Dermatitis is characterised by dry, itchy, inflamed skin that sometimes sports blisters and ‘crusts’. There are numerous types of dermatitis, including eczema, but the underlying cause in all circumstances is the skin’s inability to repair damage to the skin barrier. Once this happens moisture leaves the skin and it becomes dry and scaly.
What are the Symptoms of Dermatitis?
The severity of a person’s symptoms can range from a small rash that causes mild irritation to weeping skin lesions that can cause extreme discomfort and scarring. Although there is no miracle cure for dermatitis natural therapies that can help manage it.
Natural Treatments for Dermatitis
- Acupuncture: To treat dermatitis, an acupuncturist aims to correct imbalances in the total body, not just the skin. They tailor treatments according to an individual’s specific condition, however, most people suffering from dermatitis have an imbalance of qi (energy). Treatments will likely include needling at points for moving and boosting the qi as well as clearing heat in the body. Your acupuncturist may also recommend herbs such as ginseng and licorice to boost the qi and regulate the immune system.
- Nutrition: Dermatitis can be triggered by certain foods, especially in children. If you know the food that inflames your dermatitis, remove it from your diet. Common triggers include dairy products, wheat, yeast and tomatoes. If you don’t know which specific food triggers your dermatitis it’s best to see a nutritionist or dietician who can help you eliminate particular foods. Adding essential fatty acids, Vitamins A, B and E and zinc to the diet can also help. Some people swear by natural yoghurt - it can be eaten and also smeared on the body – for its healing and soothing properties. You should always see a nutritionist or naturopath before eliminating any foods or adding supplements to your diet.
- Herbal medicine: Your herbalist will use plant-based remedies and extracts to help ease the symptoms of dermatitis. They may prescribe burdock and red clover to strengthen the liver and licorice root and calendula for their anti-inflammatory properties.
- Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy uses a range of plant-based essential oils to effect recovery and healing. Essentials oils may be beneficial in reducing inflammation and itching and may soothe and moisturise the skin. An aromatherapist might use geranium, neroli, lavender, myrrh and rose in their treatment.
- Homeopathy: Homeopathy uses specific remedies of plant and mineral extracts to stimulate the natural healing ability of the body. Each remedy is tailored to each individual but common prescriptions for treating dermatitis include graphites and sulphur.
Lifestyle Changes to Manage Dermatitis
Simple changes to your lifestyle can make a big improvement to your skin.
- Avoid the irritant: If you know which irritant causes your dermatitis, avoid it. Common irritants include cleaning products, detergents, soaps, rubber, metal (especially nickel), cosmetics.
- Avoid hot water: Take warm, not hot, baths or showers and don’t stay in for too long. Use soap-free products and pat dry, don’t rub. Apply moisturiser immediately and reapply several times throughout the day. If your skin is inflamed and irritated soaking in a bath with oatmeal or baking soda can help soothe your skin.
- Wear natural fibres: Choose clothing made from soft, smooth, natural fibres such as cotton and bamboo. Avoid tight-fitting, synthetic clothes. Always wash new clothes before wearing them. Use a mild washing powder and rinse thoroughly. Some people find that rinsing their washing twice is beneficial.
Dermatitis can be painful, irritating and embarrassing. Meditation and gentle exercise such as yoga or tai chi can also help reduce stress – a common cause of flare-ups. By incorporating changes into your life, you and your practitioner can help manage and improve your skin and your overall wellbeing.