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Perfect Skin

by Amanda Cochrane

listed in skincare

[Image: Perfect Skin]

An extract from the book

Characterised by extremely dry, inflamed and itchy skin, eczema is a very common problem that affects one in ten of us. When eczema develops early in life, it is mainly referred to as atopic and usually runs in families with a history of allergies such as hayfever and asthma

Certain household allergens such as dust, house-mites and animal danders seem to provoke flare-ups. Outbreaks of eczema can also be triggered by viral infections and stress. Eczema usually appears on the inner arms, especially elbows, backs of knees and wrists but in severe cases may affect the whole body. Sometimes tiny itchy blisters appear and the skin can be weepy. Scratching itchy eczema can allow germs to pass into the skin which leads to infection.

Eczema also occurs when the skin reacts to certain irritants such as nickel in jewellery, perfumes and plastics. This may also be referred to as contact dermatitis. Hydro-cortisone cream and steroid drugs bring relief by switching off the allergic response and giving skin a chance to heal, but as soon as treatment ceases the problem recurs. Long-term use of hydro-cortisone creams makes the skin thinner and more easily damaged. It is impossible to remove inherited tendencies but there is lots you can do to prevent flare-ups and keep eczema at bay.

Holistic solutions

* Cleanse skin with the mildest soapwort cleanser. If cracked and weepy, avoid using essential oils as they may act as irritants. Try applying a compress, made by soaking muslin in an infusion of camomile, to itchy and inflamed areas.* Put a good handful of oatmeal into a muslin bag and hang from the bath tap so softening extracts seep into the water.* If the skin flares up, massage with a soothing and strengthening blend of nourishing oils morning and evening, see right.* Eczema-prone areas need intense moisturising. First apply some pure aloe vera gel to the skin, then overlay with a rich moisturiser. The balm recipe below contains ingredients that are valuable for treating eczema.* The omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are particularly helpful for eczema sufferers. As well as moisturising skin from within, they also reduce inflammation. It is well worth supplementing your diet with a combination of cod liver oil and borage oil capsules. Zinc, vitamin C and B6 are also important nutrients for promoting skin healing.* As stress aggravates eczema, finding a way to stay calm and composed helps keep flare-ups at bay. Be sure your diet is rich in anti-stress B vitamins.* Chinese herbal medicine is often successful at treating skin problems such as eczema. Treatment is specially tailored to each individual and eczema has been known to clearcompletely.* Reduce exposure to dust and house-mites as well as any known allergens. Investing in anti-dust-mite bedding often reduces eczema flare-ups. Wear pure cotton, silk and soft natural fibres next to your skin – avoid prickly wool. Food allergies can also trigger and exacerbate eczema.

Recipes –

Eczema Soothing Massage Oil30 m1 (2 tablespoons) apricot kernel oil1 teaspoon calendula oil10 drops borage oil10 drops wheatgerm oil6 drops sandalwood or patchouli essential oilMix the oils together in a small glass bowl, then add the essential oil. Keeps fresh for up to 6 months.

Eczema Soothing Skin Balm1 teaspoon white beeswax1 teaspoon cocoa butter1 teaspoon emulsifying wax1 tablespoon apricot kernel oil1 teaspoon calendula oil1 teaspoon borage oil2 tablespoons pure spring water6 drops sandalwood or patchouli essential oilMelt the beeswax, cocoa butter and emulsifying wax in a glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Slowly pour in the calendula and borage oils with a wooden spoon and then add the water. Remove the bowl from the heat and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Finally add your essential oil. Store in a tinted glass jar. Keeps fresh for up to 4 weeks.


This skin condition seems to be genetic and whilst it can be cleared and kept under control, like eczema it has a propensity to flare up from time to time.

Psoriasis is characterised by raised circular patches of pink and flaky skin. These occur because cell turnover goes haywire. For some unknown reason new cells are produced at around ten times the normal rate and as they stack up, they give rise to these rough patches of skin. The condition is made worse by stress as well as cold, damp conditions. However, when steps are taken to improve overall health, for example inner cleansing, nourishing and relaxation, psoriasisfrequently clears.

he2Holistic solutions

* Cleanse skin gently with a simple infusion of soapwort. Coal tar is renowned for regulating cell turnover and the soap may be helpful when used in moderation.* Include infusions of herbs such as comfrey, camomile and marshmallow in your moisturising cream. Herbalists also swear by the external use of white willow bark and inner bark of elm for treating psoriasis. Tie these herbs up in muslin and soak in the bath.* The Dead Sea cure is renowned for its ability to clear up psoriasis. Numerous differentelements appear to work in combination. These include bathing in the sulphur rich springs at Ein, being immersed in the Dead Sea, having body packs of Dead Sea mud and soaking up the sun's rays (at this low-lying location there is very little burning UVB and a much higher proportion of UVA).At home Dead Sea salts can be added to baths and Dead Sea mud can be used as a body treatment.* Avoid getting over-stressed. The relaxing atmosphere at the Dead Sea has its part to play in this healing cure.* Although sunbathing is generally ill advised, psoriasis does seem to improve with exposure to strong sunlight. It is worth remembering that sun damage catches up in later life so be cautious and never allow your skin to burn.* Eat plenty of foods rich in beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A, a nutrient involved in the smooth transition of new skin cells to the surface. Along with vitamin E it helps to regulate cell renewal and prevent flakiness.* Consider taking supplements of cod liver oil (rich in vitamin A and essential fatty acids) or an oil rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids such as linseed (flax) oil. Nibble on walnuts and pumpkin and sunflower seeds.* Some psoriasis sufferers find their skin improves when they avoid coffee, citrus fruits, corn, milk and tomatoes. Prescribed drugs, including anti-malarials and painkillers, may also provoke flare-ups.* Try sipping cups of Redbush or Rooibos tea and adding a pot of infusion to bath water. This popular South African folk remedy is rich in flavonoids with anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties.

Sandra Goodman PhD
Piatkus Books

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