A Holistic View of Eczema : Learning How to Heal From Within

November 9, 2020  •   3 min read

This post has been written by our guest contributor: Brittany Webster

 


The Eczema Society of Canada defines eczema as “a chronic inflammatory skin condition, characterized by dry skin, with patches that are red and intensely itchy.”

 

With no previous experience dealing with eczema, in my early 30s it snuck up on me – I didn’t understand the warning signs (feeling a slight irritation along my shins for weeks prior) and I was surprised by the doctor’s diagnosis, assuming that this was a long-term condition begun in childhood.  My eczema first manifested on the shins of my legs and later began spreading to finger knuckles.  

 

I considered it an outside plague, happening to me, rather than from within.  

 

For two years, I awoke several times in the night scratching my legs, often until they bled, and in the morning I would question buying gloves, or better quality sheets.  I was looking to manage eczema rather than how to heal – I assumed it was caused by something in my environment, so I made changes around the house (detergents, cleaning products, clothing).  Anything that came into contact with my skin was scrutinized and substituted with a chemical-free, organic version.  

 

I also sought out a naturopath who had me try an elimination diet and supplements.  Sometimes, I felt there were small improvements, but I would always regress back to itching and redness.

 

During this time, I was offered suggestions from my doctor, family and friends to use certain creams, or add various products to baths.  Some of the recommendations would temporarily soothe the itching and dryness, but they were Band-Aids rather than real solutions and I grew frustrated that no-one ever spoke of addressing the root of the problem.

 

Though the changes I made to our household products and my diet were helpful, it became clear to me that diet and environment alone were not the full picture.  

 

I decided to keep a journal. 

 

At first I concentrated on what I was eating and any reactions I had, but once I began to include life events and stressors, I started to see patterns emerging.  I noticed, for example, that after speaking to my mom on the phone, I had a severe flare-up of itching that I originally attributed to coconut ice cream!  I noticed that my life had become an emotional rollercoaster, heavily focused on my mom’s cancer diagnosis, financial issues and trying to juggle care for my daughter /part-time work/ day-to-day tasks… 

 

To relieve some of the stress in my body and work through the emotional pain I decided to try: 

 

Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex therapy (P-DTR): Neurological therapy to treat dysfunctional muscles, sensory nerve pathways and receptors.

Emotional Blueprint therapy: Reflexology, visualization and emotional release. 

Incorporating stretching and gratitude into my morning routine.  

 

Gradually, these changes, alongside increased exercise and a focus on daily self-care, allowed me to heal.  For me, eczema was very much a manifestation of internal imbalances and in order to heal my skin, I needed to go much deeper than applying topical creams.

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What Helped Me Heal My Eczema:

 

1. Keeping a daily journal:

I documented what I ate, how I felt, exercise and stressors. This was key in pinpointing eczema flare-ups and beginning to see a pattern, not just in the food I ate, but stresses in my life.

2. Seeing a naturopath:

I needed someone professional to help guide and follow me, advising me on supplementation and diet choices.

3. Seeking out emotional guidance and stress release from the body:  

Choosing a holistic approach felt right for me and was a huge help in releasing anxiety, negative emotions, and understanding how to breathe more fully.

4. Incorporating self-care into every day:

Little things like practicing gratitude in the morning (I name 2-3 things I am grateful for and allow myself a few deep breaths) and taking a bath in the evening, or reading before bed, are so important to my mental health.

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I used to think that eczema could be managed with creams and was an inconvenience rather than life-changing.  It wasn’t until I lived with it for two years that I realized how it truly impacts your life: When your quality of sleep and ability to function on a day-to-day basis are threatened, how can you be expected to accomplish anything?

 

The more time I have had to reflect on my eczema story and life without eczema, the more I realize just how strongly the mind and body are connected and how symbiotic their relationship is.  As I continue to emphasize self-care on a daily basis, I have also started to dig a little deeper into meditation, breathing exercises and being more present in my actions and words. 

Sometimes it takes a major trauma or event for us to ‘wake-up’ and listen to our bodies, so I try to check in every once in a while and ask mine how it’s doing, in the hopes of listening to its messages before they escalate to a tantrum!

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Further Reading:

Some books that I found useful when establishing a connection with myself and the surrounding world.

 

How To Breathe by Ashley Neese:

For beginners of breath work or those seeking to hone their skills and work on specific emotions.

 

The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer:

For those wishing to dig deeper into their relationship with themselves (I recommend re-reading and taking it slow, this is a lot to take in).

 

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer:

For reconnecting with the Earth and changing your perspective.


 

About the Author

Brittany Webster is a budding entrepreneur by night and an environmentally-minded mom, writer and art conservator by day.  She is passionate about fashion, design and wellness, seeking to bring balance and awareness to the way we organize our homes, design our surroundings and present ourselves to the world.  

Living in Ottawa, this time of year, Brittany can usually be found outdoors collecting fall foliage with her daughter… and in her free time, she is constantly researching / on the lookout for non-toxic, plastic-free, kinder alternatives for her home, closet and lifestyle.  Follow her here: @curatedhouseandhome


 

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