First, know that eczema (also called “atopic dermatitis”) is a serious skin disease. Eczema causes dry skin that can itch, get red and crack. Part of the skin might break out in a rash, or the rash might be on the whole body. In adults, eczema usually develops on the insides of the elbows, the backs of the knees, the hands and the backs of the elbows. In young children, the rash is most often on the face. However, eczema can occur most anywhere. Eczema is most common in people whose relatives have allergic conditions like asthma or hay fever. Up to 30 percent of children get eczema.

The question of what causes eczema is a very common one. The exact cause of eczema isn’t known, however, it may be caused or made worse by these things:

1) Soaps, laundry detergents and perfumes.

2) Scratchy clothes (like wool) can also irritate the skin.

3) Allergens like pollens, pet hair or dander (dried bits of skin), food, feathers and dust mites. (Dust mites are very tiny, spider-like creatures. They make their homes in mattresses, pillows and rugs. They can only be seen under a microscope.)

4) Low humidity. During cold weather, the heated air inside homes and other buildings can make skin dry and itchy.

5) Heat, high humidity and sweating. These can make the itching worse.

6) Certain foods or beverages can cause an allergic reaction in your body.

7) Emotional stress or feeling upset can cause the face and body to get itchy, red and hot.

In my field of work, I am often asked, “What can I do if food causes my eczema?

Eating healthy foods on a regular basis can go a long way in attaining and prolonging the optimum condition and health of our bodies. And be sure to drink lots of water. Water helps keep the skin moist. However, if you suspect a certain allergy to a food item, do the following: start by dropping a certain food from your diet for a while and keep a journal to record the response your eczema may have. Discontinue any food item triggering the condition.

The next healthful step in an eczema treatment is to include nutritional herbal supplements as well as omega 3 oils in your diet. Countless studies show that increasing the consumption herbs and omega-3 oils improves conditions of eczema, psoriasis, as well as other types of dry, rough, red and scaly patches of skin experienced by so many. So be sure to include these in your eczema treatment.

Sulfur is another known mineral that enhances healthy skin, hair, and nails. Collagen, important to the elasticity of skin, cannot be produced without sulfur. In fact, eczema and all types of itchy rashes are helped by this mineral. It’s antioxidant properties helps to keep skin youthful and protects the body against toxins. Some natural sources include: meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk products, garlic, onions, cabbage, brussel sprouts, soybeans, and wheat germ.

I often recommend doing the following:

1) Because laundry soaps can irritate your skin, run your clothes through two rinse cycles and try using a milder laundry soap.

2) Wear gloves when you work with cleaning products that might irritate your skin.

3) Wash your sheets often in hot water to get rid of dust mites. Use dust-proof covers on pillows, box springs and mattresses.

4) Wear loose clothes made of cotton and other natural materials that “breathe.” Wash new clothing before wearing it.

I also strongly advise that skin care is very important for your eczema treatment so don’t skimp on this!

1) Shower in warm water instead of hot water only once a day for less than 10 minutes.

2) Wash with a specially formulated mild “non-soap” cleanser, that contains only herbal ingredients that are organically grown and hypo-allergenic.

Vitamin-derived antioxidants from plant sourced ingredients not only make the best ingredients for your “inside”, but for your “outside” as well. For instance, vitamin C is essential for collagen formation and helps to maintain the integrity of skin tissue. It is even essential for wound healing and facilitates recovery from burns. A pure and gentle cleanser filled with nutrients will be just right for all skin types, conditions and ages.

3) After bathing, gently pat your skin dry with a soft towel.

4) Then moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! This is extremely important for your eczema treatment.

Choose only specially formulated therapeutic body creams that will stop itching, repair skin 7 layers deep, are hypo-allergenic and work well to treat dry skin.

The most effective specially formulated products are plant based, have a very rich emollient level and are loaded with nutrients. They should also be able to handle a range of skin conditions. Remember, the best moisturizers are also the thickest. As your body responds to wholesome foods, your skin will respond quite rapidly to the right natural remedies and products.

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