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Eczema and Dermatitis - Natural Prevention & Treatment

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Eczema can affect your whole family but you can treat it naturally and effectively with some common sense, some detective work, some vigilant avoidance of allergens and some clever supplementation where necessary.

Dermatitis or Eczema is a general term for any type of inflammation of the skin. Types of dermatitis include atopic dermatitis, nummular dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis.

The inflammation of the skin that accompanies dermatitis (or eczema) produces scaling; flaking, weeping, crusting, thickening, colour changes, and often itching and typically appears on the face, in the bends of elbows and behind the knees.

Several underlying problems can lead to eczema:

  1. Hypochlorydia -low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
  2. Leaky gut syndrome- in which tiny particles of undigested foods pass through the intestines and enter the blood stream provoking allergic reactions.
  3. Candidiasis an overgrowth of yeast in the body.
  4. Food allergies.
  5. Genetic weakness in the enzymes which converts fatty acids or a essential fatty acid deficiency (Not enough good fats in the body).

Contact dermatitis from contact with perfumes, cosmetics, rubber, medicated creams, ointments, latex, plants, metals, and even sunlight can cause some types of dermatitis. Eczema or Atopic dermatitis is known to affect allergy prone individuals.

Triggers vary from person to person, but tend to include changes in weather and atmosphere, hot or cold weather, exposure to allergens, infections such as colds and stress. If other family members also have allergies, hayfever, asthma, and atopic dermatitis then it is more common for a child to develop it also.

In babies, infants or children this can be an essential fatty acid deficiency (from not getting enough in mother's milk or formula and or diet), food allergies or from chemicals used to clean the clothes and home of the infant.

What can you do for your baby?

  1. Delay introduction of food solids until 6 months of age so the gastrointestinal tract can develop fully.
  2. Supplement Mothers diet with Fish oil capsules or other quality oils such as black current seed oil, flax seed, Evening Primrose oil and salmon oil. This will pass through into the baby via the breast milk.
  3. Supplement Mother with Probiotics such as Lactobacillus Acidophillus and Bifidus. More than just the amounts found in yoghurts are necessary for this condition.
  4. Where available purchase an infants probiotic formula rich in Bifido infantis bacterium, the particular strain of infant bacteria that they need to stop reactions such as Eczema. You can mix with breast milk and place on Mother's nipple for taking by infant or add to infant formula. This is especially important for babies who are born by cescearian section as they have not been inoculated by their mother's vaginal bacteria.
  5. Supplement Mother's diet with a B complex formula as B6 and cofactors such as Biotin help with infants being breast-fed that have dermatitis, eczema or craddle cap. Foods that are rich in B complex vitamins include Brewers yeast, many cheeses, whey, eggs, apples, iceberg lettuce, Rye flour, salt water fish, banana, liver,potato's, sunflower seeds, walnuts and legumes.
  6. Apply 10mls of a specially formulated oil blend onto your babies skin 3 times a day as necessary such as a blend of equal parts of sweet almond oil, evening primrose oil, wheat germ oil and chickweed oil. This will alleviate the itch, soothe the skin and provide essential fatty acids to be absorbed through the skin surface.
  7. Put 10mls of this oil mix into your babies bath.
  8. While you are getting organised to make your oil, you can make chamomile tea, allow to cool and add 4 drops of lavender oil -bathe the area daily with this solution. Other oils such as bergamot, chamomile, NZ Manuka and geranium are also helpful. Add one drop of each to 50mls of chamomile solution.
  9. Avoid all chemicals for cleaning products in your home.

If your child has developed atopic dermatitis or other allergies you can get their allergies tested. Hair allergy testing is very simple and quite comprehensive these days with both IgE and IgG responses able to be detected.

There are also local naturopaths that can do energetic hair testing which are giving people fantastic results. Consult your family G.P. If you want the basic skin tests done, these are not as comprehensive but another option none the less. There are a variety of ways to test for allergies so please consult your natural Health practitioner or G.P.

By understanding what your child's allergies are you can easily avoid them, give their little bodies time to repair(with some help) and the resulting eczema should clear up on its own. Later these so called allergen foods can most often be re-introduced with out any trouble.

The most common forms of food allergies are eggs, peanuts, soy foods, wheat (breads, cakes, biscuits, pastries, pasta etc) and dairy products including cheese, milk, yoghurt, ice cream etc.
Soak all grains before eating, baking, this includes muesli's or breakfast cereals this breaks down phytic acid which can irritate G.I tracts and cause allergic reactions.

Older children and adults can do the following:

  1. Take a digestive enzyme or HCL supplement with meals to increase digestion of all foods eaten.
  2. B complex Vitamins are helpful to increase body's natural skin function and circulation. B vitamins aid in the reproduction of all cells, cell formation and cellular longevity. Deficiency of this vitamin group has been linked to dermatitis.
  3. Essential fatty acid supplementation such as Cod Liver oil, black current seed oil, flax seed, Evening Primrose oil and salmon oil.
  4. Add a supplement of Probiotics to your diet daily as a lack of bowel flora from any use of Anti-biotics will also contribute to this condition.
  5. Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids because they inhibit inflammation and stabilizes cell membranes.
  6. Vitamin E -relieves dryness and itching.
  7. Zinc- Aids in all healing and supports natural immune function.
  8. Kelp Because it contains Iodine and other minerals needed for skin healing of tissues.


  1. Dark oily fish such as salmon.
  2. Avoid all allergy foods including foods with raw egg which contains avidin, a protein which binds to biotin and prevents it from being absorbed.
  3. Avoid sugar, strawberries, white flour, chocolate, fried foods and processed foods.
  4. Avoid gluten containing foods such as Rye, Oats, Barley and Wheat foods for 6 weeks and see if dermatitis improves.
  5. Use a Body oil rich in essential fatty acids such as the recipe above everyday.
  6. Keep your house de-humidified (moisture free) and take only one shower or bath per day as these deplete natural skin oils.
  7. Avoid soaps and chemical bubble baths that irritate your skin. Choose a natural non irritating soap for sensitive skin.
  8. Keep your colon clean by going to the toilet every day. Use a bulking fibre supplement if you have to such as psyllium husks or flax seeds. NB: always take a fibre product separately from other supplements.
  9. Do a detox to get rid of candidiasis and possible parasites and gut repair programme with your natural health practitioner to heal your leaky gut wall.
  10. Juice therapy can be very effective. Try the following: carrot, beetroot, cucmber, celery, apple.
  11. Homeopathy may also prove to be helpful. Look into the following remedies for the right one for you or your child: Pulsatilla, Arsenican album, Lycopodium, Graphites, Petroleum, Sulfur, Thuja, Sepia.

Herbal Treatments for adults:
  1. Drink a cold infusion of equal parts of fresh Nettle, Chickweed and Cleavers twice a day.
  2. Mix equal parts of tinctures of Red clover, Nettle, Chickweed, Baical skullcap and cleavers and take 1/2 tsp of this mixture three times a day.

Other Topical applications to try:
  1. Aloe Vera gel
  2. Evening Primrose oil applied directly to the skin can help the body's response to cracks and sore areas of the skin.
  3. To relieve itch make a cream with Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Chickweed oil, Zinc oxide, yoghurt and a little honey. Mix together and apply to skin.
  4. Dried herbs of Calendula, Chickweed and St John's wort can be infused into Olive oil for 2 hours over a water basin and applied to itchy and painful skin.

Originally written by Kirsten Taylor - Naturopath, Medical Herbalist. Used with the permission of the author -


Quality organic herbs for natural eczema treatment


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