Sensitive skin can show itself in a number unpleasant ways, which are often embarassing and uncomfortable. Some people just get a little redness and irritation, while others are cursed with full blown eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis which can feel hopeless. Despite what dermatologists often prescribe, cortizone steroids, antihistamines and antibiotics, they just treat the symptoms. I'm not saying to avoid them all together, they may have a time and place, but lets focus on the cause of eczema and sensitive skin to better understand how to eliminate it all together.
The Sensitive Skin
What is dermatitis?
Dermatitis is any red or itchy inflammation of the skin all caused by irritants or allergens. Eczema is a type of dermatitis(atopic dermatitis). Other kinds include contact dermatitis, which is caused by the skin coming into direct contact with an allergen like laundry detergent or cosmetics. Examples of contact allergens could include soaps, perfumes, metals, plants, and more. Sensitive skin can be categorized as dermatitis since sensitive skin is caused by irritants or allergens, including foods.
What is eczema?
Eczema is usually red, itchy, irritated and inflamed skin. It can look different for different people but some of the symptoms include:
- dry skin
- sensitive skin
- itchy skin
- red and inflamed skin
- dark patches of skin
- rough skin
- leathery or scaly areas of skin
- swelling, oozing or crusting of skin
Sometimes the itching can get so bad you may itch until it bleeds. Patches of eczema can occur on different parts of the body including eczema on face. Eczema occurs when the body is allergic to certain foods, allergens or environmental factors. Eczema causes can be hereditary and exacerbated by food allergies. Food intolerances or sensitivities usually manifest themselves on your body from the torso up, especially on your face.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is different from eczema in that it is a disease that starts below the skin's surface. The immune system is overactive which produces inflammation which can cause skin cells to produce more rapidly than usual. Because skin cells cannot shed skin cells this rapidly, the cells pile up on top of each other and form thick, red, flaky, itchy patches.
The anti-inflammatory Diet
Anti-inflammatory Foods & Eczema
Topical eczema treatments can only go so far to relieve symptoms but will never cure your eczema or dermatitis. Try a holistic approach, by figuring out if something in your diet is causing your eczema. Often, highly allergenic foods cause eczema, such as soy, gluten, dairy, nuts, eggs or shellfish. You can try an elimination diet, omitting one type of food at a time for a 3 week period to see if it clears up your eczema. If your eczema disappears, you know that food was causing the eczema.
You may also ask your doctor about allergen testing... ask about both allergy testing and food intolerance/sensitivitiy testing. Intolerances and sensitivities often come with a delayed reaction. ie, eczema... unlike food allergies that often trigger a reaction within minutes or hours of eating the food.
Note: Because sensitive foods create inflammation within your body, food sensitivities may not only manifest themselves on your skin, but within your body. IG issues, weight issues, joint pain, athsma and more could be caused by foods.
Anti-inflammatory Foods & Psoraisis
Psoriasis is believed to be genetic but triggered by the exposure to certain external factors. Meaning you have to have the right combination of genes and be exposed to the triggers in order to get psoriasis. Stress, injury to skin, medications, infection and foods can all be triggers but it's different for everyone.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease, so if we follow the logic, eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help. Foods that cause inflammation include fatty red meats, processed foods, sugar, dairy and nightshade foods.
"A number of studies suggest that psoriasis and celiac disease share common genetic and inflammatory pathways. Research further suggests that having psoriasis about doubles your chance of being diagnosed with celiac disease." - psoriasis.org
Despite the fact that there isn't any published evidence, many people have gone gluten free to ease their psoriasis and swear by it. If you suspect gluten could be a factor, talk to your doctor about testing and trying an elimination diet.
