by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
Are you an eczema or psoriasis sufferer? Do you have inflamed skin or itchy skin but you’re not quite sure what would be causing it? If patches of red, itchy or scaly skin have you covering up even in the warmest months, you’re not alone. I’ve had patients come to my office practically in tears over their painfully itchy skin. Relax. There’s hope. You don’t have to live with this forever. There are natural treatments for eczema and psoriasis. Read on.
What is the Difference between Eczema and Psoriasis?
Eczema and psoriasis are chronic inflammatory skin conditions that have many of the same triggers and attributes. However, while both diseases are caused by a malfunction in the immune system, eczema and psoriasis respond and present differently on the skin.
Eczema occurs when the immune system responds to something in its environment such as harsh soaps, detergents, or other irritants by causing the skin to erupt in red or brown patches. Eczema can also be caused by eating foods and chemical additives to which one may be sensitive. Itching is usually chronic and worsens at night. Eczema is much more common in children and can continue to adulthood, but it rarely presents for the first time after the age of 30. Eczema is most common in individuals who live in dry climates or in the city.
Psoriasis is considered an autoimmune disorder and can flare when the immune system responds to physiological factors such as skin injuries, medications, sunburn, infections, and stress. Unlike eczema, psoriasis changes the way skin cells are made. In psoriasis, the immune system attacks the skin’s own tissue causing skin cells to multiply so fast the skin erupts in thick, scaly, silvery patches.
Natural Treatments for Eczema and Psoriasis
Conventional treatments for eczema and psoriasis often include cortisone creams, pills, and shots. Though these treatments may work to stop some of the symptoms, they’ll do nothing to address the underlying cause of your inflamed skin. Furthermore, habitual use of any type of steroid can lead to serious and lasting side effects.
In recent years, medications known as biologics (such as Enbrel, Humira, Stelara and Remicade) are being used to treat psoriasis. These medications work by suppressing the immune system and have been shown to increase the chance of infection and cancers such as lymphoma.
For my patients suffering from chronic skin conditions, I recommend a combination of four basic treatments: Dietary changes, natural remedies, supplements, and natural skin care.
- Dietary Changes
One of the biggest favors you can do for your skin and body is to eat right. This means eliminating processed food from your diet. Eczema and psoriasis sufferers already have compromised immune systems. Your body is much more susceptible to succumbing to its environment and the food you eat than someone whose immune system is functioning optimally.
If you frequently eat candy, munch on donuts, chew gum, snack on chips, scarf down burgers and fries and wash it all down with sugar-laden soda, your skin may always look the way it does now. This type of “food” isn’t food at all. It’s just a concoction of chemicals put together to resemble something nutritious. It may fill up your belly or silence your sweet tooth but it’s wreaking havoc on your body. Toxic build-up is a problem for anyone with an autoimmune condition. This is why you must eat healthy.
For my patients with eczema or psoriasis, I recommend a healthy diet which includes a wide array of organic vegetables and fruit, organic lean proteins such as poultry, along with wild-caught fish, beans, legumes, and nuts.
Whole grains can be part of a healthy diet, but it’s important to note that hidden gluten intolerance often leads to chronically inflamed skin. Gluten is a sticky protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and some oat products. A person with gluten intolerance is unable to digest this protein and continued ingestion of this protein leads to intestinal and skin inflammation.
I recommend my patients with eczema and psoriasis try a gluten-free diet for a period of at least two months. This helps rule out underlying intolerance. It’s much easier to go gluten-free now than it was 10 years ago. Most grocery stores offer a wide variety of gluten-free food that is clearly labeled and more and more restaurants are offering gluten-free fare.
- Natural Remedies
The pain, inflammation, and itch of eczema and psoriasis can be relieved by taking a weekly Epsom salt bath. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate that helps soothe irritated skin while it draws toxins and impurities away. Patients with diabetes or allergic to sulfur should avoid Epsom salt baths. Pregnant women should also avoid using Epsom salt.
For patients who are unable to use Epsom salt, I recommend a sea salt bath. Simply pour in a couple of cups of large-grain sea salt under running water. Soak for twenty minutes. Gently towel dry. The salt helps dry out patches and relieves itching.
Baking soda can be another great home remedy for eczema and psoriasis. Simply mix enough baking soda and water to form a thick paste and place it on patches of itchy, inflamed skin. This will help dry out the patches while relieving itching and swelling.
Dietary supplements can play a critical role in healing your eczema and psoriasis or making it worse. For example, many commercial vitamins contain artificial flavorings, additives, and preservatives that may make inflammation worse!
To assist in optimizing the immune system and healing skin, I have recommended Diamond Nutritionals’ Foundation Vitamins for many years.
