There are two new discoveries in the field of eczema treatment that could bring relief to the millions of Canadians who suffer from the itchy and irritating skin condition.
The New England Journal of Medicine recently published the results of two clinical trials of a new drug called Dupilumab that has shown to bestow considerable benefits on eczema sufferers, including eradication of atopic dermatitis (the most common form of eczema) at the irritation site. The promising results have prompted the FDA to expedite the drug’s review status, meaning it could be available as early as March 2017.
“This drug is very viable for several reasons,” says Dr. Jaggi Rao, dermatologist and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Alberta. “First, the mechanism of action is scientifically sound – we now understand the various components of the immune system that are altered to cause atopic dermatitis, and this drug positively affects this abnormality to control the disease. We have seen similar antibody therapies work magnificently for psoriasis, hidradenitis [a condition where lumps form under the skin] and other skin diseases, so it makes sense that this will work for eczema. This is very exciting because it will be the first biologic agent to be approved for debilitating eczema.”
His sentiments were echoed by Mona Gohara, a dermatology professor at Yale School of Medicine, who described the drug’s effects as “life changing” in an interview with StyleCaster.
Another inside-out remedy for atopic dermatitis was recently revealed by researchers at the University of Edinburgh. Human beta-defensin 2 (hBD2), a peptide that is naturally occurring in the body but usually lacking in those who suffer from atopic dermatitis, has been shown to stimulate cells to produce a protective compound on the skin’s surface. Sufferers of this condition typically carry a bacteria on their skin called staphylococcus aureus, which can cause infections and damage to the skin barrier, further exacerbating their irritation. By applying a topical version of hBD2, they can strengthen protection against bacterial damage.
While some dermatologists have lauded this discovery, others aren’t so hopeful.
“As a topical agent, we don’t know if there will be sufficient penetrative capability to exert an effect,” Dr. Rao says. “Also, there’s the question of whether a synthesized substance can work to replace a naturally occurring substance that is low, and it may not address other factors that are at play with eczema aside from bacterial influences.”
In the meantime, there are other measures atopic dermatitis sufferers can take to curb the condition. Dr. Lisa Kellett, dermatologist and founder of DLK on Avenue, advises taking baths (not showers) with tepid water, and applying an emollient to wet or damp skin can soothe symptoms.
“Atopic dermatitis is associated with allergies like asthma and hay fever, and people who have these conditions are prone to nut allergies, so it might be wise to avoid eating them,” she says. “Also steer clear of histamine releasing foods,” like tomatoes, eggs, shellfish and chocolate.
There’s new hope for combatting the sags, bags, and wrinkles brought on by time. Today, researchers report that they’ve created a cream that—when rubbed on the skin—forms a transparent, flexible polymer film that restores aging skin’s youthful and elastic properties. Each application of the so-called “second skin” lasts for a day or more, and it can dramatically reduce bags under the eyes and help dry skin retain moisture, at least temporarily. Down the road, it could also help treat a wide variety of skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, bringing relief to millions.
“This has huge potential,” says Suzanne Kilmer, a dermatologist at the University of California, Davis. Kilmer notes that people with eczema and other skin conditions often wrap their skin with bulky bandages or even clear plastic wrap to ensure that their medication doesn’t wipe off. “Instead of patients having to wear all that stuff, they could use this invisible film,” she says.
Our skin is subject to a wide variety of insults, from the sun’s ultraviolet rays to cuts, scratches, diseases, and—of course—the assaults of time. Youthful skin is typically highly elastic, allowing it to snap back into place if pinched or flexed. That’s partly because of a web of protein filaments in the skin that act like rubber bands to pull it into its normal shape. However, these filaments break down over time, and they aren’t replaced as quickly in elderly skin as in youthful skin, says Barbara Gilchrest, a dermatologist with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, who was part of the new study. The result is the sagging skin and wrinkles of old age.
For people dealing with eczema and psoriasis, rashes and dry skin can be so severe that they can’t sleep at night, says R. Rox Anderson, an MGH dermatologist who also worked on the current study. According to Anderson about 20% of children and 10% of adults in the United States suffer from eczema.
To treat these and other skin conditions, Anderson and Gilchrest have long teamed up with Robert Langer, a materials scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Their goal was to create a product that would restore skin’s youthful elasticity, yet be transparent and flexible. They created their first “second skin” of a silicon-polymer gel activated by a second gel, and marketed it as a way to temporarily reduce under-eye bags. But the combo, sold by a firm called Living Proof, was criticized for being too costly ($500 for a 7-week supply) and for peeling off after only 5 hours.
So Langer and his team went back to the lab. They kept the same goal, and they stuck with similar starting materials: silicon-based polymers called siloxanes, regularly used in cosmetics and widely regarded as safe. But Langer and his colleagues changed numerous components. They varied everything from the length of individual molecular chains to the makeup of chemical groups called crosslinkers that bind separate chains to one another as the gel transforms into a thin polymer film. Langer says he and his colleagues tested hundreds of different formulations. In the end, they came up with a platform that allow them to systematically change the film’s thickness, breathability, flexibility, and durability, in an effort to target different cosmetic and medical uses.
As with the previous film-forming material, users apply the new film in two steps. First, the siloxane gel is rubbed on the skin. Then, a second gel, which contains a platinum catalyst, is rubbed on top, causing the crosslinking groups to bind to one another and form a continuous film.
