Understanding Eczema & Atopic Dermatitis

Understanding What's Underneath

Eczema that occurs chronically may be more than just a skin condition. The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, a chronic disease. If you struggle with frequent flare-ups that just keep coming back, there may be a bigger story happening inside your body.

With atopic dermatitis, even when your skin looks clear, the inflammation may still be active under the surface, and your next flare-up may just be waiting to return. Some people always show signs of the disease.

The most obvious sign of atopic dermatitis is dry, itchy skin. Flare-ups are different for every person and can appear all over the body.

Some other common external symptoms include:

• Redness

• Oozing

• Swelling

• Scaly areas

• Crusting

• Thick skin

The rashes on the surface are only part of the story. The impact can go deeper than the skin, in fact the majority of people with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis report that the itch can delay falling asleep and occasionally or frequently wake them up at night. To really understand atopic dermatitis, you have to look at the deeper cause within your body.

Scratching the Surface

Atopic dermatitis is an immunological disease, which means it involves the immune system. With atopic dermatitis, your immune system is highly sensitive and can react to even the smallest allergens or irritants. This reaction can cause excess inflammation underneath your skin, which may lead to your frequent flare-ups. So those rashes you see on the surface are just the visible signs of a deeper inflammatory disease.

1. ITCH

In people with atopic dermatitis, immune cells in the deeper layers of your skin send inflammatory signals to the surface, causing the itchy rash you’re all too familiar with.  

2. SCRATCH

When you scratch, you can break down the outer layer of skin which allows germs, viruses and allergens to get in.

3. DAMAGED SKIN

In response to these invaders, your immune system continues to send signals to the surface, causing even more redness and itching.

4. RELEASE OF INFLAMMATORY SIGNALS

The more you scratch, the more your skin barrier breaks down, and the itch-scratch cycle continues.

Natural Remedies for Eczema:

Epsom salt is composed of magnesium sulfate, which is both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Using these salts in a nice relaxing bath will ease the pain and itch, and will also give you a good night sleep!

Tumeric is very helpful in treating skin disorders because it is filled with antioxidants and is also anti-inflammatory. You can take it in capsule form or by making a paste with coconut oil, and apply it directly to the skin.

Oatmeal is a wonderful anti-itch and soothing remedy for your inflamed skin. You can take an oatmeal bath, which will also soften your skin making it feel silky and smooth!

Apple cider vinegar can also be applied directly to the affected areas and does wonders in clearing up skin outbreaks and balancing your skin. 

Other remedies include tea tree oil, neem paste, and of course taking time to understand and address the underlying causes.

Ayurveda offers a gentle path of self-care, where you learn to balance your body and mind with daily practice and guidance.