- Vitamin A – 7,500 IU
- Vitamin C – 500 mg
- Vitamin D3 – 500 IU
- Vitamin E – 100 IU
- Vitamin K – 50 mcg
- Thiamine – 25 mg
- Riboflavin – 25 mg
- Niacin – 25 mg
- Vitamin B6 – 38 mg
- Folic Acid – 400 mcg
- Vitamin B12 – 500 mcg
- Biotin – 200 mcg
- Panthothenic Acid – 150 mg
- Calcium – 100 mg
- Iodine – 113 mcg
- Magnesium – 200 mg
- Zinc – 10 mg
- Selenium – 100 mcg
- Copper – 1 mg
- Manganese – 2.5 mg
- Chromium – 200 mcg
- Molybdenum – 25 mcg
- Potassium – 50 mg
- Choline Bitartrate USP – 50 mg
- Inositol – 50 mg
- Mixed Tocopherols – 50 mg
- Lipoic Acid – 25 mg
- N-Acetyl-Cysteine USP – 25 mg
- Rutin – 25 mg
- Lutein – 3 mg
- Boron – 1.5 mg
- Lycopene – 1 mg
- Vanadyl Sulfate Hydrate – 1 mg
Diamond Nutritionals’ Skin, Hair, and Nails Formula
For eczema and psoriasis sufferers, I also add Diamond Nutritionals’ Skin, Hair, and Nails Formula. This formula contains a potent blend of natural ingredients designed to nourish and heal damaged skin, while strengthening brittle hair and nails as well.
- MSM – A compromised immune system means excess toxins building up in the skin and hair. MSM removes these toxins so your skin has a chance to heal.
- Horsetail Grass – Eczema and psoriasis sufferers often notice brittle nails and hair due to nutritional deficiencies. Horsetail grass contains silica, an essential nutrient that helps repair hair and nail damage while improving overall strength and vitality.
- Stinging Nettle Leaf – Stinging nettle leaf is a must for chronic skin inflammation. It also helps relieve asthmatic and allergic symptoms that often accompany eczema.
- Fo-Ti Root – Heals ruptured skin while also repairing brittle hair and nails.
- PABA – For psoriasis sufferers especially, stress can trigger a flare-up. PABA is a B-complex vitamin that helps your body better cope with everyday stressors.
- Biotin – Improves hair and nail strength.
- Selenium – This trace mineral has been shown to improve skin’s recovery time for burn patients. It can also help ease the inflammation and pain associated with chronic skin conditions.
- Betaine HCL – Poor digestion often leads to hyperactive immune system response. This natural digestive aid improves nutrient absorption and natural elimination, reducing flare-ups.
For eczema and psoriasis sufferers, a good omega-3 fatty acid supplement is an absolute must. It helps fight inflammation from the inside out and nourishes skin by improving moisture retention. Even if you’re already using a fish oil supplement, you may not be getting the proper nourishment your skin needs. Here’s why….
Your skin needs a potent combination of EPA and DHA to combat autoimmune-related inflammation. Fact is, most products may say they contain 1,000 mg. or 1,200 mg. on the front label, but on the back label the EPA and DHA may only add up to 300 mg. or so. The rest are nothing more than fillers!
In my experience, most of us need 1,000-4,000 mg. of combined EPA/DHA daily depending on the condition being treated. For my patients with inflammatory skin conditions, I recommend supplementing on the high side. So if you take 1-4 capsules of your favorite store-bought omega-3 1,000 mg. capsules, you may only be taking 300-1,200 mg. of DHA/EPA. Commercial omega-3 fatty acid supplements are so diluted you’d have to take double or triple the recommended dosage.
Some of my patients avoid taking omega-3 fish oil supplements because they just can’t stand the “repeat.” If burping and indigestion are a problem with your omega-3 supplement, it’s likely because it is not molecularly distilled. Molecular distillation removes both heavy metals and other impurities which can cause burping and indigestion.
Diamond Nutritionals’ Ultra Probiotic Formula
The development of eczema and psoriasis skin conditions have often been linked to low gut bacteria. Probiotics are the friendly bacteria that live in your gut. They help crowd out harmful bacteria while promoting healthy digestion and optimum nutrient absorption. Foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut contain some live active cultures, but not nearly enough to address a serious underlying skin condition or autoimmune disorder.
For my patients, I recommend Diamond Nutritionals’ Ultra Probiotic Formula, one packet daily for at least 8 weeks. Unlike other probiotic formulas on the market which only contain 1 or 2 active cultures in a low-dose capsule, each packet of Ultra Probiotic Formula contains 225 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) complete with six unique probiotic strains to populate your gut fast and relieve the itching and inflammation associated with eczema and psoriasis.
These strains include lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium lactis, lactobacillus salivarius, lactobacillus casei, and bifidobacterium bifidum.
Just as important as good nutrition is good skin care. Commercial lotions and creams often contain dyes, fragrances, and preservatives that will only aggravate inflamed and itchy skin. Furthermore, some cosmetic creams have been shown to increase the risk of cancer.
For safer alternatives, I recommend two of our natural formulations designed specifically for sensitive, problem skin. Soothing Skin Relief Gel contains sea algae extract and vitamin E for lasting relief from eczema and psoriasis flare-ups. It also contains aloe vera to soothe on contact and encourage healing.
For sensitive skin prone to eczema or psoriasis flare-ups, I also recommend our Antioxidant Soothing Mask. It contains alpha lipoic acid, a potent antioxidant that penetrates skin and reduces inflammation. It also contains sulfur to reduce surface irritation and grapefruit extract to combat bacteria.
Eczema and psoriasis don’t have to be life-long conditions. Using these natural remedies can help you beat the itch and inflammation so you can kick off the covers and show off that smooth, healed skin to the world!