Eczema – Part 2: Natural Remedies to Soothe Eczema Symptoms
Eczema can be a challenging experience. With this condition, you must deal with itchy, red, and inflamed skin patches causing discomfort and frustration. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and potential solutions is crucial to manage this condition effectively. So read part 1 of Eczema: Causes, Symptoms, and Alternative Treatments. Here, we discuss what causes eczema, flares, and contact dermatitis.
In this second part of our blog post about eczema, we will explore natural remedies to soothe your eczema.
Managing My Symptoms of Eczema & Natural Therapies
Managing eczema involves a multifaceted approach that addresses the mind and body. We’ll explore strategies for effectively managing eczema, including lifestyle modifications, proper skin care, and stress reduction techniques. By understanding these management techniques, individuals can gain control over their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
This section will focus on specific natural therapies that have shown promise in alleviating symptoms. We’ll discuss the benefits of therapeutic baths, Probiotics, Vitamin D use, and the protective measures required in cold weather while avoiding strong heat sources.
Furthermore, we’ll explore the efficacy of gentle soaps, detergents, natural oils, and other moisturizers in relieving symptoms. Finally, we will explore the importance of treating the mind and the body.
Therapeutic Baths for Irritated Skin
Therapeutic baths can provide soothing relief for individuals with sensitive skin and eczema. They can help hydrate the skin, reduce inflammation, and alleviate itching. Here are some suggestions for preparing a soothing bath for your itchy skin.
Oatmeal has long been recognized for its soothing properties. It can help relieve itching, reduce inflammation, and moisturize the skin.
Directions: To prepare an oatmeal bath, grind colloidal oatmeal (finely ground oats) into a fine powder and mix it with warm water. Soak in the oatmeal-infused bathwater for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Gently pat the skin dry after the bath and apply a moisturizer to lock in the moisture.
Dead Sea Salt Bath
Dead Sea salt contains a rich concentration of minerals that can help soothe and nourish the skin. It can help reduce inflammation, improve skin barrier function, and promote healing.
Directions: Dissolve Dead Sea salt in warm bathwater according to the instructions on the packaging. Soak in the salt bath for 15 to 20 minutes.
Afterward, rinse with lukewarm water and apply a moisturizer to seal the moisture.
Baking Soda Bath
Baking soda (aka sodium bicarbonate) can help balance the skin’s pH level and alleviate itching. It also has mild cleansing properties that can be beneficial for dry skin.
Directions: Add half a cup to one cup of baking soda to a warm bath and mix well. Soak in the baking soda bath for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.
Gently pat the skin dry and apply a moisturizer.
Apple Cider Vinegar Bath
An apple cider vinegar bath can be recommended in certain cases of eczema, particularly when bacterial or fungal infections are at risk. It helps reduce bacterial colonization on the skin. It can, however, cause irritations and additional redness if you have broken skin. Be careful and consult with a physician first.
Directions: Fill the tub with lukewarm water and two cups of apple cider vinegar. Soak for no more than 20 minutes. Rinsing is optional if the vinegar smell is bothersome. I find it fades after I dry off.
Pat your skin dry with a towel and apply a moisturizer.
It’s important to note that while therapeutic baths can be beneficial, they may not work for everyone, and individual responses may vary. It’s best to consult with a healthcare professional, particularly a dermatologist, to determine the most suitable therapeutic bath options based on your skin condition and needs.
Additionally, be cautious if you have any known allergies or sensitivities to the ingredients used in the baths. Also, discontinue use if you experience any adverse reactions, such as burning or additional irritation.
Vitamin D has been studied for its potential benefits in managing eczema symptoms. While more research is needed to establish its exact role, here are some suggested uses of vitamin D that may help soothe eczema:
Sunlight exposure: The body can naturally produce vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Some studies suggest that regular, controlled exposure to sunlight may help improve symptoms. However, it’s important to exercise caution and avoid excessive sun exposure, as it can lead to skin damage. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate duration and timing for sun exposure based on your skin type and location.
Topical vitamin D ointments: Topical ointments or creams containing vitamin D derivatives, such as calcitriol or calcipotriol, can be prescribed by healthcare providers to manage eczema symptoms. These vitamin D derivatives have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation and itching associated with eczema. They are typically used in combination with other topical treatments and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Vitamin D supplementation: In cases of vitamin D deficiency or inadequate sun exposure, healthcare providers may recommend vitamin D supplementation. While research on the direct benefits of oral vitamin D supplementation for eczema is limited, maintaining optimal vitamin D levels is important for overall skin health and immune function. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine if vitamin D supplementation is appropriate for you and to determine the appropriate dosage.
