I get quite a few questions about skin problems like eczema and psoriasis. Im not a dermatologist by any means, but I have had some personal experience with eczema (in myself and family) and have found some natural remedies that are helpful so I wanted to share.
I feel it is important to note that all of the topical remedies in the world didnt help us until we addressed the underlying problem, specifically: diet and lifestyle factors that were causing/contributing to the eczema to begin with.
Just as you cant out supplement a bad diet in other areas, topical remedies dont address the underlying problem that is causing the eczema to begin with.
Certainly, eczema and other skin issues are complex conditions with a potential variety of causes, but there do seem to be some common things that help (both dietary and other).
In our family, our son struggled with eczema off and on for a long time before we were finally able to get rid of it. He was born via c-section (due to placenta previa) and was given antibiotics and steroids as soon as he was born. This led to problems with his gut bacteria, some learning delays and some skin/digestive problems. We started the GAPS program combined with a pretty intensive supplement and lifestyle change for him and finally started to see improvement.
If you havent heard of it, GAPS is:
The protocol inGut and Psychology Syndromeis basically an intensive nutritional program to heal the gut lining. It focuses on soothing and healing the gut lining with foods likebone brothand beneficial fats while boosting beneficial gut bacteria with probiotics and fermented foods.
Depending on the severity of the patient, one either begins with or works up to the Introduction Diet, which is the strictest part of the protocol, focused on intensive healing. There are then stages as the person begins to introduce other foods. The most difficult factor of the GAPS diet is that in order to be effective, especially in the beginning, one must be 100% compliant. This means a lot of preparing foods at home, as practically any foods prepared by someone not familiar with the protocol will have things that canaggravatethe gut.
For us, it meant a diet high in healing foods like bone broth (great for skin) and healthy fats and removing certain foods including gluten and casein (wheat and dairy). We also found that it was helpful to avoid food dyes and any processed ingredients, though this was as much from a behavior perspective as a skin one.
If you or a family member struggle with skin problems, allergies or behavior struggles, Id definitely recommend at least checking out the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome to see if the protocol would be helpful for you.
Eczema isnt a problem just because it causes pain and itching. In babies, it can be a risk factor for other problems. I didnt realize this when we were figuring out my sons issues, but according to newer research babies with eczema have a 1 in 3 chance of developing a food allergy later in life.
Moreover, research shows infants with eczema being 11 times more likely to develop a peanut allergy by their first birthday compared to infants without eczema.
Due to this research and other landmark clinical trials such as the LEAP trial, medical guidelines, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), now recommend introducing allergenic foods early and often specifically for infants with eczema to reduce their risk of developing a food allergy. (I explain why in this post.)
Depending on the severity of your childs eczema, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) recommends parents do the following:
Early allergen introduction can be a tricky process for parents, especially for infants that are not yet ready to eat solid foods. Thankfully, there are companies creating solutions like this non-GMO organic supplement that you can mix into babys breastmilk, formula, or food to give baby the right levels of exposure and reduce the risk of future food allergies.
Of course, once diet has been addressed, there are some things that can be used topically to speed healing or limit discomfort during the healing time. For us, these things were helpful:
I use coconut oil for everything. It is one of the things that would absolutely be on my list in a you-are-going-to-an-island-and-can-only-bring-five-things type situation. We use it for skin, hair, teeth, health and even soap making at our house, but it is also great for eczema (as long as the person isnt allergic/intolerant to coconut!).
Ive found that for us, a thin layer of coconut oil or a coconut oil lotion bar helps cool eczema itching and pain. For those sensitive to coconut oil, these hypoallergenic lotion bars work really well too.
For eczema that is wet/oozing, Ive found that drying it works better than trying to moisturize it and offers relief. For this, we use a homemade salt and magnesium spray. Ive often heard people with skin problems say that they felt better at the beach, and it makes sense. Between the Vitamin D, the magnesium and the minerals in the water, the beach is great for skin health!
For those who dont live near the ocean, this homemade spraycan help achieve some of the same benefits at home.
Sounds nasty (doesnt taste so great either) but fermented cod liver oil is one of the supplements we take daily. From a past post:
Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO) is recommended by the Weston A. Price Foundation and is a great source of healthy fats for the body. This supplement is also an integral part of thetooth remineralization processas detailed by Dr. Price and by Rami Nagel inCure Tooth Decay. These two help reduce inflammation in the body and lead to healthy cell, hormone and brain development. They are especially important during pregnancy and for children while their brains are developing.
