General practitioners are seeing an increasing number of dermatitis and eczema cases with as many as 1 in 4 children suffering from skin problems! Sometimes linked to allergies, eczema may often be accompanied by asthma and hay fever or may simply be present as contact dermatitis.
Orthodox treatments tend to concentrate on the external application of certain creams, often harsh preparations based on steroid and cortisone, which carry the risk of being absorbed through the skin resulting in long term side effects.
Dermatitis literally means skin inflammation, and is similar to eczema. The primary cause appears to be contact allergy. You could be allergic to metals in jewellery, perfumes or cosmetics, detergents in shampoos, soaps or cleaning products. If you suffer from contact allergy it is most likely that you have a food allergy too. Dairy products and wheat are the most common allergens. Symptoms will be more aggressive if you lack essential fatty acids in your diet.
What can you do?
Choose organic produce and try to avoid meat. Fish, especially oily ones like salmon and mackerel are fine, but a vegetarian or vegan diet is preferable. Avoid dairy produce and wheat for a couple of weeks and see if there is any improvement. Try a cleansing herbal supplement or a cleansing diet. Add linseed oil and evening primrose oil to your diet and make sure you get enough zinc, magnesium and vitamins A, C and E.
The most common triggering factors are a combination of food allergies, lack of essential fatty acids and environmental factors. The environment is increasingly considered to be a serious trigger, starting in-utero when the baby is conceived.
Childhood eczema can in most instances be improved by making changes to the diet and lifestyle.
What can you do?
Breast feed instead of bottle feed. Research has shown that babies who are bottle-fed are much more likely to suffer from eczema.
Babies that are breast-fed and not given any solid foods or cow’s milk or eggs in the first 4 months are less likely to develop eczema. Breast-milk contains the perfect balance of essential fatty acids and natural antibodies. Previous studies have shown that eczema sufferers have significantly lower levels of essential fatty acids compared to non-sufferers.
Scientists in Canada have found that an isolated soy-protein formula used as a replacement for cow’s milk can significantly decrease eczema symptoms.
Parental smoking has been found to be a significant risk factor for allergic eczema.
The Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce itching and scaling. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in Linseed oil (Flax) 54%, Echium oil 45%, Chia oil 30%, Hemp seed oil 20%, Pumpkin seed oil 15%, Soya bean oil 7%, Walnut oil 5% and Wheatgerm oil 5%. Use only organic cold-pressed oils. Only to be used cold try it on your salad, rice, pasta or potatoes.
A poorly functioning digestive system causes the proliferation of toxins in the intestines and some of these toxins have been shown to contribute to the development of atopic eczema. Lactobacillus Acidophilus found in live natural yoghurt, is a friendly bacterium that colonises the intestines and can help correct the situation.
Eczema and psoriasis sufferers have been shown to have low levels of folic acid. Folic acid is found in green leafy vegetables and brewers yeast.
Several studies have shown that a gluten free diet can have remarkable effect on the skin lesions of eczema and psoriasis sufferers. Gluten is a sticky protein found in bread and other wheat and rye products. Rice and corn are gluten free foods.
Meats and dairy products contain arachidonic acid, a fatty acid that contributes to the inflammation experienced in eczema and psoriasis as well as rheumatism and arthritis. Animal fats can aggravate itching and irritation. Many people experience an improvement in their symptoms after introducing an adequate supply of important nutrients such as essential fatty acids from fish and evening primrose oil. Others experience a difference after adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Examples of common allergens in food are; oranges, chocolate, eggs and dairy foods, wheat, peanuts, tomatoes and food additives. Avoiding exposure to dietary allergens for a period of minimum 6 weeks can produce significant improvements.
A standard elimination diet avoiding cow’s milk, egg, tomatoes, colours and preservatives can help up to three-quarters of eczema sufferers.
Tap water with its high content of inorganic minerals, nitrates and nitrites, hormones and other “toxic” compounds has shown to make the eczema sufferers symptoms worse. Plenty of pure, clean spring water is of great importance to our health.
Try to avoid soaps and detergents as they remove natural lipids from the surface of the skin and make the skin even drier. Chose products made from truly natural ingredients, rich in plant oils and free from perfumes, petro-chemicals, artificial preservatives and foaming agents such as sodium lauryl sulphate. Products containing herbal extracts and essential oils of chamomile, lavender and sandalwood will often help soothe dry eczema.
Psoriasis is a completely different kind of skin condition from eczema or dermatitis and does not respond as well to nutritional interventions. Psoriasis may come and go.
What can you do?
Start with a cleansing tonic followed by a cleansing diet. Ensure that you get plenty of essential fatty acids. Limit your intake of meat and dairy produce – fish is all right. Supplement your diet with essential oils such as linseed and evening primrose oil. Make sure you get sufficient amounts of zinc, magnesium and vitamins A, C and E, and give yourself the chance to relax and de-stress.
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