Eczema, Skin Conditions | August 4, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
Finding the right products to help calm eczema and alleviate dry skin can be a complicated and expensive challenge. By understanding what the ingredients are in a product and what they do, can make it a lot easier when choosing the right products for your skin condition. Applying treatment creams, lotions and gels regularly can be the first step to prevent skin dehydration and help reduce further complications such as irritation, open sores and microbial infection. For information on product ingredients and what they do, read on....
The thickness or consistency of a product depends on the thickening agent used.
Lipids thicken a product and are usually solid at room temperature but can be liquefied and added to emulsions.
Examples include carnauba wax, coconut oil and shea butter.
Polymers absorb water causing them to swell and increase the viscosity of a product.
Examples include hydroxyethyl cellulose, guar gum, xanthan gum and gelatin.
Water or alcohol may be needed to help prevent the product being too thick.
Mineral thickeners are also natural and absorb water and oils to increase thickness. They offer a different result to those produced by polymers. Mineral thickeners include magnesium aluminium silicate, silica and bentonite.
Emollients prevent water loss and include beeswax, olive oil, coconut oil and lanolin.
Note: Emulsifiers are ingredients that can mix usually incompatible products together such as oil and water.
Water acts as a solvent to dissolve other ingredients and is used with emulsifiers to help with the consistency of the product. Water used is free from microbes, toxins and other pollutants and may be listed as distilled water, purified water or aqua.
Preservatives are needed to prevent the growth of microbes such as bacteria and fungi and can help extend the life of the product. Products without preservative will need to be used quickly.
Examples of natural preservative include: Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract and Vitamin E Oil.
Calendula officinalis has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, wound healing and styptic (able to stop bleeding) properties. It offers a mild anti-bacterial anti-fungal action, offers antioxidant activity and is a circulatory stimulant.
The specific action according to the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia BHP is for treatment of acute and chronic skin lesions.
Chamomile Matricaria recutita – Just saying chamomile makes me feel relaxed and that is what this herb is famous for. In regards to conditions of the skin, it is anti-inflammatory, anti- allergic, anti-microbial and a wound healer. Useful for sunburn, eczema and skin wounds.
Chickweed - Stellaria media actions include anti-pruritic, vulnerary and emollient and is BHP recommended for the treatment of itchy skin conditions.
Albizzia lebbeck Is an avurvedic herb beneficial for allergic reactions such as eczema.
Goldenseal - Hydrastis canadensis has an antimicrobial action, is a good antioxidant and considered a tonic for mucous membranes. It is indicated for eczema, inflammation, pruritis and skin infections.
Gotu kola – Centella asiatica actions include anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and vulnerary making it a very useful herbal additive to any skin preparation.
Oat- Avena sativa, not only good to take internally but also beneficial externally too.
The finely ground oatmeal (hulls removed) boiled to produce a colloidal substance, has been used for decades as a topical product to treat itchy and irritated skin.
The polysaccharide, starch and beta glucan (yes, the same stuff used internally for cholesterol lowering) from the colloidal oat help with hydration and supporting the normal pH of the skin.
Added to this function other constituents of oat provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, wound healing and a cleansing action. Look for a colloidal preparation when researching products.
Aloe vera (barbadensis) - If you want hydration look no further. Aloe has proven itself as an effective moisturiser, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Aloe gel has shown a vulnerary action, improving healing time and providing support against infection. It can be used in conditions of poor circulation to help in the prevention of skin ulcers and for wound healing.
Echinacea purpurea - this amazing herb useful for so many infections is also beneficial in product used topically to treat infections of the skin.
Liquorice – (Glycyrrhiza glabra) actions include demulcent and anti-inflammatory. It is an effective and safe antimicrobial against bacteria and fungus and shows good antioxidant activity. The herb is useful for chronic skin conditions.
Tea tree oil - (Melaleuca alternifolia) has been shown to exhibit microbial action against bacterial and fungal invasion.
Coconut oil – Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial to some bacteria.
Safflower seed oil – can help with the itch, dilation of blood vessels and oxidation.
Avocado oil – this lovely green oil is rich in essential fatty acids, lecithin, vitamins and minerals and is beneficial as an emollient for dry skin.
Olive oil – antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, supporting wound healing.
Sunflower seed oil – high in linoleic acid supporting barrier function and has been found to help with hydration.
Almond oil – has emollient properties that soften the skin.
Why do we want antioxidant activity? Well it is oxidation that causes disorder and disease. Whilst a certain amount of oxidation is ok and actually necessary, too much can be a problem. Think of sun burn. This is actually oxidation in action.
The skin is an external covering used to protect us from harm. Skin dryness is often associated to inferior barrier function and it has been shown using a moisturiser frequently can improve barrier function and hydration. To support the skin and help prevent eczema and dryness, keep it moisturised regularly and use ingredients to help with specific symptoms. These include microbial infection prevention and treatment, itchiness, wounds and dehydration.
Lees, Mark; 2001, Skin Care beyond the basics, Milady, Thomson learning, NY, USA
Fisher, Carole; 2009, MATERIA MEDICA OF WESTERN HERBS, Vitex Medica, New Zealand
Mills, Simon; Bone, Kerry; 2009, Principles and Practices of Phytotherapy, Churchill Livingstone, Aust
The dynamics and mechanism of the antimicrobial activity of tea tree oil against bacteria and fungi https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27388769
Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/19/1/70/htm