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Eczema
First Years Feb 3, 2020
4 Minutes

An easy win in the fight against eczema and allergy

We learnt a lot from our interview with the leading expert in paediatric allergy Professor Gideon Lack. We also learnt a surprising link between eczema and allergy. Both of which are going up.

In fact, some food allergies have gone up as much as 2-3x in recent years. We also know that the risk of allergy is approximately twice as high if eczema is present in the first six months of life. In fact, the more severe the eczema, the great the chance of a food allergy developing. 

So, if eczema potentially leads to allergies, what can we do about eczema? If anything? 

The reality is that we do not yet fully understand the exact causes of eczema. Science for now is pointing to a combination of genetic and environmental factors as being most likely. So, if it runs in your family you may be more susceptible.

What is eczema? What causes it? 

There are many different forms, but broadly it is the immune system reacting/over reacting against an external factor. There is a moderate link (according to research and also Professor Lack) between eczema and C-Section delivery. One theory is this links to the microbiome, the home of the immune system. If the immune system is not operating as it should, then issues like eczema can potentially crop up. 

Why? 

Once again we don’t have all the answers at this stage. However one theory is that a baby born via C-Section gets a different group of bacteria making up the initial colony in the gut as it misses out on the microbes from the birth canal. Making it at least initially a bit more susceptible to immune issues. Click here for more. Once again though, the research on the microbiome and immunity is exciting, but there is still a lot more to understand before we can make strong conclusions. 

How is eczema and allergy linked exactly? 

For the full explanation click here to read our interview with Professor Lack. However, the short version is that when we have broken and inflamed skin (which happens particularly with severe eczema), potential allergens will get in through the skin where our immune system is less advanced. When these allergens are not introduced to our immune heartland where the powerhouse of the immune system is (through the mouth and going down into the gut) it cannot learn that this is actually a friend not a foe. This is when we can get reactions. This is why he advocates (and his research shows) that babies prone to allergies should be introduced to them orally as early as three months. Obviously this is something to do only under supervision and after discussion with your doctor.

So if eczema is the first potential route – how (if at all) can we deal with it? 

One easy win (we are all about that!) is how we treat the skin in the earliest days. Professor Lack says that it often starts off as very dry skin. He feels this in part may be overbathing and some of it is the skin products which are marketed to babies and children.

What is the problem with some of these products?

Many of these products (aside from having added fragrance) are alkaline (which means a pH above 7). The skin however is slightly acidic. So, many products actually have the reverse effect when it comes to moisturising skin. Many people he says now bathe their children once of more a day. It was unheard of previously to do it this much.

Now of course this alone is unlikely to cause severe eczema but won’t help. What about if you’re already doing this but there is still eczema? 

It is something to speak to your doctor about asap. Professor Lack says that prompt intensive treatment of eczema early in order to reduce inflammation in the skin and reduce skin permeability is helpful.

Are there any products that are worth using/how do we know which are good? 

Unfortunately not all/many baby skin products advertise the exact pH. However, one easy avoid is any added fragrance.

However this company here: Eucerin not only gives a great explanation all about skin pH and why it matters, but it has a special range for this. No, once again we are not sponsored by them. This is just what we found in research.

Click here for more things to know about beauty and personal care products and what to watch. 

Bottom line: 

No one wants to have eczema, least of all the baby! There is still quite a bit we don’t fully understand but in terms of what practical science backed action you as a parent can take skincare and bathing choices are good ones:

Once again to read the full interview with Professor Lack click here. 

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This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.

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