Nearly one in five children in the UK suffers from dry skin and eczema. If your baby or child is one of them you’ll probably agree that, however mild or severe, it can have a big impact on daily life.
Eczema is an inflammatory condition of the skin that can occur at any time and anywhere on the body. It varies in type, with atopic eczema being the most common in children. Sometimes their skin can be itchy, dry and red, and if infected, it can be weepy and bleeding.
Skin acts as a protective barrier for our bodies, keeping moisture in and infection and irritants out. Skin with eczema is less able to retain water. This allows gaps to open up between the skin cells and allergens and irritants to pass through more easily.
Doctors usually advise to moisture the skin with creams and lotions full of chemicals (such as parabens), and bath oils based on paraffin which blocks the pores and do not let the skin to breath and to eliminate the toxins. They may even go further and prescribe steroid creams, which have severe side effects, especially on the sensitive and thin baby skin. But these are not the only options.
Here is a way to treat the eczema naturally.
To moisture the skin, use only natural organic bath oils, skin salves and massage oils. You could buy them from trusted organic brands, or you could make them at home – it’s easy and cheap.
Probiotics are dietary supplements of live microorganisms thought to be healthy for the host organism. Probiotics, which means, “for life,” have been used for centuries as natural components in health-promoting foods. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria are the most common types of microbes used as probiotics. The benefits of probiotics are endless: managing lactose intolerance, prevention of colon cancer, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, improving immune function and preventing infections, reducing inflammation, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and colitis, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and skin conditions as eczema. You can give them to your baby from 6 months in a form or powder or drops, or as plain probiotic yogurt.
3. Food rich in Vitamin A and E, and Zinc
Fresh fruit juices from carrots, parsley and celery (you may want to introduce celery after your baby is one) – they could be given even an hour before breakfast or as a mid-morning snack.
4. Food Allergy and Foods that Cause Eczema in Babies
Consult your child’s doctor or dietician if a food allergy is suspected. Keep a food diary and list any foods you introduce when weaning. If a reaction occurs, avoid the food for 4-6 weeks and re-introduce the food. See how your child is feeling during this period. If better, avoid the food for a longer period. If not, it’s been probably a different reason for the reaction, rather than the food. Food like milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, etc. are the foods to avoid with eczema in toddlers. Always re-introduce food with care and very small amounts. It’s best to talk to a professional dietician to prevent from unnecessary avoiding of foods and food groups.
5. Food Additives
Many of the food additives and colouring are provoking skin reaction and allergies, including worsening the eczema. If you are suspecting your child might be sensitive to those, make sure you avoid them by buying only organic and additive-free baby and toddler baby jar, and, even better, prepare homemade food as often as you can.
6. Eczema Baby Clothes
To dress your precious one use smooth, soft organic clothes from earth-friendly and non-sensitive fabric such as cotton, bamboo or hemp this type of clothing is proven to be best eczema baby clothes. Never use synthetic materials such as polyester or acrylic.
7. Essential Fatty Acids
The body cannot produce these fats so they are essential to everyone. They are crucial for skin disorders however and many people with eczema have a problem metabolising essential fatty acids, and therefore are often deficient. Over half of eczema sufferers improve when they use omega 3 fish as a supplement as well as topically. These fatty acids contain EPA which can. The pure natural skincare products for eczema also contain essential fatty acids. Fatty fish such as salmon is great for children with eczema, and once introduced and tolerated well, you could give it to you toddler twice a week. If you are breastfeeding mother, make sure you eat 1-2 portions of oily fish per week.
Flaxseed oil also contains the essential oil omega-3, which the body converts to EPA and DHA. This oil is very useful for all dry skin conditions, including all forms of eczema.
Evening primrose oil, Borage oil and blackcurrant oil are all sources of gamma linolenic acid, an oil much like the essential fatty acids (EFA) of the omega-6 variety. They could be either taken orally or applied externally, but for small children is always better to try massaging them into the skin only. It is great for itchy conditions. You could mix 20% evening primrose oil to 80% calendula oil to treat eczema in babies, too.
Coconut oil is 44.6% lauric acid, and also contains oleic acid and linoleic acid, both proven to be beneficial for eczema when taken orally or applied externally. Coconut oil (butter) is known for its antimicrobial properties, and the results form several studies have stressed its sensitivity to both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial isolates, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus spp. and Enterobacter spp. Applying coconut oil externally will reduce the chances of skin getting infected.
Another antibacterial oil is calendula oil. Applying calendula or coconut oil externally will reduce the chances of skin getting infected. You could even buy or make calendula oil yourself. In a pan just add a handful of dried calendula petals into 300ml organic extra virgin olive oil, “cook” on very, very low for 30min, and then remove from the heat. Leave overnight or even for a few days, preferably in a warm and sunny place, then re-heat again for 2-3 min, allow to cool, and then pour the filtered oil into a clean dry bottle.
A great option is to substitute olive oil with pure melted lard, then follow the above instructions. Lard with calendula is great moisturiser with antibacterial and antifungal properties. You could use it for nappy rash, or mild burns, too.
Oatmeal bath will reduce the itchiness and will sooth the skin. Always put a handful of fine oat powder under warm running water. The water colour will go brownish, which is good, as it means the oat powder has been dissolved.
Manuka honey has great healing and skin soothing effects. It stops infection and reduces inflammation. It is best to use in a cream form, unless you want to get really sticky.
Aloe Vera cools down irritated skin, reduces redness and swelling. Laboratory experiments suggest it has antibacterial and antiinflammatory properties. You could even use it externally in a form of gel, or drink it as a juice for more in-debt results.
Water Install a water softener for the bath and shower, and water filter for the drinking water. Hard water irritated and dries skin.
Drinking a lot of water and other fluids will help to moisture the body and to keep it hydrated internally.
Other tips to consider
- Use non-bio washing liquids
- Keep rooms cool, particularly their bedroom
- Cotton bedding and breathable hypoallergenic mattresses are a must
- Clean your house and wash duvets and pillows regularly
- Avoid chlorinated pools; look for salt-water or fresh-water alternatives
- Apply natural skin oils or balms before and after swimming
- Use a sunscreen with organic natural ingredients only
- Use a breathable vinyl-based mattress protector and wash it regularly
- Wash soft toys regularly
Please refer to our homeopathy section for further information.