What is it? What causes it? How to I know I definitely have it?
If eczema look different on different skin tones, and even appears differently on the skin, depending on its severity or type, then your first port of call is going to be seeing a doctor, or even your local pharmacist or naturopath.
Itching skin is often, but not always the first, symptom followed by dry patches, inflamed skin, rough, thick skin and if itched, broken and also infected skin.
Eczema can vary in intensity when it comes to how irritating the itch can be and it also varies in time when it comes to how long it lasts.
In some cases of eczema, the skin can react to tap water, but the most common triggers are detergents, skincare, body soaps, food products, grass, allergens and lack of humidity, stress, or a combination of these elements.
For some sufferers, the main cause of worry is that reaction can occur without any apparent reason, even if a person isn’t exposed to the usual triggers. This is where triggers such as stress or lack of sleep can also be looked at.
THE BEST TIME TO DEAL WITH THE SYMTOM OF ECZEMA IS STRAIGHT AWAY, BEFORE IT SPIRALS OUT OF CONTROL AND GETS WORSE. HOWEVER, IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO GET STARTED
Check out: How Do I Know If I Have Eczema? on YouTube
SEVERAL TYPES OF ECZEMA YOU WILL HAVE HEARD OF:
Atopic Dermatitis The most common and most painful, frustrating itch. Can leave skin prone to infection, inflammation and can appear anywhere on face & body.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis Happens when your skin comes into contact with a specific substance. The substance can trigger an abnormal reaction in the immune system.
AVOID: Fragrance in skincare, detergents, laundry cleaning products, wool, citrus, grass, vinegar.
Cradle Cap (Infant Seborrheic Eczema) Looks crusty but isn’t itchy. It mostly affects babies up to age of 1 year old.
Adult Seborrheic Eczema: Appears on scalp as mild dandruff but can end up on ears, face, and chest. Normally found in 20-40 year old. It looks flaky and can become inflamed. Normally cause by an increase in yeast, and if it becomes infected it will need anti-fungal treatment.
Dyshidrotic Eczema: More common in women than men. Appears as small fluid blisters on hands and feet. Blisters can itch and hurt and skin can crack and become flaky.
Caused by: Allergies, stress, damp hands & feet, exposure to substance like nickel, cobalt & chromium salt.
Hand Eczema: Dry and itchy, may form blisters or cracks. It is triggered by exposure to irritant causing chemicals. Using antibacterial gels can trigger hand eczema as well.
Nummular Dermatitis: They look like a round coin shaped dots on the skin, it can itch a lot and become scaly. It is triggered by insect bites or an allergy reaction to metal or chemicals. Atopic dermatitis is also a trigger for nummular dermatitis.
Stasis Dermatitis: Triggered by fluid leaking out of weakened veins into the skin. It causes swelling, itching & pain. It mainly effects the lower leg and feels achy and heavy. Possible for people who suffers varicose veins with dry itchy skin over the veins, which may develop open sores.
For all of these, don’t think there is nothing you can do about it if you have been told it is genetic or it keeps reoccurring. As well as treating the symptom itself, you will need to start looking at what is causing your eczema.
We are all unique, so what triggers one person’s eczema, may not be the same for another person.
It is definitely useful to keep a food and lifestyle journal to document everything.
- WHAT YOU ATE THAT DAY, WHERE YOU ATE, WHO COOKED
- PRODUCTS YOU USED: SKINCARE, HAIRCARE, SUNSCREEN, PERFUME, MAKEUP
- JEWELLERY WORN THAT DAY
- WHAT YOU DID: SWIM, WALK IN CITY, WALK IN WOODS, CLEAN HOUSE
- LENGTH OF TIME AND TEMPERATURE OF BATH WATER
- STRESSFUL DAY, FUN DAY, GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP, EXERCISE, AIR CONDITIONING, CENTRAL HEATING
- SYMTOMS OTHER THAN ECZEMA EG. STOMACH PAIN, SINUSES, HEADACHE, SINUS PAIN, ARTHRITIS PAIN
If something as simple as sweat can be a trigger for your eczema, then is is definitely worth documenting for 2 weeks before starting your exclusion diet. Removing all known eczema triggers for 2 weeks then reintroducing one at time to see if there’s a reaction.
