If you or someone you love has been impacted by eczema like I was- use this as a helpful tool of things to try- that worked for me!
Eczema can be very complicated and what works for someone, may not work for others. I am not a medical professional- I am just sharing what worked and didn't work in my experience.
I battled for over 2 decades with the itchy, burning, oozing skin on over 80% of my body. My arms, torso, legs and hands were covered. It was debilitating at times, and hardly manageable at other times but overall it felt like torture. I tried every different hydrocortisone and steroid cream imaginable and though some did help seal up the split skin- none of them worked to fix the reason I was dealing with eczema in the first place. The side effects were also pretty terrible. My skin was getting so thin and fragile from the steroids that even bumping into a wall would cause bleeding and splitting skin- which then lead to infection and more antibiotics. The vicious cycle of a failing system at treating eczema is probably the most talked about complaint with the ailment.
Below you will find what worked for me, what didn't work and what I had to avoid to finally rid myself of eczema. I will note that since the pandemic, the eczema did try to make a comeback but it was manageable and didn't escalate because I was able to identify the triggers quickly.
What was causing it
For me it was a mixture of things. Firstly, it was gut issues. My body wasn't making enough healthy bacteria and this in turn caused bad bacteria to take over. I also had some food allergies ( in my case soy was a big culprit) and as many eczema sufferers will find, the chemicals in my day to day life were wreaking havoc on my body. Everything from my laundry soap, to my cleaning products and beauty products were full of harmful chemicals and my skin was screaming at me that it needed to stop- so I listened.
I quickly learned that it was going to take a combination of healing my gut, balancing my bacteria AND ditching the chemicals for me to finally see lasting relief.
By fixing my internal imbalances I was able to strengthen my body so it could heal. From there my skin began to improve drastically. My reducing chemicals in my life I've been able to eliminate eczema flare ups and minimize my eczema frequency.
For the last 8+ years my eczema has only presented during the pandemic due to the high sanitizers and chemicals on every service I touched. I have lived eczema free and pain free be remainder of the time and the eczema that came during the pandemic was minimal.
What I started using (with links!)
I started by taking a high quality probiotic daily - i mean quality. I recommend Shaklee or Natural Factors, or BioK+.
I ditched all the chemicals in our house that I came into contact with. Dish soap, laundry soap, and bath and body products were my focus. I found even the "Baby Safe" type products were still full of chemicals. It took 3 washes of our bedding and clothing to get the old chemicals out! - I use Fresh Laundry from Shaklee or Soap Nuts.
I started cleaning using Basic H2 from Shaklee, or just plain water and vinegar. I would add essential oils too if I wanted a fresh smell! I'll link a few other brands at the bottom as well.
I made all my own soaps and body products, and sourced my makeup and beauty from companies focused on simple and effective recipes, like The Ordinary.
For flareups during the learning curve I would run skin under cold cold water and then pat dry (remember, don't use a towel washed with the store bought brands or you will be introducing chemicals back to your skin!) if you haven't yet ditched the chemicals then pat skin dry with natural paper towel. Then i would apply a 100% skin butter made from things like cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut oil or candellila wax. I would add a few drops of Peppermint Essential oil to cool down the itch too. I also liked African Black Soap but it can really sting open cuts so I recommend avoiding that in the beginning.
I ditched the cream and sugar in my morning coffee. The sugar really boosted my flare ups and it seemed to trigger my body to react. I will still have sugar in my diet but i make sure I start my day with a black coffee or tea- and drink lots of water before introducing any sugar. Warm lemon water also helps boost digestion.
What I avoid
I avoid harsh chemicals whenever possible. In a pandemic I understand we are all sanitizing and exposed to far more chemicals than normal- but I try to reduce my exposure as much as I can. Over sanitizing can be extremely drying to skin, and weak skin is far more likely to have an eczema flare so I wash my hands using my own Sudz soap whenever possible. Any handmade soap should do the trick, and soaps are extremely effective at removing germs and bacteria from the skin- even more so than sanitizer! Go for handmade soaps with ingredients that moisturize over bulk made soaps that often contain harmful chemicals.
I avoid artificial sweeteners whenever possible (except Stevia!) as they often bother my skin. Stevia has never bothered me so I use it whenever I need a little sweetness. You can find Stevia at most grocery stores, and it comes in packets or drops- whatever your preference.
I avoid soy whenever possible. Soy is something my body is sensitive to but your body may have other sensitivities. Get an allergy panel done to see more specific things to you and try to avoid them whenever you can.
Pet dander and saliva was a big one for me too. We have a large mastiff and his fur doesn't bother me at all but his saliva and his sweat do- weird eh? I try to avoid that whenever possible, but, if I do come into contact I just wash my hands immediately after and all is well with the world.
Things to watch for
Buying brand new clothes means that those clothes were often washed in a bulk machine with cheap laundry soap. Rewash your new items whenever possible before wearing them.
Car cleaning products and office cleaning- Your car and workplace can also be contributing to your eczema as our workplaces often use bulk cleaners as well. I opt to have our cleaners leave my office, and i wipe it all down myself with Basic H each day. I also avoid car cleaning products on places i touch frequently like door handles, shifters and the steering wheel. Good old fashion vinegar and water does the trick!
Cheap supplements & vitamins often contain fillers which can irritate our digestive system, and, quite often don't work. Source out high quality vitamins and minerals with purity guarantees- you will notice the difference!
I'll make a page to link all the products I love using that have helped me. If you are interested in Shaklee, send me an email (email@example.com) and I add your order to my next one.
My Amazon Eczema Essentials are HERE
I hope you have found some useful tips and tricks here- but I am always in for a conversation! If you want to share things that have worked for you, or have further questions please don't hesitate to reach out and connect! Please note by clicking the links in this blog to my personal recommendations I may receive a small commission on your purchase. This support is greatly appreciated.