Eczema, aka “atopic dermatitis”, is one of those poorly understood skin conditions. The cause is truly not known, though assumed to have a genetic and environmental component.
This article will attempt to explain the likely cause and provide hope for the hopeless. That is, we believe there is not only “treatment” for this and many other poorly understood skin conditions, but that a “cure” exists. So for the sake of this article, let’s assume the same basic principles exist whether you are talking about:
- Atopic Dermatitis
- Contact Dermatitis
- Xerotic Dermatitis
- Seborrhoeic Dermatitis
- Lichen Planus
The same truths discussed not only apply for these, but many other skin conditions that aren’t listed.
Interesting Medical Fact: Skin and gut conditions top the list for the number of named conditions that are poorly understood and have no known cause.
- patches of dry thickened skin
- patches of scaly skin
- Redish brown and even greyish in color
- crusty skin that may leak fluid
- hands, neck, face, and legs, are common areas
- Can occur anywhere on the body
To start, lets consider an important definition for the discussion:
Allergy – an over-reactive immune response to a substance usually considered harmless.
Most all poorly understood skin conditions involve either an overactive or insufficient response of the immune system. One way you might relate to this is when you are around strong fragrances when you have a cold. At such a time, your immune system is functioning at a different level and a fragrance which does not usually cause a response suddenly causes your throat to have a dry itch triggering an uncontrollable cough as if there was a pepper flake stuck in there.
People that have over-reactive skin conditions tend to be in a similar situation; only, instead of their throat demonstrating a response, it is the skin. Like the person with the cold, there are times it is more demonstrative. However, the condition tends to be chronic with frequent eruptions and patches that never go away.
There are many temporary treatments for skin conditions including both medicated and natural topical creams or powders. But, typically, even the best natural healing topical cream will only provide temporary results. That is, as soon as you stop using the cream, the conditions return because it hasn’t addressed the actual cause.
What Causes Eczema?
Remember, whether we are talking about eczema or any other poorly understood skin condition, the actual causes are not known. But if you are the one suffering with this troublesome condition, consider this possible cause and see if you can relate to it.
You have probably heard that your skin is the largest organ of the body. This may be true in pure weight. But did you know that “The absorptive surface area of the small intestine is actually about 250 square meters (almost 2,700 square feet) – the size of a tennis court!” (1) And there are many other organs with extensive surfaces that make up the digestive system, the path that food takes from the time it enters the mouth until the waste exits out the rear.
To make the matter a little confusing for the moment, let’s consider all of these organs as one. That is, the skin, guts, and every “external body surface”.
Did you just refer to the guts as an “external body surface”?
Imagine for a moment that I am holding a balloon in my hands that is full of air. I then take my two pointer fingers from opposite sides of the balloon and approximate them to the middle of the balloon where they firmly meet. When I do this, are my fingers inside the balloon or outside of the balloon? They are still outside of the balloon since there is a rubber balloon barrier separating them from the inside of the balloon where the air is.
In the same way, when you eat food, in enters your guts but is really still outside of your body. You see, the food has to be digested and pass through the intestinal walls (or other digestive system barriers) to actually get inside your body – where your blood can carry the nutrients to the various cells that will eventually use them.
What is the point? The digestive system is a barrier that transmits substances from one side to the other JUST LIKE THE SKIN. It was once thought that the skin was a barrier to keep all things outside of the body. Of course it was understood that substances could escape the body through the skin. But now, even drug companies are selling roll-on drugs such as hormone replacements that get put on your skin to enter your body and affect hormone levels within the body.
Both the SKIN AND GUT are two way barriers that transmit substances in and out of the body and THEY WORK TOGETHER.
Another way of saying this is “If you want to heal one (the skin), you must heal the other (the gut).
Have you ever heard of a “Leaky Gut”? The best understood explanation is that the probiotic layer of the gut is damaged and the immediate surface beneath the probiotic layer is inflamed. These surfaces in their damaged state then leak foods through them before they are finished being processed in the gut. They then enter the body (bloodstream) in a larger form than intended. The body, in response to this, has an immune system reaction, much like an allergy.
Is it possible that your gut is inflamed and leaking? Might your body always be in this excessive inflammatory immune response that is being revealed in your skin… since the skin and gut work together as one organ?
Discussing the gut healing diet is a lengthy discussion that I’ll save for another time. One thing is certain, addressing the diet will have tremendous benefits for healing the skin. But, in the meantime… you might need quick topical results. Which topical cream is best for your condition?
Since skin conditions usually involve allergic like responses, it may be best to use a simple formula that does not have too many extras. Certainly avoid fragrances and chemical preservatives. But your skin may also be sensitive to natural healing topicals including lavender essential oil and manuka honey.
Aloe vera is one of the most healing plants known and few people have allergies to it. Coconut oil is also a low allergen food and an excellent healing ingredient for the skin. Therefore I recommend our basic Stockton Aloe 1 Youth-Derm® Aloe Cream. The “Ultra Healing” formula has additional natural anti-aging ingredients that may be beneficial. However, with immune involved skin conditions, it is best to keep it plain and simple.
This content of this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or condition and is not a substitute for visiting a qualified healthcare professional.