Check out What Causes Eczema, Exclusion Diet and Creating A Healthy Food Diary on YouTube.
Once food, skincare and your environment have been addressed, you can also look at gut health and possible supplementation to help your gut, skin and overall body health.
See Eczema, Supplements & Powders Part 1 & Part 2 on YouTube.
Once you deal with the triggers and the possible cause of your eczema, you will start to suffer less and less. It isn’t a one cure fits all condition, as we are all unique and eczema is multi factional. It won’t be cured or healed overnight but the symptoms will start to reduce and calm down.
For more information, check our YouTube channel to help with your skin journey! Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE, like, comment & share!
@ Tigs and Moo Naturals
Also check out our Instagram and Facebook @tigsandmoonaturalskincare
Did you know that rates of eczema/atopic dermatitis for adults and kids have more than tripled in the past 20 years? Experts believe this massive increase is due to industrialization.
Although eczema is a genetic condition, it is a multi-factional disorder that can be triggered by an overactive immune response to environmental and other factors. As it can be triggered by many different things, then controlling the external factors can help to control and keep eczema at bay.
I’ll explore a handful of reasons of why it appears on the skin of babies, kids and adults.
- The foods, drinks, or medications that mother consumes during pregnancy can cause enfant eczema from a very early start.
- Whether a baby is born via birth canal or c-section can make a difference. Babies born via the birth canal pick up the necessary different bacteria from the mother which will help to build the immune system. This isn’t the case for babies born via c-section
- Bottle fed babies can be susceptible to eczema if they have an intolerance to cow milk.
- What the breast-feeding mother is eating or using on her skin can impact her breast milk and therefore trigger eczema on the baby’s skin.
- Antibiotics or any medication given to the baby at a young age can affect the gut or skin.
- Skincare – baby skincare products with fragrance/synthetic chemicals can trigger eczema. One fragrance in a product can have over 30 synthetic chemicals and does not have to be included on the ingredients label.
- Bed linen – synthetic bed linen can cause itching and can cause the skin to become too warm which can trigger eczema
- The flame retardant in/on the mattress and pillow can be a trigger for eczema, as the chemicals are slowly released over the years. You can purchase natural mattresses and pillows.
- Food colouring/food dye – These are all known eczema triggers, due to the inflammation they cause in the body and because of their artificial nature.
- Ultra processed /processed foods – these foods are so far removed from their natural food state with added chemicals, that as well as offering very little nutritional value, they cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to eczema
- Inflammatory natural foods – As foods that contain gluten are so far removed from their original traditional origin to what is now just really another highly processed food, more and more people are becoming allergic or intolerant. They are also known triggers for eczema.
- Processed sugar – This is a known trigger for eczema. Unfortunately, more and more of our foods contain sugar to make the processed foods more addictive. Any ingredient that ends in ‘ose’ or is a syrup is also sugar.
- Pollution – This can be both indoor and outdoor pollution. The harsh chemicals in our indoor cleaning products can be a trigger, as well as air fresheners and even our own perfumes. Outdoors, things out of our control such as car fumes and industrial pollution can cause irritation to skin and trigger eczema.
- Skincare and haircare products – You will need to become more label savvy, as the myriad of chemicals that are added to even children’s products nowadays, can trigger eczema and other dry skin conditions.
- Clothing with dyes or synthetic materials – you will never know what chemicals have been added to create the dyes in the clothes you are wearing. If you have already changed your laundry detergent and it has made no difference, then its time to look at organic cotton or other natural materials (not wool though). You should always wash new clothes before wearing them.
- Stress & no sleep – Although we don’t like to believe our kids can become as stressed as adults, they too can have eczema breakouts from stress and lack of sleep. Stress and lack of sleep can trigger the stress hormone cortisol and then can lead to eczema as well as other health conditions.
