As the owner of an organic body care company, I take the health of our skin pretty seriously. But I value the health of the whole person even more.
Today I want to look at eczema – something we’ve wrestled with here in our own home. Eczema is often treated with a topical cream and little else, but there is much more that can be done!
Eczema care does not start and stop with steroids. Over the next few weeks I’d like to share with you some tips to help you go deeper and achieve true health.
Let’s begin here: Eczema is not a skin condition.
That’s right. Eczema is not about your skin.
Instead it is about the health of your whole body, specifically your digestive system and immune system.
Eczema is our body calling out for us to make some changes. It’s a visible symptom of a deeper issue. And if we only treat the eczema we will miss out on the healing that our body truly needs.
I know. What I’m proposing sounds like a big job. But taking care of our bodies (and helping care for our children’s bodies) is important work. Work that we muster our strength for and step up to. Because our health matters. So very much. You deserve wellness, and so does your little one.
If we have eczema our body is taxed and is asking for care.
And providing that care isn’t always easy. Especially if we feel overwhelmed by making big changes to our lives. Therefore, to keep this journey from becoming a taxing one, we’re going to take this slow and see how much good comes to us.
For years customers have been asking me to sell a balm for eczema. But there is no such thing as a topical solution to an internal problem like eczema. I’m not interested in just handing someone a jar. Sure, I want them to find comfort wherever they can, but more than that I want them to heal. Really and truly heal. And that doesn’t come in a package.
I can make the most wonderful, magical balms in the world but they will never heal the true causes of eczema.
And healing… well, that requires a commitment of time and energy. Which can be hard.
So I decided that the easiest way to tackle this was one step at a time. We’ll work together, week by week, removing triggers and toxins and adding the stuff that our bodies are craving. I think you’ll be amazed by the changes that unfold.
I am breaking the information down into five separate blog posts so that we can take things slowly. Small changes are often easier than big ones, so take your time, and celebrate your successes along the way.
To keep from feeling overwhelmed, choose one item to work on at a time. When you have achieved that goal, move on to the next one.There is no schedule, no one-right-way to do it. Take it at your own pace and be gentle with yourself.
Are you ready to change your life? Well then let’s get to work.
Please Note: the information provide here is not intended to replace professional medical advice and care. It is simply my perspective for you to consider as you go about making good choices for your family’s health. Seek the support and care of a naturopathic or western physician, and listen to your own wisdom. Be well!
Step 1. Remove environmental triggers
Help your body heal by removing common triggers and toxins. These include:
Synthetic cleansers (for home, laundry, dishes, and body)
Instead, purchase natural versions of the same products at a coop, natural foods store, or the “natural products” section of your grocery store.
Better yet, make your own. Baking soda, vinegar, and soap are all you need for cleaning house.
My recipes for simple DIY housecleaning products are here.
Avoid air fresheners, dryer sheets, carpet cleaners, synthetic laundry soap, and other synthetics in your home. Reach for essential oils instead, and experiment with making your own laundry soap.
Synthetic fragrances (in body care and household products)
Choose “fragrance-free” when shopping department store brands. Or better yet, make your own products or buy from small organic body care companies. (Ahem.) You’ll be amazed at how wonderful products can smell and feel without the synthetics ingredients.
When in doubt smell the household cleaner you are buying. Often fragrances are not noted on the label and may be hiding in bathroom wipes, laundry soap, floor cleaners, lotions, dish soap – even disposable diapers.
Petroleum-based body care
Read those labels! Petroleum-based products do not nourish the skin. They create a temporary barrier between skin and environment, but do not actively support healing. Some people also report a long-term drying effect from using petroleum products on their skin. (You may have experienced this effect when using petroleum-based lip balm and feeling “addicted” to it after use.)
Replace petroleum products with simple, natural concoctions. If you would eat it, wear it! For example, extra virgin coconut oil is a wonderful, simple replacement for petroleum jelly. I make lots of body care with oils like avocado oil, shea and cocoa butter, olive oil, sunflower oil, and other nourishing foods oils.
For a topical product made just for eczema you can create your own or buy something premade that is petroleum-free. (I make Da Balm for eczema or look locally for a product with ingredients you can trust.)
Synthetic preservatives in body care
Again, we’re removing irritants and replacing them with more gentle ingredients.
