Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition. It is generally chronic and characterized by dry, itchy, sometimes red patches that can weep when scratched. The management of eczema is often a long term process when the goal is to avoid band aid solutions and treat the root cause. Contributing factors are aplenty and unique to each individual. Commonly, eczema is found in the creases of the elbows, behind the knees, on the wrists and ankles however it can appear anywhere and in babies we often see it on their face.
If you are someone who has, or is suffering with eczema, you understand how frustrating, and even at times, debilitating, this condition can get. Treatment for eczema is unfortunately not a one size fits all approach. It is a complex disease that varies amongst individuals. One eczema sufferer’s trigger may not necessarily be the same as the next. Therefore, patience is a virtue when going through treatment, as it takes time and sometimes trial & error to get to the bottom of your eczema.
Causes of eczema can also vary, often factors include:
- Food intolerances or allergies
- Microbiome dysbiosis
- Bacterial overgrowths
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Overburdened liver
- Heavy Metals
- Chronic stress
- Immune dysregulation
- Intestinal permeability
Some of the main causes of eczema and often the missing links in conventional treatment are…
Intestinal dysbiosis or imbalances in the gut microbiome. This can include the presence of pathogens such as parasites, overgrowths of opportunistic bacteria and low levels of beneficial bacteria. These pathogens and overgrowths produce endotoxins that can damage the gut lining and impact nutrient absorption.
Compromised or reduced digestive capacity, such as low stomach acid or bile production, impacting the breakdown and absorption of nutrients needed to modulate inflammation and promote skin cell turnover and regeneration. This can result from a high level of circulating toxins causing liver burden or nutritional deficiencies such as zinc.
The gut is the foundation of our health and if there is inflammation in the gut it is often reflected on the skin. The gut is what separates the internal environment from the external and it needs to be in good shape to be able to effectively prevent the body from absorbing foreign substances. When the gut becomes damaged or compromised inflammation ensues and overtime this can lead to leaky gut. Leaky gut is when microscopic holes develop in the intestinal lining that allow partially digested food, microbes and toxins into the bloodstream. Skin redness is a telltale sign that there’s something going on in the gut.
Intestinal permeability or leaky gut which can arise from damage to the intestinal lining from pathogens or depleted levels of beneficial bacteria, nutritional deficiencies such as zinc, vitamin A and vitamin D and chronic stress. Dysbiosis and leaky gut are two major drivers behind food intolerances. Imbalances of bacteria in the stomach also release histamine and impact immune regulation / IgE response and thus causing an eczema response through increasing allergy/histamine levels.
In the clinic we like to follow an evidence-based approach and will often want to have our patients undergo some comprehensive studies to assess their gut health. This may be in the form of a microbiome mapping test or comprehensive digestive stool analysis. These tests can give us direct insight into the gut health including, but not limited to:
- The balance of beneficial bacteria
- Presence of pathogenic or opportunistic species
- Presence of parasites
- Ability to breakdown fats, proteins & carbohydrates
- Intestinal permeability markers
- Inflammatory markers
- Coeliac markers
- histamine or amine intolerances
These tests can give us a more targeted treatment approach by taking out the guess work and potentially uncovering the driving factor for our patient’s eczema.
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Stay happy and healthy,
Balanced Beings x