Eczema; also known as atopic or contact dermatitis, can appear at any age and often runs in families with history of allergic disorders such as hay fever and asthma. Other causes may be food allergies, sensitivity to perfumes and chemical reactions. In addition, skin eruptions can be intensified by anger, anxiety or frustration.

Other characteristics shared by those with eczema are dry skin, thickened skin with a limited capacity to hold water, an overgrowth of bacteria and the tendency of the skin to thicken when scratched or rubbed.

Eczema is unpredictable and can strike any part of the body; however, most outbreaks occur on the creases of the elbows, knees, wrists, behind the ears and on the face. When you scratch the area, the skin gets rough, scaly and thick and may cause the skin to become crusty and ooze.

If you have sensitive skin - avoid everything that causes allergic reactions or irritates the skin. Wear cotton instead of silk, synthetics or wool. Keep your skin moisturized by frequently applying moisturizer or by taking quick baths or showers.

If you suspect you have developed eczema, your condition should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Outbreaks can be treated at home; except when you develop an open sore that shows signs of infection. Look for swelling, yellowish discharge or pus and red streaks in the area of the sore.

Deficiencies often seen in people with eczema include zinc and the fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Evidence supports the use of essential fatty acids to reduce inflammation and one or more bioflavonoids to reduce histamine release.

Nutritional and supplemental treatment of eczema focuses on preventing the release of excess histamine and providing nutrients that offer anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic benefits.

The following supplements may help bring relief for the symptoms of eczema.

Helpful Supplements:

Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene is needed for smooth skin and aids in preventing dryness. Take 50,000 to 75,000 IU daily for one month, then 25,000 IU daily as maintenance. If you are pregnant - do not exceed 10,000 IU daily.

B complex is needed for proper circulation, healthy skin and aids in reproduction of all cells. A deficiency of any of the B vitamins can cause dermatitis. However, when combined with 500 milligrams of vitamin C, 50 milligrams of B6, plus 100 milligrams of pantothenic acid it has an antihistamine effect that may alleviate atopic dermatitis. Take one high potency tablet; B complex, three times a day.

Vitamin C. Studies show that vitamin C improves, sometimes clears and helps prevent recurrences of dermatitis. Take 1,000 to 3,500 milligrams in divided daily doses.

Zinc restores low zinc levels usually seen in people with eczema - it also promotes tissue repair. Take 45 to 60 milligrams daily; reducing to 30 milligrams once eczema clears.

Evening primrose oil restores GLA levels. Take two 500 milligram capsules three times daily. It can also be applied topically once a day to reduce inflammation and redness. (Puncture the capsule; squeeze out contents; apply to area).

Omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oils and flaxseed work the same way as evening primrose oil. In some studies even greater benefits were found with fish and flaxseed oils. Take as directed on label with food.

Quercetin is a bioflavoniod that helps inhibit the body's release of histamine. It can act in a manner similar to medicine prescribed by doctors. Take 400 milligrams twenty minutes before meals.

Grape seed extract is also a flavonoid that can have an anti-histamine effect. Take 50 to 200 milligrams three times daily.

Oatmeal baths can help soothe itchy skin. Use a commercial product; follow package instructions.

Herbal Supplements:

Aloe vera gel is one of the oldest remedies for irritated skin, it relieves both itching and pain and is believed to speed healing.

Burdock, chickweed or red clover are considered the most effective herbal treatment for eczema when 2 cups of the tea are taken internally each day and another cup sponged over the eruptions.

Chamomile has been found to be very effective in reducing inflammation and itching of eczema. It contains natural anti-inflammatory chemical flavonoids. Try cream or lotion; some people find it very soothing. Caution: Do not use chamomile if you are allergic to ragweed.

Ginkgo biloba contains terpene molecules that may block key chemical mediators in eczema. Studies have shown the standardized extract demonstrated clinically significant anti-allergy effects. Take 80 to 120 milligrams of extract divided into two or three doses daily. Caution: Do not use if taking blood thinning medications.

Green tea is both an anti-histamine and anti-allergenic. Take 200 to 300 milligrams three times daily.

Licorice taken orally is both anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic and may have both internal and external beneficial effects for dermatitis. When applied topically it is very similar to hydorcortisone creams in the treatment of several different types of dermatitis. Take ONE of the following three times daily.
1.) 1 to 2 grams powered root OR
2.) 2 to 4 milliliters fluid extract OR
3.) 250 to 500 milligrams dry powdered extract
Topically - in gel form; apply as needed to ease symptoms. Caution: Licorice should not be taken orally by those who have high blood pressure, liver or kidney disorders, or are pregnant. It also should not be taken with diuretics or oral corticosteroids.

Other herbal supplements that may have supportive and toning effects on the skin include basil, chaparral, comfrey, gotu kola and horsetail.

All nutritional supplements should only be used in amounts typically recommended for medicinal purposes and you should always consult with a health professional first, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or taking prescription medications.

Author's Bio: 

Edith Lingenfelter-webmaster of Age-old Herbs shows how "self defense" is natures oldest law on how to prevent your health concerns with natural healing herbs by means of herbal and nutritional supplements. Learn how to protect your health by visiting www.age-oldherbs.com