• Anneline Bezuidenhout • Cell: 082 790 6583 • Fax: 086 566 6583 • www.naturalconnection.co.za • firstname.lastname@example.org •
GUIDE TO DEALING WITH ECZEMA
The word 'eczema' comes from Greek words that mean 'to boil over' whilst 'dermatitis' comes from the Greek word for skin and
both terms refer to exactly the same skin condition. Eczema, or dermatitis, is a skin condition that is very common and affects all
age groups. In mild forms the inflamed skin is dry, hot and itchy, whilst in more severe forms the skin can become broken, raw
and bleeding. Another feature associated with eczema is skin that is generally dry and which is often thickened in the areas that
have been scratched. It is not contagious.
Eczema is now a worldwide epidemic. Atopic eczema affects about 10 to 20 per cent of schoolchildren and 3 to 5 per cent of
adults in the UK, and it is getting more common. An increase of between two and five fold has been seen over the past 30
years. Many reasons have been attributed to this but one of the most common is the increase in the use of chemicals in our
cleaning and skin care products.
Eczema is divided into subgroups but this classification is not perfect and it is important to take into account that symptoms and
appearance of the skin in all these types can be exactly the same. The various treatments of the different types of eczema are
also similar. The main differences are to do with the particular factors causing an individual's eczema, however these are not
always easy to pinpoint. The following are the most common types of eczema, however it must be noted that medical journals
list up to 25 different types of eczema.
This common eczema is linked with asthma and hay fever and usually runs in families. It is very itchy and if the skin if infected it
may crack and weep.
This is caused by the skin coming into contact with something that irritates it or causes an allergic reaction. It is most often
caused by contact with certain metals, chemicals, toiletries, perfumes and detergents etc. The skin becomes dry and inflamed
where the irritating substances have had contact.
Usually found in adults, discoid eczema appears suddenly as a few coin shaped areas of red skin, normally on ones trunk or
lower legs. The affected areas can become itchy and can weep fluid. It may be triggered by an infection, bite or sting.
The lesions are red and sharply marginated (the lesions have a margin of a distinct colour) and covered with greasy scales.
They appear in areas richly supplied with sebaceous glands such as the scalp, face or chest and usually affect adults. In infants
it appears in the nappy area and the scalp. The skin becomes red and inflamed and will over time, start to flake. It is believed to
be caused by a yeast growth.
The best and easiest treatment is to use SLS free shampoos and skin creams that contain natural oils with anti-fungal properties
such as tea tree, calendula, eucalyptus, myrrh or witch hazel. It is also recommended that you start an anti-fungal dietary
programme by avoiding sugar and taking prescribed anti-fungal herbs and supplements. For infants it is recommended that gel
free nappies are used, such as non-disposable nappies and that organic toiletries are also used. It is important to allow the
affected skin on your baby to breathe.
Triggers of eczema
There are many causes of eczema and these differ from person to person. Many factors can affect eczema but the most
commonly reported factors are caffeine, alcohol, food, pesticides, pollen, dust, certain plants, animal fur, food additives, drugs,
industrial and chemicals irritants (such as products that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate SLS, Sodium Laureth Sulphate SLES
and Parabens found in most commercial cosmetic and cleaning products), climate, dry air, too much sun, and psychological
factors like stress and anxiety.
The decline in breastfeeding can also be attributed to the increase in eczema amongst toddlers. This is because breast milk has
been found to protect against many childhood disorders such as eczema as well as colds and other infections. Furthermore,
over-protecting children from exposure to dirt and germs could be destroying their immune systems' ability to respond
appropriately to infection and other stimuli.
Antibiotics are sometimes given in combination with steroids as standard therapy for eczema. The rationale behind this is that
the open sores common to eczema may become infected. However, continual use of antibiotics can cause Candida overgrowth
which can actually make the eczema worse.
Tips for curing eczema
• There is no doubt that Eczema can be affected by stress. Find the time to de-stress by doing whatever calms your
mind. Ensure that you receive plenty of rest as sleep is a wonderful rejuvenator.
• Try to avoid pain killers like paracetamol. It has been observed that eczema rates have increased in line with sales of
paracetamol. Paracetamol use has already been associated with an increase in asthma and rhinitis in young adults.
• There continues to be evidence that Oolong tea can help to reduce the symptoms of eczema, so drink up!
• The intake of alcohol should be eliminated or reduced as alcohol removes precious nutrients from your body.
• Good food is the key, so go organic where possible to avoid pesticides. The intake of fatty acids, (milk, meat,
margarine) may worsen eczema. It is recommended that you supplement your diet instead with cold pressed essential
fatty acids such as evening primrose oil or hemp oil. A diet high in oily fish is another good way to boost good fats.
Please note that if your body is low on essential fatty acids, it may take up to 6 months to get your levels back to
• Eat plenty of 'rainbow food', these are vegetables and fruits of all colours. This will ensure that you ingest all the
beneficial enzymes available for your bodily functions and ultimately your immune system.
• A little sunlight can be very beneficial for eczema as it promotes the production of vitamin D and the warmth makes you
• The healing of massage will help in general and get stress levels lowered, but ensure that you use organic oils. Hemp
seed oils, coconut oils and almond oils are very good for treating eczema.
• Try to avoid acrylic and nylon and fabrics that make you sweat as they can cause further irritation. Cotton is optimal.
Organic cotton that is free of irritating pesticides is your best bet.
• Wash your clothes with organic or natural cleaning products. The harsh chemicals contained in commercial detergents
have been known to irritate the skin.
• Use organic skincare products. This is essential. The main eczema skin allergy triggers are Petroleum & SLS. Sodium
Lauryl Sulphate and Sodium Laureth Sulphate are foaming agents found in most commercial shampoos, shower gels,
face washes and bubble baths and they have been found to disrupt the natural acid mantle of your skin. Skin needs to
retain a nice natural water resistant base to defend itself from invading microbes, etc. The sebum and sweat combine
nicely to form this healthy acid mantle (which is also a mild anti-bactericide too). When this mantle has been disturbed
more sensitive skins will be prone to skin disorders such as eczema . Petro-chemical derived ingredients (mineral oil,
petrolatum, petroleum, propylene glycol, paraffinum liquidum) suffocate the sensitive skin's ability to breathe acting like
a cling-film wrap. The skin becomes hot and itchy as a result which can lead to eczema. These ingredients can be
found in perfume/fragrances, and in most, if not all mainstream skincare and hair care products.
• Some essential oils can also trigger a reaction. If you are unsure, stick to fragrance free skincare products. For your
reference however, eczema kind ingredients include myrrh, calendula, chamomile, almond oil, witch hazel, aloe vera,
jojoba and evening primrose oil.
• Only use handmade natural soap.
• Try not to over shower or bath as too much washing can make your skin dry out. It is important to give the natural oils
in your skin a chance to work too.
• Exercise on a regular basis and keep drinking plenty of water. The constant flow of liquid releases toxins from your
system and exercise will keep a sluggish lymph at bay. Both will enable you to experience far more balance within your
• Avoid bubble bath, instead add plant oil based oils to bath water to heal and nourish your skin.
• Do not exfoliate inflamed skin. When your eczema has healed it is however important to exfoliate as this helps to
remove any dead skin cells.
• Vitamins A, B, C, E, bioflavanoids, Magnesium and Zinc are also helpful supplements to heal and prevent eczema.
Detoxing and bowel cleansing has also been shown to help eczema.
Source: Faithful to Nature