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Stop the Itch – Identify Triggers and Treat Eczema Naturally!

It is possible to treat eczema naturally! Let’s take a look at what eczema is, how it’s traditionally treated, and what we can do to soothe eczema symptoms without the prescription pad. 

Reviewed by Sheila Kilbane, MD.

Eczema patch on skin - How to heal eczema naturally

Nine-year-old boys are a little oblivious to life sometimes.

They could probably have a frog stuck in their ear and not notice for a few weeks.

If they hadn’t had a shower in a month, I doubt they’d remind the parents they’d been forgotten.

And if a 4×4-inch spot on their leg is supremely itchy, bleeding, and crusty, they might not say a word for weeks.

Weeks, I’m telling you. Ask me how I know…. #facepalm.

I realized after some time and a few failed treatments for poison ivy and/or injury that my little boy was dealing with eczema. 

What is Eczema?

In the simplest terms, eczema is an extremely common condition characterized by an itchy inflammation of the skin.

Eczema patches are red, itchy, and scaly and can occur over any part of the body, but many times appear behind the knees or on the arms. While many times the rashes are dry and/or bumpy, the rashes can also blister and weep. 

Eczema typically, but not always, develops in early childhood and is more common in people who have a family history of eczema.

What Causes Eczema?

The exact cause of eczema isn’t clear.

Many researchers believe there is a genetic component to the development of eczema as well as environmental triggers that may activate the immune system, producing inflammation which causes the symptoms that appear on the skin. 

This is why I say that eczema acts more like an autoimmune disease…not a disorder of the skin.

The genetic component isn’t fully known, but it may have something to do with how our bodies create the protein that helps our bodies maintain the protective layer on the very top layer of our skin. 

General knowledge points to external environmental triggers for eczema such as laundry detergent, chemicals in common household cleaners, antibacterial ointments, certain fabrics, or even cigarette smoke.

Stress is another commonly acknowledged eczema trigger. 

However, many in the natural health community believe food allergens can play a significant role in triggering eczema symptoms as well.

I can’t tell you how many doctors have told me that a skin issue likely isn’t related to food, even eczema. Dr Shiela Kilbane is convinced otherwise. In this interview I talked to her about how she became convinced, and how eliminating one food can make a HUGE difference for eczema.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Sheila Kilbane, M.D. of Infinite Health in Charlotte, NC, and founder of Healthy Kids, Happy Moms.

RELATED: How an Elimination Diet Cured My Daughter’s Eczema and Gastrointestinal Tract

Traditional Treatments for Eczema

Traditional eczema treatments start, first and foremost, with avoiding external triggers and a daily bathing and moisturizing routine. 

Keeping nails short or using cotton gloves is recommended to eliminate scratching and irritating the skin. Often times an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream is suggested to calm the itch

If additional relief is needed prescriptions can be given for anti-histamines, immunosuppressants, antidepressants, topical anesthetics, or even oral antibiotics. 

How to Treat Eczema Naturally

Natural eczema treatments can be divided into two main categories – soothing the symptoms and identifying the triggers – both internal and external.

Naturally Soothing Eczema Symptoms (Externally)

Similar to the traditional treatments for eczema, natural treatments focus on keeping the skin moisturized and the skin’s natural barrier protected.

These treatments will often times be most helpful if used in conjunction with one another, but be careful when introducing new treatments. The last thing we want is to irritate the skin even further. 

Some of the most common natural eczema treatments are – 

  1. Colloidal Oatmeal baths followed by a natural moisturizer. I use MadeOn Hard Lotion and I find the beeswax base has enough staying power to keep the skin moisturized for longer than some other natural moisturizers.
  2. Consistently applying a natural herbal salve with high levels of moisturizing base oils like coconut oil, olive oil, or sunflower oil. Earthley’s soothing skin balm is a welcome relief all day long.
  3. A daily application of Redmond clay for the best results. Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase! This may be drying, but could provide relief after the clay is removed. Be sure to moisturize extra diligently when using clay
  4. 3rd Rock Itch Blocker is like “calamine on steroids” according to the formulator, Guerry Grune, Ph.D. Of course, he doesn’t mean steroids, per se, just very effective! 😉 Use the code KITCHENSTEW for 20% off!
  5. Earth Mama Organics has an Eczema Cream that contains colloidal oatmeal and skin-soothing oils and herbs. 
  6. Essential oil blends made for relieving skin irritation. I really like the Skin Soother blend from Plant Therapy (part of their KidSafe line – go for the pre-diluted roll-on to keep it quick to apply) and Rocky Mountain Oils Baby Skin blend.
  7. Applying witch hazel, evening primrose oil, or other moisturizing oils like those mentioned above to the inflamed skin. 
  8. Propolis has many skin benefits and is often used for warts, scratches, and more, and it’s soothing on any skin inflammation. (sourceWe use a spray from Beekeeper’s Naturals that you can try for 10% off with the code Katie15.
  9. For eczema triggered by stress, relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or visualization can be very helpful. 
  10. Homeopathy (see this great post for more information)

We have used many of these natural treatments, but had the most success with consistent moisturizing with MadeOn Hard Lotion after we identified our environmental triggers.

