Eczema (and skin rash)
Eczema is a common skin condition but often uncomfortable. On the milder side, it causes irritation and itching, and on the more extreme, it can disrupt sleep and make it difficult to concentrate. Those with eczema may often feel self-conscious or embarrassed, especially if people stare, or mistakenly assume your condition is contagious.
Eczema is a potential red flag – our body telling us something isn’t quite right. Because our skin is the largest organ, it operates as an important alert system for imbalances in our digestive, endocrine and immune systems as well as allergies and hormonal regulation. So, we like to take a look at what is going on inside the body, in particular, the digestive system and liver. Our naturopaths use testing to identify the root cause of your eczema.
There are many different categories of eczema: allergic, contact, irritant and nummular. Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema.
Eczema is characterised by itchy red skin and rashes and may involve small isolated areas or cover the entire body in more severe cases. Itching can lead to more pain, leading to difficulty concentrating or sleeping, which can result in stress; in turn this causes an inflammatory response, making symptoms worse. The main symptoms of eczema are:
- Dry and / or irritated skin
- Red or brownish-grey patches, especially on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, inside the bend of the elbows and knees, and in infants, the face and scalp
- Small, raised bumps, which may leak fluid and crust over when scratched
- Thickened, cracked, scaly skin
- Raw, sensitive, swollen skin from scratching
The specific cause of eczema is unknown, but it is believed to develop due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
People have been known to have developed eczema for the first time after moving to Hong Kong, or found their pre-existing condition worsens because of high pollution, humid weather, increased stress and poor nutrition.
Three main factors make you susceptible to developing eczema:
- a family member has the condition
- intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut
- environmental triggers like stress, infection, allergies, food intolerances, and hormone and nutrient imbalances.
Several studies have shown that eczema may be exacerbated with emotional stress and anxiety, such as conflicts at work or in a key relationship. Mind-body techniques such as meditation, tai chi, yoga and stress management may be helpful.
Normally, testing for food intolerances and allergies is initiated at the first appointment. The results from these tests will help our naturopath develop a personalised nutrition program and advise you how to avoid potential triggers.
It may also be necessary to test for other factors, like leaky gut or dysbiosis, which can influence eczema.
Eczema may be caused by a genetically determined sluggish detoxification system in the liver, lungs and skin. Identifying this through simple a DNA test - and prescribing the natural therapies to overcome it - are the forte of naturopathic medicine.
Articles, blogs, videos and resources:
Your skin is the largest detox organ in your body, and a reflection of your inner health. Skin conditions often signal an imbalance in gastrointestinal health, immune dysfunction, toxic load, infection, and/or nutrient deficiencies.
Our osteopaths can help you overcome a number of gut issues, including constipation, diarrhoea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, bloating and abdominal distension.
Gut instinct – eczema, arthritis, chronic fatigue or depression. Are your health issues caused by your gut?
Mary asked me how she could have developed food intolerances as an adult. But as she told me about her health history, it emerged that as a child she was...