Eczema: A Reader Needs Our Help!
Eczema can be one of those real eff-my-life conditions. Sometimes it behaves similarly to an allergy, and even shows up in conjunction with other reactions. Yet in many cases it has no known cause at all. Which offers a whole lot of shrugs to those who suffer from it.
My husband, we think, used to get it on his scalp. Never officially diagnosed, it would come and go. When I forced clean products on him, it seemed to help, but didn’t eliminate the problem completely. Then one day he shaved his head and stopped using shampoo entirely, and boom, it totally disappeared.
My lay theory there: It was the lack of shampoo and the addition of direct So-Cal sun on his scalp that was helping. Many people claim sunlight is a boon for eczema, including our reader below. At any rate, it’s mostly gone now for him even though he has longer hair again and shampoos (with Acure) every few days. While we never tracked it closely enough, I suspect certain dietary and lifestyle changes have improved it—namely more golf (there’s that sun again) and less stress.
What do the experts, like the trusty Dr. Weil, say? First and foremost: Reduce stress, an aggravator in most malaises. Try hypnotherapy, meditation, visualization, or whatever works for you.
Other key recs: Try aloe vera gel on it, take skin-nourishing gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), avoid soap as much as possible (to that I’d add shampoo, if you can bear it), watch for triggers like a hawk (whether it’s a food or a mood!), and eliminate potential allergens (which our reader has already done). We always think acupuncture and ayurveda can help detect general imbalances that may be causing conditions too.
Here’s the lovely letter we got from Lisa about her case. Pleaseplease, include any tips you have or have heard of in the comments!
Dear Alexandra and Siobhan,
I’m a regular reader of the blog, a follower on OpenSky and Quarterly, and pass your book along to every glam-loving gal and clean-loving guy I can. So I was hoping to source you a little bit on the issue of being a clean girl with eczema, particularly on the scalp (seborrheic dermatitis). In the toxic old days, I would slather on a shampoo with coal tar…which sounds as gross and stinky as it is except, darn it, it really works! Since going clean, I’ve tried ACV rinse (which was nice, but made my scalp more oily and didn’t kick my undesirable flakes and itchiness. Nor has doing oil soaking on my scalp – I’ve tried virgin coconut and olive oil and though it is soothing, it doesn’t stop the problem. I have tried shampoos with neem oil, but it made my scalp worse :(
I used to have more problems with eczema in general, but since going clean about a year ago, my skin really does look and behave better. Evan Healy is my hero, and rosehip oil is my salvation. It’s just my scalp that is going crazy! The only thing that helps for sure is lots of water, sunlight and no winter, and only one of those things is something I can definitely control. With the onset of Spring, things will surely improve, but what will I do next winter? I have heard some people have success with food elimination and am open to that, though it would be difficult – I am an omnivore, but we already eliminate all nuts, most dairy and all fish due to my husband’s allergies. No one really knows what causes eczema, so it’s hard to pick a successful strategy here. Right now I wash my hair every other day with Yarok or Acure and air dry, sometimes with the John Masters Sea Salt Spray as a leave-in (which is probably terribly drying as well, but I was having trouble well before I started using it.) Ironically, I’m having the best hair of my life, even it comes with the worst scalp. :)
Thanks for all you both do to help find strategies for living cleaner, happier and healthier!
Thank you for the lovely letter—and all the support! Now, let’s help a girl out. What do you guys know about treating ezcema? Who has some great anectodal evidence if clean tips that help?