Anti-inflammatory Foods & Sensitive skin
These anti-inflammatory foods are high in anti-oxidants, essential fatty acids and minerals:
- Leafy Greens
- Fresh fruits(avoid high sugar fruits if you have candida)
- Bok Choy
- Coconut oil
- Chia Seeds
- Flax Seeds
These inflammatory foods can exacerbate your inflamed skin:
- Refined Sugars
- Red Meat
- Artificial addatives
- Processed Foods (and fast foods)
- Saturated Fats
- Vegetable Oil
- Fried Foods
- Artificial Sweeteners
Topical and Natural Eczema Treatments
Dermatologists will no doubt push topical medications, corticolsteroids and more, but I suggest letting nature take the reighns. There are a number of natural, plant-based ingredients that are anti-inflammatory, ant-allergenic and soothing to sensitive skin. The first that come to mind are the class of blue essential oils that contain azulene. These blue oils are among the most powerful naturals for healing eczema. In addition to the blue oils, there are a number of carrier oils and essential oils which reduce inflammation. Using these oils in combination can greatly help to manage the symptoms of your eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis, reducing redness, itching, flaking and discomfort.
Blue Azulene Oils
- German Blue Chamomile Essential Oil
This beneficial essential oil is a cousin of the daisy, known to be gentle and relaxing. It penetrates deep into the layers of your skin where its concentrated anti-inflammatory properties can restore and soothe irritated skin, burns, and other angry conditions. German chamomile oil has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties making it perfect for sensitive skin prone to inflammation, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and breakouts.
- Blue Yarrow Essential Oil
This sweet aromatic herbal is one of the most powerful natural astringents. It shrinks the skin and promotes skin healing making it fabulous for acne and inflammation. It is a powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antiseptic but is also helpful at regenerating skin cells. It too is fantastic as an eczema treatment, healing all sensitive skin issues including dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema.
- Blue Tansy Essential Oil
One of the most popular and rare oils today, Blue Tansy has a warm and herbaceous fragrance that encourages relaxation.In addition to being an aromatic relaxant, blue tansy has analgesic, anesthetic, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergenic properties which neutralize and stop histamine production to help reduce skin reactions to allergens... it's ultra soothing for the skin. It’s useful for itchy dry skin, bruising, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, damaged, inflamed, and sunburned skin.
Carrier oils for Eczema
- Baobab Oil - Rated 2 - Baobab is an excellent moisturizer and rejuvenator of skin cells. It's high in anti-oxidants that prevent free radicals that cause premature aging. Baobab is anti-inflammatory because of it's content of omega fatty acids making it great for sensitive, inflamed skin prone to allergenic conditions such as dermatitis and eczema.
- Mongongo Oil - Also known as Manketti oil, it is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids which create a protective layer on the surface of the skin and act as a barrier, holding in moisture to the skin. This diminishes the appearance of wrinkles and keeps the skin glowing. Mongongo is a sun protectant full of anti-oxidants that prevent and heal sun damage. It's high in lineolic acid which is beneficial for the treatment of acne and moisture balance. It reduces inflammation which can calm eczema, acne and allergenic skin sensitivities.
- Argan Oil - Rated 0 - My personal favorite! Make sure to buy certified organic, cold pressed, unrefined Moroccan argan oil. Argan oil is high in vitamin E, essential acids and retinol which combat free radicals that damage skin cells and cause premature aging. It's highly anti-inflammatory and will help ease eczema, psoriasis, acne and sensitivity issues. Argan oil deeply penetrates skin and is absorbed easily so it won't leave you feeling greasy. Argan oil makes a great after-sun treatment due to the high amount of vitamin E, which can heal UV damage. It also restores elasticity and reduces wrinkles. Talk about liquid gold!
- Rosehip Seed Oil - Rated 1 - Rosehip seed oil is known to skin tissue, including acne, burns, and stretch marks. It is high in essential fatty acids, Vitamin A and Vitamin E which promote healthy skin, promote collagen and elastin levels and regenerates skin cells. It's a perfect oil for deep wrinkles, dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis. Make sure you buy unrefined, cold pressed rosehip oil.
- Sea Buckthorn - Rated 1 - This deep amber or red oil will regenerate skin cells as well as combat wrinkles, dryness and burns. It's high in anti-oxidants and beta carotene and is beneficial for inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema.
- Cucumber seed oil - Rated 1 - Cucumber seed oil treats dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, acne and sunburns. It absorbs reletively quickly and keeps skin soft and moisturized without leaving it greasy. It encourages cell regeneration, reduces wrinkles, stretch marks and guards against free-radicals.
