Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is characterized by excessive inflammation that causes itchy patches of red, sore skin that usually appears on the extremities or at the site of joints. Because it is an inflammatory condition, it would follow that modulating inflammation in the body can help to decrease the incidence and severity of eczema. Avoiding inflammation-causing foods, especially intolerances or allergies, can help ease itchiness in the skin and may even get at underlying causes of eczema.
Related article: Asthma and the Food Allergy Connection.
One of the main food allergens that has been remotely linked to inflammatory skin conditions is dairy. Try eliminating all dairy products from the diet for at least two weeks before reintroducing and see what an effect that has on the severity of your symptoms. Consider taking a formal allergy exam with your doctor in particulary severe cases.
The other factor to take into consideration is the link between eczema and psychological stress. Most people who suffer from eczema will tell you that they experience 'flare ups' after periods of significant stress at work, school or in daily life, meaning that rashes get itchier or more sore. Additionally, stressing the rash itself by scratching (however hard it is to avoid!) can also cause the eczema to spread and be more painful.
Inflammation of the skin can also be a contact rash that turns into eczema after repeated periods of exposure. It is recommended that people who suffer from dermatitis change their shampoo, conditioner, body washes, lotions, soaps, detergents and even the fabrics that their clothing is made of, in order to eliminate anything that can be causing or exacerbating the inflammation. Especially get rid of anything that contains sodium lauryl sulfate (a foaming agent that has been linked to cancer) and parabens which can both be highly irritating.
To topically calm irritated skin, don't put anything on your skin that you wouldn't put in your mouth! Avoidance of irritants is key! To soothe skin that is already irritated, consider the following topical botanicals :
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Aloe Vera Gel
Chamomile Tea Compresses
Vitamin E Oil
Internally, the best supplements to aid those suffering from eczema are those that decrease inflammation and promote the integrity of the epidermis. Particulary important would the consumption of healthy fats, particulary GLA (gamma linoleic acid, a form of Omega 6), and Omega 3s. You should also consider probiotics for their ability to calm the digestive tract and promote a decrease in inflammation systemically. Consult a herbalist and/or homeopathic practitioner to discover other remedies that may be right for you.
Disclaimer: The above information is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your physician.