RELATED: Learn some stress mastery techniques to heal the skin from the breath out.

A before and after picture of treating eczema naturally.

Identifying External Eczema Triggers

We are all different and what may be an eczema trigger for one person may not be for another.

There is no debate that external environmental factors like cigarette smoke, chemicals in household cleaners, laundry detergents, and other things our skin comes into contact with can trigger eczema symptoms.

Identifying those factors that are a trigger for you (or for your family member) can take a fair amount of trial and error. 

In my family, I finally determined that using straight vinegar to clean our toilet seat might be triggering eczema symptoms in three of my children. 

A great place to start is ‘cleaning up’ your cleaning supplies. Look for green cleaners and avoid products with dyes and fragrances…or too much straight vinegar! #facepalm

This is particularly important when it comes to laundry detergents, which can be very harsh and are on the skin all day, all night. Soap nuts are my most natural, truly from-the-earth, solution for non-toxic laundry

RELATED: Check out all of our Natural Cleaning resources!

Using Diet to Treat Eczema Naturally from the Inside Out

If you have already been through this step and still cannot get any relief from the itching it may be time to look inwards. Yep, I’m talking about diet. 

Many doctors disavow any connection between skin issues and diet, but there is too much anecdotal evidence available for me to completely dismiss diet and food allergies as a possible eczema trigger. 

The first step in determining if food allergies may be causing eczema rashes is to follow an elimination diet.

Elimination diets help you identify the source of the allergy by eliminating common allergens and then adding them back in slowly to identify the trigger food or food group. 

Often times a total clearing of eczema symptoms is reported from eliminating dairy or gluten, but we are all individuals and your triggers may be more nuanced than that. 

RELATED: Elimination Diet Recipes and Resources

KS Site Editor Helen Thomas shares her eczema experience:

It started on our daughter’s cheek. Just one dry patch that wouldn’t go away and yet we couldn’t pinpoint anything that caused it to flare up. The worst was at 18 months when it was even open and weeping. Talk about breaking my heart!

Does eczema plague your family? Check out our list of what works and what doesn't to soothe scratchy skin.

We took her along to our son’s annual allergist appointment in the hopes that they would perform the skin prick testing. My son’s horrible, thick, scaly cradle cap didn’t disappear completely until we removed dairy from his diet at 18 months. In the hopes that it was the same for her she had already been dairy-free for five months to no avail.

However – our allergist said he didn’t feel a need to put her through the testing since “food allergies rarely cause skin issues.” I nearly had to pick my jaw up off the floor. We had seen a clear correlation with my son so we knew there was definitely a connection. I also have friends who have seen skin clearing when dairy, soy or gluten are removed. Nearly 1/3 of eczema cases have been shown to be caused by food allergies. (sources: 1, 2)

We already only use “free and clear” in almost all our store-bought detergents and soaps, and DIY plenty of things as well. I haven’t used fabric softener for many years and most of her clothing is cotton. I just couldn’t find the cause.

Does eczema plague your family? Check out our list of what works and what doesn't to soothe scratchy skin.

Trying EVERY Eczema Remedy We Could

I did a lot of internet searching and asked in my mommy groups. Some remedies we were given:

  • Aquaphor Healing Ointment – our allergist, dermatologist and GP all swear by it. It did seem to help a bit but it’s just so darn greasy!
  • Inflamed and the Lotion Stick from Crunchy Mamas. These worked well for Katie; however they actually seemed to irritate my daughter’s skin more.
  • Steroid cream and Hydrocortisone. We were given prescriptions for these and did fill them, but they worry me with all the possible side effects in the drug literature.
  • Oatmeal baths made her skin so soft for about five minutes, but didn’t seem to have a lasting effect.
  • I made some Beesilk Jr. (pictured above) since I had all the ingredients on hand. We enjoyed the scent and the feel of it (and love “regular” Beesilk from MadeON for our own hands) and while it did help, it didn’t totally remove the dryness. Katie has had luck with hard lotion bars helping mild eczema.
  • Bleach baths are highly recommended. One of my self-proclaimed “crunchy” mom friends said she was hesitant but it completely cleared her son’s skin up after a few sessions. It’s essentially like being in a swimming pool but I never worked up the courage to try it. (sources: 1, 2, 3)
  • Hazelwood Jewelry. I had seen firsthand how baltic amber had helped my daughter with her teething (though I admit I had always thought it was a fad to see all the babies wearing those necklaces!) so I figured we had nothing to lose!

Does eczema plague your family? Check out our list of what works and what doesn't to soothe scratchy skin.

REVIEW: Hazelaid Hazelwood Jewelry

The great folks at Hazelaid offered to send me a necklace of my choosing to see how it could help my daughter’s eczema issues. Hazelaid was started when Brian and Severine were introduced to hazelwood for their own daughter’s eczema. You have to read her remarkable recovery on their site.

