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Though the actual number of Americans currently suffering from eczema seems to differ from study to study, one thing is abundantly clear: millions upon millions of Americans are currently living with this common and often chronic skin condition. Those in the medical profession often seem absolutely clueless when it comes to treating this condition, and many doctors have often told their patients that they’ll need to “learn to live” with eczema as there is no cure; they can only help with the symptoms. Their answer: corticosteroid treatments. But is this really the best way to be treating eczema?
What’s So Bad About Corticosteroids?
If you’ve ever tried corticosteroids, you know that such treatments will get rid of your eczema – or, at least they will at first. Many patients are absolutely thrilled when they begin to use this anti-inflammatory topical ointment on their eczema, and within a matter of days, all symptoms of the skin condition may disappear.
So what’s the problem with this? Users become addicted to it. The moment that someone stops using the ointment, the eczema will flare right back up. Even worse is that many people will need to continually use stronger and stronger steroidal treatments on their eczema as time passes and their body develops a dependency for it. In addition, these medicines are not without side effects. Use of corticosteroids can cause severe and permanent stretch marks, make it easier for the skin to bruise, and allow your skin to be more susceptible to infection.
The Causes Behind Eczema
While doctors will tell you that they don’t know what causes eczema, there are definitely many environmental factors that need to be looked at. Oftentimes, simply eliminating the environmental irritant from one’s life will cure the eczema completely. Common irritants include:
- Fragrances (including fragrances in products)
- Laundry detergent
- Diet (i.e. wheat allergy, dairy allergy, etc.)
- Temperature changes
NOTE: It’s important to note that some eczema sufferers may suffer from the condition because of a genetic defect where there aren’t enough proteins in the body to help maintain the skin’s normal protective barrier function. Unfortunately, these cases are often harder to treat, although not impossible.
Allergy Tests And Journaling
The good news is that with a bit of patience and practice, many of those who suffer from eczema will likely be able to cure themselves of it completely. You may want to begin the journey of curing your eczema by getting an allergy test done to help you find out what may be causing your flare-ups. Alternatively, if you don’t want to or can’t afford an allergy test, keeping a journal of your daily activities will be able to help you rule out what could potentially be causing your flare-ups. When you begin to feel the itch, look at things like:
- What foods you’re eating
- What animals you’ve been around
- What trees are in your area
- What you wore
Also make note of the time of day that you began to itch. Within a few short weeks, you’ll likely be able to start noticing a pattern to your flare-ups, which will significantly help you deduce what is causing the outbreaks in the first place.
There are also a number of products that can help reduce your eczema. One supplement that seems to be effective is neem oil. Neem oil, which comes from the neem tree, is a natural antibacterial ointment and antihistamine, so it kills any bacteria on the skin and it reduces any redness and swelling which can cause your itch. It’s also high in vitamin E and fatty acids, so it will hydrate your skin and can help restore its natural elasticity.
Virgin Coconut Oil
Speaking of fatty acids, there are other supplements that you can use to boost your skin’s fatty acid content. Virgin coconut oil, for example, is loaded with fatty acids that help nourish dry, damaged skin. It also contains lauric acid, which, much like neem, also has antibacterial and antiviral properties.
If you’re looking to soothe that persistent itch, drawing yourself a lukewarm bath that contains colloidal oatmeal will keep you from scratching. To make a colloidal oatmeal bath, you’ll need:
- A food processor or grinder
- Oats or instant oatmeal
- Lukewarm water
Place enough oats in the processor to produce one cup of ground up oatmeal. Blend the oats at the highest setting until the oatmeal turns into a fine powder. You can test the oatmeal to see if it’s blended enough by placing one tablespoon into a glass of warm water. If the oatmeal is ground enough, the water should have a milky appearance and a silky feel.
While running lukewarm water, sprinkle the cup of oatmeal into the tub. Stir the water with your hand every couple of minutes to make sure that the oatmeal is evenly distributed. Soak for fifteen to twenty minutes. When exiting the tub, make sure you pat your skin dry rather than rub to allow the oatmeal to continue to soak into the skin.
Kelp can be used to benefit eczema sufferers in two ways: as an oral supplement and as a way to soak your skin, similar to that of a colloidal oatmeal bath. The kelp supplement will help reduce the level of acidity in your body (which is a common cause of eczema). If you plan to take a kelp bath, create a mix of kelp and bentonite clay and infuse the water with it to help soothe your skin.
The Eczema Diet
What surprises a lot of eczema sufferers is that it’s what they eat that’s causing their outbreaks and not any other external factors. As we touched upon briefly with the kelp, the acidity of one’s body can be to blame. Eczema outbreaks often occur when our body’s pH balance is out of sorts, so by changing our diet and creating a more alkaline environment rather than an acidic environment can quickly eliminate eczema.
So how do you create an alkaline environment in the body? There’s no real big secret here. Making sure that your diet consists of whole foods is the best step that one can take to improving their health on all levels. Vegetables are a great place to start. Some veggies that are particularly alkalizing include:
- Lima beans
- Brussels sprouts
Fruits are another powerful and natural body alkalizer. Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and grapefruit can quickly alkalize the body, as can foods like watermelon, pears, and avocado (added bonus: avocado is rich in fatty acids so you’ll also be hydrating your skin). Some other fruits that are particularly effective in balancing a body’s pH balance include:
Assuming that you aren’t allergic to nuts or grains, both of these foods can also help correct any alkaline imbalances. Really look at incorporating nuts like walnuts, pine nuts, peanuts, and cashews into your diet. A number of seeds, like flax, sunflower, and pumpkin can also increase a body’s alkalinity.
As for grains, look at adding more brown whole rice or, better yet, quinoa in your diet. Grains are also rich in fiber, so they can clean out your intestines and get rid of any hazardous waste products that can be contributing to your eczema.
Remember that it takes time for the body to heal itself, so results won’t be immediate. Be patient, be persistent, and your hard work will pay off.
©2013 Off the Grid News