You may have seen all the ads on TV lately for drugs that treat eczema. Obviously, this skin condition isn't found just in kids anymore. Adults are getting the condition at an alarming rate. And it can happen to anyone, even if they've never had it before. But over-the-counter remedies, at best lessen the acute symptoms, but offer very little or nothing towards real resolution of the problem.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology has been discussing how underdiagnosed atopic dermatitis is in the U.S. They want adults to know that new treatment options are available that make seeking out the help of a dermatologist or allergist completely worthwhile. After all, eczema can go beyond simply dry skin and itchiness. The patches can become painful enough to create sleep and social problems and can even become infected.
There are some new targeted drug therapies that can be effective in treating eczema. I like these options, which include an ointment called crisaborole, because they are non-steroidal, an important quality for both adults and children. However, while I think topical medications can be helpful, you can never get rid of eczema for good without addressing the underlying cause, which is typically systemic inflammation.
I've written before about a number of ways to reduce inflammation, but you can start with the obvious solutions: clean up your diet and try to determine if there are any particular foods you're sensitive to. An allergist may be able to help you with this process. If you made any changes to anything you're putting in or on your body around the time the eczema cropped up, that's a good place to start as well. In addition, have a look at your household cleaning items. For instance, laundry soap can cause problems. Opt for sensitive skin options. The same is true for dish soap. There are certain reliable brands such as Method, Seventh Generation, and Ecover.
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You can also help treat eczema from the inside out with bone broth (look for organic if you're buying it rather than making it yourself), good hydration, and supplements such as extra virgin cod liver oil or fermented cod liver oil (which are full of omega-3 fatty acids), as well as vitamins A and D. Just be sure you choose a reputable brand, such as Carlson Labs, Nordic Naturals, or Green Pastures.
People with mild eczema may be able to find relief with some topical strategies. For example, oatmeal baths can be helpful because oats contain beta glucans, which are soothing and healing for the skin. I also have had eczema patients experience healing and relief when they open up a probiotic capsule, mix the contents with coconut oil, and apply it to the affected areas. If you'd like to try this, I recommend using Advanced Probiotic Formula.
Finally, whatever treatment option you use, you will still need to protect your skin from the sun. However, many people with eczema find the ingredients in chemical sunscreens to be irritating. It's better to use a product made with zinc oxide instead, which provides a physical barrier to the sun's rays but shouldn't irritate the skin.
If your skin has changed recently, whether or not you had eczema as a child, you may need the help of a professional to find a solution. But keep in mind that our skin is often telling us what's going on inside our bodies, so find out what's changed on the inside too.
To your health, naturally,
Polderman MC, Wintzen M, le Cessie S, Pavel S (2005). "UVA-1 cold light therapy in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: 61 patients treated in the Leiden University Medical Center". Photodermatology, photoimmunology & photomedicine 21 (2): 93–6. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0781.2005.00150.x. PMID 15752127.