Eczema, a form of dermatitis, is one of the more common and frustrating skin allergies.
Not only is there no known cause or cure, but there are so many possible triggers that identifying and eliminating them can seem like an impossible task.
While one in five children is diagnosed with atopic eczema, almost half grow out of it by their teens. Eczema that continues into adulthood is therefore likely to be a permanent problem, but one that can be managed by a more skin-friendly lifestyle.
The majority of eczema sufferers report a worsening in their condition over the winter months. Reasons for this may include:
– Cold winter weather. As temperatures drop so do the moisture levels in the air, causing the skin to become dry and dehydrated. Drier skin is more prone to itching and cracking, and so eczema gets worse.
– Central heating. Persistent exposure to central heating can aggravate eczema as it strips the skin. Try and avoid over-heating your home, particularly when you’re sleeping and moisturise regularly with a cream rich in Omega 3-6 oils, such as Pai Comfrey & Calendula Calming Body Cream.
– Scarce sunlight. For us Brits, winter means greyer skies and far less sunlight, which in turn means a lack of Vitamin D. As well as being a key antioxidant and known healer of dry skin conditions such as psoriasis, Vitamin D is also crucial for our immune system. As eczema can worsen when we are ill or rundown, it’s important to keep our dosage of D up!
– Irritating clothing. Rough and itchy fibres such as wool are known to aggravate eczema, so where possible try to wear cotton next to the skin with warmer garments on top.
This being said, the nature of eczema varies from person to person, and some actually suffer more in summer as a result of humidity or the skin’s reaction to sweat.
It is widely believed that certain foods can cause eczema flare-ups.
The most common food triggers feature more heavily in our winter diet, perhaps part-explaining why eczema may worsen during the cooler months.
Many Pai customers report great results from the following dietary changes.
– Avoid Acidic foods. Way back in the 1930s Nobel-prize winning scientist Ragnar Berg identified the effects of highly acidic foods on our general health. In particular, his research highlighted a link between acidity in the gut and eczema flare-ups. Dairy, oats and refined sugar are all acidic baddies, which is why winter favourite porridge can be particularly aggravating for eczema sufferers. Try eating a slightly alkaline diet and see how your skin reacts.
For more info, read my previous blog.
– Avoid Dairy & Meat. As well as being acidic, both dairy and meat are also common allergens which aggravate the skin when ingested. They also both contain arachidonic acid, a fatty acid which can build up within skin cells and contribute to the inflammation associated with eczema flare-ups.
– Embrace the good fats. Increasing your intake of Essential Fatty Acids is essential for anyone suffering from skin difficulties. They condition the skin from the inside and are the building blocks of healthy skin. Hemp and Flaxseed oils are both good EFA supplements. It is important to store them in the fridge to keep them fresh for longer. If you prefer to take Flax in its seed form then remember to grind the seeds down so the body can absorb them more easily.
Finally, remember – moderation is key! If you are looking to make any radical changes to your diet, always consult a nutritionist first.