I selected the Pure Hazelwood Pink Flower Necklace because it was quite pretty besides having healing properties.

PROS

  • The team at Hazelaid was great to work with. Emails were prompt and polite.
  • When the safety mechanism activated, they did send me a replacement. They replace broken (accidental or safety release) items at a 40% discount.
  • Shipping from Canada was faster than I expected.
  • Many styles and sizes to choose from, including mixing amber and hazelwood in single items to get both healing benefits.
  • Safety mechanism – I was grateful to order from a company that cares enough to have items that are safe for children. When I was first looking into hazelwood there were sellers that didn’t have this and I wouldn’t consider ordering children’s jewelry without safety clasps.

CONS

  • The safety mechanism – within the first 10 days we somehow activated it. I was undressing her for bed one night and it fell off. She’s good with keeping necklaces on as she has worn them for almost all of her two years so I don’t think she pulled on it.
  • Unfortunately, it just didn’t seem to help my daughter. I didn’t see any changes in her skin even combined with tons of lotion application.
Here’s a little from the company about the purpose of hazelwood jewelry:
Hazelwood appears to work by creating a more alkaline environment in your body through direct contact with your skin, which may help to prevent and remedy many of the symptoms caused by acidosis (being too acidic) and by reducing free-radicals by having a high antioxidant effect through your pores. It is believed that the wood absorbs excess acidity from your body until a balanced PH is reached. This has the potential to improve conditions caused by excess acidity, which can include skin issues such as eczema, as well as internal issues such as ulcers, acid reflux, heartburn, and teething pain.

We’ve used it to successfully treat eczema, heartburn, and ulcers in our own family, and seen it change the lives of several of our close friends who were suffering from severe acid reflux. More and more the research on this starting to point to the antioxidant effects as being the primary mechanism in hazelwood’s actions on the body.

The wood itself that’s used in making the beads is harvested sustainably, just the end of the twig is taken and it grows back good as new to be harvested again! No sprays or pesticides are used in the care of these plants, and many of them simply are wild-growing and 100% natural.

The Eczema Battle Continues

Would I try hazelwood again for another family member? Absolutely. I don’t doubt that it works – it just didn’t work for my daughter. I love that it is non-invasive and affordable and also attractive. Amber works for us (I purchased an amber bracelet from Hazelaid and it definitely helps my aching hand and wrist!) yet I’m sure there are people that have tried it and not felt relief.

I pray that when this horribly dry winter ends the change in season will bring her some much-needed relief. We continue to moisturize and hope to see an improvement soon.

Hazelaid is offering KS readers 10% off with the coupon code kitchenstewardship10 at checkout. You’ll be sure to find an attractive, healing option that fits your style.

Using Natural Treatments for Eczema is an Art, Not a Science

Remember, eczema is an autoimmune disorder that manifests itself through the skin, not a skin disorder.

Topical treatments can certainly improve it or in some cases make it go away altogether, but sometimes the gut needs major healing before things truly clear up all the way.

It can be complicated to sort out the triggers, particularly internal triggers, so there’s no harm in soothing your child’s symptoms externally while you figure out the root cause triggers.

Just do your best to stick to zero-side-effect options and avoid the steroids whenever possible. 

If you feel a little overwhelmed, my friend Dr. Ana-Maria Temple has a class specifically on eczema here. You can also learn a lot more from Dr. Sheila Kilbane in this full-length inflammation and eczema interview, and check out her Healthy Kids, Happy Moms class for great overall health support for your family. 

Essential Oils for Eczema

You’ll notice some of the eczema solutions here and elsewhere online may utilize essential oils.

As you work to perhaps avoid co-pays, steroid creams, and medical advice that treats the symptom, not the problem, you’ll run into “EOs” often.

I want to strongly encourage you to make sure you’re doing some education about essential oils beyond just reading a recipe for a DIY beauty product or a recommendation to treat something with an EO.

I’ve made all sorts of essential oil mistakes – from not diluting oils when they should have been to using oils on my kids that really aren’t recommended for that age group, from using too many drops in a beauty product and stinging faces of my friends to ingesting oils without nearly enough knowledge to be messing around with that.

Essential Oils and the Brain

Watch this quick video for info on the vagus nerve, how essential oils can be a “backdoor” entry to health, and the importance to your whole family of getting into a parasympathetic state more often:

Can’t see the video? Watch Essential Oils and the Brain here on YouTube.

Grab Jodi’s bonus chapter here.

And the oil she held up in the video is one of her own special blends, appropriately called Parasympathetic. You can get your own hands on some here.

Luckily, no one in my family has any burns, inside or out, to show for it, but not everyone is so lucky. I wrote a post about careful use of EOs that I’d encourage you to read.

There’s also a wonderful masterclass available, Essential Oils for Abundant Living, that you may want to look into. The course is completely NON-BRANDED, which is really important to me.

