As a world-renowned sensitive skin expert, eczema is something MV founder Sharon McGlinchey encounters daily and has years of success in treating. This month - being Eczema Awareness month - we sat down with Sharon and Nutritionist Emma Flint to discuss their tips for treating eczema from the inside AND the outside.
Plus, read on to discover our oatmeal ‘bomb’ recipe and instructions to soothe your skin in a bath OR shower.
Eczema is more than annoying. It can be a debilitating lifelong condition which can impact your confidence and quality of life - and it’s surprisingly common. 1 in 3 Australian children, and 1.6 million Australians overall are affected and of these, 1 in 5 suffer from a moderate to severe form of the condition. It shouldn’t be something you just have to ‘put up with,’ yet science has been slow to provide real, long-term solutions for sufferers.
Common triggers for the condition include stress, temperature fluctuations, and allergens like dust. Sufferers of eczema can experience flare ups in winter when the heater is turned on, or during summer if they are affected by heat and humidity - it’s kind of a lose-lose situation, in that respect! People of all age groups and ethnicities can be affected by eczema and though Australia has one of the highest incidences of eczema in the world, very few Australians are aware of the best practice for dealing with eczema.
So, what do our experts advise?
SHARON MCGLINCHEY’S ECZEMA TIPS
“Always seek professional help for eczema first be it a nutritionist, a naturopath or a holistic health practitioner,” she advises. Once you’ve done this, establish a gentle, natural skincare regime following these tips;
Shield the skin
Start by spritzing the skin with the Rose Hydrating Mist. Follow with the Rose Soothing & Protective Moisturiser applied to damp skin as you normally would. This encourages absorption and locks in a valuable layer of moisture which is essential for eczema sufferers. Wait one minute for everything to properly absorb then add another layer of Rose Moisturiser.
“This isn’t something I’d recommend for normal skin,” says Sharon, “but for eczema prone skin, it’s critical.”
Nourish the skin
Anyone who's ever used a topical steroid cream will realise that it really thins the skin barrier, rendering it more fragile and dry. To nourish and repair the skin, Sharon recommends applying the Daily Soother Booster, a go-to and essential that behaves as a protective glove. It creates a soothing balm for the skin, helping it to repair and strengthen.
Add an extra layer of protection
Sharon considers the MultiBALM to be a “one-pot” wonder and a secret weapon to amazing skin. It is especially suitable for those with eczema. With key ingredients calendula, camellia and seabuckthorn, the formula encourages healing and calmness. Simply melt in between the pads of your fingers, and smooth over the face.
EMMA FLINT’S TOP 3 ECZEMA TIPS
Emma Ellice-Flint of Emma’s Nutrition is a qualified nutritionist, nutritional therapist and experienced chef. She seeks to combine science, research and the deliciousness of food together to help women embrace change.
When it comes to eczema and what might be causing it, there are lots of directions a person might investigate - what they eat/how their gut functions, what they put on their skin/the shampoo and the washing detergent they use/the clothes and jewellery they wear, hormone balance, stress management, sleep habits, genetics, and exercise styles.
Gut Health Connection
When someone tells me they have eczema, I often look to their gut health as one of the clues as to why. This is because dysbiosis in the gut can lead to many seemingly unrelated symptoms, including skin conditions.
For this reason, if you suffer from eczema it may help to start with incorporating live fermented foods into your everyday eating. I suggest daily one tablespoon of live sauerkraut and its juice with a meal. If you can tolerate dairy*, then approximately 200g of natural unsweetened kefir is a great option - if not, a 250ml glass of live, low-sugar (5g or less of sugar per 100mls) kombucha daily can be substituted.
With fermented foods it is best to start small, choose just one type and work up to the above over a couple of weeks.
Equally as beneficial is feeding the gut microbiome. Start by eating more plant food - think vegetables, pulses/legumes, nuts/seeds, herbs/spices, whole grains and fresh fruit. I also recommend incorporating 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed into one meal each day; I like to stir it into some kefir, rippled with mashed blueberries.
With some people, stress seems to cause a flare up in their eczema symptoms. Whether this is because when we are stressed we tend to change our food, sleep, and exercise habits - or not, it seems to make a difference for a person to determine what their reaction is like during times of stress, and how they could change that or help themselves through it.
Exercise, sleep habits, mindfulness, meditation, community and nourishing food can all support this. Nourishing foods that are particularly helpful are anti-inflammatory foods such as extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, oily fish (if you are not vegetarian/vegan), avocado, and generally plant-focused eating.
Unsweetened natural fermented dairy foods, such as kefir, are a powerhouse of beneficial probiotic microbes. They enhance gut function and digestion and help support our own gut microbiota to thrive. I find in my work, when it comes to eczema, sometimes dairy foods can exacerbate symptoms, but also sometimes, if dairy foods are taken out of the diet, it makes no difference to symptoms.
So don’t assume dairy foods are an issue. Instead seek out a qualified health professional to do an elimination diet with. Remember, if it makes no beneficial or noticeable difference in symptoms to avoid dairy foods, then, unless you are vegan, there’s no need to avoid eating them ‘just in case’.
You might have heard that bathing in oatmeal is good for eczema, but weren’t sure to start. It sounds a little messy, but with our clever hack, it doesn’t have to be! Make it easier and more convenient to use this treatment by preparing 'oatmeal bombs' in advance.
You will need;
- an inexpensive pair of stockings
- some organic uncontaminated/gf oats.
- A bath/shower!
- Place a hand inside a stocking. Once you reach the toe, with your hand still inside the stocking grab a handful of oats and remove your hand, while turning the stocking inside out.
- Tie a knot to form an oatmeal bomb, then cut and repeat until you have approximately 10-12 oatmeal bombs.
- Store in a dry place and keep on hand to help relieve some of the symptoms associated with eczema and dermatitis such as itching, burning and tightness.
- To use, place an oatmeal ball in a warm (not hot) bath or take in the shower and use like a sponge – cleansing the body while soothing the skin.