Cod Liver Oil/High Vitamin Butter Oil are a great source of the fat-soluble vitamins A,D, E and K and as such are supportive of hundreds or processes in the body. The supplements are rather pricey, but weve seen a big difference from adding this to our regimen (including skin health!)
We takeFermented Cod Liver Oil in CapsulesorFermented Cod Liver Oil/High Vitamin Butter Oil blendin Gel Form.
Yes, the taste is terrible and yes, my kids do have to take it anyway. You can sneak the chocolate flavored gel into smoothies though.
For some people with eczema, soaking in water makes it worse. For those who tolerate it, magnesium baths and other types of detox baths can be helpful in skin healing.
I regularly add a cup of epsom salts ormagnesium flakesand a few tablespoons of Himalayan salt to my kids baths. When I have the time, I take relaxing baths in this mixture also.
When I cant take the time for a bath,magnesium oilalso helps. Amazingly, I notice the benefits oftransdermal magnesium(baths ormagnesium oil) much more quickly than when I take internal forms of magnesium.
My favorite magnesium bath recipe is:
These three detox bath recipes are also all great if the person can handle warm water.
Just as with the Fermented Cod Liver Oil, probiotics are one supplement that seems to make a noticeable difference with skin health (if the problem is diet/gut related). For us, high quality probiotics were vital when we were intensively doing GAPS.
Probiotics and probiotic-rich foods are another element that is often missing from the modern diet. Im constantly seeing more research on the many ways that gut bacteria influences our health. In the past, people often preserved food by fermenting it, which also was a good source of probiotics for them. Now, most foods are dead, and we rarely ferment them in thetraditionalways, so we dont consume probiotic rich foods without a specific effort to do so.
We also make an effort to wash our hands and our food (a good thing with the chemicals on them these days) which also wash off the beneficial soil-borne micro-organisms that provide friendly-bacteria to the gut.
Since gut bacteria is so important, probiotics are one supplement I always make sure to take. You can get someprobiotics in fermented food and drinkssuch as:
We takeBio-Kult Probiotics(developed by the founder of the GAPS diet it doesnt have to be refrigerated) and Ive seen digestive improvements from this brand (Ive often see no result from other probiotics). We all take these as a dailymaintenance, but at the first sign of digestive troubles or illness, we double or triple the dose until we are better. I also took these to heal after I got food poisoning, and was back to normal in a couple of days.
I sneak them into the kids smoothies and drinks, and my older ones will even swallow or chew the capsule (they are small).
Ive mentioned that bone broth was an important part of a healing diet for us, and this was partially because of its high gelatin content. Gelatin is very soothing to the gut and is also great for hair, skin and nail health.
Homemade, nutrient dense bone broth is incredibly easy and inexpensive to make. There is no comparison to the store-bought versions which often contain MSG or other chemicals and which lack gelatin and some of the other health-boosting properties of homemade broth.
In selecting the bones for broth, look for high quality bones from grass fed cattle or bison, pastured poultry or wild caught fish. Since youll be extracting the minerals and drinking them in concentrated form, you want to make sure that the animal was as healthy as possible.
There are several places to find good bones for stock:
This recipe for broth is my favorite and is an adaption of the recipe inNourishing Traditions.
For those who arent ready to jump in to having a pot of boiling bones on the stove, some of the same benefits can be obtained from taking Gelatin as a supplement instead.We useGreat Lakes Koshersince I was able to verify with the company that it is sourced from grass-fed, humanely raised cows, and as such is higher in nutrients.
I also use Gelatin in recipes like:
For scars or blisters from eczema that take longer to heal, a homemade healing salve was helpful for us. Our son would get eczema on his face before we were able to heal his gut and we are still working on reversing the scars from that. One thing that is helping is this homemade healing salve.
My homemade healing salve (or boo-boo lotion, according to the kids) is helpful on eczema as well as: cuts, bruises, stings, poison ivy and skin irritations. It also helps diaper rash and baby skin irritations- just dont use with cloth diapers or line them first!
Here is the recipe.
I vividly remember how terrible it was to watch my son suffer through his eczema and I know the pain of not being able totake away the pain/itching a child experiences. The book The Eczema Cureis a very thorough resource and provides answers when it feels like youve tried everything else. Use the code WMAMA20 at this link for 20% off.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Have you ever struggled with eczema or skin problems? What helped you? Share below!
