Discover 4 skin-soothing nutrients for eczema
(NaturalHealth365) Over 31 million Americans – one out of every ten people – are affected by the inflammatory skin condition known as eczema. The most common form, atopic dermatitis, features reddened, scaly, raw, and severely itchy skin, sometimes accompanied by open lesions that ooze fluid when scratched. Eczema is non-contagious, but there is currently no cure known to Western medicine. Treatment usually focuses on managing symptoms and reducing flare-ups.
The bad news is that eczema is often worsened by cold weather and dry indoor heat. (In other words, we are smack in the middle of prime “eczema season.”) The good news is that research supports the ability of a variety of natural interventions to soothe and protect the skin, alleviate itching and reduce the risk of sudden “flares.” And these non-toxic natural remedies are completely “no-fuss,” meaning you don’t have to be a chemist to prepare and use them. Let’s look at some simple but effective natural techniques for taming eczema.
Soothe eczema and quench itching with aloe vera gel
One of the most trusted remedies in natural skincare, aloe vera gel “checks all the boxes” regarding properties that allow it to ease eczema. In a review published in the Journal of Pre-Clinical and Clinical Research, scientists reported that aloe vera’s polysaccharides give it natural antibacterial properties, which may help to protect against secondary skin infections. Meanwhile, its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacities can help relieve itching and promote tissue healing. You can find aloe vera gel online, in pharmacies, and even in supermarkets. Opt for a product free of fragrances, alcohol, and dyes – which can aggravate sensitive skin.
Alternately, you can cultivate your aloe vera plant on a sunny windowsill and harvest a leaf when needed. Cut close to the stem, making sure to choose a leaf that is green, intact, and free of mold or brown spots. After washing and drying the leaf, use a knife to trim the prickly parts off. Then scrape out the clear gel from inside the leaf and apply. (Natural skincare doesn’t get much more organic – or simpler – than aloe gel direct from the leaf!)
Aloe vera is generally considered safe and effective for adults and children. However, try it on a small spot first to check for sensitivities – and discontinue use if there is burning or stinging.
Diluted apple cider vinegar rebalances skin
Because eczema causes irritated, red, and swollen skin, one would think that an acidic liquid like apple cider vinegar (ACV) would be the very last thing you would want to apply. Yet, this natural treatment could be “just what the (integrative) doctor ordered.” It turns out that people with eczema may have less acidic skin, and apple cider vinegar is just the thing to strengthen skin defenses, combat infection, and balance acidity.
In a recent review published in the journal Nature, scientists credited ACV with reducing the expression of inflammatory molecules while inhibiting pathogens such as E.coli, C. albicans, and S. aureus. The team pointed out that – unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics – ACV doesn’t contribute to the growing global problem of antibiotic resistance. However, it must be well diluted to avoid harming the skin. Experts at the National Eczema Association advise mixing a tablespoon of ACV into a cup of warm water and soaking a cotton wrap in the solution. Apply over the affected area and allow the compress to remain there for three hours.
Manuka honey contains potent compounds to ease atopic dermatitis
Used for centuries by the indigenous people of New Zealand to treat skin conditions, Manuka honey is believed to help prevent secondary infections and promote wound healing. This belief is supported by research showing that topical application of Manuka honey stimulates macrophages, which encourage skin healing and regeneration of cells. While all varieties of honey contain valuable antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, many scientists believe that Manuka honey’s unique constituents, which include methylglyoxal and dihydroxyacetone, allow it to be particularly well-suited to treating eczema.
In fact, one small clinical study showed that Manuka honey reduced inflammation and improved lesions in atopic dermatitis. For maximum benefit, look for the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) logo on the product. This marking verifies that the product comes from a producer licensed by the UMF Honey Association. To use, apply a thin layer of medical-grade Manuka honey to the affected area, cover it with a bandage or gauze, and leave it on overnight.
Coconut oil offers important hydration and protection to skin
Coconut oil has been shown in studies to penetrate the skin quickly and effectively, helping to hydrate the skin by preventing water loss and protecting the all-important skin barrier – two important weapons against atopic dermatitis. In addition, coconut oil’s lauric acid content means that it has antibacterial and antioxidant effects to discourage pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and viruses. Go for the “real deal” and use organic extra virgin coconut oil, as soaps merely fragranced with coconut oil are of questionable value. To use it, apply a thin layer of cold-pressed virgin coconut oil several times a day, especially after bathing. Don’t use coconut oil if you are allergic to coconut.
Other natural techniques you can use include soaking in a lukewarm bath. Limit exposure to 15 minutes and avoid using harsh soaps. Make sure to moisturize promptly afterward with an oil-based product. And, do use a humidifier during cold winter months.
The National Eczema Association states that you should consult your integrative healthcare provider before trying these natural remedies for eczema. And, if lesions appear infected, or cover a large body area, see your doctor.
While eczema can be a troublesome and uncomfortable condition, you don’t have to “suffer in silence.” Instead, fight back with these skin-friendly natural nutrients!
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