As the film dries, it shrinks by as much as 10%, depending upon the exact formulation. Anderson, Gilchrest, and colleagues tested their cosmetic formulation on 12 volunteers. After they applied the two gel layers on the skin under subjects’ eyes, the films shrank, pulling the skin taut. As they report today in Nature Materials, the films reduced the presence of eye bags up to 40% for 24 hours, compared with control tests with only the first gel. They devised a 1-to-5 scale that measured how prominent the eye bags were, and found in volunteers that the film reduced it by 2 points on the scale. Tests also showed that after 24 hours the film reduced skin water loss by 23% by acting as a barrier to protect dry skin. By comparison, petroleum jelly and a commercial moisturizer also reduced water loss, but only for a couple hours. Even though it has not yet been tested for eczema, psoriasis, and other debilitating skin conditions, Gilchrest says she is hopeful that it might one day offer relief to patients with such conditions. Simply giving damaged skin another protective layer could help those patients, Gilchrest says. But future versions could also come loaded with medicines designed to be slowly released over time, she says. Anderson and Langer are already getting started: They have launched a new company, Olivo Labs, to pursue those medical uses.
From Meds to Marathons: How Eating Whole Plants Reversed My Asthma and Eczema
Imagine an active eight-year-old boy playing baseball, basketball, and tennis … going nonstop. Now, imagine that same boy hindered with difficulty breathing ― something most of us take for granted.
That was me, diagnosed with asthma and immediately put on all types of medication. The meds made me feel jittery and not “right.” I tried my best to not let the asthma or drugs slow me down, but it was difficult. In college, I was placed on “better” medications and given a “rescue” inhaler, which I used consistently. In addition, a severe case of eczema developed on many parts of my body. Many trips to the doctor and expensive lotions didn’t help.
Still active, I took up running but could go for only a few miles at a time. Inspired by a coworker, I decided to train for a marathon and in 2008 completed it with a time of 3:51:17. I got the “running bug” and began to train more seriously.
In addition, I started studying nutrition and paying close attention to what was working best for my performance and recovery. After reading an article about eliminating red meat from my diet, I tried it, and gradually moved to a vegetarian diet. In 2011, I saw a trailer for the Forks Over Knives documentary and knew I had to see it. One day, in the middle of the workday, I checked the movie listings and saw that it was playing in my area. At that moment I felt compelled to see the movie and dropped everything that afternoon to do so.
After seeing Forks Over Knives, I decided to try the plant-based diet approach. Within a short period of time, I noticed my asthma and eczema symptoms were not as prevalent as they had been. Working with my allergist and nutritionist, I reduced the medication and eventually stopped taking medications altogether. For 33 years I had taken medication every day ― this was a life transforming event for me!
And, while this was all going on, I continued to train and run marathons. After moving to a plant-based diet, I noticed my performance and recovery times improved significantly, and I was able to reach one of my goals: qualifying for the Boston Marathon. To date, I’ve run 14 marathons and qualified for four Boston Marathons, running in two of them (including 2013, where I finished ahead of the bombing).
The NBC affiliate in Detroit has a health segment and featured my story earlier this year. I’ve never been more active or felt better. Each day I’m amazed that I no longer take medication and that my eczema is completely gone!
A man whose eczema was so serious that he had to wear gloves day and night has had his life transformed after taking part in a trial of new treatments.
Bill James was in severe pain with the skin condition for more than 10 years.
In people with eczema, the body’s immune system overreacts and the inflammatory reaction can affect the skin.
One in 10 people in the UK suffer from the condition on their hands, and for one in 20, it prevents them from carrying out simple everyday tasks.
“At first it was just hard skin, but over a period of time it got progressively worse and started to split in several places,” said Mr James, who lives with wife Margaret.
“It also itched like mad and made it very difficult to go about my daily tasks, especially with my work which involved making sheds and fencing.
“I started having to wear gloves day and night, which was embarrassing, especially when meeting people, socialising and at work.
“I have tried every available cream and lotion on the market, even going to Chinese herbalists but nothing has helped.”
The 65-year-old said he was never referred to a dermatologist by his GP, though he had various treatments.
“I have been a patient at two different doctors’ practices – one of these had a skin specialist, but the only thing they ever prescribed for me were three different types of steroid cream and I was told that there was nothing else that can be done, I would just have to live with it.”
Enrolling on the ALPHA trial at the University of Leeds has made a “vast” difference to his life, Mr James said.
The trial is comparing treatment with alitretinoin – a Vitamin A-derived drug in tablet form – and PUVA therapy, where hands are exposed to ultra violet (UV) light after they have been soaked in a solution called psoralen.
It is being led by University of Leeds researchers at Chapel Allerton Hospital.
The father of two grown-up sons said the effects on his hands – and his life as a whole – had been massive. “I have been on the trial now for nine months and my hands are better than they have been for years.
“This has made such a vast difference to all aspects of my life.”
Ask any Hong Kongese, they’ll gag-reflex you with “eczema is caused by excess humidity!”
Ask an Australian, it’s the heat. Scandinavian, sunlight deficiency.
Yes, stereotypes. Since we don’t know too much, might as well believe “what they say” – right?
Junky eBooks, media and unsupported opinions often anchor some one particular chemical, GMO, or quote, and branch off simple questions into contradictory answers resulting in: divided beliefs.
Ban sugar but what about fruit sugar?
Eat fermented vegetables but don’t kimchi have nightshades?
Cut lactose but probiotic yoghurt?
Too many ‘truths’ today. Let me clarify them for you.
