Itchy red skin, such as rashes that occur in the crooks of the elbows and the backs of the knees, will often be diagnosed as atopic dermatitis. You may know it by the more common term eczema. Chronic eczema can drive a person to distraction. As a result, sufferers are often very anxious to learn if there are ways to clear eczema.
Allergen Testing May Help Show How to Clear Eczema:
Q. A reader wrote you about a recent flare-up of atopic dermatitis. I’d like to suggest that this person consider allergy testing to identify what may have caused it.
I have had eczema all my life and usually wear gloves for cleaning, dishes, gardening, etc. to avoid most problems. A couple of years ago I had a severe break-out that lasted months. It was difficult to do anything as my hands were so swollen, itchy and painful.
I went to a naturopathic physician who did a simple blood test to identify the allergen. The test determined that I was “off the charts” allergic to eggs. I had been eating an egg every day for breakfast for the whole time period of the breakout. While I had been eating eggs sporadically all my life, I had never eaten them every day until then.
The doctor suggested I stop eating eggs to see if it would clear up my eczema. After six weeks, it did! I can now eat eggs sporadically as I used to without too much difficulty, but not daily!
Avoiding Allergens Can Clear Eczema:
A. Allergic reactions to eggs are frequently seen among babies and young children with eczema. This appears to be less common for adults. Nonetheless, both kids and adults with hard-to-treat eczema (atopic dermatitis) may have multiple allergic sensitivities (Boonstra et al, Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, Sep. 2018). As you note, avoiding an allergic trigger when possible may be the best treatment.
Home Remedies to Help Clear Eczema:
Readers have suggested a number of potential remedies for eczema. Some people use coconut oil as a moisturizer and find it works to clear eczema. Others are just as likely to be enthusiastic about Noxzema.
Sometimes probiotics may be helpful. Oils rich in gamma-linolenic acid (such as black currant seed oil, borage oil or evening primrose oil) have helped some readers. Certain other people benefit from taking flaxseed oil. Drinking oolong tea has helped others, though just one study has been done (Uehara et al, Archives of Dermatology, Jan. 2001).
Vitamin D to Clear Eczema:
Some researchers believe that vitamin D may help clear eczema or reduce its severity. Investigators in Boston conducted a pilot study to see whether vitamin D supplements would benefit children with persistent eczema (British Journal of Dermatology, July, 2008). The youngsters were randomized to receive 1,000 IU of vitamin D or placebo daily for a month. The results were inconclusive but promising.
You will find many other options for easing eczema, psoriasis and dry skin in our Guide to Skin Care & Treatment.