How to Treat Eczema Naturally

One of the most common requests I see from parents is how to treat eczema naturally. I wanted to give you the expert guidance on this topic, so I invited Dr. Alexis Reid to write this week’s blog post. Dr. Alexis is a naturopathic doctor, toxicologist, and chemical engineer. Oh, and she also has her own skincare line! I couldn’t think of anyone better to share this information with you. It’s a great and informative read that I think everyone will benefit from.

What is Eczema?

Eczema is a very common skin condition that affects most people at some point in their life. In fact, 80% of babies will have a bout of eczema in their first year.

It typically presents as a red, scaly, dry and itchy rash that likes to appear on the creases of the elbows, the backs of the knees, behind the ears, on the face, on the hands.

Eczema is a form of chronic skin inflammation. Even though it is a skin condition, it often can not be solved by topical treatment alone. The root cause is often a food that is being consumed, and it is typical to see eczema start in babies around the time that solid foods are being introduced.

The best way to start to treat eczema naturally, is to look at your diet.

5 Foods That Can Make Eczema Worse

1) Dairy. The proteins found in dairy (casein and whey) are the triggers for eczema. It is not an issue with lactose (as in lactose intolerance) and eating lactose-free dairy does not help. Similarly, contrary to popular belief, eating cooked dairy is still a trigger for eczema. The proteins do not get broken down enough in the cooking process to be significant. Elimination of all dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter) for 3 weeks should lead to improvement if dairy is the culprit.

2) Eggs are a very common food sensitivity in children under 4 and are associated with eczema. Eliminate egg whites and yolks for 3 weeks. Eggs are often hidden in a lot of foods. While doing an egg elimination, it is imperative to read all package labels to look for hidden sources.

3) Gluten is a common trigger of eczema, but it tends to be a bigger trigger in adults vs children. Another sign of a gluten sensitivity is having keratosis pilaris, which is characterized by having bumpy skin on the backs of the upper arms (AKA chicken skin). If you or your child has this and has eczema, there is a good chance that gluten is the offending food.

4) Tomatoes can be very inflammatory to young children’s skin, especially if eaten frequently. Tomatoes can also cause an “acid diaper rash”.

5) Citrus fruits have similar effects as tomatoes in young children, especially oranges.

How to Calm the Itch of Eczema

1) Oatmeal Take 1 cup of NON quick cook oats and place in the foot of a pantyhose. Steep in approximately 1 L of boiling water for 5-10 min. Allow to cool and add to the bath. The “slime” from the oats is helpful to soothe itching and to provide a barrier on the skin to help with further irritation. Be wary of products that claim to be oatmeal based and have oatmeal listed as the last ingredient. There is not enough active ingredient in there to have an impact on eczema. Bathing should be as infrequent as possible, and not daily.

2) Oil Add a few drops grapeseed, avocado or Eco Chic Movement’s Baby Oil to the bath water to help keep skin hydrated.

3) Quality Moisturizer A natural moisturizer that is free from petroleum, paraben, phthalates, and sulfates should be applied to the affected areas. Ingredients to look for are: Shea Butter, Calendula and Aloe.

Keeping the barrier of your child’s skin intact is very important, especially with respect to the newer theory of “leaky skin”. What is thought to happen with leaky skin is that if the skin is raw and broken with eczema, proteins can pass into the bloodstream making the child more likely to develop food allergies. It is a good idea to use a good barrier cream all over the body, like Eco Chic Movement’s Body Butter and to use the Skin Conditions Cream, which is anti-inflammatory, anti-itch and wound healing for spot treating eczema.

4) Steroid Creams Also known as hydrocortisone, steroid creams work by reducing the inflammation in the skin. They can be useful to provide temporary relief if the eczema is quite severe. The problem with steroid creams lies in their long-term use. When someone stops using steroid creams, their eczema tends to come back worse then it was before. These creams also have a side effect of thinning the skin over time with repetitive use.

5 Strategies to Treat Eczema Naturally

1) Food Eliminate foods that can make eczema worse. Increase intake fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Healthy fats help to maintain the integrity of the skin.

2) Vitamin D Is helpful to reduce the inflammation associated with eczema.

3) Bacteria! Pre- and pro-biotics can help reduce eczema symptoms. Research indicates that fructooligosaccharide is the most effective prebiotic while Lactobacillus rhamnosus is the most effective probiotic for reducing eczema.

4) Nature Exposure to different bacteria in nature has been shown to reduce the severity of eczema. Exposure to farm animals and forest has been shown to be most beneficial in children.

5) Chemical Reduction Chemical exposures from pesticides, skincare products, cleaning products can interact with proteins in the body, initiating an allergic response which can result in eczema. Make the effort to switch out your cleaning products, especially laundry detergent and skincare products. {Note from Emma: you can grab my green cleaners list here.}

Eczema can cause quite a bit of stress for parents. If you are suffering from eczema or having to watch your child suffer it is a good idea to see a Naturopathic Doctor and get a treatment plan tailored to you. Eczema is something that can be overcome usually with some simple interventions. Please speak to your health care provider before starting any new medication or supplements.


Dr. Alexis Reid has a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo, a master’s degree in Toxicology from Queen’s University and is a Naturopathic Doctor. She is the founder of the non-toxic skincare line Eco Chic Movement. She offers online consults, for people living in Ontario that can be booked here, under the telemedicine option. You can find out more about Dr. Alexis here:

3 thoughts on “How to Treat Eczema Naturally”

  1. Hi Emma
    This post on eczema caught my eye. Great to see the tips you provided. As a parent of a little guy who has suffered with extreme eczema, and other things, since birth, I know how challenging this topic is first hand. There are many natural remedies that I rely on and they need to be switched all the time and we’ve tried homeopathy from birth, a complex experiment. Figuring out food can be a nightmare. Daily baths with oils are a key. Just thought I’d share as I know the pain of the parent who is trying everything to resolve this and it’s not easy sometimes. I also wouldn’t give up my doctors at Sick Kids, who have been a tremendous resource to train my son for a lifetime of skin care, which does include prescription creams when needed. That gives me relieve especially when I see adults struggle with painful skin. As a student Dr once told me, if this was easy, we wouldn’t keep students in dermatology. Keep up the great work!

    • It’s definitely not an easy topic, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. I think it’s important to know what options are out there, and it sounds like you’re exploring them all to set your son up for success. Kudos to you for doing the hard work!


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