August 19 2021
Eczema is a skin condition characterized by inflammation of the skin along with the formation of scaly, dry, and flaky rashes which often cause redness and itching. Eczema is considered to be chronic when repetitive flare-ups occur due to various environmental trigger factors. Some of the different types of eczema include dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, stasis dermatitis, dyshidrotic dermatitis, and nummular dermatitis.
Eczema is a non-contagious disease which means it does not spread through touch. Some of the common causes of eczema include triggers such as genetic and environmental factors like allergens, irritants, and toxins which may occur either inside or outside the body which activate the immune system causing inflammation leading to symptoms of eczema on the skin.
Some of the symptoms of eczema are itching, dry and sensitive skin, red and discoloured skin, inflammation of the skin, the formation of rough, scaly, and leathery skin, swelling, oozing, and crusting. A few examples of factors that can trigger eczema are:
- Chemical irritants- soaps, lotions, and shampoos that contain harsh chemicals
- Environmental allergens- dust, mites, pets, pollen, weeds, and moulds
- Temperatures- extremely hot or cold temperatures like humidity
- Mental and emotional stress- cause inflammation
- Food sensitivity- allergic reactions to certain foods and leaky gut syndrome
- Hormonal imbalances- shifts in hormonal levels such as during the menstrual cycle
- Microbial overgrowth- increased growth of gut microbes causes stress leading to inflammation.
Causes of eczema
The causes of eczema may vary from individual to individual some of which are:
Genetics - The presence of the gene known as the FLE gene which is essential for the formation of a protein called filaggrin helps in maintaining the integrity of the skin barrier and adequate hydration of the skin.
Leaky gut and gut inflammation - In conditions such as leaky gut syndrome and gut inflammation, there is a disruption in the skin barrier integrity which can trigger various skin disorders such as eczema.
Chronic infections - Conditions such as Lyme disease and Epstein Barr Virus also are causative factors for triggering inflammation and may lead to aggravation of skin conditions like eczema.
Environmental toxins - One of the most common causative factors of eczema are environmental toxins such as pollen, mould, mites, and pets which are mainly associated with atopic dermatitis.
Food allergies - Some of the most common sources of food sensitivity are gluten, dairy products, corn, eggs, and sugar and the causes of allergies are due to various substances present in foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, and fish like shellfish.
Chronic stress and lack of sleep
Chronic stress and absence of adequate sleep are all considered to be trigger factors for inflammation-causing immune compromise which increases the risk of developing eczema.
Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D is essential for the proper development of skin, bone, muscle, and brain. Vitamin D has been found to decrease inflammation in the body thereby reducing the risk of getting various skin disorders such as eczema, acne, seborrhoea, dermatitis, and psoriasis. Studies show that individuals suffering from eczema have low levels of vitamin D.
Natural remedies for the treatment of eczema
For improving the symptoms associated with eczema, the trigger factors and the underlying causes should be addressed with dietary as well as lifestyle modifications. Some of them are:
Inflammatory foods such as refined sugar and oils, dairy products, artificial preservatives, and aerated beverages are some of the factors which increase inflammation and cause various conditions such as eczema. Including anti-inflammatory foods in the diet like fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, foods that contain a low glycemic index, and eggs cause symptomatic relief in eczema.
Various foods can cause adverse reactions in some individuals which should be identified and eliminated from the diet to avoid triggers of skin issues like eczema. Biofeedback testing methods which include muscle response testing, pulse response testing, and following elimination diet are some diagnostic tools to determine which foods can cause allergic reactions.
Reducing stress and getting proper sleep
Many times, flare-ups of skin disorders such as eczema are often caused by stress, lack of proper sleep, anxiety, and other associated psychological factors. Various methods should be applied to relieve stress such as meditation, breathing exercises, physical activity, and enjoying nature. A fixed sleep pattern should be strictly adhered to and various distractions like loud sounds, sugar, and caffeine intake should be refrained from before bedtime.
Avoiding molds and allergens
Some of the primary triggers of skin disorders such as eczema have been identified as mold which should be removed from homes. Eliminating extremely harsh chemicals that are ingredients in various cleaning, body, and beauty products should be avoided if possible to minimize the risk of developing flare-ups of eczema. Selecting and using organic and herbal products should be tried along with proper purification of air inside our home.
Improving water and air quality
Improper air and impure water are also identified as triggers for developing eczema. Regular vacuuming of the house should be undertaken to remove dust. Air purifiers should be employed which are highly effective in removing mold, allergens, and various viruses as well as bacteria from inside the house.
Sun exposure and vitamin D supplements
In many individuals who are suffering from eczema, phototherapy is beneficial in providing symptomatic relief. The main mechanism of action of phototherapy is it reduces itching and skin proliferation, it has immense anti-inflammatory effects, it contributes to the vitamin D levels in the body and it also promotes immune regulation. Exposure to sunlight and intake of foods rich in vitamin D like oily fish, egg yolks along with intake of vitamin D supplements are also recommended.
Supplementing with omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are known as essential fatty acids which have proven beneficial effects in the symptomatic treatment of skin disorders such as eczema as they have potent anti-inflammatory effects and they act as regulators of epidermal barriers and also promote sebum forms which are essential for reducing the risk of developing eczema and other skin disorders. Alvizia omega 3 rich flaxseed oil capsules play an important role in cleansing and conditioning the skin.