Natural Eczema Treatment
Symptoms of Eczema
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that typically causes itching and redness. It often, but not always, occurs in people with other atopic diseases such as hayfever and asthma. It can affect any part of the body, but the back of the knees and the front of the elbows are particularly common places for eczema to appear. Like other allergic diseases, it does tend to run in families.
Causes of Eczema
From a conventional medical perspective, the cause of eczema is unknown. In my experience, however, most people with eczema have underlying food allergies that aggravate their eczema.
Food Allergies in Eczema Treatment
Natural eczema treatment, first and foremost, should begin with identifying food allergies. Food allergies are a common condition in which the immune system reacts to certain foods in the same way that it reacts to bacteria and viruses, namely by producing antibodies. Food allergies can be immediate and life threatening, as in the case of someone who eats a strawberry and can't breathe, or they can be delayed and much less severe but nevertheless cause significant problems. The vast majority of people who have food allergies, many of whom don't know it, have the delayed type of reaction.
The reason that many people aren't aware that they have food allergies is because the allergic reaction can take up to two days to occur after eating the allergic food. This makes it very difficult to associate the symptoms of an allergic reaction to a particular food. The other difficulty is that food allergies can cause a wide variety of symptoms such as asthma, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, ear infections, sinusitis, headaches, irritable bowel, inflammatory bowel disease, anxiety, depression, fatigue, hyperactivity, obesity, and post nasal drip.
There are many different options when it comes to diagnosing food allergies. The best is a blood antibody test, which is more accurate for this type of allergy than a skin prick test.
Omega 3 Fatty Acid Deficiency in Eczema Treatment
Found primarily in fish, omega 3 oils such as EPA and DHA are crucial to proper immune function. They are therefore an important element of natural eczema treatment. They also reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart attack and stroke by about one third.
Natural Medicines vs. Prescription Drugs
While prescription drugs can offer effective relief from eczema, they can also cause significant side effects. Prescription drugs also usually just treat one complaint. If you have four different complaints, you will need to take 4 (or more) different drugs to address those complaints. Prescription drugs are also periodically recalled as new evidence comes to light on significant side effects (look at the example of hormone replacement therapy, to name only one). In contrast, the natural medicines I describe here typically have few to no side effects. The dietary changes and natural medicines I describe often help with many complaints at the same time. A person with food allergies, for example, may suffer from depression, arthritis, and irritable bowel – addressing the food allergies typically resolves or helps with all of these complaints at the same time, and helps to prevent future disease. Here is what I like to say to illustrate this point:
"Give a man a drug, he's healthy for a day.
Teach a woman a healthy lifestyle, she'll be healthy for a lifetime."
Bottom Line for the Natural Treatment of Eczema
Natural eczema treatment should begin with identifying and treating the underlying causes that can contribute to eczema. Specifically, I recommend:
- Get a blood test for food allergies – Easy and accurate, this can be extraordinarily helpful
- Take fish oil, or another source of omega 3 oils
How We Can Help
Naturopathic doctors are physician experts in treating the underlying cause of disease and using natural medicines to help people get and stay well. To find out which natural treatments are appropriate for you or to be tested for food allergies, schedule an office visit or food allergy test.