Alternatives to Steroids for Eczema in Kids & Adults

Natural Eczema Treatment

Anyone with eczema can testify to the quick speed with which most doctors are ready to dispense prescriptions for steroid creams. However, an increasing number of people are turning a skeptical eye towards this conventional approach to treatment and questioning steroids’ safety. These creams are absorbed into the body through the skin. There are strict maximums on steroid dosages due to potential side effects, which children are particularly prone to. Although regarded by many as a benign medication, steroid creams can actually cause growth restriction for children, thinning of the skin, depigmentation, contact dermatitis, stretchmarks, and more. Although there are cases where eczema requires medical treatment, there are safer alternatives to steroid creams that can be tried first.

The first “treatment” to try for eczema is not a treatment at all but rather prevention via the identification of eczema triggers. Take a look at what some factors might be in causing the appearance or worsening of eczema. This includes infections; very hot or very cold weather; environmental allergens such as pollen, mold, dust, or pets; skin exposure to substances that can irritate the skin, such as many soaps and laundry detergents, body care products, and cleaning products. Even emotional stress can cause an eczema flare. Changing hormone levels may also trigger it, as can certain foods (whether or not you have a truly allergy to them).

The second natural approach that can be taken to treat eczema is the use of chemical-free moisturizers, emollients and oils to sooth the skin and deeply moisturize it, as well as protecting it from weather changes and irritants. When Ora’s Amazing Herbal was first launched, two of our first products were our All-Purpose Salve and Touchy Skin Salve. These were initially created by founder Ora Assayag to treat her own child’s severe eczema in order to avoid resorting to the antibiotics and corticosteroids suggested by doctors. Ora quickly discovered these salves were effective for the treatment of eczema and extremely dry skin, didn’t cause stinging for people with irritated and sensitive skin, and provided a protective barrier for people engaging in work or play that can irritate and dry out the skin, in addition to having many healing properties. They can be applied to a child’s exposed skin before going out into the cold or heat, used to treat rough, dry or irritated patches of skin, and can even be effective for cradle cap. Consider giving safe salves and healing oils a try before resorting to medical treatments that may cause as many problems as they solve.

5 Things You Need to Know About Gluten-Free Skincare Products

You have no doubt noticed an astounding array of new gluten-free offerings popping up on grocery store shelves and at restaurants as awareness of celiac disease and gluten intolerance have grown. But did you know that there’s another gluten-free trend that goes hand and hand with gluten-free diets? It’s important for anyone with celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, gluten-reactive eczema or gluten intolerance to keep the following things in mind:

  1. You eat more shampoo and face wash than you realize!
    These products frequently drip down your face and into your mouth along with water. Many shampoos and face washes include various wheat proteins, barley and oat extracts, and other gluten-containing ingredients.
  2. Use soap and bodywash that is clean for your insides and your outsides.
    Soap and bodywash residue remains on your hands, which you then use to eat and wipe your mouth. It is only natural that one would want to make sure these products, too, are free of any ingredients that compromise your body’s wellness.
  3. Your mom told you not to eat that delicious flavored Chapstick™, but you still do.
    Lip balms and lipsticks frequently contain gluten. As you go about your day you consume more of it than you might realize. One study that found that lipstick use was corrollated with rates of systemic lupus erythematosus found that lipstick wearers consume an average of 60 milligrams of it a day. Lip balm wearers likely consume a similar quantity. Make sure any lip product you choose is as gluten-free as your food!
  4. Gluten can cause eczema flare-ups and rashes.
    Ingestion is not the only way that gluten can irritate the body. There are some people who find that applying skin creams that are not gluten-free cause skin problems… Whether it causes you or your child’s eczema to flare up or leads to an itchy contact rash, you may find that gluten-free lotions and oils help moisturize without irritating.
  5. Gluten hides in skincare products under a lot of sneaky pseudonyms.
    Ingredients sometimes found in skincare products that should be avoided by gluten-free individuals include avena sateva (oat) extract, hordeum vulgare (barley) extract, wheat germ oil, wheat amino acids, hydrolized wheat starch, triticum aestivum, triticum carthlicum, triticum durum, and triticum vulgare. You can avoid these ingredients by purchasing your skincare products from a company that is 100% gluten-free such as Ora’s Amazing Herbals.