It’s important to note that individual responses to vitamin D supplementation or topical applications may vary. It’s best to consult with a healthcare professional, particularly a dermatologist, to determine the most suitable and safe use of vitamin D for your specific condition and needs. They can evaluate your vitamin D levels, assess your overall health, and provide appropriate recommendations tailored to your situation.
Skin Protection In Cold Weather
Eczema sufferers must take extra precautions to protect their skin in extreme cold weather conditions, as cold and dry air can exacerbate symptoms and lead to increased dryness, itching, and irritation. Tips to help protect your skin are as follows.
Hydrating the skin is crucial during cold weather. Apply a rich, emollient moisturizer immediately after bathing or showering to lock in moisture. Look for fragrance-free and hypoallergenic moisturizers that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin. Pay extra attention to areas prone to dryness, such as hands, feet, elbows, and knees.
Dress in layers to protect your skin from the cold air. Wear soft, breathable fabrics, such as cotton or silk, next to the skin to prevent irritation. Avoid rough or scratchy materials that can further aggravate eczema. Layering allows you to adjust your clothing to stay comfortable and prevent excessive sweating, which can trigger flare-ups.
Use Protective Clothing
In extremely cold conditions, protect your skin by wearing gloves, scarves, and hats. Opt for soft, non-irritating fabrics that do not cause friction against the skin. Consider using mittens instead of gloves, which provide better insulation and allow fingers to share warmth.
Limit Hot Water Exposure
Hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils and exacerbate dryness. Use lukewarm water instead of hot water for bathing or showering, and keep the duration of your showers or baths short to prevent excessive skin drying.
Humidify Indoor Air
Heating systems in winter can reduce humidity, leading to drier air. A humidifier adds moisture to the indoor air and maintains a 30-50% humidity level. This can help prevent excessive dryness and keep the skin hydrated.
Protect Your Hands
Hands are often exposed to the elements and can become particularly dry and irritated. Wear gloves when outdoors to protect your hands from the cold and wind. Also, apply a moisturizer after washing your hands to replenish lost moisture.
Hydrating the skin from within is essential during cold weather. To promote skin health, drink plenty of water and maintain a healthy diet that includes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
Remember to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional for personalized advice on managing eczema in cold weather. They can provide specific recommendations based on your condition and needs.
Avoiding Strong Heat Sources
Eczema sufferers should avoid strong heat sources because excessive heat can worsen symptoms and trigger flare-ups. Exposure can lead to the following issues.
Heat can cause excessive dryness in the skin, which is particularly problematic for individuals with eczema. Eczema-prone skin already tends to have a compromised skin barrier, making it more susceptible to moisture loss. Excessive heat can dehydrate the skin, increasing dryness, itching, and irritation.
Irritation and Inflammation
Heat sources, such as direct exposure to hot air, radiators, or heating vents, can cause direct irritation and inflammation of the skin. The heat can disrupt the delicate balance of the skin’s natural oils and the skin’s barrier function. This can lead to increased sensitivity and exacerbate eczema symptoms, including redness, itching, and the formation of dry patches.
Sweating and Moisture Buildup
Heat sources that cause sweating can aggravate symptoms. Sweat can further irritate the skin and create a moist environment that promotes bacterial and fungal growth, potentially leading to infections. Sweat can also contain salts and other chemicals that can cause stinging and itching on sensitive skin.
Heat can cause blood vessels to dilate, resulting in increased blood flow to the skin. For individuals with eczema, this can lead to heightened inflammation and redness, making the skin more susceptible to irritation and itching.
To minimize the impact of heat on eczema-prone skin, it’s important to:
Avoid direct exposure to strong heat sources, such as hot air blowers or radiators.
Maintain a comfortable and moderate temperature in your environment.
Use fans or air conditioning to keep the air cool and well-circulated.
Dress in loose, breathable clothing made of natural fabrics to allow the skin to breathe.
Take lukewarm showers or baths instead of hot ones to prevent further skin drying.
Apply a moisturizer immediately after bathing to lock in moisture.
A humidifier adds moisture to the indoor air and prevents excessive dryness.
By avoiding strong heat sources and maintaining a cool and comfortable environment, individuals with eczema can help minimize the triggering factors and reduce the likelihood of flare-ups and worsening symptoms.
Gentle Soaps and Detergents
Ingredients matter, especially if you suffer from eczema.
Avoid Harsh Chemicals and Irritants
Fragrances, dyes, and other additives commonly found in conventional soaps and detergents can be allergenic or irritating for individuals with eczema. These ingredients can trigger an allergic reaction or cause further inflammation in eczema-prone skin. Opting for fragrance-free and hypoallergenic options minimizes the risk of these ingredients exacerbating symptoms.
