Itchy itchy scratchy scratchy

My personal passion for naturopathic medicine developed due to my own struggles with atopic dermatitis, or eczema.

Dry skin patches as typically occur in eczema, or atopic dermatitis

For those of you who are unfamiliar with these terms, atopic dermatitis or eczema is a condition where the skin is very dry and itchy, of which the itching can cause further rashes initiating an itch-rash cycle. For sufferers, it is incredibly difficult to stop scratching once they start as the itch really is from within, and as such topical supports such as cortisone, Elidel, and Protopic can be helpful and soothing but of course do have side-effects. Also, the source of the itch is never addressed with these interventions as they can reduce inflammation ( cortisone ) and calm an overactive immune system ( Elidel and Protopic ) from the skin surface. While this does allow improved sanity, we have to wonder : what initiates this itching ? Can we get long-term reduction of itching triggers ?

I wrote about this recently, the connection between atopic dermatitis and the innate immune system, which if you are interested, please click here. Here is my short and quick synopsis for those who are interested but would like a summary:

  1. Our skin provides a barrier to the outside world, and the innate immune system ( the part of our immune system that we are born with, that responds quickly to “ foreign invaders”  such as bacteria or viruses on the surface ) is also found in the lungs and the gastrointestinal tract
  2. The skin and the gastrointestinal tract “communicate with one another”
  3. If we can influence the gastrointestinal tract by emphasizing anti-inflammatory and immune-stabilizing mechanisms, then we can improve the skin indirectly even when using medications on the skin surface.

There are several anti-inflammatory and immune-mediating things that can support our immune system and in turn, our skin from a deeper level. High potency omega-3 fish oil, excellent and specific probiotic strains ( good bacteria ), and vitamin D can get us started on improved health. Also, a more supportive diet for skin conditions which I will elaborate on in a future post. There are many causes and triggers for atopic dermatitis, however thinking below the surface of the skin is really the best way to get long-term relief.

I will continue to discuss more over the coming months—stay tuned.

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