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If you are one of the 20 million Americans that suffer from redness, itching, and irritation that begs to be scratched, you may be suffering from Eczema. Eczema is a painful and unsightly condition that causes itching and discomfort that can range from mild to severe, and complications may arise from failing to treat the condition.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema that is characterized by dry skin, itchiness, and irritation that is accompanied by a red rash.
Dyshidrotic dermatitis is eczema that affects the hands, fingers, soles, and bottoms of the feet. It is more commonly found in women.
Nummular dermatitis is characterized by small, circular round patches that show up on the legs. It is most commonly found during the winter months when air is cold and dry.
Seborrheic dermatitis can cause red, scaly patches on the scalp, eyebrows, eyelids, and parts of the face. It is both unsightly and uncomfortable and can cause great stress to those who deal with its management.
The symptoms that distinguish eczema from other rashes and itchy skin conditions include:
Unfortunately, scratching only provides temporary relief of discomfort. Eczema can be irritated and exacerbated by scratching, and you can make yourself susceptible to infection if you develop open sores that are not properly treated.
While a definitive cause is not yet fully understood, it is theorized that eczema develops as a result of an improper immune response to irritants, both underneath and on the surface of the skin. With eczema, the body loses its ability to determine which proteins/invaders should be attacked, and the immune system begins to break down the skin, causing an inflammatory response. Some common triggers for an eczema flare-up would include:
While eczema is managed with both prescription and topical medication, the key to long term success with this condition is to suppress and begin to heal the improper immune system response that triggered the attack in the first place. How can we manage the symptoms of eczema in a more natural, sustainable way?
Food and eczema
Studies have shown that there is an intimate connection between eczema and the types of food and drink that one consumes. Many people with eczema are also diagnosed with food allergies; working to find the foods that cause your flare ups and then incorporating healing foods into your diet will significantly improve your skin health and leave you looking and feeling better. Read on to discover what types of foods you should avoid, as well as what to start eating for better skin health:
These foods are known to be trigger foods for most people with eczema:
Isn't milk supposed to do a body good? Cow's milk is reported to be one of the common culprits for most people with eczema, but we must caution you, parents---don't eliminate all dairy from your child's diet, or you could be subjecting him to vitamin deficiencies that could further compromise his health as he continues to grow. Speak to your pediatrician about your concerns, and undergo food allergy testing to determine any other possible causes of eczema. Consider replacing cows milk with other acceptable substitutes that are equally as nutritious and delicious.
Eggs are another common culprit of eczema breakouts for babies and young children. Rest assured, you won't have to avoid scrambled eggs and baked goods forever--many young children outgrow this irritant, and they are able to enjoy both the flavor and the nutritional value of eggs as they grow.
Be mindful of items containing nuts, and watch your child for flare ups after a peanut butter sandwich. If you see that peanuts or other tree nuts are inflammatory for your child, cut these items out of his diet until his condition improves. See your doctor for ideas on how to manage this common food allergen.
Soy is a common ingredient in many foods, including sauces, processed foods, and even milk products. If you find that soy is an inflammatory food for you, begin to read ingredient labels more carefully, as it appears more often than you might think.
Many people find that an allergy to gluten and wheat products can exacerbate eczema flare ups. We are surprised to see gluten pop up in items like gummy candy, soups, and even sauces like barbecues sauce and salad dressing. Searching for less processed items, or making your own sauces and dressings, will be an integral part of your healing process, as you'll be able to control your ingredient list.
While some people feel that consumption of fatty fish can help with eczema breakouts, others report that they add to the inflammatory response that causes itchy flare ups. Pay attention to how you feel after you consume fish, and avoid heavily processed and canned versions of this usually nutritious food, as added chemicals can quickly become irritants for you and your skin.
Many citrus fruits contain an allergen called Balsam of Peru, that can be problematic for people with eczema. If you enjoy the occasional citrus fruits due to their delicious juicy flavors, consume in moderation and always continue to flush your system with plenty of fresh, clean water.
Tomatoes, due to their highly acidic nature, can also contribute to eczema flare ups. If you do choose to consume them, make sure to eat in an unprocessed, fresh or stewed form rather than their canned counterparts; acids present in tomatoes can interact with the can metal and cause irritation that manifests as a flare up.
With all of this information on foods that we need to avoid, we need to shift our focus on foods that are healing and revitalizing to our digestive and immune systems. These foods will help to reduce an improper immune system response and keep inflammations at bay:
Continuing to focus on your diet and reduce your stress levels will ensure that you are able to take charge of your health, and the difference will be apparent on your skin. Here's to your best health!
This article has not been paid for by any advertiser. Improved.Health does not endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. This content is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice or analysis.