Minimize Skin Irritation
Many conventional soaps and detergents contain harsh ingredients, fragrances, and preservatives that can irritate sensitive skin. These irritants can disrupt the skin barrier and trigger eczema flare-ups. Opting for gentle soaps and detergents helps minimize skin irritation and reduce the risk of exacerbating eczema symptoms.
Maintain Skin Barrier Function
The skin barrier protects against external irritants and maintains moisture balance. Harsh soaps and detergents can strip the skin of its natural oils, disrupting the skin barrier function. Choosing gentle, pH-balanced cleansers helps preserve the integrity of the skin barrier, allowing it to function optimally and prevent moisture loss.
Prevent Excessive Dryness
Eczema-prone skin tends to be dry and susceptible to moisture loss. Harsh soaps and detergents can further deplete the skin’s natural moisture, leading to increased dryness and itching. On the other hand, gentle cleansers are typically formulated to be milder and more moisturizing, helping maintain the skin’s hydration and prevent excessive dryness.
Support a Healthy Skin Microbiome
The skin has a diverse community of beneficial bacteria known as the skin microbiome. Harsh soaps and detergents can disrupt the balance of the skin microbiome, potentially leading to dysbiosis and inflammation. Choosing gentle cleansers helps maintain a healthy skin microbiome, which is important for overall skin health and immune function.
When selecting soaps and detergents for eczema-prone skin, look for products labeled as gentle, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and suitable for sensitive skin. Avoid products that contain harsh surfactants, fragrances, dyes, and other potential irritants. It’s also advisable to patch-test new products on a small skin area before using them extensively to ensure they do not cause adverse reactions.
By using gentle soaps and detergents, individuals with eczema can help minimize skin irritation, maintain a healthy skin barrier, and reduce the risk of triggering or worsening symptoms.
Treat the Mind and Body
Eczema is not just a physical condition; it can also affect mental well-being. Treating the mind and the body is important for individuals who suffer from eczema because eczema is not solely a physical condition but also has psychological and emotional impacts.
Here are some suggestions on areas to be mindful of.
Eczema can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and well-being. The visible appearance of eczema, persistent itching, sleep disturbances, and the chronic nature of the condition can lead to psychological distress, including stress, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Treating the mind helps address these psychological aspects and promotes overall mental well-being.
Stress is known to trigger and exacerbate eczema flare-ups. It can weaken the immune system, increase inflammation, and intensify itching. By focusing on stress management techniques, such as relaxation exercises, mindfulness, meditation, and stress-reducing activities, individuals can help reduce stress levels and potentially alleviate symptoms.
Eczema is often accompanied by intense itching, leading to a vicious scratching cycle and further skin damage. Scratching can disrupt the skin barrier, worsen inflammation, and increase the risk of infection. Addressing the mind can help individuals develop strategies to manage the urge to scratch, such as distraction techniques, behavioral therapy, or cognitive-behavioral interventions.
Improved Coping Mechanisms
Living with a chronic condition like eczema requires effective coping mechanisms. Treating the mind can help individuals develop healthy coping strategies and resilience to manage the challenges associated with eczema. This may involve seeking support from healthcare professionals, joining support groups, engaging in self-care activities, or utilizing relaxation techniques.
Treating the mind promotes a holistic approach to self-care, where individuals prioritize their mental and emotional well-being and physical health. Engaging in activities that bring joy, practicing self-compassion, nurturing positive relationships, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can contribute to overall well-being and indirectly support eczema management.
By addressing the mind and body, individuals with eczema can experience improved mental well-being, better stress management, reduced itching, and enhanced quality of life. Working with a healthcare professional, such as a dermatologist or a mental health specialist, developing a comprehensive treatment plan incorporating both physical and psychological aspects of eczema management is advisable.
When To See Your Healthcare Provider
While self-care and natural remedies can be beneficial for managing eczema, it’s crucial to know when it’s time to seek professional medical advice. Healthcare providers rely on specific questions and assessments to provide an accurate diagnosis.
As stated before, seek a healthcare provider’s advice if your symptoms are not improving. Sometimes, prescription medications may be necessary.
Combining knowledge, self-care, and professional guidance allows eczema individuals to control their skin health and live more comfortably.
To learn more, The National Eczema Association is an excellent resource.
You can also check out our podcast: Eczema Solutions, with Dr. Walt, where we had a wonderful, in-depth conversation. He shared how his struggles with severe eczema led to creating products in his kitchen to treat his itchy skin. This solution led him down an entrepreneurial journey, where his successful company, Dr. Walt’s Co., was born.
Share this blog post series and this podcast link if you know anyone that suffers from eczema. You might help them learn something new.