My personal story with eczema
Until only a few years ago I suffered with eczema at the nape of my neck and into my hair. It started when I was around 11 to 12 years old. I remember this because some girls at school were doing my hair, as we did at break time, and they saw the eczema on my head (which I didn’t know about at the time) and dragged me to the school nurse saying I had nits! How embarrassing an experience at that age!
The school promptly sent a letter home to my mum and also to the rest of the class. My mum scoured my head, but could find no evidence of nits and was baffled at what was on my head. A trip to the doctor cleared our confusion up and confirmed I had eczema. We were given a prescription and sent on our way.
That age must have been the start of my eczema journey as from then on I desperately scratched this eczema to soothe it – it began to irritate me more and more. The problem was I scratched it so much that my skin came away and it bled, leaving scabs and cuts on my head and into my hairline. It got so bad that I scratched so much skin off, I had a bald patch where the eczema was!
Desperately trying to stop me from scratching it in my sleep, which was when I would scratch it unconsciously and wake up to blood on my pillow and a stinging, sore head, my mum used to tie mittens onto my hands with elastic bands to try and prevent me scratching!
Of course we always followed the doctor’s advice and got some horrible steroid cream and special shampoo to clear the eczema up. As I’d scratched it so much it was like my mum was pouring acid on to my head – it stung so much! I know she felt dreadful doing it as it hurt me so much each time.
I’d use the chemical-laden shampoo along with the topical steroid solution and it would clear the eczema up. Problem was, it would always quickly return. The other problem was we were advised not to use the steroid treatment long term as it could cause thinning of the skin and other risks.
It was a catch 22 situation. If I stopped using the solutions then the eczema would aggressively return, but if I used them long term then I was putting my skin and health at risk.
An embarrassing problem
We spent most of my teen years trying to stop me scratching the eczema, but it never cleared up. I was always so embarrassed of it that I would never wear my hair up for fear of people assuming I had head lice. Eczema was an uncomfortable and embarrassing part of my teen years.
Even in adulthood the eczema continued, though it would calm down and then flare up, rather than constantly being so aggressively there all the time. Knowing that the pharmaceutical solutions weren’t the cure and would only provide short relief, I never continued to use them in my late teens and early twenties. I’d just put up with it.
Turning to natural solutions
It was only in my late twenties after having my first baby that I really started to begin my health journey and become increasingly interested in natural living. I worked at Boots and began to wonder why packaging started to say ‘paraben free’ and ‘SLS free’.
My internet research totally shocked me as I had always assumed there were strict regulations on health and beauty products and they were absolutely safe. Although I knew prescriptions, for example, came with warning leaflets of side effects, I never really paid much attention to these or assumed such products were harmful. It suddenly clicked. I felt I had been woken up and it dawned on me that not everything we are given is safe. Health and beauty products aren’t all safe and we are constantly discovering that certain chemicals are harmful when they were previously considered safe. Or in some cases they were never safe, but big industries have kept this hush or devised their own studies that suddenly show a product to be safe when really it isn’t. The same happens in the food industry.
Such discoveries have led me on a long journey to a more natural lifestyle over several years. I like to keep our home as toxic free as possible and my husband, I and the kids all eat a plant based vegan diet. We rarely get ill or go to the doctor, but before running to the doctor I will now always research and try a natural alternative first.
My eczema has vanished
In the past few years, amazingly, this eczema that has taunted me for so many years of my life has gone. Totally vanished! Poof!
Only yesterday my husband Ben was jokingly messing up my hair, which is currently a short bob style, and looked at where my eczema once was. ‘Remember your terrible eczema?’ he asked, ‘there’s absolutely nothing there now!’
Isn’t that amazing?
It’s been a few years that I can remember that I’ve not had the eczema at all. I’m certain my change in lifestyle has absolutely everything to do with this. I didn’t set out to find natural remedies for eczema, but it has happened as a direct result of my new natural lifestyle habits and I’m certain the two are linked.
It’s unfortunate that when you go to a doctor they will prescribe you something to solve the symptom of the problem – in my case the red raw itchy and scaly skin – but not actually offer advice or a solution to heal and prevent the problem from coming back. As soon as I stopped using their toxic creams, the eczema would always return. I was never getting to the root of why I was getting eczema, which was most likely my diet and the products I was using!
How to get rid of eczema naturally
Having searched on the internet, I have discovered that many of the things I have done in my own quest to a healthier lifestyle are actually the very things that can naturally help to heal eczema.
Cut out dairy
I believe diet has played one of the biggest parts in my eczema journey. I returned to vegetarianism when Bella was one, so around 5.5 years ago and I drastically started reducing my dairy consumption for the last two years of being veggie, turning to plant based milks and spreads instead. I then converted to a totally plant based diet with no animal products around a year ago.
Reducing my dairy intake definitely reduced my eczema and by the time I went vegan, my eczema had totally cleared up. By this point I was really conscious of the dairy I was eating and not consuming much at all.
Common food allergies associated with eczema include:
- cow’s milk
- soy products
If you have intolerances to these foods then eating them could cause your eczema to flare up or get worse. Eczema is an inflammatory condition, so it’s best to choose lots of healthy anti-inflammatory foods. Dairy contains saturated fats and hormones which can cause inflammation and trigger eczema if you’re prone to it.
Reduce added sugar consumption
There are so many reasons why you should reduce your added sugar consumption, but I’m certain too much added sugar in the diet can cause eczema. Consuming too much added sugar can spike insulin levels and cause inflammation. This will therefore exacerbate inflammatory conditions such as eczema.
I’m certain eating foods high in added sugar causes my skin to become itchier too. I used to get really itchy legs and an itchy back quite often and usually at night time after I’d been sat on the couch eating highly sugary snacks and junk food! I’m certain it’s linked and there’s some evidence online to suggest so when you start digging.
Choose natural products
One of the biggest changes I made around 5.5 years ago once I discovered the hazards of beauty ingredients such as parabens and SLS was to switch to a natural beauty routine. I read the ingredients on almost all by beauty products and toiletries and got rid of the lot. I started getting super fussy about what I bought and chose products with a high natural ingredient content, plant based fragrances and organic ingredients.
I’m certain the toxic shampoos I was using before this, that I had assumed were safe, were actually irritating my scalp and making my eczema worse. Since changing to a natural hair routine, I’ve had no eczema or skin complaints on my scalp. Choosing natural products to soothe your eczema is more beneficial for your skin than choosing risky chemical filled toxic products and pharmaceuticals.
Or make your own beauty products
If you’re not able to find sensitive enough products for your eczema ridden skin, then consider making your own beauty products such as handmade bath bombs. There are lots of recipes online that use the most natural ingredients and you can choose the ingredients that are the least problematic for your skin.
Emotional stress is a trigger for eczema according to the National Eczema Association, but they don’t exactly know why. We do know that stress is more than just a feeling or mental state of health as it does have negative effects on the rest of our body with increased levels of the hormone cortisol which can cause lots of issues in the body.
It’s another catch-22 situation whereby stress may have caused eczema to flare up, but then you’re stressed because you have eczema! It’s definitely worth finding to root cause of your stress and trying to address these issues as well as working on reducing stress techniques.
I feel I get stressed far too much, but I’ve found relaxation through yoga and love to run at the gym to battle my stress and feel calmer.
Whilst eczema may seem like a purely physical condition that requires medication at first glance, that’s not always the case. Sometimes it’s better look at the underlying causes of skin conditions and make a few healthier lifestyle choices to combat the problem naturally.
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