For my two eczema warriors, their eczema is a constant itch-scratch cycle. The itch is usually bone-deep and in the nerves, not simply on the surface of the skin. So as they tear at their skin, raw wounds are a frequent occurrence, and they do get the occasional skin infection. Over time, we have learnt how to treat infected eczema with these natural remedies detailed below.
It may not be infected, it may be topical steroid withdrawal (TSW)
Before you self-diagnose as having an infection on the skin, do pause and give a thought to topical steroid withdrawal. Some people unknowingly become dependent on topical steroid usage on their eczema skin. The moment they stop using topical steroid, the eczema flares rebound with a vengeance, and these tsw warriors can feel so totally helpless and desperate, especially if they do not know this is happening to them. Do read this article on TSW, to find out more.
TSW symptoms can look like a full body infection on the skin. Red, angry, raw and oozing skin everywhere. Itch that is so intense it feels crazy. The flare can last for days, weeks or even months. Cycled with crusty and painful skin as the ooze dries up. Then, maybe dry, flaky and itchy skin that feels so tight you can’t move. And before you know it, the oozy flare starts all over again, with no apparent reason.
TSW has to run its course. The medicine is time, patience and love. Definitely not more steroids. If you’re going through TSW, the remedies below may still help to alleviate some of the symptoms. The only one that I really wouldn’t recommend is garlic water, as it will sting too much. Along with zinc balm, creams containing sulphur, and ginger bath, apple cider vinegar bath will also help tremendously in boosting the body’s efforts to purge out the toxins.
Zinc is critical in maintaining proper immune function and regulating inflammatory response during infections. In addition, it has been shown that zinc aids in wound healing. So if you think your eczema is developing into an infection, grab the balm or the cream, anything with zinc oxide should help. We have found that application of zinc oxide also serve to calm the itch very effectively.
Our favourite is the zinc balm by The Home Apothecary. This is made by a mother whose son went through TSW. It has helped her son through the worst times of suffering. You can find them through this link.
Another product that we highly recommend, based on personal experience with it, is Moogoo Nappy Balm. It contains zinc oxide, and is made from edible oils, and no chemicals.
Or if you are in urgent need, just grab any baby diaper rash cream at your nearest supermarket or pharmacy. They should all contain some zinc oxide, just confirm it through the ingredients list.
Sulphur is a naturally occurring mineral, found abundantly in our foods, including meat, poultry, fish, soy, and other legumes. Another form of sulphur, called methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), is found abundantly in many plants and herbs, like garlic, onion, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, etc.
Sulphur helps in maintaining the functions of connective tissues, including the skin. It is also a great anti-fungal agent. Another benefit is its ability to reduce pain. It has been used widely to soothe many skin conditions, including eczema and acne, by fighting bacteria, removing dead skin cells, and reducing inflammation.
Our personal experience with Moogoo Soothing MSM Cream has been awesome. It helps to close scratch wounds effectively. We tend to first use zinc oxide on open raw wounds, followed by sulphur as the wound is starting to dry up and heal.
Garlic water, and eating garlic (raw if possible)
Ok, before you try this, I really need to warn that this is not for the fainthearted. Especially if your skin is raw, this is going to sting like hell. But it works.
Garlic is well-known for being an antioxidant, with great anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. So you can rest assured it is going to wipe out any infection on your eczema skin. The question is, are you up for it? We have gone down the path of tough love, and applied it on our eczema warriors when their skin looked red, inflamed and infected. It cleared up the skin after one or two days. But not without having to first face their wrath and screams, which can be heart wrenching.
To reap the full effects of garlic, it has to be chopped up or crushed and left aside to sit for about 15 minutes. This is to allow the enzyme alliinase to convert alliin into alliicin. It is alliicin that gives the garlic its potency. The more finely you chop it, the more potent it is.
I would suggest 2 cloves for a start, after you experience its stinging potency, you can adjust according to your pain threshold. After the sitting time of 15 minutes, put the chopped garlic into one cup of water. Give it a few minutes to infuse, then strain out the garlic pieces, and the water is good to go onto your skin.
We usually apply it after bath, directly onto the damp skin. We use a small handkerchief, soak it in the garlic-infused water, and wipe it over the limbs, body, or whatever affected area. I would suggest that you try it on isolated patches for a start, before proceeding to larger areas.
We see quick results after one to two days, with just one application per day, right after bath time. The healing effects of nature never fails to surprise us.
Since we are on the topic of garlic, adding it into your food will also give your immunity a great boost. Just make sure you leave it to sit for 15 minutes after chopping it up, to give the enzyme time to do its job. Mix it into your rice or salad, and chomp away. My kids protest strongly against this raw version, as it stings their tongue and throat. So I would put it into the soup after the heat is turned off, so I’m not actually cooking it, but warming it so it does not sting so bad when we eat it.
Ginger is also an amazing antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent. The way we use it on the skin is similar to garlic, but for ginger, you have to boil it in water, for it to infuse effectively into the water. Then apply the ginger-infused water onto your skin directly, just like for garlic above.
Ginger water does not sting, in fact, it is calming and soothing, and leaves my eczema warriors’ skin feeling cool to the touch, right after their bath. Another way to use ginger water would be in your bath. More details on the preparation of ginger water can be found in this post: herbal treatment for eczema – ginger bath.
The thing about antibiotics
If you can, hold off the antibiotics prescribed for your infected eczema, and allow your body the chance to fight the infection on its own. This is no professional medical advice, just my personal take, and the stand I take with my own children too.
If you give your body the best fighting chance, by loading it with nature’s goodness in your daily diet, your body will build up the immunity to fight off infections and heal on its own.
The problem with antibiotics is that they have no eyes. They cannot differentiate the good guys from the bad. So as they clear your infection, they also wipe out the gut flora lining your digestive system. This wreaks havoc on your digestion and nutritional intake, and your gut health suffers. It takes time to build up your army of gut flora all over again.
But if you really have to take antibiotics, do follow up with a good probiotic AFTER you finish the course of antibiotic. Don’t waste the probiotic by taking it along with the antibiotic, as some of the good guys will get wiped out.
So I hope some of these suggestions can help you. Do share in the comments below if you have other natural remedies for infected eczema. Or if you are going to try out any of the remedies above, do drop by to let us know how it has worked for you!
In the meantime, continue to heal with nature’s gifts.