Instead of lotion (which almost always contains preservatives – or alcohol, another irritant) choose a simple, nourishing body oil. Instead of synthetically preserved products, choose simple natural ones.
In short, I’m suggesting that you ditch the toxins and simplify the products you bring home. Regardless of your eczema or lack there of, how could that be a bad idea? It benefits each member of your family.
The labels don’t lie.
Well, not the ingredients lists anyway.
Read and re-read every label. If you can’t pronounce it (or don’t know what it is), don’t use it.
Here is a simple example.
Let’s say you are crazy about lavender. Add chamomile and ylang ylang? Even better. You also have sensitive or eczema-prone skin, so you’re looking for something natural and gentle.
Hey! This product seems to fit the bill. Let’s take a closer look.
The label states that this product “calms and relaxes,” “moisturizes skin,” contains “soothing oatmeal,” and is “dermatologist recommended.” “Naturals” is right in the name. So far that sounds like just what we’re looking for!
You flip the bottle over in your hand and you read the ingredients:
Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Decyl Glucoside, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour, Glycol Stearate, Sodium Lauroampho PG-Acetate Phosphate, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Trioleate, Propylene Glycol, Tetrasodium EDTA, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Fragrance, Quaternium-15. May Also Contain Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid.
Hm. What do you think now?
Can you pronounce every ingredient? Would you eat those ingredients? Does it contain fragrances, petroleum, or synthetic ingredients?
Oh. Maybe it’s not quite as natural as it seemed.
Okay. Let’s try again.
As an alternative, you pick up a bar of natural lavender soap (This is from my own organic body care line.)
And looks at that! This one is the same scent – lavender, chamomile, and ylang ylang. So will it have the same ingredients?
You flip this one over and again read the ingredients list:
Saponified oils of *coconut, *cocoa butter, *olive, and *sunflower; essential oils of lavender, ylang ylang, and chamomile; and ultramarine oxide (mineral pigment). *organic ingredient
And now we ask ourselves the same questions. Can you pronounce every ingredient? Would you eat those ingredients? Does it contain fragrances, petroleum, or synthetic ingredients?
The difference is dramatic.
By simply choosing a different product you can avoid all kinds of ingredients that you can’t pronounce. Go to your bathroom right now and grab your shampoo, lotion, baby wash, or deodorant. Does it pass the test? You can also check your body care safety ratings here. (Here is the rating from the Aveeno product above and here is the rating for the LuSa Lullaby Soap.)
I’m not proposing that you only buy my products. Truly, buy whatever speaks to you. But commit to reading the labels on every product you buy and making good choices based on what you read there.
You are in control.
You can filter out undesirable chemicals from your life, one product at a time.
Are you in? Does someone in your home struggle with eczema and are you ready to tackle it head-on?
Next week I’ll bring you Step 2 – removing our trigger foods.
Happy healing, friends.
Find the whole series through the links below.
Step 1 – Remove environmental triggers
54 thoughts on “Heal eczema naturally. Step 1.”
Making the conversation about eczema “bigger” is very interesting. My husband has suffered from eczema since childhood and has fought lymphoma (an environmentally caused cancer) as an adult. I’m certain there is a connection between the two.
The reason I became a reader of this blog was because The LuSa products became part of our life when my husband was going through chemo. His skin could not tolerate commercially prepared soaps so we changed to natural skin care products which then has rolled into natural cleaners, etc. And then a natural foods organic diet…yada yada.
This is great information. I have struggled with acne for most of my life and after not getting anywhere with conventional wisdom and synthetic products, I tried to figure it out on my own-from the inside out. And it is truly noticeable and nourishing. My skin feels healthier and while my problems are not gone, they are minimal now. It still amazes me that dermatology is treated mostly in a topical fashion, when whole body health changed everything for me. Thanks!
My husband and two of my boys have eczema-like issues. We did away with chemical nastiness a long time ago so I’m super excited for your next post about this. I’d love to find a way to help my family be healthier.
I’ve looked into all of this on the internet before but it’s all over the place, you know? I’d much rather hear about it from someone who has made it work for their family than from some random person who maybe has never even seen it.