Breina Gidseg is a mother of five and is a nutritionist, health and wellness writer, recipe developer and cooking teacher based in New Jersey.

Oy! It’s Eczema And Allergy Season Again?

Herbal Skin Care - Ora's Amazing Herbal

A Time To Itch And Wheeze, A Time To Shmear And Breathe

In our house, the eczema comes and goes, just like the weather. Come to think of it, it comes and goes with the weather. When the flowers bloom and the temperature goes up, the sneezes and scratches are likely to follow. Here is what we do for the kids in our house that are prone to allergies, asthma, and eczema.

Try to avoid dairy and sugar. I know, it’s a bummer during ice cream season, but dairy is the #1 food sensitivity associated with both asthma and eczema. Sugar is a known irritant in addition to suppressing the immune system. The main real danger of eczema is infection, so we want to keep our immune systems strong.

Eat lots of veggies, the darker and more colorful the better. I don’t want to explain this one again any more than you want to read about it, so let’s move on, shall we?

Hydrate. Drink lots of water. Wet is the opposite of dry. In order to keep skin from getting dry it helps to keep the whole body hydrated.

Fragrance free everything. Even the green laundry detergent that we use that only has essential oils in it, can irritate our reactive ones when their systems are agitated. We switch to the unscented version for this season.

Essential fatty acids and anti-oxidants. There are a million ways to supplement these nutrients, but the most important thing we have found is that consistency is the most important. We do a yummy real foods based chewable that the kids always come asking for that is very high in vitamin C and flavonoids. We also do a lemon flavored liquid cod liver oil. With 4 kids, we simply can’t keep any of the fancy chewable fish oil pills in stock! Just keep the bottle in the fridge and act like it’s the best treat in the world. Take some with them every time too to make it look good. We do this anti-inflammatory regimen year round but I really try to be more mindful to do it daily during this time.

Nettles (Urtica dioica) and licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) seem to be the two most important herbs in our house for this season. I buy them in bulk and keep a pitcher of iced tea sweetened with raw honey in the fridge and bring it out at meal time. I put about 2 cups of dried nettles (don’t touch with your bare hands, it stings) and 1/4 cup licorice in a 1/2 gallon mason jar of hot water. Steep covered for a few hours then strain, add a little raw honey or maple syrup and fresh lemon and chill. If it tastes too strong for you, you can always add water. Delicious and quenching.

Shmear them down. Doing a daily or twice daily shmear of all the areas prone to dry and irritated skin, really makes a huge difference. My bigger kids have their own jar of herbal infused salve, and I just make sure to remind them to shmear. My little one still gets the mommy spa treatment. Applying an herbal salve regularly gives the herbs a chance to work their magic so waiting for kids to complain doesn’t do anyone any favors. Just like you wouldn’t brush your teeth every three days and expect a good dentist visit, you have to be diligent with the shmear. Keeping both internal and external inflammation down requires maintenance. Make sure that whatever you use is free of those toxic parabens and/or petroleum based products.

So there you have it. Nothing ground breaking here, just a couple of good reminders on how to keep touchy skin happy during the weather change. Have a happy spring!

Ora Assayag loves creating simple and pure but effective concoctions for the skin, tummy, and soul. Ora’s Amazing Herbal, natural skincare for the whole family.

– Ora Assayag, Ora’sAmazingHerbal.com

Our little one loves her Touchy Skin Salve
Our little one loves her Touchy Skin Salve

What is a Salve?

Pronunciation
First of all, itʼs like tomato/tomahto or potato/potahto. Some people pronounce the “L” and some donʼt. OK? Now we have that out of the way.

Definition
A salve is simply a natural healing ointment. There are all different types of salve, basically depending on what types of ingredients are in it.