1. No Nightshades vs. Fermented Vegetables (Kimchi)
We know not all vegetables and fruits are equally friendly. One category are Nightshades e.g. white potatoes, red pepper, eggplants, and tomatoes.
Eczema sufferers should refrain as they have solanine – a seed protection mechanism But to humans, these are anti-nutrients. They interfere with our enzyme reactions like blocking nutrient absorption, delaying eczema recovery.
Chili powder (nightshades) is an ingredient in making kimchi. We know fermented vegetables like kimchi provide probiotics essential for gut flora, but nightshades promotes inflammation. Eat or don’t eat?
It’s not black and white. You can consume moderate amounts of kimchi. So the probiotic benefits of kimchi are not entirely overridden by the chemical intensity of Nightshades.
Are you optimizing recovery? If so, go as restrictive as possible with your diet – eliminate Nightshades outright – ban kimchi.
Choosing nightshades-alternatives (replacements for taste purposes) e.g. black pepper, yams, sweet potatoes. But to also get probiotic benefits, choose non-Nightshades fermented foods e.g. sauerkraut, kombucha, and most homemade fermented plant foods would be great! (trust me, it’s easy to make).
2. Cut Lactose vs. Probiotic Yoghurt
Many diets exclude dairy. But this rule can be a false-call sometimes but preferable to follow since by default, eczema sufferers have weakened immune systems prone to dairy problems:
Milk allergy: acute immune reaction towards a specific milk protein, symptoms almost immediate.
Dairy sensitivity: less-obvious food sensitivity to some milk protein caused by chronic autoimmunity, symptoms up to 72 hours.
Lactose intolerance: inability to digest the milk sugar lactose, due to lacking its respective digesting enzyme lactase.
Going dairy-free after a while, you could consume dairy and experience little to no reactions because your immune system strengthened and can tolerate more. But your microbiota (gut flora) isn’t at the optimal population to efficiently process dairy AND heal eczema from a healthy gut flora perspective. So don’t binge on dairy just because you can’t see anything reacting.
Like any food trigger, you will not crash to the bottom (and have to repeat the whole diet) if you ingest some amounts. But by following a diet, you are responsible for eliminating immune damage. This answers the common question: “so can I eat dairy? what about just a little bit?”
What about yoghurt? Although they contain probiotic bacteria (friendly bacteria) to support immune recovery, they are unfortunately dairy. Can you eat it?
Personal differences. Dairy products have different lactose levels (e.g. whole milk has much more than yoghurt). Also, dairy sensitivity isn’t always caused by lactose, could be another protein like casein.
Lactose metabolizers. Yoghurt contains enzymes that metabolize its own lactose, provided by fermentation. This irony doesn’t mean the more you consume, the more you metabolize. It means you can work up your good bacteria levels slowly.
Although yoghurt has less lactose than milk, gradual intake is still required. You can reverse-solve the yoghurt problem by going back in dairy products with less and less fermentation done (more and more lactose). After yoghurt, try different cheeses, then milk. Putting this into steps (source from Chris Kresser):
Take a few spoonfuls of full-fat yoghurt per day (along a meal preferred), slowly increasing the intake up to 2+ servings per day.
Once your body responds comfortably (test-trial, people vary). Intake products gradually in increasing lactose level: full-fat hard cheeses, soft cheeses, cream, regular fluid milk.
Some numbers for a better picture. Hard cheeses like Cheddar and Gouda have 0-2g lactose per ounce. 6 ounce (170g) of Greek Yoghurt has 6.8g of lactose. But one cup (340g) of milk has 11g of lactose.
3. Probiotics (Good Bacteria) vs. Gut Flora Diversity
Gut health is emphasized everywhere. You need a good microbiota (gut flora) population to prevent a dysfunctional gut membrane: Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Our body houses trillions of bacteria. Not all bacteria is bad. Some cause disease, some digest food particles. You need a balance between good and bad bacteria. Our modern diets have greatly diverted our microbiota towards more bad bacteria.
Thus, the common solution is to populate with good bacteria – twoproblems:
Enhancing good bacteria alone is only partially effective because bad bacteria are not eliminated i.e. root problem of poor gut health.
Probiotic products have good bacteria strains, yet we neglect that our microbiota is not governed by several strains alone e.g. everyone idealizes Lactobacillus acidophilus. We need various strains of good bacteria to properly improve gut health. This is the dilemma that occurs at a deeper understanding of probiotics.
Problem #1 is easily reversed by eliminating foods that contribute to more bad bacteria, and by additionally consuming foods with antibacterial and antifungal properties e.g. honey, garlic, onions.
Problem #2 is tricky because many people are convinced that this and that bottle will fix everything. Sure, fixing gut health with good bacteria is correct concept. But assuming several strains from the bottle will fix everything is wrong. We need various types of good bacteria to normalize gut bacteria to our typical diets: by regular eating patterns the body can gradually adapt to (i.e. learn) – how evolution works in gut-scale.
You simply don’t eat pizza on Day 1, dumplings Day 2, nachos Day 3, and some sugar-packed desserts after each meal, and some wheat-ful processed cereals with milk in mornings. The body simply can’t handle such abnormal diversity, because there is literally nothing to get used to.
4. Ban Sugar vs. Fructose in Fruits
Thank you for all the information. You mention to avoid bananas as they are in the top sugary fruits but then later on recommend them as a fruit that is great for skin conditions and to balance the sodium. Could you confirm your thoughts on bananas as I currently eat them a lot for slow release energy when exercising – James (comment)
Despite the mega-emphasis on healthy plant-based diets, acknowledge that not all fruits and vegetables are considered healthy. One example is the banana – high in fruit sugar.
