What is eczema?Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red and inflamed, in response to certain triggers or allergens.
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Types of eczema
- Atopic eczema – this is the most common form of eczema whereby the skin becomes itchy, dry, red, and sore
- Dyshidrotic eczema – tiny, itchy blisters that are commonly found on the hands
- Contact dermatitis – when a substance irritates the skin such as washing powders or latex
- Seborrheic eczema – this is found around the eyebrows, scalp, ears, and sides of the nose
- Discoid eczema – characterised by circular patches on the skin
- Varicose eczema – associated with poor blood flow, especially on the lower legs
Eczema is commonly seen in children, often before the age of one, but it can also develop in adulthood. The exact cause of eczema is unknown but factors that can influence it include:
Who is most likely to develop eczema?
- Environmental or chemical
- Gut health
- Temperature changes
Signs and symptoms of eczemaThe main signs and symptoms of eczema include:
- Itchy skin, especially at night
- Red rashes or darker brown, purple, or grey patches depending on the colour of your skin
- Dry skin
- Scaly, leathery patches of skin
- Crusting skin
- Raw or sensitive skin
Common treatments for eczema include:
- Moisturisers known as emollients, that help prevent the skin becoming dry
- Corticosteroid creams that are applied directly to the skin to help reduce the swelling and redness
- Immunosuppressive creams such as pimecrolimus or tacrolimus may be prescribed if moisturisers or corticosteroid creams have not worked
- Antihistamines to help relieve the itching
- Medicated bandages or wet wraps that are applied to the affected area, usually over an emollient or topical corticosteroids, to help prevent scratching and to allow the skin to heal
- Working with a dermatologist to help ascertain any allergies or triggers
Histamine and eczemaHistamine is part of the body’s natural immune system and is released in response to an allergic reaction or injury. In eczema, when the skin is irritated by such triggers or allergens, histamine is released from the mast cells in that area creating the red, itchy, inflamed skin as part of that immune response. If someone is histamine intolerant and cannot produce enough of the DAO enzyme to clear histamine, they may develop eczema as a result. Research has also found that a protein, known as STAT5, can increase the release of histamine from mast cells in some individuals.
How to reduce your histamine loadThere are several ways that you can look to reduce either your histamine load or how your body removes histamine, if you struggle with eczema.
- Following a low-histamine diet to help reduce the histamine load – this is best done with a registered nutritionist to ensure your diet remains balanced.
- Increase Vitamin C in the diet, e.g., fruit and vegetables, or in supplement form. Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine, but it is also an important antioxidant that is involved in the production of collagen, a major component of our skin.
- Consuming sprouted lentils as research has indicated they may be a plant-based source of the DAO enzyme
- Using antihistamine medication
- Using zeolite clinoptilolite, a natural mineral that it is an effective chelator (binder) for removing histamine from the body through natural bowel movement, which can be bought as a supplement.
- Increase quercetin in the diet, as quercetin acts as a mast cell inhibitor. Add foods such as apples, onions, celery and blueberries or you can buy quercetin in supplement form.
- Drink nettle tea – nettles naturally block histamine production
Probiotics have been shown to help improve eczema as well as helping to rebalance the gut microbiome and reduce those strains that may release histamine
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