- Im a dermatologist, and these are the mistakes I see people make when treating eczema - Well+Good - January 18th, 2020
- Alitretinoin an Effective Option in Children With Hand Eczema - Dermatology Advisor - January 18th, 2020
- News Local mom and engineer starts soap company inspired by her son with eczema Anu Prakash - WXYZ - January 18th, 2020
- Sheffield study of newborn babies seeks to prevent eczema - The Star - January 18th, 2020
- Colloidal Oatmeal: Why Derms Love This Ingredient for Dry or Irritated Skin - Self - January 18th, 2020
- Putting the Pro in Probiotics | Nutrition and Fitness | iosconews.com - Iosco County News Herald - January 18th, 2020
- Itchy face: Causes, symptoms, and treatment - Medical News Today - January 18th, 2020
- Bucks students urged to think before they comment on eczema - Mix 96 - January 18th, 2020
- 4 things to know about eczema - WRAL.com - January 18th, 2020
- 12 Itchy Skin Treatments That Work, According to Dermatologists - Prevention.com - January 18th, 2020
- Weeping Eczema: What Is It, And How To Know If You Have It | - SpaceCoastDaily.com - December 31st, 2019
- Works like magic Miracle cream claims to cure dry winter skin in just seven days and its less than 6 - woman&home - December 31st, 2019
- 10 Facts Moms Should Know About Babies And Eczema | BabyGaga - BabyGaga - December 31st, 2019
- Oldest cure that never spoils: Honey - Daily Sabah - December 31st, 2019
- Control eczema flare-ups with these itch-relieving creams - Yahoo Style - December 16th, 2019
- Emerging Markets Report - Hoth Therapeutics on the Fast Track Toward Delivering Eczema Therapy Products to Market - BioSpace - December 16th, 2019
- Love Island: Molly-Mae Hague says she has eczema since leaving the show - The Media Hq - December 16th, 2019
- LEO Pharma announces positive top-line results for tralokinumab from three Phase 3 studies in adult patients with moderate-to-severe AD - Business... - December 16th, 2019
- My Health, My Choice: Are you itching to improve dry skin? - VVdailypress.com - December 16th, 2019
- Atopic dermatitis in teens with skin of color - Dermatology Times - December 16th, 2019
- Medical News Today: Psoriasis vs. Eczema: Differences in Symptoms and Treatment - Wellston Journal - December 16th, 2019
- Im a Teen with Eczema and Its Impacted My Life More Than You Can Know - Yahoo Lifestyle - December 16th, 2019
- life-sized 'emma' reminds everyone what bad posture at work can lead to - Designboom - December 16th, 2019
- Sanofi Says Its $2.5 Billion Biotech Takeover Is Just the Beginning - The Motley Fool - December 16th, 2019
- Everything Parents Need To Know About Eczema In Kids - Yahoo Singapore News - December 10th, 2019
- Eczema Ointments and Creams Might Be a Big Part of the Problem - Gilmore Health News - December 10th, 2019
- Aldis 3.99 miracle cream which shoppers say blasts acne and helps eczema is back in stock - The Sun - December 10th, 2019
- How To Add Honey To Your Skincare Regimen - Forbes - December 10th, 2019
- Sensitive Skin: Causes, Symptoms, Triggers and Treatment Expert Tips - Allure - December 10th, 2019
- Eczema Skin-Care Products Market 2019- Global Industry Analysis, By Key Players, Segmentation, Application, Demand And Forecast By 2024 - Montana... - December 10th, 2019
- Prone To Irritation Around Your Eyes? You May Be Overlooking The Culprit - mindbodygreen.com - December 10th, 2019
- Parents Reveal The Pain Of Helping A Child With Eczema - 10 daily - December 3rd, 2019
- CBD Brands Initiates Study to Investigate a Novel Cannabidiol Lotion for the Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) - PRNewswire - December 3rd, 2019
- Why This Atopic Dermatitis Study Was So Well Received - 24/7 Wall St. - December 3rd, 2019
- Prevent Suffering From Skin Inflammation This Winter By Avoiding This One Thing - International Business Times - December 3rd, 2019
- Sanofi and Regeneron's medical congress campaign focuses on type 2 inflammation education for docs - FiercePharma - November 21st, 2019
- Atopic dermatitis linked to increased risk of atrial fibrillation - Dermatology Times - November 21st, 2019
- What is cica? Everything a dermatologist wants you to know about this buzzy ingredient - Yahoo Lifestyle - November 21st, 2019
- Discover the Eczema Market Size Research Report 2019-2028 - Daily News Collectors - November 21st, 2019
- Itching after a shower: Causes and remedies - Medical News Today - November 15th, 2019
- Itchy tattoo: Causes and treatment - Medical News Today - November 15th, 2019
