I’ve always suffered from dry skin (especially on my face), which is often exacerbated by the use of synthetic products. In my book The Natural Baby, I guide you through recipes and solutions for creating natural skincare at home. I believe that limiting the use of chemicals is essential during pregnancy, and natural skincare solutions for babies are imperative. However, I am also passionate about using products on my own skin that are as natural as possible which means creating them myself from scratch or finding the purest natural skincare products out there. As much as I love knocking up my own skincare products, it can be an expensive and time-consuming hobby! The other obvious benefit of buying natural products is that they tend to keep better! Natural skincare products using fresh ingredients have a very short shelf life which is why recently I have found myself opting for bought products.
During my massage therapy and anatomy and physiology training (and my years of running my own practice) I learnt a great deal about skin conditions such as eczema. I also learnt about the healing properties of natural oils and ingredients and saw for myself how effective they could be. So here is my round up of the simplest, most natural and most effective ways to treat eczema. I’ve also found these solutions to be fantastic on dry skin and other conditions and irritations such as psoriasis.
What is eczema?
Eczema is a skin condition that causes redness and itching. In many cases, the skin becomes crusty or scaly and thickens. It is common for blisters to form too. It most commonly presents itself as a dry, itchy rash on the face, in the elbow creases, behind the knees or on the hands and feet. This skin condition usually starts in early childhood (often in the first few months of life), and studies show that it affects around 10% of infants. Most children (75%) who suffer from eczema during their early years find that they grow out of it by their teens. However, many adults who suffered from eczema in childhood find that they still need to take special care of their skin and find that certain synthetic products can cause that horrible itchiness to start up again.
What to avoid
High street and designer cosmetics are often packed with synthetic and chemical ingredients that have been linked to cancer as well as skin irritation and dryness. For the majority of eczema sufferers, these ingredients make their symptoms worse. Manufacturing products using these ingredients is easier and cheaper, which is why so many businesses opt for these products.
Many over-the-counter eczema treatments may bring temporary relief, but they rarely solve the problem in the long-term. They are frequently crammed with chemical and synthetic nasties which strip our skin of its natural oils and can have a detrimental effect on our health. Even many of the products that are intended for use on sensitive skin are packed full of chemical ingredients. If you can avoid any products that contain parabens, steroids, cortisones and synthetic perfume then your skin will thank you for it. Whether you suffer from eczema, psoriasis, dry skin, sensitive skin or even have normal skin but care about what you put on it, avoiding these sorts of ingredients is imperative.
What is the best clothing material for eczema sufferers?
When it comes to bedding fabric or clothing, cotton is often the best choice as it is breathable and helps the body to stop overheating. It is worth pre-washing any new clothes or bedding as loose traces of dye can irritate the skin as well as being carcinogenic. If you buy an item that is labelled as being 100% cotton but can only be washed at a low temperature, then it is likely to have been treated with a chemical finish which may cause irritation. Opt for untreated cotton where possible. Always use non-biological washing powder and skip the fabric conditioner (they are usually brimming with chemicals as well as being superfluous!) if you want to add a little fragrance then a few drops of essential oil (I tend to use lavender) added to the powder drawer is a nice touch.
What can trigger eczema?
Air conditioning and central heating can make eczema and dry skin conditions a lot worse. Unfortunately, these things can be unavoidable which is why it is so important to really consider your skincare routine. Eczema can also be triggered by chlorine, your washing powder or cleaning products or even a food allergy. If you suspect that any of these things are making your condition worse then you may consider a food elimination diet or a change in your cleaning products.
The winter months can dry out our skin, but spring can also be stressful as allergens such as pollen effect so many people. This is why it is so important to take care of yourself all year round. Drink plenty of water, enjoy a balanced diet (with plenty of iron, omega 3, 6 & 9, protein, vitamins and minerals to help your skin stay healthy) and be sure to feed your skin from the outside too.
There are some wonderful natural ingredients that can really help relieve the symptoms of eczema. Jojoba oil is a great choice as it is very similar to the sebum that our skin naturally produces. This means that it hydrates the skin without being too greasy or oily. Since I first discovered jojoba oil during my massage training, I have made a concerted effort to add it to my skincare routine – either in the products I buy, the products I make for myself and sometimes I use it all by itself for instant hydration. Nourishing omegas such as sea buckthorn, linseed oil, safflower oil and borage oil are all fantastic ways to soothe and heal your skin.
Finding the right skincare for you
Finding the right skincare products can feel like a quest for the holy grail, but once you discover a skincare range that works for you it can make a real difference to your self-esteem and your sense of wellbeing. I recently came across a brilliant range of natural skincare products from Salcura that combine all the sorts of natural ingredients that I like to include in my own skincare preparations. I’ve completely fallen in love with the DermaSerum which is beautifully lightweight but makes my skin feel instantly soothed, hydrated and deliciously soft. The Body Cleanser and Facial Cleanser smell divine and I have noticed a real difference in my skin since using them. I am also bowled over by the fact that their products range between 97-99% natural origin which matters a lot to me.
Treating eczema naturally
So in conclusion:
Avoid skincare products that contain chemicals and synthetic ingredients
Opt for 100% cotton breathable bedding and clothing
Consider how chlorine, washing powder and home cleaning products may be effecting your skin
Consider the possibility of food intolerances or allergies
Drink plenty of water
Feed your body from within with a healthy, balanced diet
Choose natural skincare products that nourish, soothe and protect the skin