Summer can be a lousy time for eczema sufferers when bating blemishes and itchy skin to the world is the last thing you feel like doing. According to the National Eczema Society, as many as one in 12 adults and one in five children suffer from the condition. The good news is that there are loads of steps you can take to help combat the condition, not least getting out into the sunshine as UV light has been shown to help relieve symptoms. So read ahead for some of our simple natural steps you can take to banish this pesky skin condition.
Take Evening Primrose oil
Evening primrose oil capsules and other omega-rich oils can offer a mild alternative to chemical treatments due to their inflammatory action. However, effectiveness does vary widely so opt for a quality brand with a standardized amount of GLA (gamma linolenic acid); useful dosages start at around 500mg daily.
Lock in moisturizers
An effective moisturizer stops your skin becoming dry and helps to restore the normal skin barrier. Make sure it doesn’t contain irritants such as synthetic chemicals, lanolin or preservatives. Remember also that many household cleaning products can act as irritants because they can strip your skin of its natural oils. Look after yours by wearing protective gloves when cleaning and doing household chores, but make sure the gloves are hypo-allergenic if you have a latex allergy.
Try Goat’s milk
Make goat’s milk compress: Mix equal parts of goat’s milk and water in a bowl, soak a clean cloth in the mixture and then apply to the skin. Hold the cloth gently on the affected area for a few minutes and repeat as necessary. The proteins in the goat’s milk will penetrate the skin and help relieve any inflammation and itchiness.
Get yourself tested for food allergies
Up to a third of infantile eczema is food-allergy related and in particular dairy products, eggs, citrus, fish or wheat may exacerbate the condition. Keeping a food diary is an easy way to monitor potential diet triggers, then consult your GP or qualified nutritional therapist about allergy testing. The composition of intestinal flora appears to play a role in allergy rates so try taking probiotics too.
Opt for Oatmeal
Oatmeal is naturally soothing as it can help to restore the skin’s pH balance (eczema thrives in a mildly alkaline environment) and reduce the itch/scratch cycle. It can be applied topically or mixed with the bath water to make a milky dispersion. Avoid mess by tying a handful of oats in a stocking and either soak in the bath or damp it down and gently pat all over the skin.
Traditional Chinese herbal medicines have been shown to reduce eczema, however, some preparations can contain potentially harmful ingredients so always consult a qualified professional. Chamomile and calendula are more commonly used western herbs which may soothe skin complaints when combined into a good quality topical application.
Try Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is hygroscopic, which means it attracts moisture and keeps skin moist and supple. It is highly effective in controlling bacteria which can be a major factor in eczema conditions. Apply the sterile honey direct to the affected area then wrap it and leave overnight.
Get out in the sun
The UV rays in sunlight can be beneficial for some people with eczema, and doctors sometimes prescribe a course of ultraviolet light therapy to treat it. Remember though, you don’t need too much exposure to benefit from the sun’s healing rays-20 minutes a day should do it.
Phytosterols are extracted from the soya bean and share some of the therapeutic effects of cortisone. They may provide sufferers with a natural and gentle alternative to steroid treatments.