You are awesome for doing this! We are not struggling over here with excema but two of us are celiac and are working like crazy to heal our guts. So happy I found your blog 🙂
My husband has eczema, and he seems to have passed it down to our daughter. I’m fairly certain that it must be a combination of a trigger food and stress that causes his outbreaks of eczema, but he is not willing to change his diet 🙁 So I use natural cleaners, home-cooked food, no synthetic items, etc. as much as possible to eliminate whatever might make my daughter’s skin break out.
I guess we would all like an easy fix. It is very hard to look deep and find the real issue. My eczema is debilitating and embarrassing. I resort to topical steroids at least once a week and then I tell myself that I will not do it again. When it becomes unbearable, I have no choice. I know there is more I can be doing and I’m ready to start. This post comes at a perfect time. Thanks so much.
Tara, keep in mind that steroids can be a part of your journey. But it comes down to using all of the tools available as you see fit. Sounds like you’re ready to embark on that phase of the journey. Blessings to you!
Sounds like you’re off to a great start!
Celiac, tooth decay, candida, eczema… so much of what ails us comes down to a healthy gut and a healthy immune system. Blessings!
I’m so glad. Enjoy the journey. Some of what I share will surely be review for you, but I hope you discover some new tips!
Great post! I definitely agree that eczema, and most other skin issues for that matter, have a deeper, internal cause. Treating just the skin is like treating the symptom, not the actual cause.
It’s amazing, isn’t it? I struggled with digestive woes for my entire life. It was treated with medication – not diet or other holistic tools. So glad you found your healing path!
You’re well on your way on this healing journey, Cassandra. Glad to have you along. Thank you for sharing how our products fit into your healing!
This series is perfect timing for our family. I have a seven month old who I know has sensitive skin and a four year old who has food-triggered eczema (I just haven’t had the patience to figure out what). So thank you and I look forward to reading more!
Yes I agree with you…you have to learn about the foods and other exposures to things for you that trigger eczema and eliminate them. This is a process and takes time and dedication. It starts with a trip to a specialist and a allergy test. Over time of staying away from these foods and other exposures you can control the severity of your eczema and possibly eliminating it. Taking care of your body externally (the painful rash) during this process as well with natural products and eliminating harsh chemicals…can help with symptoms while working on your diet and staying away from other allergens that are your triggers. You have to be working on the inside and the outside of your body at the same time. :).
My five year old son developed eczema and asthma at 17 months. We did what the doctor told us for about a year and a half and then I decided enough was enough and we went to a homeopath. Six months later the eczema has almost disappeared. We made all the changes you have suggested but we haven’t yet tackled food. Oddly, at our last visit to the homeopath, she suggested we start to look at food – so I can’t wait to read what you have to say. Thanks for creating this series!
Rachel, I have a question for you about lotions. My skin is extremely sensitive. After much searching, I found your lotion bars and soaps, which work WONDERFULLY for my skin. I love them. BUT it’s just not practical for me to use the lotion bar for my entire body. I’ll quit using commercial lotion for awhile, convincing myself I’ll be fine, and the terribly itchy skin always returns and I head back to the bottle… aveeno, that is. It’s nearly the last product in my house that I’m not happy with ingredient-wise; I’ve already gotten rid of practically everything else with questionable ingredients. And I’m already addressing diet and working toward healing my gut (which I truly believe is the center of my skin woes), but in the meantime, I need a body lotion. You mentioned choosing a “simple, nourishing body oil.” I’ve tried using coconut and olive oils at different times in the past with subpar results. What oils would you recommend?
My skin is very sensitive and I cant use coconut oil as a body oil (it tends to be drying for some people, myself included). However I LOVE our Baby Bath and Massage oil. http://www.lusaorganics.com/natural-organic-unscented-baby-bath-massage-oil-p/baby.htm
I use it all over.
Try that, or experiment with straight jojoba, also a wonderful body oil. A tip: apply the oil to wet skin. It works wonders to help moisturize you thoroughly.
Such a great example of taking charge. We had a similar moment in our lives where we stepped up and everything changed. Food will be big! I look forward to sharing that with you.