However, in another post describing over-consumption of sodium (i.e. salt) in modern diets that topple the body’s sodium-potassium balance – I suggested bananas as a solution because they are rich in potassium. Yet, they are still high in fruit sugar.
Why is sugar bad for eczema?
Unneeded by the body, in reference to processed sugars and additional calories. Applies to anyone.
No health benefit but inflammatory effects to the immune system. Sugar hinders eczema recovery.
But “sugar” is an umbrella term. HFCS in coke is sugar. Glucose from broccoli is sugar. Fructose in bananas are also sugar. That’s why it is unnecessary to 100% ban fruits (for their high sugar content). Because:
Almost all foods have sugar. We eat sugar every day. But obviously, among choices of lettuce (sugar called sucrose) and coke (HFCS sugar), we 100% ban the sugar from coke.
Different metabolism. Two primary sugars in food Fructose (common in fruits) and Glucose (common in vegetables) are metabolized differently. Moreover, consuming fructose supports metabolism of glucose, and vice versa – a synergistic mechanism.
Both sugars are expected in the body and better consumed synergistically for optimal nutrition. When one says “eat in moderation” for bananas, it means eating in proportion with your glucose intake for the best metabolic benefits.
Yes, you can eat bananas for the potassium bonus to balance sodium. But its high sugar content reminds you to consume on par with glucose intake.
5. Legumes (Gluten-Free) vs. Legumes (Non-Paleo)
The gluten-free diet excludes foods containing gluten to prevent gut damage. One gluten-free food group are the legumes e.g. beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, soy.
Problem is, some eat gluten-free AND “paleo” (caveman style) at the same time but legumes are non-Paleo. Should you follow gluten-free or Paleo i.e. legumes or no legumes?
These are two synonymous concepts of eating ancestrally. Gluten-free is more specific (by banning gluten). PALEOlithic Diet, the name in itself, merely refers to the past.
Simple solution: don’t eat legumes.
Further explanation: legumes are adapted to protect themselves from predators to improve seed dispersal using many problematic anti-nutrients that interfere with human absorption of nutrients (hence “anti-“).
There are ways to eliminate the problem anti-nutrients in legumes: soaking, sprouting, and fermentation. But the extra effort and relatively low nutritional value among other better choices of plant foods, legumes are generally under-preferred for an eczema diet.
6. Fish (Omega-3) vs. Mercury Contamination
One of the biggest turnover points of an eczema diet is to reverse the modern overconsumption of omega-6 by:
Decreasing omega-6 intake.
Increasing omega-3 intake.
Omega-3 and omega-6 are fatty acids found in some plants but primarily seafood, other plants and meats in general, respectively. Theoretically, we should have a healthy 1:1 ratio of two these fats. But modern diets skew us to 15 times more omega-6 than omega-3.
But eating seafood has the concern of mercury contamination. Mercury in seafood originate from natural seabed mineral deposits, and also industrial pollution. So many people are eating fish. Is mercury a true concern or just a hyped up hoax to make us buy some expensive fish and mercury filters?
The liver can naturally process toxic metals. Mercury becomes problematic in excess i.e. too much the liver cannot handle. Solutions:
Consume low-mercury fishes only. See reference tables (1) and (2).
Despite tremendous benefits of omega-3 intake from seafood, limit fish consumption to 3-4 meals per week max.
Consider non-seafood omega-3 sources e.g. purslane, flaxseeds, walnuts, grass-fed meats.
Consume liver-boosting nutrients: glycine, magnesium and vitamin B6.
Decrease liver workload by decreasing detoxification workload from: salicylates from artificial food additives and commercial products like lotions, histamine from consuming histamine-rich foods.
7. Organic vs. Inorganic
So you list Apples at the top of the ‘dirty dozen’ list but yet you also list them as a food you recommend? I’m a little confused…
I’m looking for a staple food while I ‘fast’… one that I can eat all I want of but still allowing my body to clean out… is there anything you can recommend? I WAS considering apples! – Seth
Organic foods are purportedly more natural and healthy (and more expensive), whereas inorganic foods are contaminated with pesticides, fertilizers, and chemical additives.
But how harmful are inorganic foods? Do they affect eczema recovery? How much of a realistic concern?
Not much. At least for now.
The Dirty Dozens and Clean 15’s are lists of fruits and vegetables considered least and most suitable for consumption because of farming chemicals. Yes, if you analyze the plants with a microscope, you see traces of residues. If you research on effects of eating those residues, there will be obvious harmful effects. But that quantity used in research and found on skin peels of fruits is different.
Wrong focus. The organic vs. inorganic debate is pointless because it is oversimplified and misleading. Organic foods can be unhealthy. Inorganic foods can be healthy. It’s not black or white either. In fact, there is insufficient evidence to say organic foods are more healthier. Even if higher in nutrition content per gram, the cost-value is not worth it.
Reducible. Chemical residues on fruits and vegetables can be greatly reduced via soaking, scrubbing, washing, and cooking. Commercial wash products for washing off chemicals (what an irony in this world) are researched to show no big difference in the ability to remove contaminants.
8. Being Natural vs. Taking Supplements?
Being “natural” is extremely vague, meaningless, and fallacious. Snake poison exists in nature, are you going to drink it?
