Eczema tends to be rampant nowadays. Depending on the study, it's estimated that 10% of US adults suffers from some form of it. At it's best, eczema is annoying and slightly scratchy. At it's worst, you'll scratch until you're bleeding and potentially cause an infection, and steroid cream from the doctor or pharmacy does absolutely nothing to give you any relief. No bueno. No worries, though, I'm here to show you how to get rid of eczema because we were able to do just that with our toddler.
My son has super sensitive skin, which is how I figured out he might have a peanut allergy when he was only 6 months old. When we introduced food, he started having mild reactions with some skin redness to a few things, like eggs, but it wasn't bothersome and rarely lasted more than a few minutes.
Then, when he was about 2 years old, he got the Hand, Foot, and Mouth virus for the second time and developed a horrible red, itchy rash on the inside of elbows and behind his knees. At first it was the virus, but soon that went away and the rash didn't.
Our fair little man with his perfectly smooth skin was now an itching monster.
He would sit there and scratch through his pyjamas, put his hands down his pants and scratch the back of his knees until they bled. Try telling a 2-year-old to stop scratching and see how that goes 😖.
We took him to the doctor and we took him to the naturopath. We tried different things for about a year before we finally started seeing some improvement. But today? He's 5 years old and has been eczema free for over a year and a half.
No itching, no scratching, no heated arguments while trying to reason with a child. It's glorious.
Of course I had to share it because so many people keep asking me, so here are my top 4 ways on how to get rid of eczema that are 100% natural and were more effective than anything else I tried:
1. Get rid of toxic fragrances & chemicals
Doesn't everyone love beautiful smelling things? Of course, why wouldn't you?! The problem is that artificial fragrances in things like air fresheners, household cleaners, laundry detergent, fabric softeners, and body care products is making your eczema worse.
That's a strong statement, but this is a theory that's backed by science. I already wrote a post on artificial fragrances (with the research to back it up) over here, so I'm not going to repeat it. There's absolutely no need for artificial air fresheners in the home of anyone, much less someone with eczema.
A few years ago, I would have never though that laundry detergent, fabric softeners, or other cleaning products might exacerbate eczema, but I have friends (actual friends, not a friend of a friend of a friend) whose children break out in eczema as soon as they sleep in a bed with sheets washed in conventional laundry detergent.
Don't get me started on the hundreds or thousands of chemicals that we slather all over our body in the form of toxic body care products. Again, I recommend that no one uses conventional lotions or creams with toxic products that haven't been tested for safety, but for someone with eczema you have to be extra careful.
Read this article over here on how to easily switch to natural body care products without breaking the bank or stressing yourself out.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD:
- Switch to 100% natural cleaning products made with ingredients like Castile soap, vinegar, borax, or baking soda. Use 100% Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® essential oils to increase the cleaning factor and to naturally smell good without causing any further eczema flare-ups. I didn't know until last year that it's incredibly easy to make your own natural laundry detergent AND it's cheaper than store-bought!
- Get rid of all your artificial air fresheners, and, if you love a delicious smelling house, go and download my free guide with 35+ essential oil blends to use instead.
- Switch your body care products to non-toxic, chemical free versions by following the steps in this article.
2. Investigate trigger foods
As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, I've seen over and over again in my practice that the health of the skin is directly linked to the health of the gut. We'll talk about this in more detail below, but in a lot of cases of eczema there can be a specific food that can trigger the itching and inflammation.
Some common foods that can trigger eczema includes:
- wheat and gluten
- dairy products
These are the top overall food allergens anyways, so when our son first broke out in eczema I immediately got rid of all dairy and gluten in his diet. He was not really eating eggs at the time anyways, so I didn't that was an issue.
We didn't see any sort of change for a few months (i.e. a few more months of him scratching his skin until it bled), and I started thinking that maybe there wasn't a food trigger for him ... until I started noticing that within minutes of him eating tomatoes, he would start scratching while he was still at the dinner table.
Within a week of eliminating tomatoes from his diet, his eczema was 90% gone. It was literally like magic.
He wasn't eating tomatoes in the form of ketchup, that everyday tool that parents use to coax their children to eat vegetables but has more hidden sugar than any sane human being would knowingly give a child, but we were making a lot of crockpot meals with a base of tomatoes. I had to completely change my meal planning, but it was worth it if I could get rid of his eczema.
After talking with some mother mom friends, I'd like to add these other common eczema triggers to the list above:
- citrus fruits
Now don't go freaking out that you or your child will never be able to eat your trigger food ever again. Start by removing the food for 3-6 months while you go onto support the gut health (below), and then you can try re-introducing it.
My son is now able to eat tomatoes a few times a week without triggering his eczema!!! 🙌🏻
3. Support gut health
I alluded to this above, but the skin is a direct reflection of health of the gut.
