Eczema, like asthma and hayfever, is classified as an atopic allergy. The exact cause of eczema is unknown, as it seems to be a mixture of inherited and environmental causes that act together at different times. It can be made worse by external irritants such as perfumes and washing detergents, but is thought to be largely due to food intolerance and allergy, intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and poor immune function.
The tendency to get eczema is often passed down through the family. If parents or grandparents of a child have eczema (or asthma, hay fever, or other closely linked conditions), there is an 80% chance that the child will develop it, although it can develop at any time in one’s life, seemingly from nowhere. Stress can be a huge factor too, so often eczema flares up with a stressful episode.
So, what are the key steps to take to avoid a flare up? Have a look at our top five tips below:
1. Avoid all known dietary triggers
These often include eggs, shellfish and seafood, peanuts, cows’ products (goats’, soya or sheep’s milk rarely trigger allergy problems). Try keeping a food-and-symptom diary to identify if you have any dietary triggers. Also avoid sugar, food additives, colourings and flavourings, all of which can dampen immunity.
2. Mind your gut
Previous studies have suggested that having the correct balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut is the earliest and biggest stimulus for the development of good gut immunity. The establishment of such a balance in infancy is thought to reduce the likelihood of having allergic reactions. Supplement with probiotics, such as NHP Advanced Probiotics, or Udos Super 8 and/ or ensure you have good sources of probiotic foods in your diet, such as natural yogurt, sauerkraut, miso and tempeh. If using with children, make sure you chose a product suitable for your child’s age. Ask your local health food store for more information.
3. Try something fishy
Low levels of Omega-3s can lead to a greater tendency towards allergy and inflammation. Increasing the level of dietary fish oil, either through supplementation or an increase in oily fish, results in a significant increase in the amount of good oils in the cell membranes. Dietary fish oil not only helps eczema through its anti-inflammatory action and support to cell membranes but also strengthens the immune system. Oily fish include salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines. Flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts also contain the required essential fatty acids, so sprinkle them liberally on cereal, or add to soups, smoothies or salads.
4. Let it shine
Patients with atopic eczema often report improvement after sun exposure, and results from a series of studies confirm that ultraviolet B and ultraviolet A are effective treatments. The sun provides 1500 wavelengths of light that will hit your retina and supply you with essential components for staying healthy (production of Vitamin D among other things). Approximately 45 minutes to one hour a day of gentle (e.g. early morning sun) sun exposure would be ideal to maintain health. Always be careful of excess exposure and midday sun.
5. Find the cosmetics to suit you
Certain products can just make matters worse, such as talcum powders, harsh laundry detergents, fabric softeners, solvents, wool, and lanolin. Finding the products to suit you goes a long way in helping to ease irritation. Try aloe vera, shown to be effective because of its natural anti-inflammatory properties. Sweet almond oil is also vitamin-rich; it contains the plant-derived compounds ursolic acid and oleic acid which are known to have anti-inflammatory and skin barrier repair effects. Lastly, cocoa butter is great for your skin because it contains Vitamin E to help with itching and scarring.
For more hints and tips on natural solutions to many common issues, log onto, or contact us on (01) 402 0777. 
Nutritional Therapist