Yes. Many food choices, lifestyle habits, and ways of thinking, when done naturally, will do you more good than harm (at least it makes sense). But my message is to not over-idolize this maxim of “being natural” as a cure-all mindset.
Some examples of why “being natural” is NOT okay:
Vitamin A overdose. The two types of Vitamin A exist: 1) Preformed Vitamin A in animal products e.g. liver, dairy products, egg yolk, cod liver oil, and fortified cereals; 2) Carotenoids found in green leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach), yellow vegetables (e.g. pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots), some orange fruits (e.g. mangoes, papaya). Limit your preformed vitamin A consumption because you can get overdose causing skin problems. But carotenoids are okay.
Nightshades. Naturally found e.g. tomatoes, eggplants, chili.
High sugar content fruits e.g. bananas, citrus fruits, dried fruits.
Pro-inflammatory foods e.g. corn, picked vegetables, seeds and nuts, various flours, and almost all meats (except seafood).
It’s not natural versus unnatural. Your focus is simply to support your immune system to heal by providing it with sufficient nutrition. Specifically, this means consuming functionality-targeting nutrients e.g. gut-based, liver-based nutrients.
9. Being Healthy vs. Are You Really? (High/Low Carbs, Fats, Protein)
Like history and science with changing paradigms, the relationship between nutrition and health changes too. Here’s a brief rundown of an assumed optimal diet from time to time:
Traditional diet (carnivorous): high-fat, low-carb, high-meat.
Traditional diet (plant-based): low-fat, high-carb, high-plants.
“Ancestral diets” are created in the modern world by estimating what we probably ate in the past. But it is impossible to compare because e.g. a broccoli today only exists after years of evolution.
Today, people can finally choose to eat healthy foods without financial or distance constraints. However, numerous diets exist and all partially work in some way (using an “eat healthy” principle), all convince different groups of people, causing conflicting ideas and never eliminate the inaccurate diets.
This means you (and me) should evaluate different sources and decide, read testimonials, and more importantly, see if the diet suits specific needs e.g. eczema-diet will focus on an anti-inflammatory approach, anti-diabetes diets will follow a carb-conscious approach.
10. This Diet vs. But That Diet worked for him too?
You can use one of the many possible diets out there and still be able to eliminate eczema. Our next question?
“Which diet is the fastest?“ One best matches what our body needs to heal, as in to specifically address the cliche “everyone has different triggers.”
Yes. Paleo, Low-Carb High-Fat (LCHF), Mediterranean, SCD are all emerging and popular diets that can reverse autoimmunity. But why? If you analyze 11 common diets (which I did) expected to heal eczema, you notice some trends:
Stops SAD. Stops eating junk food diet aka. Standard American Diet. But in both developing and developed countries, there are people consuming artificial “foods” – an unfortunate irony because the poor lack money to buy fresh and healthy foods, but on the contrary, the more money you have, the more you can fall prey to unhealthy indulgences. Lose-lose situation.
“Eat healthy.” Most diets tell you to increase intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds. Exercise more. Stress less. Sleep more. Funny because it doesn’t take hardcore research to prove these existing guidelines for anyone to become healthy. (Note: the most challenging element in eczema recovery is commitment).
Focus on gut health. Leaky gut syndrome, intestinal permeability, microflora imbalance. Rebuild your “soldiers” with probiotics. These are marketable health problems so advertisements will enter your pool of medical knowledge. You probably know these concepts but they are partially presented to us. If promising you to heal eczema with probiotic pills, will you? YES you will! Because it’s new, the science makes sense, and sounds legitimate. But gut health is only one of many more factors to address.
So what is the right diet?
Seriously if you ask me that again… just kidding. Any diet which encompasses important principles (like the 3 above) and is anti-inflammatory.
Note: I advocate acid-alkaline, low-salicylate, and gluten-free because it’s the approach that eliminated my eczema in 2013. But I’m working on developing a more accurate picture for you guys. Stay tuned for future posts, videos, and my book!
11. Seeing a Dermatologist vs. Treating Eczema
Those who understand how eczema is treated will tell you “no, eczema is not a skin disease.” As much as I (and you) dislike being repetitive, I have to repeat:
Eczema is not a skin disease but a manifestation of physiological imbalances through dry and itchy skin i.e. eczema is a symptom, not a disease.
Specific “imbalance” examples:
Consuming health-disrupting “foods” like junk food and artificially fortified products
Gut and liver nutritional deficiencies
Mental stress impacts on hormone levels
Amount of sleep as natural self-recovery medium
The message about dermatologists is: you can get temporary relief through moisturizers based on natural ingredients. But if you only use chemical moisturizers and expect your skin to smoothen and stop itching – that won’t work because the itches don’t originate from the skin directly.
12. Steroids vs. Immune System
Developing on from the last message that eczema is not a skin disease but an internal physiological problem – conventional medicine figured half of that out.
It went one step further down in the hormonal and immune level BUT not the deeper root causes.
So what you get is a hormone-science-supported tube of manufactured stress that manipulates (because your body can’t tell whether it’s natural or man-made hormones) your hormone status, which controls the mechanisms meant to trigger itch.
(Note: cortisol is an active hormone naturally found in the body to regulate stress and is responsible for stress-induced behaviors like itching.)
Does this stop itching?
Temporarily. You will have to increase your dose over time. And when you stop, you face accumulated withdrawal symptoms which are painful to endure. The contradiction here is that steroids can be used to manipulate the immune system, but that does not support the immune system to heal at all.
