Eczema is known as an atopic dermatitis and it’s recognized by a patchy rash that’s red, dry, and often itchy. The typical approach to treating eczema is with topical creams. However, the rash itself isn’t the real problem that needs to be addressed. Eczema is actually an external symptom of an internal dysfunction. The only way to fully heal your child’s symptoms is to address the underlying internal root cause of the issue.
This means the only effective way to treat eczema is from the inside out.
A 2-pronged approach
The proper approach to healing eczema needs to address 2 key components.
External: The skin’s microbiome (the community of bacteria and other microbes living on the skin) plays a key role in the manifestation of eczema. Topical products are often the first thing a parent reaches for and while they can help calm the ‘symptoms’, they don’t cure the underlying cause.
Internal: Topical treatments are really only effective once internal healing has begun.
1. First, let’s cover topical creams
The widely varying recommendations for topical eczema creams can feel overwhelming. When looking for a topical cream, try not to make yourself crazy with the selection.
No other topical product I’ve seen provides more effective relief than pure pharmaceutical-grade lanolin. Lanolin is the top recommendation for breastfeeding mothers with dry, cracked nipples and I can’t recommend this product enough for eczema. It offers a protective barrier and locks moisture into the skin. Every client I’ve recommended it to has called it a miracle cream. While nothing you use externally will be a cure, lanolin can offer wonderful topical support that helps minimize discomfort while you work on healing your child’s eczema internally.
Just a warning, it’s very thick, tacky and waxy. Don’t let the texture dissuade you from using it liberally. I recommended a thick application in the morning, before bed, and after bathing or swimming.
Brand I recommend: Lanolin
Other products that help the skin retain moisture
All of these are great options with their own benefits. Some people find they work well alone, but many people usually benefit from some combination.
These are also fantastic for applying directly after bathing or swimming to restore moisture in the skin. Bathing often exaggerates eczema because it removes the natural protective oils from the skin. I also suggest putting lanolin cream on eczema patches before swimming in chlorinated water to protect it from being exposed to the chemicals, which further dries out the skin.
Our own incredibly successful combo
My son developed food sensitivities that resulted in eczema and we were able to completely heal his patches in just two months by addressing both the internal and external.
We had incredible success with 1 drop of lavender oil mixed with 1 tsp of organic coconut oil applied after a bath. Wait for the oil to soak in a little (5-10 minutes), then apply the pharmaceutical-grade lanolin to ‘seal’ moisture into the skin.
Topical creams to avoid
When treating eczema, the skin’s microbiome needs to be supported and nourished. However, one of the biggest concerns with most topical creams is that the preservatives they contain kill beneficial bacteria, even in those creams sold specifically to treat eczema.
Petroleum jelly, Vaseline, Aquaphor (also known as mineral oil, or paraffin)
It’s a byproduct of oil refining that contains compounds that are harmful to your child’s health. Even more concerning, it can cause collagen to breakdown, the opposite of what anyone with eczema is trying to achieve.
Steroid cream, hydrocortisone cream
These creams include chemicals that carry side effects with their use. They’re also petroleum-based. They often help clear the eczema but don’t heal the root cause. Use sparingly and only when absolutely necessary.
Finding safe skin care
The Environmental Working Group’s site Skin Deep is a great resource when deciding about the toxicity of your children’s (and your) skin care and body products.
2. How to heal internally
The truth is, while many different topical products will probably help you reduce the external symptoms. Nothing will help your child’s eczema more than healing holistically from the inside out.
My new guide Feeding The Sensitive Child provides the exact protocol that I’ve been using with my clients for years (and even my own son!).
This guide shows you how to heal eczema by: