If you struggle with eczema, you know that the redness, swelling, itching, dryness, crusting, flaking, and blistering can range from bothersome to debilitating. I have encountered clients in my practice who suffer with eczema so severe that the itching and blisters interfere with sleep and even social engagements. We've been told there is no cure for eczema, but it is possible to improve your symptoms, or even heal yourself, by starting from the inside out.
We’re largely unsure what exactly causes eczema, but scientists are fairly certain the primary cause is a genetic issue. The important point to understand is that it’s an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system is overactive and mistakes its own tissue for perceived pathogens, causing the body to attack itself. In the case of eczema, there are structural defects in the epidermis, causing impaired barrier function, meaning the skin is more permeable to toxins and antigens that aggravate the immune system. Eczema can be worsened with exposure to environmental factors such as pollen or pet dander and internal factors such as irregular stress hormone (cortisol) levels. The topical creams and steroids you’ve been given may help but don't ultimately address the underlying cause, and they may have side effects.
The goal in treating eczema — and any autoimmune disease — is to determine what’s causing the immune overactivity and reduce systemic inflammation. It starts with food! The following foods may exacerbate eczema because many people cannot properly digest the proteins, causing an allergic reaction that provokes an immune response: