If you suffer from the itchy skin condition known as eczema, you’ve probably tried a variety of different creams (and perhaps even topical steroids) to find relief. A chronic condition, there is sadly no “cure” for eczema but there are different methods to help control symptoms and prevent flare-ups. You may think you’ve tried everything, but have you tried healing your eczema from the inside out?
Read on to discover the connection between eczema and leaky gut.
Please keep in mind that although these what we discuss in this post can relieve eczema, we are in no way medical professionals. If you’re experiencing severe eczema symptoms like an infection, it is best to seek medical advice immediately.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Your gut has a huge effect on your immune system. To illustrate, 80% of your body’s immune cells are located in the gut, making one the major causes of autoimmune disease a poorly functioning intestinal tract.
A healthy GI tract acts as a barrier by preventing any microbes, toxin, or undigested food particles from entering the body through your bloodstream. But when the cells lining the intestinal wall are damaged, the GI tract has trouble filtering particles. This is what enables substances, such as gluten, bacteria, food particles and viruses, to “leak” into the bloodstream.
Thinking these are enemies, your body goes into fight mode and the immune system attacks. This is what leads to inflammation and, if left unchecked, can develop into a chronic condition like eczema.
What can Cause a Leaky Gut?
- Chronic stress
- Antibiotic usage
- Formula feeding
- Unhealthy diets (high in refined grains, sugar, and processed foods)
- Heavy metals
Eczema and Leaky Gut
Characterized by rough, dry, and inflamed patches of skin, eczema is an uncomfortable skin condition that stems from a damaged skin barrier. So how is chronic eczema linked to having a leaky gut? Well, those with eczema typically have an overactive immune system which responds with inflammation to a perceived threat. When unknown particles “leak” into the bloodstream, your immune system panics, goes into overdrive, and attacks your own skin cells.
That’s why eczema and diet are so closely related. You might notice that you’re eating healthy and yet, your eczema is not improving. It could be that you’re simply eating the wrong foods.
If you don’t yet know your food triggers, we recommend trying an elimination diet. As the name suggests, this involves removing certain foods (usually the top food allergens like dairy, egg, gluten, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, etc.) from your diet for a specific period of time and then slowing incorporating them back in to determine which caused a reaction.
Possible Signs of Leaky Gut
In addition to skin issues such as eczema, rosacea and acne, here are some signs that you may be suffering from leaky gut syndrome:
- Fatigue and trouble sleeping
- Unintentional weight fluctuations
- Bloating after meals
- Diarrhea and constipation
Healing Eczema from the Inside Out
Dealing with eczema and managing symptoms is not easy. In fact, an estimated 30 million people in the U.S. experience the challenges of combating eczema daily. While creams and ointments might provide temporary relief from itchy symptoms, it’s also important to address the true underlying cause of eczema: a malfunctioning immune system.
Here are our top tips for healing leaky gut and chronic eczema:
Change your Diet
It’s essential to remove anything that’s harmful to your gut. Most notably, this involves the food you consume. A diet that is high in refined sugar, GMOs, and highly processed foods is not good for obvious reasons, but especially if you suffer from eczema. Other gut-destroying foods include corn, soy, alcohol, wheat, dairy, nuts, eggs and citrus fruits.
In contrast, you want to change to a more-plant based diet that is high in anti-inflammatory foods. This includes foods such as legumes, beans, peas, oats, bananas, and berries. It’s also recommended to eat slowly and make sure to chew your food thoroughly to help with any digestive issues.
To learn more about how eczema and diet are related, we highly recommend you read The Eczema Diet Book by Karen Fischer. In this insightful book, she shares how reducing your intake of natural chemicals can help heal eczema from within and provides some eczema-friendly recipes for the whole family.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting less than 7-8 hours of sleep per night can negatively affect your gut health and worsen your eczema. Be sure to prioritize getting a sufficient quality of uninterrupted sleep. If itching is keeping you up at night, we recommend wearing eczema sleepwear such as those from Remedywear™. Made from gentle fabrics like organic cotton, TENCEL, and bamboo, they are soft and cooling on irritated skin.
Check out some of our favourites:
Relax your Mind
Feeling stressed? Stress can have negative consequences on your body - including your gut. Not only that, but it can also contribute to eczema flare-ups! To relax your mind and lower your stress level, practice deep breathing, go for a walk, listen to calming music, or meditate.
Supplement with a Prebiotic or Probiotic
Create a healthy gut flora balance by supplementing your diet with a prebiotic. Prebiotics provide “food” to promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut (known as probiotic) and in turn, help protect your gut wall and immune system. As not all supplements actually provide benefit, consult with your healthcare provider before taking a probiotic or prebiotic.
Bio: Laura is a contributor and content developer for The Eczema Company. She is in no way a medical professional. Her comments, suggestions, and reflections are not intended to replace any medical advice. Always seek the help of a medical professional before undertaking any diet or lifestyle changes.