Excema & Dermatitis

Excema & Dermatitis

Dermatitis is an itchy, inflammatory skin problem that can have numerous different causes. The condition commonly called eczema is an allergic form of dermatitis, and is known medically as atopic dermatitis. 

Symptoms

  • Flaky and/or itchy skin that has a thicker, more leathery texture than other skin and is more prone to redness and irritation
  • Crusted or weepy lesions may sometimes occur, suggesting that the skin has become infected
  • Patches may be coin-shaped (called nummular dermatitis)
  • In contact dermatitis, the affliction may only occur on the parts of the skin that came into contact with the allergen or irritant
  • Babies and young children often experience dermatitis on their faces or at the bends of their elbows, knees and ankles
  • On the scalp, dermatitis is often associated with greasiness of the skin and hair, and is referred to as seborrheic dermatitis. Cradle cap is a form of seborrheic dermatitis that is common in young babies
  • Symptoms may be worse in hot weather

Causes

  • Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is an allergic condition, and many sufferers also experience Asthma and/or hay fever at some point in their lives
  • This combination of eczema, Asthma and hay fever is referred to as atopy, and tends to run in families
  • Susceptibility to atopic dermatitis may be exacerbated during times of Stress
  • People with atopic dermatitis are prone to food allergies and intolerances, which may trigger or aggravate the symptoms
  • People with atopic dermatitis have increased requirements for essential fatty acids, and the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 may be disturbed, contributing to the inflammation of the skin, and the tendency towards allergic reactions
  • Deficiencies of zinc, vitamin A or vitamin E may also occur
  • Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes into physical contact with an irritant or allergen. Common culprits include dishwashing and laundry detergents, make-up, skin care products, chlorine in swimming pools, and nickel and other metals used in the manufacture of jewellery
  • Triggers can include Stress, trauma to the skin (e.g. by itching, rubbing or irritation), food allergies and intolerances

Nutritional & Herbal Support

  • The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and salmon oil have anti-inflammatory properties, and may help support the symptoms of dermatitis, eczema and Psoriasis and may reduce  sensitivity. Taking omega-3s also helps maintain an optimal ratio of essential fatty acids in the body
  • Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that helps maintain moist, healthy skin. Taking high doses over several months may help reduce symptoms of dermatitis and eczema, and reduce hyper-sensitivity
  • Atopic dermatitis increases the body's production of the inflammatory compound histamine. Vitamin C reduces histamine levels.
  • Vitamin A is important for the healthy functioning of the skin, and supports the healing of Wounds and other skin lesions. Cod and halibut liver oils are naturally rich sources of vitamin A
  • Zinc is an important co-factor in the metabolism of essential fatty acids, so if zinc levels are inadequate, increasing essential fatty acid consumption may not work as effectively as possible. It also plays an additional role in wound healing
  • If Stress triggers or exacerbates your skin problem, take a high potency multivitamin that provides the B-complex group of vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and other nutrients that help combat nervous tension and Anxiety

Diet & Lifestyle advice

  • Work with your doctor or healthcare professional to identify any allergens that may be contributing to your problem
  • Drink at least two litres of water every day, and avoid diuretic fluids such as tea, coffee and alcohol
  • Choose unrefined polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, from fish, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil and avocados. In particular, try to eat several serves of oily fish (such as salmon, tuna or sardines) every week to maintain high levels of omega-3 fats. At the same time, limit your consumption of saturated fats (e.g. from meat and dairy products), processed oils (e.g. margarine, hydrogenated fats in pre-packaged foods) and deep fried foods
  • Protect your skin from sun damage by using sunscreen and covering up whenever possible
  • Avoid bathing or showering in very hot water, which can promote DRY SKIN. Choose gentle soaps and skin care products that have been specially formulated to maintain the skin's fragile pH balance. Skin should be moisturised regularly, as soon as possible after showering
  • Avoid wearing synthetic or restrictive clothing, and wear only hypo-allergenic jewellery
  • Don't smoke or drink alcohol to excess
  • Chickweed has traditionally been used to relieve itchy skin conditions, and an ointment or gel containing the herb may provide relief for eczema, dermatitis or Psoriasis. Look for a product combining chickweed with either zinc oxide or aloe vera and tea tree oil

If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Information provided is of a general nature and should not replace that of your healthcare professional.

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