Other Natural Eczema Relief Options

The KS community always comes through with amazing ideas whenever I ask for help on Facebook, and this question was no exception:

Let’s talk eczema. My son had it mildly as a youngster, and suddenly it’s back with a vengeance, worse than I’ve *ever* seen, at age 9. I know two middle aged ladies who never had eczema in their lives and suddenly have it spreading and itching and driving them up the wall. What gives?

 

If you know your trigger or what might cause a flare up, let’s share so others can troubleshoot. This is driving me nuts lately!

Here are some of the ideas shared:

Vitamins or Supplements for Eczema:

Test to find out if you’re deficient in:

Potential Eczema Triggers:

  • seasonal allergies
  • unbalanced hormones
  • chemical cleaners, air fresheners – switch to green cleaners 
  • stress, fear
  • change in weather, location in the world/climate
  • nickel from canned food linings, fillings, or jewelry
  • adrenal fatigue
  • yeast/candida
  • mold or environmental allergens/older homes
  • parasites (do a parasite cleanse)
  • dental work
  • antibiotic use or even overuse of decongestants/chronic colds
  • misdiagnosis – for example, some have ringworm or dermatitis or a staph infection and docs say “eczema”

Possible Dietary Triggers for Eczema:

  • GMOs
  • wheat
  • grains
  • sugars
  • nightshades
  • corn
  • soy
  • MSG
  • chocolate (related to blood sugar)
  • acidic fruits (pineapple, oranges)
  • dairy or processed dairy (some have great success switching to raw milk or only fermented dairy)
  • artificial food dyes
  • any elimination diet meal plan – but sometimes the gut needs major healing before things truly clear up
  • testing for food sensitivities (not allergies) can help: ALCAT and Alletess tests

Topical Treatments for Eczema:

  • Aveno Eczema Therapy
  • hard lotion bars (like these ones from MadeOn)
  • weekly soak in dead sea salts
  • plantain
  • Cetaphil’s soap and lotion for eczema
  • fragrance-free lotions only
  • BabyGanics Eczema cream
  • UNDA 270 ointment
  • here’s a homemade eczema cream
  • rubbing half water-half apple cider vinegar over the area and letting it sit, then rinsing. Then coconut oil mixed with lavender essential oil.
  • avoiding harsh soaps or even touching acidic foods: raw meat, avocado, tomatoes, etc. (use gloves)

Eczema could get an award, I think, for being the most popular ailment of our time. Boooooooo!

Too bad it’s not a fad like skinny jeans and side parts, right? (Don’t judge me, Gen Z!) 

We’ve just got to keep working on finding the cause (or causes!) and using good stuff on the outside in the meantime to find relief.

What’s your story? Have you battled eczema?
How to heal eczema naturally. Before and after pictures of treating eczema naturally.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

41 thoughts on “Stop the Itch – Identify Triggers and Treat Eczema Naturally!”

  1. Have used about everything there is over two years is to relieve very itchy eczema on my outer ears. Steroids can work but are not advised for long term use and give me side effects anyway. Foderma eczema serum worked on the first day! This is great, sometimes you just have to keep looking

  2. I have to comment with an observation with my adopted2 1/2 year old. When she came to our family, she had a nasty case of eczema. Doctor’s prescriptions were useless. Long story short — winter pjs were put away — unknown at the time, eczema was slowly disappearing. We thought it was due to more time outside in the sunshine. Then she found winter pjs and requested wearing them again, which she did, eczema returned immediately! For her it was the flame-retardant pjs. Years later with no store bought pjs, all was well; but this year at age 14, she was given some cute flannel pjs, guess what returned???? Guess what we remembered too late? Guess what is going in the garbage? Avoid flame-retartent anything.

    1. Brenda,
      Thank you so much for sharing this story! I despise flame retardants in clothing but rarely hear of someone reacting to it immediately (although how many do and have no idea!!???). I like having this story to show people now! 🙂 Katie

  3. I’ve had eczema my whole life and in 2013 went through the process of Topical Steroid Withdrawal as my health was rapidly deteriorating in every way, my allergies, my eczema spreading and getting worse, needing stronger steroid creams etc.

    The withdrawal is horrific but it does teach you this one highly important FACT: creams of any kind simply treat the symptoms, not the real problem. And steroid creams SUPPRESS the symptoms, which means they push down the problem back into the immune system, and it manifests in other ways like increased allergies, chronic fatigue, worsening asthma and so on. I highly recommend ANYONE with eczema in their family check out Itsan.org for support, information and advice.

