Do you have that itch on your skin that won’t go away? You are not alone. According to the US National Eczema Association, 31.6 million people (about 10%) in the US have some form of eczema.
While the Canadian Dermatology Association states approximately 125 million people worldwide suffer from psoriasis. It is a common problem and here’s some food for thought on what treatments are available.
But First, What’s the Difference?
Eczema or atopic dermatitis is most common in children. It is the itch that rashes as the itch promotes scratching that leads to further irritation and then causes the rash. A vicious cycle! Eczema is a chronic inflammatory condition as a result of an overactive immune systems’ response to triggers inside and outside our body. For some people irritants found in fragrances, textile dyes, plants, and even rubber or leather additives precipitate this condition.
Psoriasis is characterized by elevated red patches and flaking silvery scales that are common on the face, or scalp and also caused by an overactive immune system. Not as itchy as eczema, it usually develops in childhood or middle-age and has a genetic basis as research shows 1/3 of the people suffering from psoriasis have at least one family member with the disease. Most patients have their first episode in adulthood, yet it still affects about one percent of children.
Eczema Treatment Options
Here are some quick tips from the Canadian Dermatology Association to help you with Psoriasis and Eczema:
Moisturize every day, particularly after bathing/showering and hand-washing. Using thick moisturizers will replace the fats and oil we lose as we get older.
For Psoriasis – exercise frequently and manage your stress plus avoid extreme temperatures.
For Eczema sufferers, avoid harsh products and fabrics that can irritate. Bathe daily or every other day depending on what works best for you using lukewarm water.
It is important to note when using natural moisturizers – cold-pressed (or virgin) are best as it is made by extracting from seeds or nuts without adding chemicals and therefore tends to be safer for skin use.
There are other alternative treatments for these skin problems. A National Eczema Association article states that eczema patients have an imbalance of bacterial make-up in the gut and skin, a term called dysbiosis, with too many harmful bacterial and too few beneficial ones.
Research shows that taking probiotics (live, beneficial bacteria) orally can improve eczema. Probiotics are thought to work by rebalancing the microbiome and decreasing inflammatory responses.
There is still more research needed to find the optimal daily dose but recent published research shows that a combination of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacillus species can improve eczema severity and reduce the need for topics steroid use.
For psoriasis, some studies indicate that Vitamin D taken orally or with adequate dietary intake is a therapeutic option for treatment. Other studies show that spice turmeric is known to reduce inflammation including psoriasis. Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin which is believed to protect the skin by neutralizing free radicals and accelerating wound healing.
Another option is the elimination diet where certain foods such as dairy or eggs are eliminated from the diet as they are thought to cause allergies. There is a mixed response and inconclusive evidence from the medical community on the value and food selection of elimination diets in eczema.
Western medicine promotes doing this only where true food allergies have been proven by allergy testing as this may not be helpful and may place the child/patient at risk for nutritional deficiency.
Lastly, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which promotes balancing the yin-yang and self-healing can also help with these skin issues albeit not easy or quick.
With TCM, practitioners regulate these imbalances using a combination of natural creams, lotions, baths, teas, pills or vitamins and sometimes acupuncture and acupressure to calm the immune system so that it eventually becomes less reactive.
Our immune system is the heart of all the issues that can cause skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis. We all need to feed our body with the right nutrients to promote a healthy immune system that can hopefully ease these skin issues and prevent flare-ups.
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