Relieving the itch of dermatitis

The word dermatitis comes from two Greek words meaning skin inflammation. The skin becomes dry, itchy, red and irritated with sufferers often scratching until they bleed.

Healthy skin provides a barrier that protects the body from infection and irritation. Normal skin cells are filled with, and surrounded by water and oils which help to form a protective layer, keeping the skin cells together and acting as a seal against the outside barrage of pollutants and irritants.

With dermatitis, the skin cells don’t produce as much of these essential oils as healthy skin. This compromises the protective barrier, allowing more water to escape and allergens and irritants to enter.

In older people the most common type of dermatitis is simply due to lack of oils leading to dry skin. This causes itching and ultimately, red, irritated skin.

In young people the most common type of dermatitis is eczema (atopic dermatitis), an inherited condition. The skin produces less oil as well as the essential protein that helps to provide a healthy protective barrier.

What can you do?

– avoid triggers – certain foods, soaps/skin washes containing irritants such as sodium lauryl sulphate, perfumes, detergents, chlorinated pools, long hot showers, avoid exposure to latex, cleaning agents, aerosols and other household chemicals. Try MooGoo Milk Wash as a great soap-free alternative

– clothing – aim for cotton textiles, avoid wool and synthetic fibres and non-colour fast dyes. An additinoal rinse cycle during washing may also be helpful in ensuring minimal exposure to washing detergents

– use dispersable oils or colloidal oatmeal in the bath or shower (L’Occitane almond shower oil)

– moisturise every day as often as you need to with a pH neutral, fragrance-free moisturiser ( MV jojoba oil, L’Occitane Shea Butter body lotion, Weleda Wild Rose body oil)

– calendual cream – effective in many forms of skin irritations ( Weleda Calendula body lotion)

– relaxation techniques and stress reduction – stressful life events are associated with higher risk of dermatitis. Employ some stress-management techniques into your routine such as yoga, meditation, walks or other activities you find relaxing

– topical steroid creams – use as minimum a dose as possible, and only short term as they cause skin thinning if used longer term

Nutrient/supplement considerations:

– Increase your intake of good fats – flaxseed oil, avocados, coconut oil, nuts (excluding peanuts), chia seeds, sunflower seeds

– Limit or cut out dairy and gluten – both foods are shown to increase inflammation in the body and dairy has a direct causal link with eczema

– Increase fresh fruit and vegies- think colourful, especially green

– Evening primrose oil – capsules or topically on the skin may help relieve symptoms ( Weleda Evening Primrose body oil, Ethical Nutrients Primrose Fish Oil & Vit E)

– Probiotics – certain strains of probiotics may help prevent and even treat dermatitis ( )

– Vitamin A – essential for the development of the skin cells. can be applied topically or taken orally

– Vitamin C – lowers inflammation in the body and may help combat some of the reactive nature of dermatitis

– Vitamin E – supplementation at 400IU/day has been shown to reduce the severity and length of eczema breakouts ( Bioceuticals Vit E, Ethical Nutrients Vit E)

– Zinc – helps modulate inflammation in the body and, along with vitamin C, may help with the reactive nature of dermatitis

There are many treatment available to stop the itching and it’s important to find the one that works for you. Call us at the Natural Chemist for input on what treatments and preventative measures you can put in place. T: 1300 882 303

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