As Mark Hyman puts it “depression is not a Prozac-deficiency,” which echoes “eczema is not a steroid-deficiency.”
Eczema affects 20% of school children and 5% of adults worldwide
Sufferers have little option but to cover up or constantly apply creams
Because goat’s milk has a different nutrient composition to cow’s milk
There’s nothing more unbearable for a mother than seeing your child in agony and knowing you’re unable to help.
My five-year-old son Benji suffered — like millions — from the misery of severe eczema all over his body, leaving him in pain and unable to sleep.
This unsightly, itchy skin condition is incredibly difficult to treat (there’s no definitive cure) and on the increase: the World Allergy Organisation estimates that eczema affects 20 per cent of school children and 5 per cent of adults worldwide.
My five-year-old son Benji suffered — like millions — from the misery of severe eczema all over his body, leaving him in pain and unable to sleep, says Shann Nix Jones
Sufferers have little option but to cover up or constantly apply creams, which soothe, but don’t treat the problem.
It’s a condition that has baffled some of the most brilliant minds in medicine, but one I, a farmer’s wife from Wales, believe I’ve solved. Now I’ve written a book on it.
More astonishing? It’s all down to my pet nanny goat, Buddug.
While traditional attempts to tackle eczema have approached it as a skin condition, it’s now believed it’s an auto-immune disorder.
Like many such disorders — psoriasis, acne, rosacea — originates in the gut. That means to heal the skin, you can’t just treat the skin, you also have to treat the gut.
In 2010, when Benji’s condition was at its worst, I didn’t know any of this.
My husband, Rich, suggested that getting a goat might help, as goat’s milk is a traditional ‘cure’ for people with asthma, eczema and bronchial infections. It might sound like an old wives’ tale, but there’s scientific evidence behind it.
With more than 20 proteins that can cause allergic reactions, cow’s milk is said to be one of the most common food allergies in children, and can cause eczema.
Because goat’s milk has a different nutrient composition to cow’s milk, it’s easier to digest and so less likely to cause allergies. Simply switching cow’s milk for goat’s milk can often help alleviate the problem.
So Buddug, a £50 black-and-white goat with long ears and Cleopatra eyes, arrived in our family, and I began giving Benji her milk to drink. I never worried about giving him raw milk as I’d done some research and was reassured that, despite popular concerns, raw milk is a low-risk food that is generally safe for everyone. Within a few months, his skin was so much better.
Diet has a big role to play and one of the key culprits is sugar, which feeds the bad bacteria and allows them to become dominant
Then I heard about kefir, a probiotic drink made by adding a live culture of yeast and good bacteria to milk and leaving it to ferment for 24 hours. I was intrigued.
Probiotics are essentially good bacteria that promote gut health. But there’s increasing evidence that putting good bacteria into your gut doesn’t just improve digestion, but can also improve other problems, too, from skin conditions to asthma.
So I decided to make goat’s milk kefir. The resulting drink, unsweetened and unflavoured, tasted tart, acidic and fizzy, but nevertheless, I persuaded Benji to give it a try.
Within four months of drinking three to four glasses a day, his eczema was much better.
In April 2013, my amateur medical skills were called upon once again when disaster struck. After a major operation, Rich contracted MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant superbug that had contaminated the 10 in scar left by the surgery.
With no modern drugs available to counter this awful infection, doctors couldn’t help, so I started doing my own research.
I developed a combination of essential oils I thought might be effective in fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
But I had been told it wasn’t as simple as just getting rid of the MRSA in the wound. MRSA is present on the skin of almost everyone. The problem comes when it gets out of balance and, essentially, the bad bacteria outweighs the good. What I needed to do was to get it back in balance.
I knew that drinking kefir repopulates the good bacteria living in the gut and pushes back the pathogens (disease-causing microbes), bringing the system back into balance. Surely it could do the same on the skin? It seemed it could.
A combination of my oils and warm water followed by kefir, repeated twice daily for ten days, seemed to help the situation. Two weeks later, a swab from the wound was sent off for analysis and the results confirmed that Rich was clear of MRSA.
The district nurse who had been visiting to check the progress of his condition was astounded.
The episode brought home to me what I see as the major problem with modern medicine. Doctors are big on killing off the bad bugs with antibiotics, but they don’t often repopulate the good ones.
This realisation spurred me on to find a way to give people the benefits of the kefir in skincare, but in a product that smelled better and was easier to apply.
After many failed experiments, I got it right. Once again, used Benji as my guinea pig, I applied the kefir-based cleansers and lotions I’d made to his eczema, while continuing to give him the kefir to drink. His stubborn eczema completely disappeared.
And it wasn’t just him — thousands of people who were drinking our goat’s milk kefir and using our kefir skincare were reporting tremendous results — not only with skin issues such as eczema, but also with asthma, allergies, hay fever and irritable bowel syndrome.
Numerous scientific studies have started to show that our microbiome — the complex combination of microbes that live in our gut and on our skin — has a profound influence on our health.
Far from being separate to us, our bodies and our microbiome work together, having a significant effect on how we develop, which diseases we catch, how we behave, even what we choose to eat.
Studies have shown children with eczema have different bacteria in their gut to children who don’t suffer with eczema.
And there are certain micro-biome patterns associated with obesity or irritable bowel syndrome. So, what causes damage to the microbiome?
Diet has a big role to play and one of the key culprits is sugar, which feeds the bad bacteria and allows them to become dominant.
