It’s that time of year again! No – not the holidays, but rather that time when skin gets dry and cracked and painful and eczema tends to get worse. Whether you are a busy mum washing your hands 1000 times a day or a kiddo like mine who is OBSESSED with bathing, it’s likely that your skin could use some loving.
Eczema is also one of the most common pediatric conditions that I see in my medical practice. Standard treatments usually include corticosteroids, which many parents like to avoid. Often a corticosteroid is used for stubborn eczema, and sometimes we even need to use a topical antibiotic if the skin is so damaged that it becomes infected. But for most mild to moderate cases of eczema, a few simple changes can make a big difference. Here are a few of my favourite options:
- Omega 3 Fish Oil – I’ve praised this before and I’ll praise it again! Omega 3 fish oil taken orally is a great way to keep skin hydrated and is a potent anti-inflammatory. One study found that taking 1.8 grams of EPA (a component of fish oil) significantly reduced symptoms of eczema after 12 weeks. Nerds like me find this really cool!
- Chamomile/Yarrow/Calendula Cream – these herbs are strongly anti-inflammatory and help to repair skin cells. If you can’t find a good quality cream in your area, consider making your own:
- 1 2/3oz coconut oil
- 2/3oz almond oil
- 1oz rose water
- 10 drops each of the essential oils of chamomile, yarrow and calendula
- Method: Place oils into a double boiler. Stir until melted. While oil mixture is heating, gently heat the rose water. When both are ready, take them off the heat and start adding the rose water to the oil mixture while beating with a whisk. Beat just until all the water has been absorbed and then mix in the essential oils. Put into jars and leave in a cool place to set. Apply as needed to affected areas.
Diet – the most common food triggers that I see in my practice are dairy products, wheat/gluten containing products and eggs. Clinically, many patients find an improvement in eczema after doing a trial elimination of one or more of these foods. (Sometimes this can be overwhelming to parents, especially if the child is a picky eater. A licensed Naturopathic Doctor can help you to identify possible food triggers and advise on how to complete an elimination diet.)