My two year old has extremely bad eczema on his legs with patches now on his arms back and face (eyelids!?!?! REALLY!?!?!) We are now 3 weeks without gluten and 2 weeks without dairy. I have been in tears right along with him so many times because his poor little legs are so bad. I have used homemade cleaner for a while now and we use nothing scented or chemical based anymore with the exception of laundry soap (seventh generation) but I think I may go back to Soapnuts. We have been using a comfrey salve from Gaia Herbs and Organic Badger Balm and have only gotten mild discomfort from them. I have tried lotions in the past, mild unscented baby lotions and they have burned his skin terribly. I look forward to your follow up posts as I feel completely desperate at this point to help him.
I’m so glad you’re doing this series! Two of my children have eczema and my husband has recently had a rash come about that will not go away. I make all of our household/body care products or buy organic ones, but I’m convinced it’s our diet that needs to change and in a big way. I have no idea where to start really and feel so overwhelmed at the thought of it, but I know it needs to happen. I’m really looking forward to the next part of this series, and the other remaining parts too. Thanks so much for doing this!
Hi Rachel, I’ve had a little eczema flare-up recently and am really interested in all you have to share. I wondered though if you could explain the use of palm oil in your soap? We read so much about the awful farming practices that produce palm oil. But I can only imagine that you would be sourcing all your ingredients very carefully. Is there palm oil that’s ‘okay’ and if so, how can consumers know? Thanks 🙂
Hi, Jane. Im so glad you asked that. We set out a few years ago to completely reformulate all of our recipes without palm. But during the research we did during that time we came upon what felt like a wonderful option – orangutan safe palm oil. The St. Louis Zoo explains it as well as I can, so Im going to share a link as to why that felt like the most mindful, sustainable choice. http://www.stlzoo.org/conservation/doityourselfconservation/palm-oil-and-orangutans/. Do let me know if that answers your question adequately! It was a huge decision for us.
It is nothing short of thrilling when you figure out the food triggers!
Oh, mama. It’s so hard to watch our little ones suffer. Soapnuts are great for laundry. Comfrey is good (we use it in our balm as well) but there are other herbs to consider as well. Peek at my ingredients list if you are curious as to what. http://www.lusaorganics.com/Da-Balm-p/da-balm.htm
You definitely want to bring him comfort while you figure out what’s going on. We’ll get to food next. I hope that will help!
Diet is big, as far as results for your action. Next week!
An allergy test can be helpful, but other times you can find out more by doing an elimination diet. We’ll get to all of this in the coming weeks! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, ladies.
Thank kyou for this info Rachel. I have found a huge difference in the health of my family’s skin after switching cleaning products, soap (your chai soap is what we’re using right now – it smells wonderful!)and shampoo. The biggest change I noticed was removing dryer sheets and using hard laundry balls in the dryer. I can’t wait to read about food changes. Also – will you be addressing stress? I’ve heard that can be a major trigger.
For years I worked out, ate healthy, exercised and slept what I thought was good sleep. I learned though that those steps are not all you need to be healthy. I, too, made some changes to a more holistic approach to my digestive, reproductive and skin problems (psoriasis as well as face and body acne) – all of those prescribed medications were taking a very serious toll on my body. I began going to acupuncture and noticed a difference immediately. Once my body became healthier my skin issues, my constant upset stomach and other womanly issues became less and less. Over time I have learned even more helpful practices that are part of our diet now, but we aren’t completely out of the woods yet mostly because I slip every now and then back to old, unhealthy habits. However, the psoriasis has been history for over a year now and I can eat without feeling sick afterwards! It is amazing what our bodies feel like when they are truly healthy and getting honest to goodness good sleep. I look forward to reading more of your posts on eczema. We’ve been wrestling the issue with our daughter for some time now. I love all of the advice we can get that is of a more natural approach.
I will address stress. I believe in part 5. Thanks for your kind words, Kim!
oh, I reallylook forward to the rest of this series and hope it comes fast because our whole family is struggling with eczema and we would love a way to deal with it naturally. Thank you so much.
Looking forward to this series! Your absolutely right, the eczema is just an outward sign of the symptom within. I worked in a Derm office for years and saw some heartbreaking cases of this. If only I had been armed with more info–the doctors just took out the RX pad and wrote an order for meds:-( They are, sadly, trained in anything else, well, most of them–not all!
