A Holistic Approach to Heal Eczema Naturally

A Holistic Approach to Heal Eczema Naturally

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis as it is also known, is an inflammatory skin condition that causes red, very dry, irritated, and itchy skin. It affects millions of people worldwide.  It primarily affects babies and young children, roughly 30% of Australian children are affected, but 15% of Australian adults also suffer from eczema.

What Causes Eczema

The cause of eczema is still considered unknown. A variety of genes are involved which makes it harder to pinpoint. It is a condition that involves the interaction of genes with environmental and immunologic factors which means any treatment should take a holistic view. Recent studies suggest psycho-neuro-immune factors are all involved, so this includes stress and emotions too.

Generally, it is accepted that this skin issue is an impairment of the immune system and the skin structure. The result is a decrease in moisturising cells and a rise of inflammation. Sometimes eczema/atopic dermatitis gets referred to as an autoimmune disease, but it is not technically characterised as one and more research is necessary to confirm or disprove this theory. It is generally agreed that there is, however, a link between the immune system and eczema.

This doesn’t mean eczema sufferers have a weak immune system, but it is highly likely they have a sensitive one that reacts to certain triggers causing redness and swelling.

Eczema sufferers have a skin barrier that doesn’t keep out germs, allergens, and bacteria’s as it should. When these break through the skin barrier, the immune system reacts.

On a side note, this often gets referred to as your body attacking itself. Really what your body is doing is protecting itself. This is a much more positive way to think about your body and how it looks after you.

To understand this a little more we can look at how the skin is structured.

The skin has three main layers:

  • The deepest layer (hypodermis)
  • The middle layer (the dermis)
  • The upper layer, or top layer (the epidermis)

Eczema affects the epidermis. It causes this top level of skin barrier to weaken, allowing moisture to escape and the breaks in the layer allow these allergens to get in. 

This is why it is important for eczema sufferers to always keep their skin well hydrated.

A scientific diagram of the skin layers

How to Eliminate the Allergens that Cause Eczema

It can be hard to determine what the allergens are that are causing your eczema. It is quite individual and differs from person to person. There are some commonalities though, which might provide a starting point whereby you can eliminate them and see what happens when you bring them back in one by one. It can also be helpful to work with an allergist to figure out what the causes may be, particularly for food allergens. Stress and emotions can also play a role, but we will address that further down.

Common allergens often cited by eczema sufferers include:

The top food allergens that may trigger eczema:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Gluten
  • Seafood
  • Peanuts

These allergens usually bring on a sensitivity, rather than trigger an intolerance. This is why it can be hard to pinpoint allergen causes of eczema because sensitivities might not erupt for a few hours or days, whereas intolerances are usually immediate. For example, one individual may merely touch a peanut and go into anaphylactic shock right away. For another individual the food sensitivity is not life threatening but may result in an itchy, swollen rash on the skin in a few days’ time.

How to Eat Well for Eczema

In general, what we put into our body, stress and environmental factors, will have an impact on skin health, even if you don’t get atopic dermatitis, you may get acne or breakouts, psoriasis or very dry skin.

Skin loving elements to include:

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which protects us from oxidative stress accumulating in the body, it helps with the body’s natural production of collagen, and it is essential for supporting the immune system. Foods high in Vitamin C include; kiwi fruits, strawberries, citrus fruits, capsicum, mango, rosehips, and Kakadu plum powder.

Zinc is also an antioxidant; it supports the immune function and it is beneficial for wound healing. Include shellfish, pumpkin seeds, eggs, legumes, and oats.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D may be involved with immune and inflammatory functions in the body. A smart approach to getting some gentle sunshine every day while keeping the skin safe, is the most powerful and absorbable source of vitamin D we have. Fatty fish, eggs and mushrooms are also high in vitamin D.

Essential fatty acids 
Skin health is greatly supported by healthy fats and foods that are high in omega-6 fatty acids help maintain the building blocks of healthy cell membranes, prevent dryness, and maintain hydration. Foods like coconut oil, avocado, walnuts, almonds, fatty fish like salmon, chia seeds and flax seeds are all high in essential fatty acids. 

Prebiotics and probiotics
These play an important role in overall skin health, while limited research supports probiotics as a remedy for atopic dermatitis, it is beneficial to be mindful of maintaining a healthy microbiome which will translate to a healthier skin microbiome. 