But stress, which leads to less diversity of bacteria, and antibiotics and antimicrobial products, which wipe out bad and good bacteria, are also part of the problem. This damage can then show itself in a number of different ways, from skin conditions, food allergies and IBS, to rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and even anxiety or depression.
But traditional remedies for these conditions — painkillers, antibiotics and steroids — will just damage the microbiome further, making it worse.
That’s why I’ve come up with what I call the Good Skin Solution, which I believe can rebalance the microbiome and in turn improve the skin — and many other complaints associated with a microbiome that’s out of whack.
It’s worked for my family and thousands of others, too. It might just work for you . . .
INTRODUCE YOUR BODY TO THE RIGHT BUGS
The best way to reconnect with the ‘right kind of bugs’ is to get outside and get some dirt on your skin. Play with your pets, go for a muddy walk or take your children to visit a farm. Nature is packed with microbes you need to boost your immune system.
DITCH THE HARSH KITCHEN CLEANSERS
As I’d found when Rich used the combination of CG Oil (my blend of essential oils) and kefir, the best way to deal with bad bugs is not to use antibacterial cleansers that leave a space that can be filled with bacteria.
Instead, look for probiotic cleansers, which will clean and fill the space with good bacteria.
STOP FEEDING BAD BACTERIA WITH SUGAR
Ditch the sugar. It’s the kiss of death to your microbiome, killing off good bacteria and boosting bad. I use a sugar alternative called Stevia. It’s made from the leaves of a plant, is low-GI, has no calories and is safe for diabetics.
GIVE YOUR GUT SOME GOOD BUGS
I THINK the best way of doing this is to drink goat’s milk kefir every morning first thing before eating breakfast. This gives the good bugs in the kefir the clearest possible run at your gut.
SWITCH COW’S MILK FOR GOAT’S MILK
Cow’s milk is allergenic and a common trigger for eczema and asthma, but goat’s milk has health benefits for humans.
It has less lactose and smaller fat globules than cow’s milk, making it generally more easily digested by those with a cow’s milk allergy or intolerance.
EAT LOW GI FOODS AND GOOD FATS
Ditching sugar isn’t just about getting rid of the white stuff you can see, it’s also about cutting out the foods your body quickly turns to sugar, such as bread, rice and potatoes, and replacing them with protein, fruit and vegetables, legumes, grains and pulses.
You need to make sure you’re getting good fats, from avocados, nuts, seeds, oily fish and olive oil, as these improve the health of your gut, and so your skin.
As a kid, I suffered from severe eczema for most of my life. It was a really tough battle – especially if you know anyone else who suffers from it. I was seeing doctors on a weekly basis and getting steroids, cortisone creams, and medications – most of which don’t work on a large population of eczema sufferers.
As an individual who was covered almost 100% from head to toe with severe eczema, my doctor said mine was one of the worst they had ever seen. I was unable to find many online resources or conventional treatments that helped, which led me to discover how nutrition could change my life. Since then, I have become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist to help other people overcome eczema by using food – nature’s greatest medicine – to bring healing to the body.
I hope to share my experiences to help you get better. I have since learned that there is a cure and there is always a way to help it get better.
I was born with eczema, and have lived with it for over 10 years – and today I have experienced so much healing from it. When I was 15, my eczema suddenly became so severe, that my body was covered with it and I used to wake up with blood and dead skin flakes all over my bed. My legs looked like they were burned, and the flakes were so big and so numerous that I could sweep it and it would become like a large pile of sand on my floor. It was a scary experience.
I would walk down the streets with people looking at me and I was constantly seeing doctors on a weekly basis for steroid medications or check ups – that did not help. The doctors said I would never heal. It was very painful to walk (because of the eczema on my knees and joints), painful to wash my face, and my whole body would sting when I showered. I was afraid to see people – and afraid of what others thought of me. I was unable to wear t-shirts during the hot summer; it was very traumatic, and I kept praying and praying for God to cure me.
When I was young, I really believed that eczema had ruined my life – because it stopped me from doing things I wanted to do. I lived in Hong Kong at that time, and whenever I went back to Canada for the summers, my skin would naturally heal itself for some strange reason. Eventually, when I was 17, I moved back to Canada to start university. Luckily, my skin healed itself naturally, but it did not solve the original root cause of the eczema flareups. For some strange reason, when I was 25, my skin flared up very severely again – for no particular reason.
Everyone around me was very worried for me – my family, my husband (who was my boyfriend back then), and even my friends. I was scared and very discouraged. I felt the physical pain of it and my workplace even gave me unlimited sick days and work-from-home days, as they saw how tough it was for me.
Finally – I saw a naturopath and nutritionist, and was told that it was nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, a damaged gut, and product sensitivities that were causing it. I did muscle testing to figure out which foods and environmental sensitivities I had. For the next few months, I used clean products (that were natural without chemicals), supplements, did a detox, and I completely changed my diet. I switched to hypoallergenic products for eczema, which helped lessen the toxic load on my body; I also ate a extremely clean diet for 2 months, as my body had become so sensitive that whenever I ate the wrong foods (mainly sugar, wheat, and sauces), my body would break out in eczema and tingle.
As I eliminated the allergens – wheat, sugar, MSG, processed foods, etc. – and filled my body with the nutrients that it was missing (i.e. through lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and superfoods), within 2 months, my body experienced dramatic healing. This was miraculous! It had never happened before. Of course, it took about another year to see 90% of my skin heal – since so much damage had been done. It took another while to see the last 10% heal (and trust me, that was the hardest part to heal!). I witnessed the power of food, as the greatest medicine that could cure my body.