- Maracuja Oil - Rated 1-2 - Also known as passion fruit flower oil, it's agreat anti-inflammatory & anti-bacterial, known for it's healing emollient properties. It heals dry skin, inflammation, reduces swelling, anti-acne, anti-aging, wrinkles, skin rejuvenation, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and all types of skin conditions.
- Pumpkin Seed Oil - Pumpkin seed oil is packed with vitamins and nutrients for a wealth of beauty benefits. Znice and vitamin C promote collagen production and fight acne. It's also a potent source of vitamin E which works against free-radicals which cause premature aging. Pumpkin seed is loaded with essential fatty acids that help to balance skin moisture without leaving an oil slick. This oil naturally exfoliates skin cells to reveal fresh, new skin. The anti-inflammatory properties of this oil soothe and protect skin from irritating conditions like eczema and allergies.
- Jojoba Oil - Rated 2 - Jojoba oil has a fatty acid profile that is almost identical to our own sebum, making it easily and quickly absorbable. Because it hydrates it can actually help calm overactive sebaceous glands that go into overdrive when skin is parched. It's an excellent emollient and helps treat irritating skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. Jojoba can seal in moisture and create a barrier against harsh elements and external toxins.
- Coconut oil - Unrefined, gold pressed, organic. High in vitamin E, anti-aging, anti-bacterial, healing, moisturizing, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory
Essential oils for eczema
- Bergamot - Bergamot is cold-pressed oil from the peel of the bergamot fruit(a cross between a lemon and an orange). It's a mood enhancer and is especially wonderful at healing acne and infected pores due to it's anti-bacterial qualities. effective toner and skin balancer as well as a treatment for eczema and psoriasis, scars and dark spots.
- Frangipani/Plumeria Absolute - The scent of frangipani is pure divinity. It's an excellent moisturizer to and calm irritated, dry, and dull skin. Frangipani's astringent qualities reduces acne breakouts and redness while calming rashes and eczema. It's able to soothe sensitive skin with it's amazing anti-inflammatory powers and improve skin luster.This sweet oil promotes positive self-confidence and is uplifting to your overall outlook.
- Violet Leaf absolute - it is highly anti-inflammatory, soothing and cooling but also makes an excellent moisturizer for very dry skin. Violet leaf also gently tightens pores and is useful to control acne, eczema and dermatitis. Violet leaf has also been known to calm nerves and anxiety for more restful sleep.
- Helichrysum - The flavanoids in helichrysum are effective against bacteria and irritating skin conditions such as eczema. It can also block UV damage that causes aging. It has strong anti-bacterial, Anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties that heal acne, redness and inflammation. Helichrysum is highly regenerating and healing, great for mature skin, wrinkles, cellulite, acne, dilated pores, stretch marks and circles under the eyes.
- Carrot Seed - Not one of my favorite oils due to it's pungent smell, but beneficial nonetheless. Beta-carotene is a powerful anti-oxidant which protect skin from damage from UV rays and pollutants. Carrot seed oil is a powerful skin rejuvenator. It's also high in vitamins E & C which moisturize, heal and regenerate, a big reason it's commonly used to treat eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis. Carrot seed oil stimulates cell regeneration and heals damages while balancing moisture.
- Tea Tree - The most common and well known use for tea tree oil is the treatment of acne. It's powerful antiseptic, anti-fungal, and anti-viral qualities encourage healing. Unlike benzoyl peroxide, it doesn't cause redness and peeling but it's equally as powerful. It's also effective against inflamed skin issues such as eczema and psoriasis.
- Rosemary - Rosemary oil has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that help reduce eczema, dermatitis and acne. It also rehydrates and tones skin while fighting wrinkles.
- Peppermint - Peppermint oil soothes inflammation and can calm irritating skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. It simultaneously brightens up dull skin and prevents clogged pores and over production of sebum.
The Argan Republic customer's swear by our Blue Serenity Collection, which are carefully formulated with many of the beneficial sensitive skin oils above.