Eczema - the causes and treatments
Eczema, otherwise referred to as atopic dermatitis, is an inflammatory skin condition which affects up to 20% of children and 3% of adults. Itchy and uncomfortable, it generally flares up in cycles and can severely impact people’s quality of life. It is a common belief that pollen and other environmental irritants such as dust are the main culprits of eczema, yet recent research has found another possible factor which could change the way we treat eczema.
A study done by the National Institute of Health in Maryland, Bethesda, found that particular strains of Staphylococcus aureus (golden staph) are linked to skin irritation in children. The study concluded that the microbes and bacteria that live on our skin play an important role in the development of eczema. Led by Heidi Kong, the team collected samples from different parts of the body from 11 children with eczema in varying stages of flare ups. They also collected samples from 7 children who didn’t have eczema. Using a DNA sequencing technique to analyse the samples, the team found that particular samples were dominated by S. aureus. These turned out to be from the children who were experiencing severe flare ups. The samples taken from the children without eczema were found to be more diverse in terms of the types of bacteria found. This finding is interesting as it supports studies that suggest that a microbiome populated with diverse strains of bacteria is linked to better health. Time to stock up on pre and probiotic! Dogs are also known to be great for introducing a range of bacteria into households.
Commonly, topical corticosteroids are used to treat eczema and reduce inflammation so the skin can heal itself. Yet, there are many effective natural alternatives. Essential oils have been found to be naturally anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. Australian Blue Cypress has been shown in studies to effectively treat eczema. Lavender essential oil is a potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial oil that can help reduce symptoms of eczema and other skin conditions. Zinc oxide similarly is incredibly beneficial for the skin and can help reduce eczema flare ups. It is a natural micronutrient, as well as anti-bacterial and has been found to be effective in healing the skin. Besides being more gentle for the environment and non-toxic, natural alternatives are more likely to increase the skin's natural resilience. Corticosteroids are generally super quick and effective in the short term yet have been found to increase skin sensitivity over time and even thin the skin, making it more prone to irritation and sensitivity.
Our BABY range has been developed with sensitive skin in mind, and is recommended for use in babies, children and adults suffering from eczema. Indeed our Operations Manager, Katie Weir, has a daughter Eliza suffers badly from eczema - with the Baby Balm her favourite treatment when flare ups occur.