, etc. I would highly recommend and support patients to do the Failsafe Diet as it also eliminates any foods containing artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives that can often be missed.

2.) Gastrointestinal Support

The most important consideration in the treatment of skin conditions is the gastrointestinal tract. The focus is on confirming “leaky gut” through an Intestinal Permeability Test.

Here’s how it works: Weakness between the cells in the gut lining allows toxins to enter the blood. As these are processed by the liver and immune system, they contribute to the symptoms seen in eczema and other skin conditions. Gastrointestinal support is therefore essential to promote a healthy gut wall.

It will also reduce the absorption of undigested food particles, which can lead to dysbiosis, or imbalance of gastrointestinal bacteria. Dysbiosis has been associated with the development of eczema. Identifying the extent of the dysbiosis through a Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis and appropriate treatment and supplementation with specific probiotic species can improve eczema symptoms.

There are a number of key treatment protocols to address the underlying cause of eczema:

  • > P  Dietary P Immune modulation P Stress
  • > P  Gastrointestinal support P Inflammation P Improve skin barrier function

In recent studies, it was proven that specific strains of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus resulted in a marked decrease in eczema symptoms. It is believed that they have an anti-inflammatory effect within the intestinal wall, contributing to the healing of the eczema.

3.) Immune Modulation

Modulating the immune response is inevitably involved in the management of inflammatory conditions such as eczema. This is done by reducing histamine (which contributes to the itching) and the use of anti-allergy herbs such as Albizzia lebbeck or nutrients such as vitamin C, zinc, and other nutrients.

4.) Inflammation Management

Inflammation is a key component of eczema, mainly linked to the overproduction of IgE antibodies, as a result of a dysregulated immune system. There is a role for essential fatty acids, such as gamma-linoleic acid and docosohexaenoic acid in the management of the inflammatory response. The use of immunomodulatory herbs, such as Echinacea, Eleutherococcus and Withania are often used, as well as zinc. There is substantial evidence that suggests that vitamin D and vitamin A help to modulate the allergic immune response. Vitamin A deficiency appears to increase the severity of eczema. This may be due to the importance of vitamin A in maintenance and repair of the gut lining.

5.) Stress Management

Stress has been found to enhance the allergic response. This may be due to cortisol (the stress hormone) having an inflammatory activity. Stress may also affect eczema by contributing to intestinal dysbiosis. This maybe due to increased bacterial adhesion to the bowel wall or decrease in the amount of Lactobacilli species in the gut. There are many herbs that can help with stress, such as Eleutherococcus and Rhodolia. Nutrients that support the nervous system, such as mag- nesium and the B-group vitamins may also be prescribed.

6.) Improving Skin Barrier Function

Maintaining the skin barrier (in other words, keeping skin strong and healthy) is an important component to minimising the damage caused by eczema. It is understood that most of the issues surrounding the disturbance of the skin layer are due to altered fat composition in the skin layers. Nutrients that support the maintenance and repair of the skin, such as vitamin C, lycine, copper and others need to be considered. Herbs that promote the healing of the skin, such as Centella can be beneficial.

Caution: When to Seek Professional Help

You should always see a qualified health practitioner to ensure your treatment of any childhood ailment is done correctly with the right dosage.

Children and teens with eczema are prone to skin infections, especially with staph bacteria and herpes virus. Seek professional help if you notice any of the early signs of skin infection, which may include:

  • > increased fever
  • > redness and warmth on or around affected areas
  • > pus-filled bumps on or around affected areas
  • > areas on the skin that look like cold sores or fever blisters

Warning

Herbs can be very effective in the treatment of many conditions. Unfortunately, however, there are many manufacturers that do not do any independent testing of their raw material. Therefore, many products contain the wrong species, are adulterated with other substances, and do not contain the active part of the plant. Only use practitioner-quality herbal products to ensure the product contains the correct active herbal ingredients to get the required clinical results.

© All Natural Advantage

John Pietryka

Sources:

New insights in the pathogenesis of atopic disease. J. Ionescu. J Med Life. 2009 Apr-Jun;2(2):146-54.
Allergic to Antihistamines—really! G. Stadtmauer, Allergy & Clinical Immunology, Oct 17, 2011.

Reviewed by Lisa Kelly 17 June 2015
references
  • current version

  • PEER REVIEWER

  • Doc id

  • next review

This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

make a comment

0 comments

more articles by John Pietryka

view more

latest articles

view more

MEET THE EXPERTS

view more