Conventional medicine was not able to help me, nor were conventional doctors. They said that diet did not play a part in it – yet they were oblivious to the power of nature’s greatest resource: clean food and healing the gut. 2 months of eating clean food changed my skin more than a decade of using steroids and medication.
As time went on, and I treated my body well, my body began to heal more; my digestive system grew stronger, and I stopped tingling and reacting to foods I was sensitive to. Today, I am able to eat normal foods once again. I am also able to process toxins much better because I use great natural products for eczema – and I also feed my body the nutrients it needs on a daily basis.
It was a very scary experience. A lot of the eczema is gone now (with the exception of a few scars still healing). Of course, I still need to manage my body, because if I’m stressed, if I don’t eat well, or sleep well, sometimes some of eczema will pop up – but it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be.
I hope to inspire you with my story, and to let you know that…if you keep persevering, and giving your body what it needs – it will heal.
A special thank you to Jesus, my husband, my wonderful family for playing such a big role in helping me heal. 🙂
A man suffering a severe case of eczema describes his struggle to find a cure to the horrifying condition as life-threatening.
Lehlohonolo Mpatsi has begun experiencing the shedding of skin, hairloss, and painful sores all over his body.
He is confined to a bed in his one-room shack in which he stays with his wife and daughter in Caleb Motshabi, a settlement being formalised in Bloemfontein.
Mpatsi started experiencing the symptoms six months ago. He says the disease has made life unbearable.
“These past six months have been the hardest of my life. It is very emotional and has affected me physically. I don’t shop or visit anyone anymore,” he says.
The severity of the condition has also affected his sexuality.
Using a cream he got from a local clinic to control his condition is a daily ritual for Mpatsi.
However, there has been no improvement.
“My situation has just worsened. Itchy and painful sores that ooze fluid continue developing and some reoccur at the same spot before healing completely. The doctor who examined me at the clinic only gave me the name of the condition, but I want to know what causes it. I’m desperate for any professional medical assistance,” says Mpatsi.
According to an article on www.healthline.com, the cause of eczema is not fully understood.
Eczema is a common skin condition characterized by itchy, dry, rough, flakey, inflamed and irritated skin.
It is also known as atopic dermatitis. It is more common in babies and young children and often occurs on the faces of infants.
It often appears on the elbows and behind the knees of children, teenagers and adults.
Eczema can flare up, subside and then flare up again.
It can occur anywhere, but usually affects the arms, elbows, knees or head, particularly the cheeks and the scalp.
It is not contagious and becomes less severe with age.
Unemployed, Mpatsi is unable to get the best medication that can properly treat the condition which has made life so miserable.
He used to make a living by working for construction companies until May 2016, when eczema began affecting him.
According to Mpatsi, the first symptom to appear looked like a pimple rash on his head, but it did not bother him much.
“But soon I saw more of them. They were very painful and itchy. Within no time I saw them spreading all over my body, resulting in swelling.
“They developed into painful sores all over my body, including genitals. I started losing my hair, too.
“The condition forces me to scratch myself,” he says.
Night times and extreme hot and cold conditions are the hardest for Mpatsi.
“My whole body will be itchy, forcing me to scratch. I no longer share a bed with my wife.”
It’s winter, and in many parts of the country that means cold, windy weather — and dry, chapped skin. For all of us that can be a problem, but for people who have eczema it can be miserable.
As a pediatrician, I have lots of patients with eczema. Each one of them is different, of course, with different triggers for their eczema and different therapies that help. But when eczema gets bad — when parts of the skin get very irritated and scaly — there are three things that help just about everybody.
1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! This may seem obvious, but I can’t overstate its importance — and helpfulness. When it comes to picking a moisturizer, think greasy when eczema gets tough. This kind of moisturizer is called an emollient. Even just petroleum jelly, or hydrated petrolatum, which are both widely available, can really help dry, irritated skin. And while they feel greasy when you put them on, usually the skin soaks them right up. Applying emollients two or three times a day can really help when things get tough — and can also help prevent eczema from flaring.
2. Bleach baths. This doesn’t mean sitting a child in a tub of bleach, which would be a bad idea. What it means is making the water in the tub kind of like the chlorinated water in a swimming pool. The bleach helps to kill bacteria on the skin, and also helps with inflammation. Add half a cup of bleach (regular household bleach, not concentrated) for a full tub of water, or a quarter cup for half a tub. The water should be warm but not hot, as hot water can dry out the skin. Soak for about 10 minutes, rinse off, and pat dry, not rub dry. Two or three times a week is usually plenty. Check with your doctor before you get started, to be sure it’s a good idea for your child and to decide how often you should do it.
Right after the bath you want to put on any steroids or moisturizers. And then, you might want to consider…
3. Wet wraps. You wouldn’t normally think of putting your child to bed with wet pajamas, but sometimes doing just that can help eczema by keeping the skin moist. Use long underwear or other close-fitting pajamas. You want to cover the area that is most affected. If the eczema is just on the arms, using tube socks with the feet cut off can also work — and for babies, a damp onesie can do the trick too. Dampen the pajamas with warm water and wring them out so that they aren’t dripping, and then put them on (after applying creams and moisturizer), with dry pajamas over them. You can put a towel on the bed to keep it from getting damp while the moisture evaporates and the pajamas dry.
As with any chronic medical condition, eczema is best managed when you work together with your doctor and come up with a plan both for treating flares and for preventing them in the first place.