    My body is still righting itself from 30+ years of pharmaceutical ‘abuse’ given on prescription for my eczema, asthma and allergies. But I have COMPLETELY HEALED:

    – my asthma, for which I used to be tied to my inhalers daily and couldn’t go out without them
    – my allergies – no more horrendous hayfever (at all!), no allergies to random other stuff
    – my congestion, sinusitis, headaches, migraines etc – for which I used to take regular OTC meds
    – an inability to sweat normally (face would go bright red, and hands and feet would get excessively sweaty)
    – irregular, very heavy periods
    – random, regular and heavy bruising all over (yes, this was related!)
    – chronic fatigue – and in fact resulting in adrenal exhaustion/failure
    – and much more

    I’m healing in layers, from the inside out, so eczema is still prevalent BUT it is always improving and I know, above all, I’m no longer suppressing the real problem. I am in fact the HEALTHIEST I have ever been in all my 35 years!

    It’s so important to realise that eczema is NOT just itchy skin – it is always, always, always a symptom of a much deeper problem, and this usually goes back to the gut.

    Fix your gut (which may well take some time and several attempts) and you fix ALL your chronic health issues.

    I write about my story in my own work now. Once I tried to avoid it but now I understand just how CRUCIAL it is to share and support people through their own healing. If anyone wants to contact me, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Let’s heal ourselves from this demon illness, once and for all!

    Zoë ????????????

  4. Mine started at the age of 58. I had started swimming nightly, and both of my ears became infected. When I went to my eye, ear, nose and throat doctor she gave me some medication for the infections, but also told me that she noticed eczema had developed in my ears.

    I fight it daily from the time I wake up in the morning until I go to bed. I use Campo-phenique, which helps more than anything I think. I’ve also been known to use hand sanitizer. I also bought a very small tube of a lotion called Renew, which some sufferers gave high marks to, but haven’t really been totally consistent with it. Those little sample bottles of Aveeno Skin Relief formula help a bit also.

    I also have one small spot on my forearm and sometimes around the side of my nose where it creases. I do not have any itching with it though.

  5. Thanks for posting this! I have been trying to figure out what is causing my daughter’s eczema for almost a year. She had eczema as an infant but it cleared up once we found out she had a dairy and egg allergy. When we moved, her eczema returned. I’ve been trying to figure out what changes in her diet occurred when we moved but after reading your post, I realized I changed one of my cleaning products that I use to wipe the toilet and other surfaces in the bathroom. I don’t know if its the cause (her eczema is on her back, arms, and legs) but it’s worth trying! I am also looking into getting a water softener (we had one at our old house) but unfortunately, there isn’t much room in the area where the pipes are located (It’s in our laundry room, along with the water heater, furnace, and humidifier).

    Again, thank you for sharing your story!

  6. I’ve noticed that the humidity level makes a huge difference. Dry skin always causes my skin to flare up and I need to run vaporizers and keep the humidity pretty high for it to heal. My skin heals when I go on vacation to places that are pretty humid, especially if they are near a body of water. My guess is that might have been why your sons eczema healed in Florida. Other things have caused my eczema too, such as reactions to environmental factors and diet. But once I changed all the environmental and dietary triggers that have been mentioned, while it got better, I was still having problems especially on my hands. I put natural products on them that I make out of Shea butter, coconut oil, essential oils, etc. and I drink a lot of water to stay hydrated but this only means I’m washing my hand more because I’m going to the bathroom more. And the problem with any natural hand products is that they get anything I touch greasy if I put enough on for it to have an effect at protecting them from dry air. So I’m always struggling with keeping my eczema on my hands at bay. I have to keep the humidity at least at 60% for my hands not to feel like all the moisture is being sucked out of them and for them to begin healing or not flare up again. As long as I run vaporizers and keep the air pretty humid I’ve learned that I can actually eat some wheat and dairy and still be okay. Between heat and air conditioning houses are actually pretty dry year round in Michigan. I do wonder if I attempted a GAPS diet if I could get rid of my eczema completely, even if my skin was dry but I don’t know. My diet is already so clean and organic, and I did eliminate grains and dairy for a while, that attempting a GAPS diet is the only other step I can think of taking to eliminate my eczema completely. I’m curious if anyone else on here knows whether or not dry air causes eczema or if keeping the air humid is still just masking a deeper internal problem. I know that the humidity level I keep it at probably isn’t comfortable for a lot of people but I’ve found that my asthma, which also rarely acts up unless I’m sick or exercising, will act up if the air is too dry so high humidity works for me.

    1. You’ve done some great troubleshooting, Marie! I’ve heard recently that if being in pools (or doing a bleach bath) doesn’t help, it could be candida instead of eczema. ?? Just one more nugget of wisdom for your experiments. Best of luck! 🙂 Katie

  7. Ok, I’ve got to post with a treatment update.

    I read an article about a month ago written about treating eczema with homeopathy. It was the one “natural” remedy I had yet to try on my son. After more research, I learned that eczema is a condition that is often highly sensitive and therefore highly responsive to subtle treatments like homeopathy.

