Anyone who suffers from dry, sensitive, and itchy skin is said to have eczema. It can also include symptoms of red and warm skin, dark discoloration, rashes, swelling, blistering, peeling, and oozing.
What Causes Eczema?
It is estimated that up to 30 million Americans are living with eczema. The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but there is some evidence that it could have genetic origins. It has been closely associated with the development of asthma and/or hay fever, called the atopic triad: if one or both parents have eczema, hay fever, or asthma, it’s likely their children will develop one or more of the conditions.
While there is no known cure, people who have eczema may experience periods of remission when the skin is clear. A return of symptoms – or flare-ups – can be induced by environmental triggers. These include:
- Chemical irritants found in soaps, detergents, shampoos, disinfectants, and household cleansers
- Allergens from pet dander, pollens, molds, and dandruff
- Micro-organisms like viruses, bacteria, and fungi
- Swings in temperature from hot weather, sweating during physical activity, and high and low humidity
- Food allergies from eating dairy, eggs, soy, wheat, nuts, and seeds
- Clothing made of wool or synthetic fibers
You can reduce the symptoms of eczema by identifying your individual triggers and avoiding them whenever possible. Wearing soft and natural fibers like cotton, eliminating certain foods from your diet, and washing with mild cleansers are some of the easier lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent eczema.
Alternative Treatments for Eczema
Although there are plenty of remedies available to those who suffer from eczema – from topical steroids, phototherapy, immunosuppressants, and over-the-counter creams – a clinical survey found that more than 40% of those polled were dissatisfied with the current state of medical treatments for eczema, reporting that medications are ineffective, expensive, or cause adverse side effects.
The good news here is that natural therapies are gaining ground as individuals look to alternatives and researchers are learning more about the healing properties of plants and herbs. Botanical oils, applied topically, have shown much potential when it comes to reducing skin inflammation while increasing the skin’s moisture barrier. Holistically, essential oils can be used to treat some of the underlying issues at play during eczema flare-ups by combating anxiety and treating hormone imbalance.
Anti–Itch Spray – Mix 12 drops each of lavender, tea tree (melaleuca), clove, and rosemary with four ounces of a carrier oil like coconut (good for its anti-bacterial properties) and transfer to a spray bottle.