My daughter has been dealing with eczema since she was a baby. For almost 4 years now, we have tried many natural ways to deal with it, some which work better than others. Everyone is different, but here are some tips to help to deal with eczema naturally.
- Use natural detergents. Stay away from “regular” clothes detergents, especially those that have fragrances added. Most are full of chemicals, from optical brighteners to other skin irritants. Look for environmentally friendly, healthy detergents that leave no residues on clothing. Same with dryer sheets – either use ones that use natural ingredients, or try to eliminate them all together especially for children’s clothing.
- Use only natural bath and skin products. This goes for soap, lotion, or anything else you put on your skin. Read labels, and stay away from detergents (in things like shampoo and shower gel), fragrances, and any other chemicals. Some companies claim to be natural, green, or organic, but you still might see harsh chemicals like SLS (sodium laureth sulfate), so check the ingredients.
- Sunscreen. Make sure that you and your child’s skin is protected from the sun, but remember that the ‘average’ sunscreen may be full of chemicals. Look for natural sunscreens and also consider other options for sun protection. For example, we use long-sleeve rash guards (swim shirts), large sun hats, and other ways of protecting from the sun that can help limit the amount of sunscreen you use. Although we stick to natural sunscreens, the combination of sun, sweat, and sunscreen still causes flareups for our child.
- Consider using “natural” fabrics. I find we have better luck with fabrics like breathable cotton, compared to something like nylon. My older daughter never had a problem with eczema, but when we handed down her fleece pajamas to her little sister, it was causing terrible irritation and discomfort. We switched back to cotton pajamas and noticed almost immediate relief.
- With kids especially, you may want to skip the bubble bath. I found that even natural bubble baths caused extra dryness. Instead, you may want to try something such as colloidal oatmeal to add to the bath.
- Limit baths. Especially in the winter, we skipped baths when we could. My daughter’s skin was so dry, that even just a dip in a soap-free bath would irritate her skin and leave her itching all over.
- Increase Omega-3s/Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). A good friend of mine swears by taking two flax oil pills daily, and if she misses a day or two, her eczema comes right back. There are lots of foods that are high in Omega-3s, as well as liquid or pill forms, including fish oil, flax oil, and coconut oil. (Please note that some supplements like flax can have estrogenic properties, and special care should be taken especially giving these to children). There are Omega-3 formulas designed just for kids (we use Coromega or Barleans).
- Take supplements. There are many natural supplements that are used to treat eczema in addition to Omega-3s, including a good balance of vitamins and minerals as well as herbal supplements.
- Probiotics! Probiotics single-handedly cleared up my daughter’s eczema, but it was a matter of finding just the right one that was truly effective. I used several probiotics without noticing a change, but finally found one that cleared up her eczema immediately. Now, if we miss even a day or two, her eczema flares up again. We use Garden of Life Raw Probiotics, Kids, which is very effective for my daughter but can also be given to kids starting at just 3 months of age! It was difficult to find a good probiotic that we were able to give to a baby, so that is a definite plus. We also more recently found UAS Labs DDS Junior Probiotic for Children, which also seems to work well. These may seem expensive, but if you compare the price per serving, these are comparable to other probiotics. Please note that everyone responds to probiotics differently, so you may have to try many before you find just the right one – just because they worked for us, they may not be effective for your child.
- Topical skincare. Three that we used often were flax oil, almond oil, and coconut oil, which I massaged on my daughter’s skin every night. (Note that flax oil will noticeably stain clothing). Coconut oil has lots of great qualities, such as moisturizing as well as antimicrobial, and can help to soothe skin. It helps to apply this right after a bath to help lock in moisture. We also used other treatments, including almond oil and a natural eczema lotion.
- Consider possible allergens. There may be foods in your diet that are triggers and cause flare-ups, such as milk. You can try things like eliminating it from your diet, or you can get tested.
It may take some trial and error to find just the right combination to help with eczema. Be patient as you allow your body to adjust. Hopefully some of these tips help to provide some relief!
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