Dealing with eczema and other chronic conditions of the skin such as psoriasis is not easy – it sometimes takes trial and error for you to discover your own personal trigger. Here is what has worked for me and many others and how I’ve changed my diet and lifestyle to lessen the effects of eczema and dry skin for me and my family.
If you missed my last post, My Battle with Eczema, Perioral Dermatitis and Corticosteroid Cream, I share my experience going off my skin’s addiction to steroid cream and how eczema and other skin conditions are really an internal, diet problem – not external. Here’s what I’ve done with a lot of success!
Yep, it’s not just a fad. It has been the number one thing I’ve done that works the most. Notice, I write “the most” but doesn’t work completely. When I accidentally get gluten in my system, I get a severe outbreak on my fingers that is painful, burns, and itches like I’ve got poison ivy. I don’t even miss the wheat because I know what will happen to me if I cheat – it’s just not worth it! But I do still get outbreaks because there is something else in my diet that is causing inflammation (I think it’s other grains like rice, sugar and dairy). I’m figuring that out right now on the intro diet of the GAPS protocol. Ever heard of that? I explain more in the next section.
I’ve learned how to cook, bake, eat differently and created new habits with new go-to snacks to make it easy. After just a month of going off of gluten, it had become easy! If you are also struggling with what to cook, check out my Gluten-Free Cooking board on Pinterest. I’m currently writing another post where I share how I went gluten free soon!
Reduce or Eliminate Sugar, Caffeine, Alcohol, and Dairy
Yeah, I know, that’s not easy. Sugar? I LOVE SUGAR. Wheat? My favorite food was always cookes. My vice is a few squares of Lindt chocolate bars every night with a glass of sweet or red wine. Helps me unwind after being so wound up chasing three little urchins around all day. But, now that my body has detoxed some (with the help of a very good, therapeutic grade probiotic (buy here)), I get stomach aches, gas and bloating when I ingest more than just a little sugar and alcohol. Not much of a vice when it’s accompanied with a stomach ache. I’ve had problems with dairy my whole life and have never really liked cow’s milk, so I simply switched to almond milk and have seemed to handle it well. If you want more dietary information, check out the book (affiliate link), Gut and Psychology Syndrome (referred to as, GAPS), all about how the foods we eat affect our guts (intestines) and how that influences our entire health. I’m also loving this cookbook that pairs nicely with the book, Nourishing Traditions.
Use A Mild, Sulfate-Free Soap
Sulfates are synthetic detergents that abound in our shampoos, dishwashing and laundry detergents, body wash, bar soap and even toothpaste. But they are not a real soap – they work to strip your skin’s top layer of sebum to clean and leave the skin very dry. Instead, use a real soap like castile soap, a very gentle, olive-oil based soap that binds to dirt but does not strip your skin of sebum. My favorite brand is Dr. Bronner’s (buy here) – they are a super-duper, hippy, earth loving company. I am so accustomed to using my homemade hand soap (recipe here) that when I use soap at other peoples’ homes or out in public, my hands feel so dry and it exacerbates my eczema. If you’d like more information on sulfates, read my post – DIY Baking Soda Shampoo and Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner.
Here are my sulfate-free recipes:
- Dishwashing Detergent
- Laundry Detergent with Castile Soap
- Foaming Hand Soap
- Oil Cleansing Method for the Face (I don’t wash my face with soap at all!)
Use All-Natural Lotion and Sunscreen
Most store-bought lotions (except the ones that are explicitly natural) are loaded with fragrances and added chemicals that can irritate eczema and sensitive skin. I much prefer to make my own lotion as it is so nourishing to the skin with shea butter, almond oil and coconut oil. It does wonders for me as I frequently wash my hands after changing poopy diapers, wiping off boogers and dirt, and before preparing food. Get the free recipe here!
I also make my own sunscreen for the same reasons. Click here for my free sunscreen recipe!
Use Anti-Inflammatory Supplements like Fish Oil and Probiotics
Inflammation of the gut and body are what lead to chronic diseases and conditions like eczema, so it can be very helpful to take supplements that help reduce inflammation. I take 4,800 mg of fish oil a day (mercury and gluten free) and it really helped me recover from a bad case of perioral dermatitis. But a good, probiotic (buy here) has helped me even more. I noticed a big difference in my energy level, eczema and even mood when I started taking probiotics. Of course, supplements alone will not help if your diet leads to inflammation. A proper diet for your needs is crucial!