There are some probiotics on the market that are specifically tailored to support eczema. This probiotic has clinically trials behind it and might be worth looking into.  Prebiotics are essentially what feed the growth of probiotics so it’s important to include these in our diet to maintain healthy gut flora. Prebiotics include fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi plus foods like garlic, bananas, papaya, artichoke, kiwi fruit, and oats. 

Stress, Emotions & Preventing Eczema Flare-ups

The mind and the body are explicitly linked, so it makes sense that neurological factors would come into play for eczema. Just like many people notice they have breakouts during stressful times, people with eczema may notice flareups during periods of high stress as well.

A systematic review of published research into stress and skin disorders showed a close link between emotions and overall health of your skin. 

Stress involves a spike in the hormone cortisol and when the body produces high amounts of cortisol it can trigger eczema. Cortisol can cause the skin to become oilier, which can trigger the irritation and prevent it from healing faster.

Chronic stress also impacts the immune response. When stressed the body puts a lot of energy into keeping itself safe from immediate threats. It triggers the sympathetic nervous system to release certain hormones as part of its survival instincts. It wants to focus on keeping the heart pumping lots of blood to the limbs to be ready for a fight or flight response.  This can take focus away from other body functions like the digestion and the immune system, which as we have just discussed, are important for helping to balance and maintain healthy skin.

woman with healthy skin

To minimise and manage stress:

  • Take time to do activities you enjoy whether it be reading, watching a movie, or having dinner with friends.
  • Make time to move your body every day and in a way that you enjoy most - dancing, yoga, Pilates, walking, cycling, surfing, or playing a sport.
  • Take time to chill out in a quiet place. Run a warm bath (not too hot or soapy for eczema sufferers), practice meditation, or simply sit somewhere restful with a cup of tea.
  • Find time to be in nature. Have a picnic in the park, go for a stroll or a sit at the beach, find a bush track to walk.
  • Find supportive people to talk to whether it be friends, a family member or a counsellor or psychologist or other health care professional.

Top Tips to Soothe & Treat Eczema Naturally

  • Take short baths and showers with warm (not hot water).
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals on your skin, use mild body wash or soap that won’t strip the natural oils from your skin or interfere with the pH.
  • Use sensitive, fragrance-free washing detergent.
  • Moisturise your skin twice daily to maintain skin hydration and reduce dryness and irritation.
  • Wear clothing that is breathable and doesn’t rub against your skin increasing irritation. Natural fibres like cotton, hemp and linen make it easier for your skin to breathe.

flowers on skin naturally heal eczema

Ayurveda and Eczema: A Traditional Science Viewpoint

Ayurvedic medicine is a natural system of traditional medicine native to India. The term Ayurveda means “knowledge of life” and is derived from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge)

In Ayurvedic medicine they consider eczema to signify a build-up of ‘amas’ toxins in the body which is due to excessive heat in the body. Ayurveda aims to tackle the root cause of eczema and considers a holistic approach that includes digestion, diet, lifestyle, immune system, and stress.

These are some Ayurvedic recommendations:

  • Reduce heat invoking foods like red wine, chilli and coffee.
  • Avoid extreme water temperatures like ice baths, hot baths and showers.
  • Pat your skin dry, don’t rub it.
  • Moisturise right after your shower or bath to lock in moisture.
  • Apply cold pressed oils like almond or sesame or coconut before showering to help lock in moisture (you could add some drops of Tea Tree to the oil here, as we discuss below).
  • Use rosewater as a skin spray to balance the skin pH, maintain hydration and keep the skin cool.
  • Avoid skincare with alcohol, parabens, silicones, phthalate, paraffin, or mineral oil and citrus oils.
  • Opt for skincare with short ingredient lists to limit exposure to aggravators.

Should I Use Steroid Creams for Treating Eczema?

If you can manage your eczema with natural remedies, reducing stress and being mindful about allergens, you may find that you don’t need to use a cortisol or steroid cream. Corticosteroids are a synthetic version of hormones and are often prescribed to help with itchiness and inflammation, but they can have some unwanted side effects, and are not ideal for long term use.

