One of the most common enquiries I get is about Eczema and how to make it better.

 In this post we are going to go over the basic of all things related to Eczema.   

Eczema is a term for a group of unpleasant skin conditions that result in inflamed, dry, itchy skin. Affecting an estimated 10% of people globally, it is extremely common in children but can also strike in adulthood and is further linked to conditions such as hay fever, food allergies and asthma.

 As a type 2-mediated immune response to different allergens, stressors and substances, the root cause of eczema is individual and areas of skin inflammation can be either specific to hands for example, or irritation can be more general across different areas of the body.

 Either way, many scientists today are focusing on how genetics and environmental conditions can affect the condition.

 Is there a treatment?

 Conventional treatments have been limited both in approach and success, with most aiming to manage symptoms rather than cure. More recently however, health professionals are increasingly encouraging an inside & out approach, involving diet corrections, supplements and topical (applied directly to skin) balms as a systemic approach.  

Over recent years, it’s been hard to miss the health movement towards probiotics or “friendly” bacteria, and for a very good reason!  As most of us know by now, a thriving gut equals a healthy immune system. The gut is where our bodies absorb nutrients, metabolize hormones and detoxify enzymes - so from a skin inflammation point of view, it is absolutely vital to get your digestive health working well.  

This is where probiotics come in: Adding / supplementing our diet with these beneficial micro-organisms – like the bacteria naturally found in our digestive system – to balance gut bacteria, can help boost our immune system and overall well-being. Internally and externally our bodies host trillions of these micro-organisms of different varieties and strains.

 In fact, the NCBI  (National Institute for Biotechnology Information) states that about 70% of our immune system is found in the gut, so ensuring the digestive system is working well seems fundamental in enabling the body to fight back against a multitude of health conditions and could just be the secret to feeling good, both physically and mentally.  

If friendly bacteria are added and encouraged in the gut community it prevents the harmful bacteria, which we also host, from taking over and causing health issues.

 When it comes to the Gut-Skin axis, skin is usually the first tell-tale sign of what’s going on inside the gut microbiome. With improved understanding of gut health and it’s necessity for over all wellbeing, the probiotic benefits to skin care and overall skin health are naturally an area of growing interest. A knock-on effect of supporting the digestive system through friendly gut bacteria is to fine-tune the body’s immune and inflammatory responses.

 For skin this promotes quicker regeneration, self-repair and healthier overall appearance. For eczema sufferers this often results in reducing the frequency and severity of flare-ups. 

Inflammation is the body’s defence mechanism to protect against injury and infection from an outside irritant, whether it be a virus or a small splinter. The purpose of this response is to remove the harmful irritant and initiate the healing process.  Healthy skin is well hydrated and able to keep moisture locked-in with a sealing layer of lipids (natural fats and oils) which also act as a protective barrier against external damage. Eczema sufferers are deficient in some of these lipids, reducing the ability to keep moisture where it’s needed, causing skin to dry-out and cracks to appear in the protective barrier of skin cells.

 This weakened outer barrier allows allergens to enter and to worsen the effect of irritants – such as harsh soaps, hands sanitisers, petroleum derived ointments – by further remove moisture, increase damage and trigger the body’s inflammatory response.  

What exactly is a Probiotic and how friendly is it? 

herbal supplements

Probiotic supplements are actual live, good bacteria and yeasts (that naturally live in our body) and can be a helpful way to boost levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

 It’s always advised to research supplements beforehand, as quality and results will vary e.g. some lower quality probiotic supplements may be of no benefit with the live bacteria never reaching the gut, but being dissolved upstream in our digestive system. Equally high price tag doesn’t always guarantee high quality.

 It is important to read the label carefully: avoid too many bulking, anti-caking agents, fillers and additives when looking for supplements.  Probiotics are produced during the fermentation process of certain food such as: natural yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut. Research has shown that a gut bacteria imbalance is the root cause of eczema*, so, adding cultured / fermented dishes to your everyday diet can be hugely beneficial for a healthy gut population of friendly bacteria. 

Most common types of probiotics: 

  •  Lactobacillus (commonly known as Acidophiles) · 
  • Bifidobacterium 
  •  Saccharomyces boulardii (type of yeast found in probiotics)  

  But to get the most out of your probiotic supplements it is also important to include Prebiotics in your diet.

 Prebiotics are what the friendly bacteria feed on (dietary fiber) and a daily intake of these will maintain and promote the good bacteria population. Look for high fibre foods (organic if possible) that don’t get fully digested before reaching the gut, such as 

  •  whole grains, 
  •  greens,  
  •  garlic,  
  •  onions,  
  •  bananas,  
  •  raw apple cider vinegar, amongst others.  

 As well as their gut habitat, these micro-organisms live in many areas of the body and healthy skin is loaded with them. When the balance and population of beneficial bacteria is low, that bad bacteria can take-over, leading to conditions such as eczema, staphylococcus aureus and acne.  

Conventional water based and steroid creams often contain large amounts of wide spectrum preservatives that can have a negative effect on already weakened skin. To make things worse they also contain petroleum derived ingredients and mineral oils that have a suffocating effect on skin.

 Botanical carrier oils can ease and improve eczema symptoms, by getting to work immediately and providing damage repair directly where it’s needed. The carrier oils largely mimic lipids found in our outer skin layers, providing needed moisture and restoring that all-important protective barrier.

 One of the best naturally healing barriers for skin is provided by beeswax.  With its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties, beeswax helps reduce appearance of redness and skin abrasions. It forms a protective barrier on top of the skin, while still allowing it to breath, allowing the healing process to take place. 

A study published in the Clinical Microbiology and Infection Journal, found that a topical application of a mixture of honey, olive oil and bees wax could inhibit growth of Staphylococcus aureus Candida albicans*

jar of soothe eczema balm

 

Our No Ordinary Soothe Healing Balm was formulated for that specific reason – to protect your skin while feeding it with needed nutrients, allowing your body to concentrate on its repair process.  We blend organic oils and butters with anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, together with highest quality essential oils, to target healing, inflammation and the skin’s histamine response to various irritants.

 Applying No Ordinary Soothe Healing Balm directly to flare-up areas, especially when complemented with a balanced probiotic / prebiotic diet, can be a highly effective combination to reduce and ease inflammatory responses from the body.  

Additionally, there are several commons sense measures to help improve overall health, reducing the onset and severity of an eczema flare-up such as: getting enough sleep, minimise stress, drink plenty of water, chose a healthy diet and eat slowly to help your digestive system.

 Helping your body to help itself can potentially balance out many health issues, so, restoring gut health and repairing skin damage using topical oils may just take the itch out of eczema.  

 It’s always advised to consult a health professional before using probiotic supplement and adding essential oils to your skincare routine.    

Stay tuned for more helpful tips and if you have any questions, please email us on 

Anya@noordinaryskin.com

 References:     

 *Microbiome   in the Gut-Skin Axis in Atopic Dermatitis   So-Yeon Lee, Eun Lee, Yoon Mee Park and Soo-Jong Hong

* Noori S. Al-Waili  Mixture of Honey, Beeswax and Olive Oil Inhibits Growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans Archives of Medical Research Volume 36