Eczema – An Explanation

Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

Eczema is a chronic, recurrent skin disease and presents as one of the most common inflammatory skin diseases in childhood. Sufferers experience intractable itching with subsequent skin damage, soreness, sleep loss and the social stigma of visible skin damage. Although the cause is not understood , there appears to be a genetic predisposition as well as a combination of allergic and non-allergic factors that determine the diseases expression.

Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis is known as the itch that rashes. Eczema displays in infants as red skin with oozing cracks and small pustules. Eczema lesions are found on the face, wrists, folds of skin and nappy areas of the buttocks. As the child ages the eczema presents as papules and thickened skin in the joint areas. In adults eczema displays as papules and thickened crusted sores that often weep as a consequence of scratching.

Adult eczema is found in flexures, on the face, neck, legs, feet, back of the hands and the genital areas.

Triggers of Eczema

Some people have a genetic inherited tendency to develop eczema, indicated by eczema occurring in families predisposed to hay fever and/or asthma. A normally harmless substance in the environment will often trigger an outbreak of eczema in people born with this tendency. How eczema is first triggered and how severely substances will affect the skin is uncertain as everyone with this genetic tendency is different and reacts differently.

This makes identifying triggers and controlling symptoms difficult. A process for identifying individual triggers is often by elimination and can be a long and drawn out procedure.
Although people react differently and different substances affect each individual differently there are some common substances that are most prone to triggering an eczema flare-up:

* Dust mite
* Animal dandruff
* Pollens
* Environmental and seasonal changes
* Stress
* Some foods ( egg, cows milk, shell fish, peanuts, wheat, nuts, rice, food additives and some fruits)
* Alcohol and coffee.

Nutrition

Nutrition plays a very large role in the outcome for eczema sufferers. An important reason for eczema occurrence is the western diet which promotes inflammation in the body. A defect in the bodies ability to metabolise Gamma-linolenic acid, (GLA) is thought to play a major role in the onset and development of eczema. GLA is the molecule produced from linoleic acid, the body makes Prostaglandins and Arachodonic acid from it. These two products are used by the body to trigger allergic reactions and the bodies response to injury and attack. When there is too much GLA, the body has excessive inflammatory response. The Western diets have an excessive amount of Linoleic acid (omega 6) to the alpha -linolenic acid (omega 3) of 10:1.so GLA promotes inflammation when the person has a defect in its metabolism or usage. This defect is, I believe, the reason that some people suffer eczema .

It is proposed that an eczema sufferer should supplement their diet with specific nutrients, particularly calcium, iodine, vitamin C and omega 3 fatty acids. Vitamin C @ 50 to 75mg/kg has been found to be beneficial. Flaxseed oil and fish are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids. The inclusion of Vitamins A & B6, Zinc and Selenium, Biotin, Evening Primrose Oil & Lecithin are also proposed. Dosages should be worked out by your Naturopath or “enlightened” Doctor .