Dealing with Eczema

Winter is coming. For some, it’s a take-heed warning from Game of Thrones, but for others, it’s a red flag that drier skin is also coming.

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, a chronic itchy skin condition, is one of the dry-skin ailments that can be exacerbated by winter climes. Although its cause is unknown and is a condition that occurs commonly in childhood, especially if you’re predisposed due to a family history, many of us take it with us well into adulthood.

As we age, says author Karen Fischer in The 8-Week Healthy Skin Diet, our bodies produce fewer enzymes, especially digestive enzymes, and this can lead to poor digestion and nutritional deficiencies, causing drier skin and increased risk of inflammatory conditions.

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“[Although] atopic dermatitis typically improves with age,” says Dr. Sonya Cook, FRCPC (Dermatology) of Compass Dermatology, “people with a history of atopic dermatitis in childhood commonly present with flares of eczema later in life, especially in the winter. Atopic dermatitis affects the skin barrier, and those with a history of atopic dermatitis are more susceptible to irritants and the drying effects of winter.”

So, whether your grandbabies have it or you do, here’s an at-a-glance guide for healing from the inside and out.

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Fischer recommends limiting the known diet triggers of eczema, such as saturated fats, nuts, vegetable oils, seeds, dairy, preservatives and salicylates (such as avocado, grapes, stone fruits, tomatoes, red wine and MSG) and increasing “moisturizing foods” such as omega-3, salmon, trout, sardines, flaxseed oil/ground flaxseed and dark green leafy vegetables.


La Roche Posay has been producing Lipikar BaumeAP, which contains niacinamide to help combat itch and shea butter and canola oil, rich in omega-3 and -6 to help restore the skin’s lipids. “Treatment of atopic dermatitis focuses on avoidance of triggers (excessive washing, irritants) and restoration of the epidermal barrier with emollients,” says Cook. Lipikar is acknowledged by the Eczema Society of Canada and, this month, the company’s special edition package features the winning illustration from a contest held for children who suffer from eczema. $25 for 200 ml; $33 for 400 ml