Advice from our pharmacist on how to manage eczema, an incurable skin condition.
If you’ve read our journal post The Lowdown on Eczema you will be an expert on what it is that causes eczema and why we get eczema flare ups. You’ll also be aware that there is no cure for this inflammatory skin condition. The good news is, that with the correct advice and perseverance we can manage this condition and become symptom free.
My top four tips for eczema management:
- Identify & avoid trigger factors
- Find natural products for cleaning, washing & personal care
- Keep the skin healthy and functioning as an effective barrier
- Revamp your diet
Identify and Avoid Trigger Factors
Common eczema triggers:
- Soaps, detergents and cleaning products
- Wool or synthetic fabrics
- Skin infections
- Emotional stress
- Dust mites, pollen, moulds
- Certain foods
My advice: Keep a trigger journal.
Have a small notepad that you can use to document any eczema flare ups. Take note of the time and date, the weather, what foods you’ve eaten that day, any new fabrics or products (household cleaning, cosmetics, personal care, etc) that you’ve come into contact with.
Open windows and doors to keep your home well ventilated. Carry out a regular spring cleaning; vacuum, dust and clean (using natural cleaners) on a weekly basis to keep the home free of dust, pet dander and mould.
Also note if there is some sort of emotional stress, anxiety, poor sleep or traumatic event that may have triggered an internal flare. Taking care of ourselves in a holistic way; mind, body and spirit is just as important as managing the physical symptoms of eczema.
Once you’ve identified your triggers, it will be much easier to avoid or manage these triggers and eliminate them from the home.
Find Natural Products for Cleaning, Washing & Personal Care
Kōaka Shampoo Bar: 100% natural, contains no nasties and provides soothing scalp relief for those suffering with sensitive scalp conditions.
Kōaka Natural Hemp Deodorant: 100% natural, aluminium and antiperspirant free. Soothes irritated kēkē (armpits), a common area of discomfort for those with sensitive skin. Read more on making the switch to natural deodorant.
Keep Your Skin Hydrated, Nourished & Healthy
You would have learned from The Lowdown on Eczema blog that healthy skin is crucial for acting as a protective barrier and preventing moisture loss. My advice is from my experience working in community pharmacy, however I would always recommend discussing this with your own pharmacist or doctor to find what is right for you.
Ditch the steroids and other non-natural creams. Steroid creams work by dulling down your body's immune response. They can be very effective for short term use during severe eczema flares or other allergic skin conditions, however they don’t have great long term effects. In my experience, the overuse and misuse of steroid creams is common amongst eczema sufferers, but this can actually impair the skin's ability to heal. Overuse causes skin to become thin and to lose its barrier function, which in turn is making the eczema condition worse.
Steroid creams and other non-natural creams also contain alcohols, preservatives and other chemicals which can trigger inflammation, cause further moisture loss and result in an eczema flare.
In addition to this I would like to stress the importance that you should never use a steroid cream or ointment on any broken skin. Applying steroids to open wounds impairs healing, causes risk of infection and can increase the systemic absorption of steroids into the blood stream.
Kōaka for Eczema Treatment
To heal your skin the natural way and avoid these types of pharmaceuticals and steroids, I recommend the use of our Hemp Seed Oil Healing Balm to any area of skin that is dry, red, inflamed or itchy. Start by applying this as often as three or four times a day to have a noticeable effect.
Healing Balm provides a combination of calming essential oils, cocoa and shea butter to help sooth itchy inflamed skin and also forms a thick barrier which locks in moisture, prevents external allergens entering and promotes skin healing.
After a few days, or once your skin is looking healthy again, switch to use our Organic Hemp Seed Moisturising Serum to keep the skin hydrated and nourished. It’s best to use this two or three times daily for skin that is prone to eczema or dryness.
Our Moisturising Serum acts as a humectant, meaning it actually draws moisture into the skin, and is packed full of active botanicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to nourish skin naturally.
Revamp Your Diet
As I recommended in my first piece of advice; keeping a trigger journal is the best way to identify which particular foods you should avoid. We already know that dairy, gluten, soy and eggs are often linked to skin issues, so eliminating one or several of these foods could help in managing your eczema.
Avoiding these food groups is known as a hypoallergenic diet and has been shown to reduce inflammation and digestive irritation, which can be factors in eczema.
Another food group that is known to cause issues is processed foods such as confectionary, bread and packaged goods. In general if you can eliminate processed foods and stick to an unrefined wholefoods diet this will have a positive impact on all aspects of health and your skin will love you for it!
The relationship between diet and eczema is a large subject, so we are working towards providing you with more information on this soon!