Atopic eczema is a common type of chronic dermatitis. It’s not contagious and is characterized by inflamed, itchy, red, dry, scaly or cracked areas of skin, which in severe cases, may blister or ooze. It’s usually found on the face, scalp, hands, wrists and in the folds at the back of the knees or the front of the elbows. It affects babies, children as well as adults.
The cause is unclear as it can be triggered by many different factors and often runs in allergy prone families. As with other skin conditions, eczema has been linked with underlying problems elsewhere in the body, often the gut. Adopting an alkaline, anti-inflammatory diet can often treat the root cause of eczema and along with lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms. Below are some of the best foods and supplements for those with eczema.
Apple Cider Vinegar
It’s thought that inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema may be a result of an underlying gut dysfunction and imbalanced gut bacteria. Raw apple cider vinegar with the “mother” has a probiotic effect; it’s alkalizing and it helps the stomach break down foods more easily. Try taking 1 tbsp. before meals as part of your diet to help relieve eczema. A diluted solution of apple cider vinegar can also be helpful when applied topically, especially to the scalp area.
Avocados are one of nature’s superfoods for your skin. They contain a large range of skin loving nutrients including vitamins C, E, B6 and folate as well as the minerals iron, magnesium and potassium. They are a rich source of healthy, monounsaturated fats and the very powerful antioxidant, glutathione. All of which are great for helping to alleviate eczema symptoms.
Coconut oil has been found to be an excellent natural treatment in many cases of eczema. Consuming about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil a day, either mixed into smoothies, spread on oatcakes in place of butter, or used for stir-frying, will bestow healthy skin benefits. Coconut oil boasts a unique blend of beneficial fatty acids, is loaded with antioxidants and has been used to treat ailments ranging from cavities to Alzheimer’s, it has proven itself to be a true super food. There have been reports of coconut oil helping topically as well, so try applying a small amount to affected areas and see if eczema symptoms improve.
Dark Leafy Greens
A diet high in fruit and vegetables has an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and alkalizing effect on the body. Dark leafy greens such as spinach, beet greens, swiss chard, and kale are also high in beta-carotene and vitamin C. Vitamin C helps with inflammation by lowering histamine levels while the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is essential for skin health. To help reduce eczema symptoms and alkalize the body, include lots of these healthy vegetables in your diet.
Turmeric is a true superfood and has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that benefit a vast array of health conditions, including eczema. Use turmeric liberally in cooking, baking, fresh vegetable juices, soups, and tea infusions.
Berries are loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that nourish and alkalize; they are anti-inflammatory and help the body to detox. Strawberries are also high in vitamin C which helps lower histamine levels, often elevated in people with atopic eczema.
A diet high in fruit and vegetables is also high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory and alkalizing effects on the body. Vegetables like squash and pumpkin are also high in beta-carotene. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is essential for skin health, so to help improve eczema symptoms and alkalize the body, include lots of these healthy vegetables in your diet.
Fruits are powerhouses of phytonutrients that nourish and alkalize; they are anti-inflammatory and help the body to detox. Kiwi’s are also high in vitamin C, which helps lower histamine levels, often elevated in allergy-prone people with atopic eczema.
Aloe Vera gel contains polysaccharides that are specifically healing for the skin and mucous membranes. It enhances the quality of the skin and is specifically indicated in hot, dry and irritating skin conditions such as eczema, acne, psoriasis, skin ulcers, seborrheic dermatitis and stretch marks.
Gotu kola is a specific herb for inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, urticaria and acne. Gotu kola balances all 3 doshas and has wondrous effects on the skin and bhrajaka pitta through its ability to hasten wound healing and reduce scars. The flavonoids in this plant act as circulatory stimulants that develop the blood vessels in the skin. They increases the rate of keratinisation of the skin, which helps to strengthen the outer protective layer of the body, indicating its use in skin inflammations and cellulite. The saponin content of gotu kola acts as a cleansing and softening agent, the oligosaccharides are moisturising and the phytosterols are protective.
Fish oils are rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and needed for optimal skin health. A daily fish oil supplement will help relieve the itching and inflammation associated with eczema. Care should be taken when buying fish oil supplements as cheaper brands may be oxidized and may cause more harm than good. Choose Krill oil whenever possible as it is sustainably harvested, contains less mercury and is thought to be more readily absorbed by the body. Good vegetarian sources of omega 3’s include flaxseeds, flaxseed oil and chia seeds. Note: consult your doctor before taking omega-3 supplements if you are on blood-thinning medication.
Skin issues are not “external” issues, they’re “internal” issues manifesting outwardly. In other words, there is something out of balance inside, whether that be related to the gut, the liver, etc. Typically with eczema there are imbalances in gut flora too, hence, a probiotic is a good idea.