Diet and Lifestyle
Before we talk about natural eczema creams and topicals, it seems appropriate to start by noting that all the creams in the world won’t make a different unless more preponderant underlying issues are addressed first, specifically dietary and lifestyle factors that are contributing or even causing the immune dysfunction that leads to eczema.
So, just as you would supplement a diet with vitamins it makes sense to address any underlying factors contributing to eczema.
Eczema isn’t easy to treat and there are a variety of potential causes but there are some simple steps that everybody can take and are proven to help.
In my family, my sister suffered from eczema off and on for a long time before she was finally able to get rid of it. She was given anti-bionics and steroids as a child and this led to problems with her gut flora (good bacteria) which were being expressed in her skin and digestion. When we heard about the GAPS diet we decided to give it a try and both saw major improvement in our energy levels and mood but more importantly her condition started to dramatically improve.
The GAPS diet is a protocol in “Gut and Psychology” and is essentially an intense nutritional and dietary regiment designed to support the gut lining. It does this by encouraging the use of foods that heal, support and soothe digestion like bone broth while boosting beneficial gut bacteria with probiotics and fermented foods.
You can learn more about the GAPS diet here. But even if you don’t want to follow any diet, probiotics are a cheap and simple way to make sure you gut is in working order. You can take them in pill form or just include more fermented foods in your diet, like yoghurt.
For example, one double-blind study examined the use of borage oil (500 mg a day) or placebo in 160 adults with moderate eczema. After 24 weeks, the overall effectiveness was not significantly better with borage oil compared with the placebo.
Natural Eczema Creams
Natural eczema creams and gels are made from herbal ingredients such as kigelia Africana, witch hazel, licorice and chamomile which have shown evidence of reducing eczema symptoms. The supervening is a list of results from clinical studies:
- A double-blind study published in the UK compared hydrocortisone 0.5% cream and placebo cream to a cream of kigelia extract. After 14 days kigelia extract was demonstrated to be superior to both placebo and hydrocortisone.
- A German study involving 72 people with moderate to severe eczema compared witch hazel extract to 0.5% cortisone cream and placebo. After two weeks witch hazel proved to be slightly more effective than placebo but inferior to cortisone. This study was double-blind.
- A double-blind study compared placebo against 1% and 2% concentrations of licorice cream for eczema patients. Within two weeks both the 1% and 2% creams showed dramatic improvement over the placebo cream and the 2% was even more effective than the 1% in reducing irritation, swelling and itching.
- Another study compared 0.5% cortisone cream and placebo to chamomile cream. After two weeks the chamomile was slightly more effective than cortisone in reducing symptoms but substantially more effective than the placebo. The study was not double-blind so it cannot be considered clinical evidence but inspires promise nevertheless.
Important reminder: consult your physician or skin specialist before using any topical treatment. Some herbs such as chamomile are known to elicit an allergic reaction.