Updated: Apr 6
I’ve seen a few people in the Eczema support group asking about how to manage hand-eczema, and hopefully, you’ve watched my live videos and seen my posts in the group on this topic.
You can also do a search for ‘autoimmune disease’ because regardless of what type of eczema it is, fundamentally the underlying cause is connected to the immune system.
That's why I discuss alkaline foods so often, they help to keep the immune system strengthened. Inside the Facebook group, I’ve been posting about alkaline foods and how you can best prepare them. If you have any questions about how to put together meal plans and incorporate these foods into your diet just get in touch with me.
I have structured meal plans that include all of the different food groups that I’m posting about. You can use these ready-made recipes to create really delicious, mineral-dense meals that keep you energized and satiated.
What Causes Flare-ups?
We have a central system that protects our immune system and it guards us against infections and illness. What happens in the case of eczema is the immune system has turned against the body and it attacks the skin tissues. This causes the inflammation which in turn creates the flare-ups, the itching cycle, and the breaking of the skin.
So, it is really an immune disorder that we’re looking at, and in order to manage the symptoms for eczema, we need to be looking at diet.
Some people say; how is a diet going to help these debilitating symptoms that I’m living with every day? Well, if we’re protecting the immune system, we’re giving our body the right fuel and the body is able to feed off those foods that are going to strengthen the immune system.
I talk about hybrid foods and alkaline foods because not every food that’s cultivated is best for us -- We want to be eating more natural foods where if man ceased to exist, they would grow naturally.
These are often referred to as alkaline foods because of their pH level and they are the most mineral-dense, immune-boosting foods. As we’re focussing on eczema, they especially help to reduce inflammation and by following through with an alkaline diet, you will find that it helps to decrease the symptoms of eczema -- it helped my daughter to recover from constant flares and it will help you too.
Look at my post on the different types of eczema - just search on the Facebook group for: ‘types of eczema’ and you will find there are several types. Everybody’s eczema is different but fundamentally it is an immune disorder and in order to correct that you need to be putting in the right fuel for your immune system to strengthen enough to do its job.
Hand-washing and Hygiene
Now, talking about hand eczema itself; one of the things that we’re hearing a lot about in the media right now is hygiene and handwashing but for those of you that are suffering from eczema, it's not as easy as that.
As a head chef at a nursery, I’m working in a kitchen managing other people and I’ve got to be constantly aware of hygiene standards and handwashing.
Even as someone who doesn’t suffer from eczema, continuously having your hands submerged in water and using hand dispensers with the soaps causes a lot of drying on the skin.
How To Approach Hand-washing for Hand Eczema
So what do we do in the case of eczema? A colleague of mine uses my Dermazeam so she’s applying throughout the day, and because of the constant handwashing, she’s saying her hands are getting dry and she feels judged... Her manager asked her how many times she washed her hands that day. She felt she had been targeted because she has eczema and her manager may feel that she’s not washing her hands.
And my answer to her was, you have skin sensitivity and you are more prone to infection than most. You have to protect yourself more than others -- it’s not how many times you wash your hands, it’s about doing so at the appropriate times. We’re all sharing the same pens, door handles, water dispensers, and taps. If other people are not washing their hands at the appropriate times, you’re the most vulnerable to infection. So there should be no judgement and you should feel no shame.
My response in this scenario would be, “I have skin sensitivity and I’m more prone to infection... I have to protect myself from the germs in this environment that we’re all contributing to but I'm more susceptible to infection from everybody else's germs than they are to me”.
So we all have a responsibility, and there is no shame. But when you’re at work handling different tools and surfaces, we have to be aware of the germs that we’re in contact with and what we do with our hands.
How many times you wash your hands is not about getting rid of the germs because when you’re washing your hands in water alone will not shift germs, soap will not kill germs but what it does is wash away the oil that the germs are attaching themselves to.
So a lot of people are getting into a frenzy about handwashing and I put up a silly joke on my Facebook page about the supermarket shelves being sold out of soap and it makes you wonder if people were washing their hands before... But it’s just that people are overreacting to the recent messages about hygiene and handwashing.
So, when you are washing your hands you just continue to do what you’ve been doing which is cleansing your hands at the appropriate times and then applying your moisturizers afterwards. There’s no additional level of hygiene that we need to be thinking about, just be mindful about where your hands are going.
As we’re going about our day-to-day and we’re touching doorknobs, traffic light buttons, bells on busses or whatever it is, just be aware of where you’re putting your hands afterwards, that’s the key.
If you’re touching your mouth, rubbing your eyes or your nose - just be aware that these are orifices where germs will go and spread.
So, let's think about hand-soaps because for eczema sufferers it’s not always simple. Eczema sufferers have more of a sensitivity to these hand soaps let alone gels which sting and cause more dryness and irritation to the skin.
Use a Natural Soap
If you’re going to use something mild you may already have a hand soap which you carry with you.. or as I’ve mentioned on the Facebook group; you can use African black soap -- it’s a natural handmade soap made in West Africa with natural mild ingredients which do not dry and irritate the skin. And it’s made up of cocoa pod ash, water, shea butter, and plantain leaf - it’s a traditional handmade soap that’s been used in West Africa for decades.
A recent research survey also showed that 7% of participants use black soap to treat eczema. Of those who use black soap for eczema, 100% said they were "satisfied” with the results.
Now it may not be practical to carry around your black soap but it’s so water-soluble you don’t have to keep the whole bar in your bathroom. Instead, cut a piece off, keep it in a small dish and keep that small piece. You can wash from hair to feet - it's very mild, and you don’t let it sit on the skin, you just wash your body as normal.
The black soap is so soft you can cut off small pieces, keep them in a small jar - take them to work and it lathers so much that just a small piece is enough. After having washed your hands with the soap you can simply rinse off the soap again, put it back in the jar and you can use that little piece again. That’s not going to cause an over dryness on the skin and then you just apply the general moisturizer that you’re using.
Use a Natural Moisturiser
I’ve been encouraging people to purchase the Dermazeam cream because the Dermazeam is plant-based, handmade, and EU product safety approved. I’ve been making it for years as it helped my daughter overcome the itching, stopped the breaking of skin, and it remarkably got rid of the scarring on her hands.
And if you haven’t already seen a post in the Eczema support group by a lady called Amber, do a search on that and you’ll see a comment in that post where another lady; Collandra, had fantastic results with the Dermazeam.
She’s also following an alkaline diet and it’s remarkable how food can heal, it’s not one thing in itself, you can use the soaps and the creams to manage the symptoms but when we’re looking for a long term solution, we need to work from within.
So that’s my message today on the whole furore about cleansing and handwashing -- don’t panic, don’t feel judged; you’re protecting yourself from bad habits. You are more vulnerable to infection as you have a sensitive skin condition, and you have to be more mindful to protect yourself from other people’s dirty habits.
Join the Facebook Community: Eczema Support with Qualified Nutritionist Carol Fraser