This post is about helping to reduce mild eczema. If you spend 24/7 itching and have a serious issue, obviously talk to your doctor. A better option to ‘alternative medicine’ is ‘integrated medicine’. This means using conventional medicine when needed, but using nature to heal in milder cases, where some ‘dinosaur doctors’ or chemists would otherwise just prescribe steroid creams for you, and send you on your way.
What is Eczema?
Atopic eczema (its proper name is atopic dermatitis) is when the skin is dry with cracks, and also itchy. It’s very common in children, although it can sometimes disappear of its own accord, as children turn into adults. Mild eczema results in red patches on light skin (or brown, purple or grey patches on darker skin). It is common found on the hands, elbows, knees, and sometimes on the face and head (esp. in children). Often children with asthma or hay fever are more severely affected.
What causes eczema? It can often be allergies and food intolerance (like dairy), soaps/laundry powders, stress and weather changes.
Psoriasis is similar, but less common, just 2% of people have it, mostly people under 35. This is when the dry patches turn into ‘silvery scales’ caused by skin cells rapidly replacing every few days, rather than every few weeks. This is more an immunity issue, where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells. It is usually genetic but can be caused by injury, illness or medication. Although it may look contagious, it isn’t. UV light is sometimes used to try to control and improve it.
Rosacea is a condition that causes redness on the face and sometimes stings if you use personal care products. Harder to see on darker skin, it has in severe cases pustules on the face, and blood vessels that don’t disappear. Very severe cases is when the nose becomes thick, red and bulbous. Try to reduce alcohol, caffeine, hot drinks, cheese and spicy food. Exercise in cool weather and wear a good natural sunscreen.
Keratitis is a serious inflamed condition that some mistake for rosacea. If you have painful/blurred vision, red gritty eyes or are sensitive to light, immediately call for medical help.
Treating Eczema in Babies
Avoid mineral oil (petrol) to put on your baby’s skin, and choosing more natural biodegradable alternatives instead. The Holistic Mama says never to use mineral oil from the big brands, and stick to natural absorbable oils instead (or shea butter, as long as there are no latex allergies).
Many skincare conditions in babies are caused by other factors such as harsh cleaning and laundry products, or more often, a food allergy like dairy. Sort these out first, before investigating different skincare items. Choose non-scented biodegradable natural brands from the health store, clean up your own diet (sometimes what you eat could cause an allergy if you are breastfeeding, then look to other solutions.
NHS says to avoid scented/mineral oils, bubble bath or aqueous cream (babies need no skincare until at least 4 weeks or longer for preemies, until the outer skin layer has formed). Avoid essential oils (unless in baby formulas) and avoid shea butter for latex allergies.
Coraleen Soap for Sensitive Skin is calming and naturally unscented, full of anti-inflammatory healing properties. Ideal for eczema, acne or dermatitis, it’s also good for pregnancy/nursing and approved for babies 6 months plus. Includes nettle, calendula and yarrow. The founders used this on their own baby, who had medical issues when born and reacted badly to synthetic soaps and shampoos.
Balade en Provence Bebe Pure is ideal for babies, pregnancy or nursing. It’s enriched with oils of coconut, grapeseed and rapeseed, with shea butter to moisturise.
You can buy scratch mittens at Eczema Clothing. Try Frankie’s Organic Oatmeal Bath (sprinkle 2 tablespoons in a lukewarm bath (test water with elbow) and soak (supervised) for 10 minutes. NHS has baby bath tips. Elena Nature Collection makes vegan organic eczema creams on NHS prescription, formulated by a burns nurse and skin specialist. She recommends a patch test behind the ear or inside the wrist. Doctors can order a free GP pack.
Bio-D Laundry Powder is not just biodegradable, but also free from scents and irritants, and sold in a brown paper bag. Laundry detergents are a common trigger for eczema and sensitive skin.