Side effects of steroid creams may include:

  • Thinning of the skin or skin atrophy
  • Additional redness or peeling, allergic reactions
  • More susceptible to bruising
  • Rosacea or acne
  • Bursting of small blood vessels which can create purple spots or red spidery veins on the skin (also known as purpura)
  • Stretch marks

A Natural Remedy: The Benefits of Tea Tree Oil for Eczema

hand holding bottle of etto tea tree oil

As a clean alternative to helping with eczema, Tea Tree’s natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and analgesic properties can be useful for treating and soothing atopic dermatitis. Research shows Tea Tree oil’s effectiveness in a range of skin conditions and it is the most recommended essential oil for eczema. Many essential oils are not suitable for eczema prone skin and should be avoided, like citrus based oils.

The known and scientifically proven properties of Tea Tree oil and how they can assist with eczema:

  • Antioxidant – helps protects the skin from free radicals
  • Anti-inflammatory – helps to limit irritation and reduce redness
  • Antibacterial – helps to reduce infection and prevent spread of bacteria
  • Analgesic – helps to soothe pain and itching

Tea Tree oil is very potent and even though it can be used in small amounts neat on the skin, for conditions like atopic dermatitis it is important to always dilute it before putting on the skin.

These are our favourite ways to use ETTO Tea Tree oil to help eczema:

Soothing Bath
Run a luke-warm to warm bath and add 10 drops of ETTO pure 100% Tea Tree Oil, add a generous scoop of bicarb soda to further assist with reducing inflammation, irritation, and itching. This bath is ideal for eczema, psoriasis, sun burn and acne. Stay for only 10-15 minutes.

DIY Healing Oil
Choose an organic cold-pressed carrier oil that you like and combine 2 to 3 drops of ETTO 100% Tea Tree Oil to every tablespoon of carrier oil. Ideal carrier oils to try for eczema are coconut oil, avocado oil, almond oil, or jojoba oil. 

Cooling Wipes
Take a make-up wipe or a cotton wool ball, soak with water and add 1 to 2 drops of ETTO 100% Tea Tree oil and gently wipe over irritated areas of skin.

Clean Body Wash
ETTO Premedicated All Over Body Foam is also ideal for eczema prone skin. It is a light, gentle and all-natural formula containing coconut and Tea Tree oil. A lovely combination for soothing inflamed and itchy skin.

etto premedicated all over body foam silver can
Shop The Premedicated All Over Body Foam by ETTO, 200g, $35

Hemp Seed Oil to Heal & Prevent Eczema

Hemp seed oil has potent anti-inflammatory compounds including essential fatty acids and antioxidants which can help reduce symptoms of inflammation, itching and dryness associated with eczema.

ETTO’s The Skin Balm is perfect for keeping the skin barrier healthy and its all-natural ingredient list means your skin won’t be exposed to toxic chemicals or synthetic ingredients that are known to aggravate eczema.

The Skin Balm has a rich base of hemp seed. oil, olive oil and organic beeswax. These support skin restoration, replenishing essential fatty acids and providing a long-lasting moisture shield – essential for eczema.

The Skin Balm is boosted with other botanicals known for their calming and anti-inflammatory properties and effectiveness in treating eczema like chamomile, carrot oil and nettle root

We recommend applying The Skin Balm before or after your shower or bath and using at morning and at night. Also it is ideal to apply before any swimming in pools or oceans to keep the skins moisture in.

Shop The Skin Balm by ETTO, $40

Why ETTO Tea Tree Oil?

It is important when using essential oils, particularly when therapeutically, that you know you are using the correct oil. Many Tea Tree oils are diluted or adulterated with cheaper oils such as pine oil. You want to ensure you have 100% pure Tea Tree oil. The key bioactive in Tea Tree is terpinen-4-ol and this is what gives the oil its amazing properties, so you want to make sure it has a high concentration of terpinen. ETTO’s Tea Tree oil has very high concentrations at 35 to 48%. You can view our lab essay tests here

ETTO Tea Tree oil is grown in its native habitat in New South Wales Australia. We distil the oil using traditional steam extraction, so no chemicals or alcohols are used, revealing a truly pure oil of the highest quality.

Etto tea tree oil 100% pure
Shop 100% Pure Tea Tree Oil by ETTO, 50ml,  $58
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