We are delighted to share this terrific guest blog post by Jennifer Roberge, Owner & Founder of The Eczema Company.
My son has battled eczema for the past six years of his life. And it has never been easy. On the bad days, my husband and I slept with him to give him comfort from his itchy little body and to hold his hands so he wouldn’t scratch. On the good days I found myself stressing about when the next flare up would occur and then planning how to ensure this flare would be less severe than the last. Eczema is difficult. Luckily, my son is 95% better now, but getting there took a lot of work.
Here are the top things I learned along our eczema journey:
1. Heal from within
Listen to your or your child’s body – what is it telling you? Intuition will usually indicate something is off. With eczema, foods are often a trigger, so pay attention to what seems to be causing the skin to worsen. Keep a food diary to help with this task. Supplements like probiotics and fish oil are great additions to anyone’s diet, but especially for those with eczema. Just try to find good quality brands from a local health food store that are free of dairy, soy, gluten and genetically modified ingredients. Fish oil should be certified low in mercury. Both fish oil and probiotics are generally safe for nursing mothers and infants in the right quantity, but its best to speak with your physician before starting any supplement.
2. Look around you
What things in your environment could be contributing to your eczema? Dust mites are a big eczema trigger. Do you have carpets in your home? Do you have curtains and blinds that collect dust? Are there a lot of stuffed animals on your child’s bed? Consider removing these items or clean them very regularly. Do you have pets? Not only can their hair and dander be a trigger, but if they go outdoors for long periods of time, they can bring outdoor allergens into the home. Do an occasional visual inspection for mold in damp places like the bathroom, kitchen, basement, and in the washing machine.
3. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of water will certainly help not only your skin, but your general health as well. But it’s also very important to keep your skin moisturized on the outside to prevent eczema from occurring in the first place or to discourage it from worsening. It’s a good idea to make moisturizing part of your daily routine so it becomes a habit. Twice daily is a good general recommendation. In addition, always moisturize after washing your hands or body with soap or even after just a water rinse. Adding a moisturizer or balm to damp skin will lock the moisture in longer and will enhance the effects of the product you’re using.
4. Try a gentle soap
Soaps can be so drying because they are not pH balanced or because they have added chemicals like fragrance. We saw big improvements in my son’s skin when we moved to a fatty soap with only three ingredients – an oil, lye (essential for soap making), and water. In fact, it worked so well for us, that my son took this soap to school and only washed his hands with it, avoiding the schools scary pink generic soap completely. The change was unbelievable. Bye, bye crocodile hands.
5. Good riddance to commercial laundry products
Detergents are so harsh on the skin – they build up over time and create this layer of chemicals that lay directly on the skin. Detergents are also very alkaline, which is very irritating to anyone’s skin, but especially to those with eczema or sensitive skin. Free and Clear brands are better in that they have no added dyes or fragrances and natural detergents are better because they contain more natural ingredients, BUT both still create a film on your laundry and are too alkaline. Think about moving to vinegar and baking soda washes or try a mineral laundry ball or soap nuts instead. These are all much safer alternatives to detergents. Please skip the fabric softener and dryer sheets completely, opting instead for dryer balls or nothing at all.
Bio: Jennifer blog’s about her family’s journey with eczema, allergies, and asthma at It’s Itchy Little World (link to: www.itchylittleworld.com). She is also founder of The Eczema Company (link to: www.eczemacompany.com), an online store which provides natural skin care, protective clothing, and laundry alternatives for children and adults suffering from eczema. Jennifer can usually be found in the kitchen where she prepares all meals from scratch and without genetically engineered ingredients. She enjoys playing board games with her two children and husband.
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