    So there are about half a dozen or more typical homeopathic remedies for eczema. I had to figure out which one to try based on detailed symptoms and then figure out dosing, it would’ve been a lot easier if there were a homeopath in my area that I could consult. However, it was worth it. I started giving my son Sulphur 30c (3 pellets, 3x a day) and initially his rashes got worse (which is typically the way you know the treatment is starting to work) and then they began to improve and his scratching subsided substantially–this is without doing anything else different day to day, no diet changes, etc. I’m still giving Sulphur to him, but it might take several months to totally rid him of his rash, according to my research. Even if it doesn’t go all the way, it has greatly helped my son, therefore it is worth it in my book.

    There are many cases of children becoming eczema free with homeopathy. I never realized how much it could help until we took the plunge, carefully researching, administering, and recording changes. It is not the easiest solution because of the complexity of homeopathy and each case being treated different from another, but it is such a relief to finally find something that works after over a year of searching. The biggest plus is that I don’t have the slightest anxiety over this treatment because it helps the body heal itself. Finally a win!

  8. It could very well be related to the Crohn’s. I have both; and my doctor wasn’t surprised. He said both are immune reactions and my immune system is way too active (had an auto-immune bile-duct disease too, prior to a transplant). Something set off my immune response in my teens.

  9. I have dyshidrotic eczema (also called pompholyx) on my hands, between my fingers. It’s the kind that is teeny tiny blisters. I’m pretty sure it started when we moved to this house, with no dishwasher, and I started having to do all the dishes by hand. It might be the soap, but apparently it can also be triggered just by having wet hands. 😛 As well as by any kind of allergy, so that doesn’t narrow it down AT ALL.

    One thing that does help which you didn’t mention is witch hazel. That helps dry up the blisters and take down any swelling. If any of your readers suffer from this kind of eczema, I highly recommend it.

    1. Thanks Sheila!! I got an email about hard vs. soft water – soft water (or soaking hands in water with the softening salts in it) cured a few people in the reader’s family right up! Do you have hard water there? Wouldn’t it be awesome if the fix was that simple? Hoping it is for you!!! 🙂 Katie

  10. Sounds just like my 9 y/o! We did all the food things first, then finally ran an allergy test. Dust Mites! A daily zyrtec keeps it in check with steroid cream for rare flare-ups.

    We are a GF home and I was certain it would be something food related. I wish we would have run tests earlier!

  11. Heidi @ Barefoot and Paleo

    Nothing worked for my son. His ezcema (allergies) were pretty severe. I tried lotions, creams, oils, changing diet, no chemicals and nothing helped, actually made it worse. His body did not like coconut oil.

    Then I found NAET and everything changed. Everything he was allergic to was cleared making his skin super clear without us avoiding anything including food. It is truly amazing!

    1. Heidi,

      Thanks so much for sharing! I loved reading his story and then yours. I’m working on my daughter’s eczema right now, with no clue what is causing it. My son has peanut and egg white allergies. I have heard of NAET but not looked into it and I should. So glad your son is healed. Those photos are heartbreaking.

  12. I’ve had it off and on my entire life. In the past 4 years or so, we’ve eaten a much more clean, traditional/whole foods diet and that helped a lot. But there are flare ups. I research and read a ton (because my youngest has struggled pretty badly with this too) and here’s two things I see as big contributors for the unexplained flare ups.

    First, stress-stress-stress. People often forget what a BIG trigger stress is for folks with any kind of inflammatory or auto-immune condition. This can be emotional stress like your mom went through, or the physical stress of an illness. I just recently got a nasty head cold and the eczema flared up on my hands pretty badly just a few days later.

    Second, I really think that changing gut health can be closely linked to unexplained appearances of eczema in folks who either hadn’t ever had it before, or at least not in a few years. We can say that a person’s diet hasn’t changed in years–so why the rash? BUT–perhaps they have a bit of leaky gut going on, and the foods that never bothered them before are now a trigger.

    I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy and nut sensitivities this summer, following a severe eczema flare. I had been eating those foods with seemingly no problem for years. Now I suspect that my digestive tract needs a little TLC to keep these food allergies and symptoms from multiplying.

  13. My family has battled eczema over the years as well. When my twins were babies, it was all over their head and faces. We thought they had outgrown it when they were little boys, but then it came back on the legs just like how you described with your 9-year-old… bleeding sheets and all. It was always on the back of the legs and in the bends of the arms and legs. It took us years and lots of various treatments to finally discover the triggers: sweat mixed with polyester, along with eggs in the diet. Yep. Weird combination. When they would go to karate class, they would get all hot and sweaty in their polyester uniforms. Often times I would have to run an errand or two on our way home. They would sit in the car and the sweat on the back of their legs combined with the polyester in their uniform would cause the eczema. When we stopped karate (for other reasons), the eczema started getting better. We finally figured it out and now completely avoid polyester clothing and sheets. One of my sons would still get a little flare up from time to time. After doing some allergy testing, we discovered he is also mildly allergic to eggs. Eliminate the eggs the eczema goes away. We already eliminate peanuts due to a life-threatening allergy, but eggs are in more things. Using natural oils and lotions to keep it in check while still enjoying eggs might be a possibility. Thanks!