I just wanted to mention that sometimes it’s helpful to take a look at your natural skin care products, too. Just as with food, some people can have reactions to natural skin care products. My son and I have both been dealing with eczema for about two years, and a while ago I noticed that mine (just on my hands) was worse when I washed with castile soap (not sure if it’s the soap itself, or the peppermint scent), but it was only a month or so ago when I finally started wondering if my son’s eczema could be from my homemade laundry soap which used that same castile soap. I switched to a purchased natural laundry soap, and lo and behold, his eczema almost completely went away. I’m now using soap nuts, which seem to be working great for us. He still has a tiny bit of eczema, so I know there’s something else going on, too, but it’s not enough to really bother him, and it was sooo helpful to find that huge “trigger”. I had known that sometimes people can be allergic to laundry soaps, but I didn’t think mine would be an issue, because it was all natural, but just like food, “natural” doesn’t always mean “safe” for each person. Just a reminder that it’s always good to look at everything, even if it is natural!
I’m looking forward to the rest of your ideas!
Yes! Such a good point. We need to listen to our intuition on these things. Often it can be something as unusual as a sensitivity to coconut or another natural ingredient. Listen to your body!
And that is why it’s so important that we all step up and be present for our healing. Thank you Suzanne!
I am so grateful I came upon your blog. My daughter has suffered from eczema and ear infections for years. Our conventional physician prescribed a steroid to treat the flare ups of eczema but never discussed prevention. I recently took my daughter to a Naturopath who has her on a dairy restriction diet (we’re on week 6 about to reintroduce dairy). Her eczema is better but not great. I’m looking forward to following your step by step instructions. Thank you!
So interesting! I was interested in your comment regarding tooth decay, having always suffered with poor teeth and until very recently had a pretty good diet. Its always so interesting to hear a range of suggestions to consider. This is a beautiful blog!
Thanks for your reply Rachel! I felt sure there would be a good explanation. Pretty much nothing’s black and white, is it?
Thanks! I’ll give those a try!
My 4 y.o. son has two eczema patches on his hips suddenly, thank you for this series! We just ordered the soap and balm, and will be making laundry soap with some of it when we receive it in the mail. Also, I have your chai simmering on the stove, thank you so much for all the wonderful things you share 🙂
I was referred to your site by a couple people on my blog. I listened to a podcast about eczema a couple of weeks back and we have started to so everything you are saying. Its so weird that I had never heard any of this before. I tend to hang out in these alternative circles but no one mentioned healing from the inside before. It was always the laundry soaps, weather, etc. And then apply petroleum products or steroids. We have been cleaning up our diet for 2 weeks now and I have seen much improvement in the kids skin. We have eliminated processed sugar and processed foods while cutting back on grains. Once my kids get use to this I will start a true elimination diet. Thanks for your help!
So happy to read this. My daughter is 6 and has suffered from Eczema since she was very small. I have spent many nights up with her crying, itching and bleeding. We have ordered every lotion including very expensive prescription. We finally have started feeling relief thanks for our Pediatrician who also sees the big picture. She recommends 2000iu of Vit
D, Probiotics, and we trying some new homeopathic remedies that seem to be helping.
Awesome that you are sharing articles like this.
Wonderful that youve found some solutions! Probiotics are helpful and Vitamin D seems to be at the root of so many of our health issues.
I suffered for years with psoriasis on my hands and feet. It was painful and inconvenient and embarrassing.
Then I discovered kefir and kombucha. I drink them both daily and have become quite addicted! The psoriasis is history. Thank you good gut health.
Thank you for writing this. As an herbalist, when I’m vending I often feel this way and try to address that it is more than the salve (though in itself it IS wonderful, is not the complete answer.)
I have a five month old son who suffers with eczema. It never goes away totally. It seems like every few days he has a bad flare-up behind his knees, over his arms, shoulder area, on his stomach, and on his sides. I’ve switched to fragrance-free detergent for myself and him. I don’t use anything scented on myself or him. I feel like I’ve tried every natural cream and even eczema association approved items. Nothing seems to do the trick. So what am I missing? What could be causing it? He’s 100% breastfed.
It’s amazing! Thanks for this healthcare tips…
Thanks for this incredibly helpful information. <3
Thanks to share this helpful information about natural healing of eczema
I’m another one with very sensitive skin at times. When i am going through a little phase of Eczema, which usually only lasts for a week or so, I find coconut oil, or another natural balms a great option.
Natural is the way to go