Treating Eczema

There is no consensus on what the cause is for of the collection of symptoms referred to as eczema. There is no lack of speculation though. It’s either ‘genetic’, a nutritional deficiency, due to ‘food allergies’ or some variant of immunologic disorder. Or, all of the above plus a lot more.

The symptoms are real though, causing a great deal of distress. Childhood eczema is quite common, though the symptoms often reemerge later in life.

While there are various tests that might be employed, the Mayo Clinic states flatly “No lab test is needed to identify atopic dermatitis (eczema)”. Depending on the point of view, the range of treatments is very extensive. Some though stands out as showing some consistent efficacy and enjoying the favour of many clinicians. A few newer treatments stand out as promising.

It is easily observable that there is a seasonal variation in the expression of eczema symptoms. This has led to the employment of vitamin D during the winter months when things flare up. Numerous published studies support this. Here is an especially interesting one that found a synergistic effect of Vitamins D and E.

In 2011, a study was conducted to assess the effects of vitamins D and E supplementation in eczema patients. Separate vitamin D groups and vitamin E groups each saw an improvement in the intensity and amount of eczema around 35%. But together, when 1600 IU of vitamin D3 and 600 IU of vitamin E were given together, patients improved by 64%.

A more conventional survey study found Vitamin D effective:

In December 2016 a systematic review was conducted in order to compile results from various past studies on vitamin D and eczema. Researchers looked at four randomized controlled trials, and they were able to discover that serum vitamin D levels were generally lower in eczema patients, but especially so in children. And all studies they reviewed indicated that vitamin D helped to improve a patient’s eczema overall. Beyond Vitamin D and still considering the seasonal angle which applies to us all being in the northern latitudes, phototherapy is emerging as a useful treatment. Phototherapy is generally considered to be safe and well tolerated. Most studies report that is easy to undertake and adverse events are very low. Phototherapy can be administered either intermittently or continuously as a maintenance treatment. Treatment lamps are available from many manufacturers. The National Psoriasis Foundation provides a list of acceptable units.

Many official bodies acknowledge that adverse reactions to food insults are strongly correlated with eczema. The National Eczema Association states “A link between eczema and food allergy has been known for some time” They cite research that found that egg white was the most common allergen, followed by cow’s milk, and peanut. They observed that the more severe eczema, the stronger the correlation to food sensitivity, independent of genetic factors. 

Food Allergy Research and Education cite favourable a number of studies supporting the food – eczema relationship. One focuses on the delayed reaction that is common but complicates getting a true reading of the case. On the basis of results a food elimination diet is recommended.

Also, the Canadian CHILD Study through published research the findings which found that children who avoid cow’s milk products, egg, and peanut during the first year of life are at increased risk of allergic sensitization.

Cereal grains are also considered a big trigger or culprit in provoking eczema. Grains contain prolamin lectins which trigger autoimmune skin reactions and turn antibodies against skin enzymes; their lectins fan the fires of inflammation; their proteins provoke allergies. Lectins are found in the seeds of plants and they’re thought to have something to do with the survival of the seed. The way they’re believed to protect the seed is that they can cause considerable intestinal distress (diarrhea, nausea, bloating, vomiting, even death) to those who eat the seeds, in hopes of deterring the predator from coming back for more.

Lectins, when present in food stick into your small intestine and glom onto the brush border. They trick your body into taking it across the border of your intestine intact, where it is seen as a foreign invader by your immune system. Antibodies are created in response to the lectins, and unfortunately, lectins often look a lot like other parts of your body. Among the symptoms all this causes is persistent eczema. A lectin avoidance diet may eliminate this and other symptoms (there are many) they may otherwise provoke.

References:

1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ atopic-dermatitis-eczema/diagnosis-treatment/drc20353279

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20653487

3. https://www.vitamindwiki.com/Eczema+%28Atopic+D ermatitis%29+treated+by+1600+IU+of+vitamin+D+%E2 %80%93+meta-analysis+Dec+2016

4. .https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/ PMH0091221/

5. https://www.aad.org/practicecenter/quality/clinicalguidelines/atopic-dermatitis/phototherapy-andsystemic-agents

6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC4852987/

7. https://www.foodallergy.org/about-fare/blog/newresearch-on-food-allergies-and-atopic-dermatitis

8. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20171115/ Children-who-have-atopic-dermatitis-at-age-one-morelikely-to-develop-asthma-and-food-allergies.aspx