    1. Good for you to figure it out, Angela!! My husband’s always flares on his hands when he plays hockey (in pads) or mows the lawn or shovels…I never thought that it might be a particular material; we just thought it was sweaty, moist conditions. I’ll have to see what all his gloves are made of!
      Thanks! Katie

  14. Some people have had success soothing their eczema with Radiantly You Dead Sea Mud soap and Healing Calendula balm. www.radiantlyyou.com/ErinRF

    1. Zephyr. I know I mentioned Radiantly You already (if my comment is showing up??) but I want to mention it again. We can’t make medical claims but our Dead Sea Whipped Face Wash and Antioxidant Facial Moisturizer have worked well with many skin issues on the face. It has evened out my skin tone for sure! You can check them out on my website. www.radiantlyyou.com/ErinRF

  15. My son had eczema when he was a baby, so we went on the SCD at 18 months. It went away immediately, but then came back & would come & go. It took me a year to figure out it was from eating eggs. We stayed on the SCD since recent lab tests showed he has gut dysbiosis. If he “cheats” too much a few spots will pop out on his cheeks, but other than that, I am so thankful he doesn’t have any more problems.

  16. My husband gets it on his feet and hands. We switched to Norwex body cloths, so we didn’t have to worry about any soap ingredients. We just wash with the cloth and water. We switched to a natural shampoo and hand soaps too.

    I also found that a coconut, lemon and lavender oil mixture helps too.

  17. Yes!! I have never had eczema in my life until this year. I came down with a bad case of some sort of flu. About the time I started to feel back to normal, my legs broke out between my knees and ankles. It took me quite awhile to figure out what it was too. Once I did, I tried just about every natural product out there to try to get some relief. Some things helped a bit, but it would always flare back up terribly. I finally got a “clear skin” essential oil blend, and, over time, it seemed to make a big difference. The rash has been gone for several months now except for two tiny spots one calf. They just won’t go away no matter what I do. I can’t say for sure that it was the essential oils that did it. It may have just “run its course”. I think the stress that the flu caused on my immune system triggered the whole thing. I never knew that something like that could happen, but it makes sense!

  18. I was watching a tv show that was about building tiny houses but on it the mom mentioned she had to have a tub in her tiny house because her kids suffered big time from eczema and they did nightly detox baths. I forget all they she used, I think something about apple cider vinegar and mineral salts. Just an idea I thought might be good to pass along.

  19. Yes, I’ve had pregnancy-induced eczema during both of my pregnancies. My skin looked like your son’s before pictures, but covered all the skin between my knees and my ankles. It was embarrassing, painful, and about to drive me crazy. I ended up cutting out dairy and coffee, soaking in a baking soda bath and using a heavy moisturizer, and it totally cleared up!

    For what it’s worth, I love, love the hard lotion bars and coconut oil as a moisturizer, but they did not work for my eczema. I ended up getting a Eucerin-type cream to really, truly lock in moisture to take away the dry skin factor (that really exacerbated my itching). Now I’m usually back to hard lotion which is wonderful!

    Thanks for these product recommendations–I will be checking into them for our family! Also, here’s an article I wrote with many of the itch-relief techniques I’ve used 🙂 My favorites are peppermint oil and the wet pajamas method. (They say cold and itch travel along the same nerve fibers, so if you introduce coldness with damp fabric, the itch will subside. It also locks in moisture.) www.modernalternativemama.com/blog/2014/02/21/tips-for-managing-pregnancy-induced-eczema/

  20. I too have been diagnosed at a later age. The first doctor said I had scabies. The second, a dermatologist, also thought scabies. At a two week exam, she realized that it wasn’t and we did steroids and creams. She also did a skin allergy test which showed nothing (and drove me crazy)! The steroids did show me that the “stabbings” were allergy related. (It felt like someone was actually poking me with a pin.) Another dermatologist did a couple of skin biopsies and it came back as definitely eczema. Since I have a number of autoimmune illnesses this isn’t a surprise. What is a surprise is to see your mother’s hands. Every winter my hands would get like that and worse. I hate all the creams, they are so heavy to me. This article comes at a great time since I’m tired of all the stuff I have to put on me, but nothing seems to be curing me. Last night I tried avocado oil and that seems to be doing a better job than all the other stuff the dr prescribed. I’m going to try your article recommendations. (I’ll try the salt, too since a couple of years ago I took baths with epsom salts.) Thank you!

  21. I am surprised that leaky gut/dysbiosis isn’t listed as the number 1 cause of eczema. My 2-year-old sons and I have been on the GAPS (no-grain/sugar/starchy veggies) diet for 18 months now to combat our eczema. My toddler just got rid of Candida, but even now we infrequently eat honey and fruit. We buy local/unsprayed/organic/pastured vegetables and meat from the farmer’s market and supplement at the natural grocery store. We do not use soap on our bodies, we use a laundry ball and washing soda to wash our 100% cotton clothes and organic bedding. I just bought Himalayan salt lamps for our entire house, and I just started using a salt inhaler (my toddler doesn’t know how to use it yet). Why? Because on our vacation to Hawaii over the summer, my little boy’s all-over-the-body eczema was 90% gone and he became itch-free while we were there. It’s not just the humidity, I strongly believe that it’s the salt that our skin was always in contact, that we didn’t have A/C in our condo rental, and we were breathing it in internally that really helped us. My eczema is in my hands only, and after 3 days with the lamps around us and 2 days using the inhaler, I have also became less itchy, red/inflamed, and bumpy. Eczema is a beast. But I’m hoping by healing and sealing our gut through the GAPS protocol, we will get rid of eczema for good.

  22. I thought I’d post a comment just in case there may be someone else who could benefit from my experience. I randomly started suffering with eczema around my eyes and on my hands at about 42 years of age. I had never had any skin problems before. My hands were terrible , at times hurting so bad I couldn’t sleep from how painful they were. All the Dr. did for me was diagnose me with eczema and hand me steroid cream. I changed my diet, began using supplements like cod liver oil and whatever I could find in my research to try to nourish my skin from the inside out as well as from the outside in. I finally read an article about a common preservative in liquid soaps, creams, make-up , etc. that Drs were noticing caused eczema-like skin issues. The chemical is Methylisothiazolinone or MIT or MI. Is shows up everywhere… even in liquid soap that you think is good like Mrs. Meyers and Seventh Generation. As soon as I eliminated all products with this chemical, my eczema vanished. If I accidentally use a soap with MIT in it (like in a restroom at a store) a day or two later, my skin starts getting all inflamed and cracked. It lasts about a week before it all clears up again. It’s a pain to have to watch for the chemical, but so nice to not be suffering. The blessing is that I’ve learned so much about nourishing foods, how to make my own skin-care products, and herbal medicines that my whole family is benefiting from what was a miserable experience. Hopefully someone else out there can be helped my knowing MIT can cause what appears to be eczema.

    1. Mindy,

      Yes – a family member sent me a recent article on this ingredient being in baby wipes. Thankfully it isn’t in the Pampers that I am currently using. It stinks when you can’t give blanket-trust to any brand, even the natural onces. Glad you figured it out!

  23. I gave in to some steroid creams for my 19-month-old because it has plagued her for over a year and doesn’t seem to depend on season or food (we eliminated dairy). I used it for 10 days to get it to a really good place and now I just moisturize her a couple times a day with Alba Unpetroleum. This is really great stuff – it’s basically a natural vaseline. It seems to be helping her. She’s not red anymore but still has rough patches.

    1. Did the steroid cream had a lasting effect on your child? My 18 month old son was just prescribed a steroid cream, he’s also had itchy rashes in his creases for a year or so. I’m afraid to use the cream, but if it truly gets the rash to a better place I’d be more apt to use it.

      Hydrocortisone never gave lasting results, so I stopped trying. I eliminated a bunch of food and nothing worked. I don’t have carpet and I don’t use anything with harsh chemicals or fragrance. I even use a HEPA filter in the kids room at night just in case. Nothing has changed. It is driving me nuts trying to figure out what could possibly make an otherwise healthy child have a constant rash.

      1. The steroid seemed to help more than the hydrocortisone but not 100%. She almost seems worse now (after using my homemade lotion) so I honestly have no idea what to do for her. I did order the Inflamed and lotion stick from Crunchy Mamas so here’s hoping! I think it is worth a shot if you are comfortable with it – my personal opinion is that sometimes that is just what works best if you follow the doctor’s orders on how long to use it. They shouldn’t have you use it for very long. I can’t decide what food I should eliminate next, since dairy didn’t seem to help. Our allergist, who I like and trust, said her eczema isn’t caused by food 🙁 so I’m not sure I can even ask for testing…

        1. My dermatologist said that the kind of eczema my son has is not related anything he eats. He said that parents of kids who get eczema from certain foods can tell pretty easily that those foods are the culprits. However, the doc didn’t say what else might be causing it. He basically said there’s no ultimate cure. People with no allergies can have eczema too, according to my pediatrician and dermatologist. So, I may be in for a lot of dead ends with this research–but I haven’t given up.

          PS–every time in use oils or other natural remedies the eczema seems worse, so I know how frustrating it is. The only thing that has ever made the rash go away was hydrocortisone. Ugh, so not my first choice for treatment.

          1. Sarah, Huh…I don’t know how much I’d trust a medical doc who says it’s “easy” to tell what foods cause a skin reaction! I mean…without an elimination diet, any kid is probably eating gluten, dairy, and tons of other foods every single day. So how are you supposed to be able to tell without working quite hard at it? Eczema is definitely not always caused by allergies..but I still don’t like his answer. 🙂 I got an email saying that hard water caused eczema in her family and using a water softener (or soaking hands in water with the softener salts in it) cleared it right up when nothing else did! So many options to try…

            I wish you much luck!!!
            🙂 Katie

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