Childhood Eczema & Gut Health
Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) now affects 1 in 5 children in the UK. If your child is one of the 20% diagnosed with this condition, they’ll suffer from cracked skin, redness, bacterial infection, itching and scratching. I wonder if that all sounds familiar? Add to that broken sleep (as skin gets hotter and itchier at night), digestive problems and even asthma and allergies, and it all adds up to not much fun for anyone.
What exactly is eczema?
The skin is the body's largest organ, providing a strong barrier to protect it from infections and irritation. It’s made up of a thin outer layer, an elastic middle layer, and a fatty layer at the deepest level. Each layer contains skin cells, water and fats - all of which help maintain and protect the skin.
Healthy skin is moisturised by fats and oils and plumped up with adequate water levels. In eczema sufferers, the skin fails to produce the necessary levels of fats and oils, and it is less able to retain water. As a result, the body's protective layer isn't as good as it could be.
How do you know if your child has eczema?
You might notice itchy patches on the hands, elbows, and in the "bending" areas of the body, such as the inside of the elbows and back of the knees, the neck. But eczema can appear anywhere, including the armpits, chest and eyelids.
When working with clients who are worried about their children’s skin, I always like to get clear on a few things first. These are some of the common issues:
Family history: in many cases, eczema can be genetic and is common in other family members, or they may have other atopic conditions like asthma or hay fever.
Recurrent illness: dry skin is more liable to crack and as a result, infections, bugs and germs can get into the cracks.
Products overload: many everyday products can aggravate the condition, as some soaps and cleaning liquids can remove oil from the skin.
Child born by C-section: often children who are born via C-section have lower levels of beneficial bacteria, meaning they have a weaker immune system and are more prone to inflammatory skin conditions.
The good news is many children will grow out of their condition. For those that don’t, eczema can be treated by adapting your child’s diet. Here are my top seven tips:
1. Ditch gluten, sugar and dairy
Eczema is often a sign of a ‘leaky gut’, a condition where undigested foods and bacteria end up passing through the gut lining into the bloodstream. These toxic substances result in inflammation. One way to deal with this is to remove triggers that make inflammation worse – such as gluten, sugar and dairy – from your child’s diet.
2. Try a food intolerance test
Food sensitivity could also be a trigger for eczema. Taking a home food intolerance test and cutting out certain foods could help ease symptoms. Ask me about food intolerance testing.
3. Start taking fish oils
Research has shown that fish oils can reduce inflammation and they also have the added bonus of creating a calming effect – much needed when your child’s condition is stressing him / her out.
4. Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet
Bring in plenty of healthy oils containing anti-inflammatory omega 3, including oil fish, and nuts like walnuts, almonds and pecans. Use herbs as much as you can in your cooking. Many have medicinal benefits. Berry fruits, sweet potato, broccoli, artichokes, garlic, onions, beetroot, avocados and red apples have particular anti-inflammatory properties.
5. Up your child’s nutrients
Low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of allergic skin diseases, so taking a supplement can counteract this. Vitamin A has also been shown to have a significant impact on mucosal immunity.
Recent studies have found that breastfeeding (full of restorative colostrum) could reduce the risk of eczema in children by over 50%! You can also buy a colostrum supplement to support your child’s gastro intestinal healing.
6. Take probiotics
Probiotics are great for a healthy gut, and have been known to reduce the severity of eczema. As well as supporting the immune system, they may also regulate hypersensitivity responses.
7. Consult an expert
Making sense of all the contributing factors around childhood eczema isn’t easy. It can be overwhelming and frustrating, especially when you’re trying everything, but nothing seems to make a difference. That’s where I come in. Book in a call with me today on 07876 686749 and let’s talk through how we can overhaul your child’s diet and start tackling his / her eczema at the root cause.