I decided to write about eczema today because I’ve been hit up in the past couple weeks by quite a few ladies who are dealing with scalp eczema and other forms of dermatitis. I truly empathize with these women because years ago I suffered from a case of eczema and it was truly a frustrating experience. Fortunately it was just a one-time flare up. But that one time flare-up was enough to make me upgrade my hair products, skin products, and even change certain aspects of my diet. If you’re dealing with eczema or chronic dermatitis then hopefully the suggestions I offer may help with alleviating your symptoms. But before we get to that, let me take a minute to share some general information about eczema and dermatitis.
Dermatitis itself just means skin inflammation– “derma” meaning skin and “itis” meaning inflammation. The term dermatitis is very broad and encompasses many types of skin conditions. Eczema is just one type of dermatitis.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic allergic skin condition. It can occur on almost any part of the body and is characterized by areas of itchy, scaly, leathery and blistering skin that worsens when scratched. In many cases the cause of eczema can be traced back to an allergen or allergens. In some cases, the allergen can be a harsh chemical found in cosmetics, soaps and detergents. In other cases eczema can also be caused by dust mites or even pet dander. Symptoms of eczema can also be worsened by temperature changes and stress. And when located on the scalp, eczema and dermatitis can even lead to hair loss.
When treating dermatitis/eczema I suggest that women do 3 key things:
1) start using more natural or hypoallergenic hair care and skin products
2) do a clean sweep of their households as well as their household products
3) revamp their diets
Oftentimes ingredients in commercial products can be very aggravating to certain skin types. So switching to more natural or organic hair care products will help to alleviate symptoms of dermatitis. If you still want to use commercial products, I suggest that they only be hypoallergenic products. A product will be labeled as hypoallergenic if it is formulated without harsh chemicals and ingredients that can irritate the skin. After changing products, I also suggest that you thoroughly vacuum your home, toss the vacuum bag, immediately rewash all clothes and linens with a hypoallergenic brand of laundry detergent, and if you don’t have one already, seriously consider getting a water filter/softener. Lastly, you should try the topical remedies and dietary recommendations I have listed below. Try these all of these things for a few weeks and see how they work. It may take some time to get to the root cause dermatitis. And if all else fails there are other medical treatments such as prescription strength steroid creams and ointments that can be obtained from your doctor.
Topical Remedies for Dermatitis
Ayurvedic: neem, aloe vera
Oils: jojoba oil, emu oil
Essential oils: lavender, chamomile
Other topical treatments: topical vitamin E, calendula lotion/cream
When using these topical remedies, apply immediately to affected area after a warm shower or bath.
Take a gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) supplement. GLA is a fatty acid found in evening primrose oil, black currant oil and borage oil. Take 500 mg twice a day. It may take six to eight weeks to see results when taking supplements. You should not take evening primrose oil while pregnant.
Remove all dairy products from your diet (i.e. cheese and milk)
Avoid processed grains (i.e. white bread or white rice)
Consider switching to a gluten free diet
Avoid soy products
Remove hydrogenated oils and margarine from your diet
Cut back on beef, pork and chicken consumption.