Purpose
Some salves are made to 
draw out toxins. Some are made to promote healing. Some are made to prevent infection. A salve can provide moisture and protection for skin as well. Well made salves made with a well planned blend of herbs can work well for diaper rashes, as a first aid ointment, post exfoliation treatment, general body lotion, tattoo after-care, eczema treatment, cleaning out babies folds, cleaning ears, healing scars, burns, sunburns, bug bites, as a bug repellant, as a foot treatment, as a lip balm, a hair treatment, you name it. An herbal salve could be made just with an oil and a hardener, such as olive oil and beeswax, but it is more useful if it is also made with some type of medicinal ingredients. 

How to make salve
There are two methods that herbalists generally use to infuse the herbs into the oil.

They is the low heat method, over a low flame or in a slow cooker. And there is the slower, cold infusion method. The method that uses heat is great in a pinch because it is faster and you can then custom make a salve as you need it. It does have its drawbacks though. When you heat an oil, you begin to destroy it and when you heat herbs too much you destroy their phytonutrients. Also, it’s like making soup, it’s almost always better after itʼs had more time, which an oil can withstand more of when it is not being heated. For these reasons, the slow cold infusion method is preferable to use whenever possible, and it is the method we use in our salves even though it’s a pain in the neck. 

Our first consideration when choosing an herb to use in a salve is that it is safe – meaning it has a very low rate of adverse reaction and does no harm – and then, that it is effective in promoting healing.

At Oraʼs Amazing Herbal we blend the following herbs for our salves:

Calendula: Calendula salves have been used to encourage wound healing, ease bruising and also treat infections associated with wounds.

Comfrey: Comfrey is used in salves for cuts, burns, skin ulcers, varicose veins, bronchitis, and rheumatism. It is not to be overused but is a fabulous herb when used in small dosages, in a blended salve like ours for example.

St. John’s Wort: Is considered to be anti-inflammatory and antiviral and is often used in salve for burns and for nerve pain.

Burdock: Burdock root has been used throughout herbal history for treatment of eczema, psoriasis, candida, burns, and rashes. It is known by herbalists to be antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and regenerative.

Thyme: Thyme is known to be a powerful antiseptic, antibacterial, and a strong antioxidant. Is also contributes a lovely gentle aroma to the oil it is infused in.

Chickweed: It is known as an antibacterial and is known to help with detoxification of rashes and skin irritations.

Plantain: Plantain is great topically for bites, and stings as well as all kinds of skin irritations including yeast and non-yeast diaper rashes.

Licorice (Touchy Skin Salve only): Licorice root is known as an anti-inflammatory as well as antiviral. It is known by herbalists to be particularly useful in soothing eczema, herpes and chicken pox. 

 

Making the Salve
We take this blend and scoop it into glass gallon sized mason jars. We use glass to 
avoid the leaching of toxins from plastic into the oil.

We then fill the jar with grapeseed oil. Grapeseed oil is our carrier oil of choice because it is highly absorbable into the skin and thus delivers the healing our herbs have to offer very nicely. It also has a neutral scent and a good shelf life compared to olive oil for example. This means we can avoid using any preservatives in our salve aside from vitamin E, which is important to us because preservatives tend to be toxic.

We keep the glass jars infusing in a cold dark environment for a minimum of 6 weeks.  We give them each a shake every so often to ensure a good infusion is happening.

Then we strain out the oil from the herbs and dump the herbs into the compost for our home garden. 

Now comes the salve making part. We gently and carefully heat the oil in a double boiler, just enough to melt the beeswax. We add beeswax, and organic extra virgin coconut oil. We then ladle the warmed oil out into a pouring vessel and once in that vessel, we add a little vitamin E, and our essential oils. Once the essential oils go in, they start to evaporate quickly so its a little tricky. You donʼt want to pour so fast that it spills and makes a big mess, cleaning salve jars is a seriously annoying task. You donʼt want to give the essential oils time to evaporate either though, so this step is a bit of an acquired skill.

The essential oils we use in our All Purpose Salve are Tea Tree – known for its antiseptic and its antifungal properties; Rosemary – known for its stimulating and natural preservative activity; and Thuja (cedar leaf) – known for its astringent, antiviral, and bug repellant properties. 

Now you have it, all our secrets. You can go make some salve of your own. Have fun.

Or, you could of course just buy ours.

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