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ECZEMA LIFESTYLE RECOMMENDATIONS

DIET

As with any human health issue, diet must be carefully considered. If you are eating a diet high in refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, saturated fat, or processed food, you are setting your body up for inflammation of any and every kind. So, the first step is to clean up your diet by eating a mostly plant-based menu, rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, wholesome fats, and proteins, with only moderate consumption of caffeine and alcohol.

Once you’ve done that, it’s worth experimenting with an elimination diet, eliminating whole food groups for 3-4 weeks at a time to see if you notice a reduction in symptoms. Wheat, corn, and dairy are three of the highest-yield categories to eliminate when it comes to eczema. A food journal can help keep track of what’s working, as well as a photo album on your phone to track the progress of your skin with pictures.

SUPPLEMENTS

  • Probiotics have been shown to have some preventative and/or palliative effect on atopic dermatitis, so it’s worth popping one of those daily.

  • Evening primrose oil has anecdotal evidence behind it, but the medical evidence is lacking. Still, an oral supplement may be worth trying.

  • Black cumin seed oil, also called nigella sativa, has been of interest to the medical community lately and may have a role in treating eczema. I take a teaspoon of it a day orally because I think it has an overall anti-inflammatory effect on the body. I do think my perioral dermatitis, a close cousin of eczema, has responded well to the addition of black seed oil. 

    CHEMICALS

    Repeat after me: “I need to eliminate sodium lauryl and sodium laureth sulfate from my toothpaste, my shampoo, my hand soap, my body wash, my laundry detergent, and my dish soap.” SLS is in almost anything that foams, and is a very effective skin irritant. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen who were shocked to find out that their natural laundry detergent or toothpaste contained it. The good news is that eliminating SLS in your home can make a HUGE difference in your eczema.

    Synthetic fragrance is another offender when it comes to eczema - scan your labels for the words “fragrance” or “parfum”, and choose products with no scent or only small quantities of skin-friendly essential oils.

    Avoid sulfates, artificial colors, ethoxylated ingredients, parabens, phthalates, and silicones as well.

    For our favorite eczema-friendly products, check out this Instagram Highlight on our feed.

    IRRITANTS

    • Aim for loose, comfortable, cotton clothing whenever possible.

    • Use a humidifier in your home if you live in a dry climate.

    • Try to keep your house clean, with special attention to pet hair and dust.

    • Take warm showers, but not hot showers - hot water will make eczema worse, even if it feels good in the moment!

    • If your hands are suffering from eczema, wash them with cool water and a very mild, SLS free soap - try to avoid the alcohol-based hand sanitizers, as they will strip the skin of too much moisture. 

    ALLERGENS

    It’s probably worth undergoing allergy testing with your physician to make sure you don’t have a clear allergy that’s triggering your eczema. (We sincerely hope it’s not your cat.) I recommend skin testing with an accredited healthcare provider for allergies. The increasingly popular mail-in allergy tests are prone to false positives, and you may end up never eating almonds again for no reason.

    STRESS

    Yep, you knew it was coming. It’s involved in almost every disease process and needs to be managed and addressed just like all the other contributing factors. If you’re not actively managing stress (exercise, yoga, meditation, long walks in the woods, reading books, drinking herbal tea, or some other tactic), you need to start - now. These methods are not just trendy. They work to reduce stress-induced hormones in the body, leaving more resources available for your body to achieve greater health.