Eczema is an inflammatory condition that affects 10-20% of the population. It’s characterized by rough, red, and incredibly itchy patches. Due to a damaged skin barrier, those with eczema suffer from chronically dry skin. When discussing eczema, a common question arises: is eczema an autoimmune disease? Let’s find out!
Please keep in mind that although these tips 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 Eczema?
Eczema is an umbrella term for a group of inflammatory skin conditions. There are several different types of eczema such as discoid eczema, dyshidrotic eczema, and the most common type, atopic dermatitis.
Typically developing in childhood or infancy, eczema can be triggered by a number of allergens and environmental changes, including dust mites, pet fur, sweat, stress, contact with irritants such as rough fabrics or soaps, and even food allergies. While itchy patches usually develop on the hands, back, and creases of elbows and knees, it can develop in other places as well.
Eczema Immune Response
Those who suffer from eczema tend to have an overactive immune system. It’s this overactive immune system that responds with inflammation when triggered by a substance outside or inside the body. A leaky skin barrier, for example, that allows staph, viruses, and allergens to enter the body can trigger eczema. The resulting inflammatory response causes flare-ups in those with eczema-prone skin.
So, is Eczema an Autoimmune Disorder?
There is a significant body of research that suggests eczema is an autoimmune disease, similar to psoriasis, lupus and many other immune disorders.
An autoimmune disorder means that the immune system gets confused and will start attacking its own body. For those with eczema, this means that the immune system may be attacking skin cells.
Treating Eczema as an Autoimmune Disease
Because eczema is more than skin deep, treating the condition means getting to the root of the problem. Let’s take a look at some natural ways we can heal eczema from the inside out.
Preventing scratching is one of the most important things you can do to avoid aggravating symptoms. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, especially given the vicious itch-scratch cycle. That’s why we recommend wearing protective gloves.
These Remedywear™ gloves for adults and kids offer soothing relief and comfortable protection. Made with moisture-wicking fabric, they’re perfect for wearing for hours at a time without the risk of sweaty irritation or chafing. We especially recommend wearing them overnight to prevent scratching unknowingly in your sleep.
Change up your Diet
Certain foods cannot “cause” eczema, but they can trigger a reaction. That’s why maintaining an eczema-friendly diet is an important step to manage symptoms. Some of the most common food culprits include citrus fruits (such as lemons, grapefruit, and limes), gluten, eggs, dairy products, tomatoes, nuts, shellfish, and soy.
On the other hand, increasing your consumption of anti-inflammatory foods can help decrease symptoms. These include fatty fish, leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, and blueberries. If you don’t know which foods are triggering your flare-ups, try undergoing an elimination diet. This involves removing certain foods from your diet for a set amount of time (usually a month), and then slowly incorporating them back in to see if there’s a reaction.
We also recommend checking out Karen Fischer's The Eczema Detox Book to learn more about a low chemical eczema diet that can help heal skin from the inside out.
Use Natural Skincare Products
To soothe itchy dryness and restore moisture to the skin, moisturizing is key. Unfortunately, many skincare products contain chemicals or toxins that can actually exacerbate symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to choose natural - especially for those with sensitive skin.
This Grass Fed Tallow Balm is as natural as they come. In fact, tallow balm is actually one of the world’s purest and earliest forms of skincare. Don’t hesitate to add this simple moisturizer as part of your paleo skincare routine.
Wet or Dry Wrap Therapy
To spot treat problem areas on your elbows, knees, arms, and legs, try these Remedywear™ eczema sleeves. Made with TENCEL and embedded with anti-inflammatory zinc, these hypoallergenic eczema bandages provide long lasting comfort day or night.
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.