- Bed linen – Just like clothing the quality of bed linen, natural or synthetic or the dye can make a difference to the comfort of our skin.
- Hair products – As well as affecting the scalp, the shampoo or conditioner can drip onto the neck and body to trigger off eczema on the skin
- Skin products – too many skin irritating chemicals are added to make our products look, feel and smell enticing without doing any actual good to the skin.
- Perfume/ Fragrance in products – As mentioned previously, there can be over 30 separate chemicals in one fragrance.
- Laundry detergent or fabric conditioner comes with a toxic warning on the label for a reason.
- Stress from work – not getting stressed is easier said than done, but it definitely adds to reoccurring eczema.
- Cleaning products – the smell catches on the back of the throat for a reason. And just like many products…if they have toxic warnings, why would you choose to use them? Good old fashioned white vinegar didn’t need that toxic warning when our grandmas cleaned with it. Our grandmas in the 1940’s also didn’t have eczema.
- Bed linen – keep it simple with cotton, bamboo or if you can afford it…silk. Cotton can be drying to eczema but none of these materials cause irritation to eczema unless they are dyed.
Two very important facts with all of these lists is
Don’t be seduced by clever marketing
Do your own research.
For more information, check our YouTube channel: @ Tigs and Moo Naturals
Eczema: Babies, Kids & Adults
Also check out our Instagram and Facebook @tigsandmoonaturalskincare
As we find ourselves in this surreal lockdown situation, with all the uncertainty in the world, not knowing what’s going to happen from one day to the next, it is going to take a toll on our Mental Health.
Stress is the body’s reaction to a threat, and anxiety is the body’s reaction to the stress. Stress can have many different drivers but a major factor can be the brain’s primary function, that of survival. Part of that survival role is the ability of prediction. The brain is constantly making predictions about both our internal and external environments, every microsecond of every day.
Enter a worldwide virus that affects every aspect of our lives which you have no control over, and that prediction ability is now compromised, leading to uncertainty. The brain doesn’t like uncertainty, and perceives this as a threat and heightens the activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System, our alarm fight or flight system. Our body is regulated by the Autonomic Nervous System, and this system is always on. Like everything in nature, a balance (homeostasis) is required and it’s the Autonomic Nervous System’s job to balance out our physiology between stressful and calm states of being.
We have two distinct branches of the autonomic nervous system:
Parasympathetic State: Rest and Digest. This is when we are calm and at rest. Where we need to be most of the time.
Sympathetic State: This is our fight or flight response, which is when we are in a state of threat (stress). Now not all stress is bad. The problem arises when we are in heightened states of stress for long periods of time. Stress is crucial for your body’s normal functions, in controlled amounts it helps with a whole host of functions in the body. It helps with keeping our mind focused, helps us to learn, wakes us up in the morning as part of the Circadian rhythm cycle and drives adaption in the gym with fitness, strength and hypertrophy amongst other functions.
However we do not want to live in a sympathetic state. We want to enter into it when we need to, when we train for example, then immediately get out and return to a parasympathetic state when we are finished.
In today’s world, more so than ever experienced before, we are exposed to constant stress, the issue is that we spend too much time in a sympathetic state. Now, what defines stress? Anything and everything! In reality it all depends on you.
Lack of sleep
Poor quality food
Smoking, alcohol and drugs
Constant exposure to blue light devices
Long hours indoors
In the world we live in today, our stress is vastly different. It is less physical, and much more emotional. Every day we encounter small stresses from our partners, colleagues, boss, social media, environment and basically anything else. Every time these small stresses occur, the body believes we are in danger.
Get your body into a Parasympathetic State!!
This is where we want to be ‘living’. Below are some tips I use with my clients to help manage their stress levels
Sleep is the most bang-for-your-buck tool to decrease stress and promote recovery. Most people, a) don’t sleep enough and/ or, b) have poor quality sleep.
One of the reasons people have so much trouble with sleep is the inability to simply “switch off”.
Here we need to create an evening with some structure to help us get into a parasympathetic state.
