Eczema: the ‘itch-scratch’ cycle

Eczema, including dermatitis, is a chronic allergic and inflammatory condition of the skin characterised by itching, swelling, redness and inflamed skin that follows a pattern of exacerbations and remissions.  Enter the ‘itch-scratch’ cycle.

The ‘itch-scratch’ cycle explained
The ‘itch-scratch’ cycle is a vicious cycle. Itching is triggered as your immune system comes into contact with an allergen, where it quickly produces large quantities of defence molecules including histamine and other inflammatory mediators, such as immunoglobulin E (IgE). Scratching irritates your skin, which, in turn, increases the level of inflammation and worsens the symptoms. Prolonged scratching leads to skin damage, compromising your skin’s barrier function, which increases your risk of infection, and your skin may become thick and lichenified.

Relieving mild eczema
Firstly, it’s important to identify which allergens trigger your eczema so that you can take evasive action. Secondly, it’s important to strengthen your immune defences and to relieve the symptoms. There are a few important herbs and nutrients that can help with this:

  • Echinacea
    Traditionally used for the relief of mild eczema and mild dermatitis and helps support healthy immune system function. Echinacea is considered an immune modulator that dampens the overactive immune response often seen in allergic conditions.
  • Omega 3, 6 & 9 fatty acids
    A combination of omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids derived from Flaxseed, Evening primrose and Fish oils assists in the relief of minor skin conditions and helps in the management of dry skin. Omega’s 3, 6 and 9 may help to relieve the symptoms of mild eczema.
  • Probiotics
    Support normal healthy immune system function by helping to re-establish friendly intestinal flora and inhibit the growth of unwanted intestinal flora to help maintain balanced, healthy intestinal flora.
  • Vitamin C
    An essential component in the production of collagen, vitamin C helps maintain connective tissue, for the maintenance of healthy skin. Vitamin C helps support healthy immune system function and provides natural antihistamine activity, helping to maintain healthy histamine levels.
  • Zinc
    Helps support healthy immune system function and skin. A zinc deficiency is linked to the development of mild dermatitis. Zinc is an antioxidant that helps protect the body from free radical damage and oxidative stress.

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