Unhappy gut = unhappy skin
Some signs that your gut isn't happy includes:
- gas, bloating, and flatulence
- upset stomach
- loose stools
- acid reflux
These aren't just annoying things that you have to deal with, but signs that something potentially major is happening inside your body. The health of the gut can affect your immune system, mood balance, and body-wide inflammation.
If you have eczema, or any other type of skin issue such as acne or psoriasis, you should be taking the following steps ASAP to balance your gut, which will ultimately balance your skin:
1. Take a probiotic - did you know that we have more bacteria living in our body than we have cells? Did you know that, on average, the amount of bacteria in your gut alone weighs about 3 pounds? That's a lot of bacteria, and probiotics are the good guys. Our bacteria balance can get out of whack from too much sugar, stress, or processed foods. I don't know many people who aren't stressed, and it's affecting our guts. Taking a good quality probiotic can help to re-balance the gut flora, and can have amazing results for people with loose stools or constipation.
Unless you're eating traditionally fermented foods that remain unpasteurized on a regular basis, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, or kombucha, then you should be taking a probiotic everyday, and NOT just after you finish a round of antibiotics.
For your kids, you can get amazing flavoured probiotic powders that taste like candy but have zero sugar. Message me for more details.
2. Support your stomach acid - Chronic stress lowers your stomach acid, and it's a requirement for properly digesting your food. Undigested food irritates the digestive tract, and an irritated digestive tract leads to skin issues. If you suffer from regular acid reflux, gas or bloating, I recommend that you try taking a digestive enzyme supplement that includes hydrochloric acid (HCl) as one of the ingredients. Follow the package directions to support healthy digestion from first bite.
3. Advanced gut support - depending on the state of your gut health, you may need specialized and advanced gut support in the form of herbs or other nutritional supplements. Please consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or Registered Holistic Nutritionist who can assess your gut health and make proper recommendations for your body.
4. Essential oils
If you or your child has eczema, chances are you have some sort of steroid cream in your medicine cabinet that you've tried. More often than not, these don't provide relief.
Along with removing tomatoes from my son's diet, essential oils were the other biggest factor in getting rid of his eczema.
Several different 100% Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils can make claims that they can provide relief from the itchy and irritation of eczema, including:
- Juniper Berry
I started off by applying these, properly diluted with fractionated coconut oil, directly to the eczema patches, but this didn't work as well as I hoped it would.
What did end up working was a homemade, 100% natural cream with frankincense and helichrysum essential oils (recipe below at the bottom of this blog post). The Shea butter provided much needed nourishment and hydration to the skin, and acts as a natural carrier oil for the essential oils.
NOTE: this cream will not work as well if you are using just any essential oils you purchase at your local store or online. doTERRA Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® essential oils are sourced differently than any other oils in the world, and therefore have a unique chemical profile which is what makes them so effective. Click here to learn more about doTERRA's CPTG® essential oils.
I applied this to him every night as his overall body moisturizer with a little bit extra on his eczema patches. You can also apply it in the morning or whenever you think of it. It smells lovely, and I used it on my hands in the middle of winter to help with my own dry skin.
Let me preface this recipe by sharing that I'm really not the sort of mom who DIY's everything. I was never into making edible body care products or house cleaners, but this one was a complete game changer. It's not very time intensive, most of it is spent letting it cool in the fridge.
If you're totally against DIY, I urge you to try this with the focus of helping yourself or your little one who is suffering with eczema.
So there you have it, how to get rid of eczema. It takes some perseverance and commitment, but you can totally get rid of it!
I wanna know: what's worked for your eczema? Share in the comments below!
Active prep time: 15 mins
Cooling time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Makes about 2 1/2 cups
1 cup Shea butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup olive oil
40-60 drops of doTERRA Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® essential oils listed above (the recipe that worked for us was 30 drops frankincense + 30 drops helichrysum)
- Melt the Shea butter, coconut oil, and olive oil together in a double boiler. If you don't have one (who does?), put the ingredients in a large glass or metal bowl over a smaller pan that has simmering water over a medium low to low heat.
- Stir the ingredients as they gently melt to ensure they don't burn or overheat.
- Take the bowl off the heat and leave it on the stovetop to cool for 15 minutes.
- Put the bowl into the fridge and let cool for an hour.
- After an hour, check to that the mixture is starting to solidify around the edge of the bowl. If yes, it's ready to whip. If no, then put back in the fridge and check in another 10 to 15 minutes.
- When mixture is just starting to harden, whip with a hand mixer or whisk until the mixture is creamy and light, like cake frosting.
- Add your essential oils and whip again to incorporate.
- Spoon into a clean glass or stainless steel jar while the mixture is still soft, as it will harden as it cools.
- To use, take a small amount and smooth over the affected area. Reapply as needed.
By Ashley Srokosz, RHN
Adapted from www.liagriffith.com