Step 1 @ 8pm Turn off your smartphone/laptop/electronic tablet. This is hard for a lot of people, but it is a crucial step to reclaiming your sleep back. Phones and laptops have blue lights on their screens. Blue light signals to your brain that it is day time, which turns down melatonin production. Melatonin is the key hormone that regulates our sleep, and starts secreting into our system around 9pm, so we don’t want to turn it off.
Step 2 According to 2009 study at the University of Sussex, 6 minutes of reading each day can reduce a person’s stress levels by 68%, thereby helping individuals clear their minds and minimise bodily tension. For this reason, I advocate reading a book in bed until your eyes feel heavy.
Step 3 Nose breathe. Finish with a couple of minutes of nose breathing. When you breathe through your nose you produce a molecule called Nitric Oxide. Nitric Oxide is a Vasodilator and helps decreases blood pressure and heightens the parasympathetic nervous system. Rest and digest.
Step 4 Aim to go to bed and get up at the same time. Keep to a routine. As already mentioned, the brain likes predictability.
2. Morning sunlight
Seeing the natural light of the sun helps the brain work better. We’re not talking about staring at the sun, but allowing the eyes to be exposed to natural outdoor light free from contact lenses, sunglasses and windows etc. The free Vitamin D you get from sunlight, has powerful effects throughout the body, notably on the immune system. The sun also unlocks the brain’s natural pharmacy which helps the nervous system, hormonal regulation (happy hormones), muscle function and Circadian Rhythm (sleep).
3. Forest Bathing
Research has shown exposure to the natural environment is highly beneficial to human health, especially Mental Health. When taking a walk through woodland you breathe in the naturally occurring chemicals produced mainly by trees but also plants. These natural chemicals have been shown to have a direct physiological effect on the body which have a calming and mood elevating effect.
4. Take time to Breathe
Our Autonomic Nervous System regulates the rate we breathe. That means it just automatically happens under our unconscious awareness. We don’t think too much about it. When calm and relaxed we generally take 9-15 breaths per minute. However, if we are feeling stressed, anxious or scared, you will become very aware of your breathing and your breathing rate will increase. Again, this is your threat response activating your Sympathetic Nervous System. By simply taking turns in blocking one nostril and breathing in through the other at roughly a 5 second inhalation and then breathing out through pursed lips at a 10-15 second exhalation you will help to balance out your stress and calm systems. Try this for 5-8 minutes spread out through the day.
5. Fasted morning slow steady state cardio
Not all cardio will have the the same effect on the body. HIIT or interval sessions are fun and a great tool to use for increased levels of fitness, etc. but ultimately causes a stress response in order for the body to adapt and get fitter.
If we are trying to keep our stress levels down, this type of training will just add to an already highly stressed state and should be kept to once or twice a week. I have found morning steady state cardio to be brilliant for the management of stress. Steady state is determined at an intensity level you could maintain a conversation. I usually program 3-5 morning sessions per week, each lasting between 20-30 minutes.
Here’s why: the brain lives on aerobic respiration, and therefore promotes brain growth (oxygen); it up regulates happy hormones (neurotransmitters) in balance with the stress ones; helps protect against the corrosive effects on the brain from cortisol (stress hormone); it balances neurotransmitters (hormones) in the brain that promote focus; it regulates all the neurotransmitters targeted by antidepressants, thus waking the brain and improving self-esteem. You feel awake and ready to rock on with your day.
I prefer to do this in the morning on an empty stomach because of the anti-inflammatory effect fasting has. During a fasted state, the central nervous system and immune system activates its regeneration phase, reduces oxidative stress (inflammation) and improves mitochondrial function (energy levels), amongst other benefits.
These are just some of the strategies I use. The biggest take home is to keep to a routine, get outside in the sun and amongst nature, move more, move in novel ways (mobility, yoga, learn to handstand, etc.) make time to spend more time with loved ones, listen to music and watch your favourite funny films. Smile!
Author Daryl Fitches
Holistic Strength Coach/Therapist
A Blog For Tigs & Moo