- Mum whose toddlers eczema was so bad he needed to be bandaged praises 7 miracle cream - The Sun - November 15th, 2019
- Eczema: These essential oils will soothe your skin - TheHealthSite - November 15th, 2019
- The only way to cure my agonising eczema was to STOP treatment after I suffered horrendous withd - The Sun - November 15th, 2019
- Why eczema can get worse in the winter, according to a doctor - Daily Star - November 15th, 2019
- Montrose tot Alfie gets on his bike to raise cash for skin condition charity which has helped his family - The Courier - November 15th, 2019
- Atopic Eczema Treatment Market 2019, Trend, CAGR Status, Growth, Analysis and Forecast to 2024 - Virtualnewsusa - November 15th, 2019
- Evidence Growing That Eczema Itch More Than Skin Deep - Medscape - November 3rd, 2019
- Itchy Skin Conditions And Mental Health Are Linked, And We Need to Talk About It - ScienceAlert - November 3rd, 2019
- Ive Tried Hundreds Of Sensitive Skin Products Heres What I Recommend - Refinery29 - November 3rd, 2019
- This Creepy Life-Sized Doll Is a Warning About What Office Life Is Doing to Us - ScienceAlert - November 3rd, 2019
- Effectiveness of clinical decision support tools on pediatrician adherence to peanut allergy prevention guidelines - 2 Minute Medicine - November 3rd, 2019
- Eczema On The Face: How To Care For Your Skin Naturally - mindbodygreen.com - October 30th, 2019
- Best Eczema Makeup According to Dermatologists and Other Beauty Pros - STYLECASTER - October 30th, 2019
- How to keep your skin healthy this winter - Post Register - October 30th, 2019
- Norovirus to shigella and eczema the ultimate guide to protect your kids from winter bugs - The Sun - October 30th, 2019
- International Day of the Girl Child, Introducing 'Eiko Kitagawa' empowering woman from Japan - Thrive Global - October 30th, 2019
- A Terrifying Glimpse At What Office Workers Could Look Like In 20 Years - IFLScience - October 30th, 2019
- Eczema Awareness Month 2019 - Everyday Health - October 20th, 2019
- Chronic Itch: New Therapy, Complexities - MedPage Today - October 20th, 2019
- How mould and damp in your home affects your body and health - and what to do about it - MyLondon - October 20th, 2019
- Eczema Skin-Care Products Market Growth, Competition landscape, Sales, Revenue, Distributors and Forecast till 2025 - Online News Guru - October 20th, 2019
- 'I Tried Wet Wrap Therapy for Eczema, and It Helped Reset My Skin' - Everyday Health - October 17th, 2019
- Meet the Northern Ireland people battling eczema who are finally comfortable in their own skin - Belfast Telegraph - October 17th, 2019
- Our top scientists and the discovery that could revolutionise cancer, eczema treatment - The Age - October 17th, 2019
- Eczema Body Lotions That Will Save Your Winter Skin - STYLECASTER - October 17th, 2019
- Bausch Health Announces Updated Health Canada Safety Information for ELIDEL - Canada NewsWire - October 17th, 2019
- Study: Babies who are heavier at birth may have a higher risk of childhood allergies - Malay Mail - October 17th, 2019
- What Are the Benefits of Turmeric? - The New York Times - October 17th, 2019
- Give your Eczema-prone skin twice the nourishment it deserves with the help of Aveenos Dermexa - Business Mirror - October 17th, 2019
- Should You Try an Elimination Diet to Determine the Root Cause of Eczema? - Everyday Health - October 11th, 2019
- Long-Term Dupilumab Safe, Effective in Adolescents with Atopic Dermatitis - Pharmacy Times - October 11th, 2019
- Eating Fish in Early Childhood Even Just Once a Week Reduces Risk of Disease - SciTechDaily - October 11th, 2019
- Breath of fresh heir: how Succession became the must-watch TV of the year - The Guardian - October 11th, 2019
- Feed your kids fish if you want to reduce their risk of eczema & asthma - TimesLIVE - October 10th, 2019
- Dermatologist shares top tips for treating eczema - and busts myths about painful skin condition - Heart - October 10th, 2019
- Arcutis Announces Enrollment of Last Patient in Phase 2a Clinical Trial of ARQ-151 Cream as a Potential Topical Treatment for Atopic Dermatitis -... - October 10th, 2019
- LEO Pharma to Highlight Data at 28th Congress of the European Academy of Dermatology (EADV) - Yahoo Finance - October 10th, 2019
- Inside the First-Ever Skin Folks Event: A Series Aiming To Build a More Inclusive Skincare Community - Vogue - October 10th, 2019
- CBS4s Frances Wang Reveals Personal & Painful Skin Condition To Help Others - CBS Miami - October 4th, 2019