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Are steriods really the answer?

Have you ever seen a dermatologist for the treatment of eczema? Or psoriasis? Or a “mystery” rash? Sometimes it seems like no matter what skin condition you have, the doctor will simply send you home with a steroid cream or ointment.

Topical steroids are powerful medicines that can often provide immediate relief for itching and inflammation. There are certainly times when they are of great benefit. So, you may ask — why look for an alternative?

First, topical steroids don’t get to the root of the problem. They can often tame a red and angry flare-up, but relief is temporary. They don’t address the underlying cause, prevention, or even a real cure. The most effective way to heal the skin is to create changes from within.

Second, topical steroids have serious side effects, especially when used long term or in too strong of a dose. Steroid atrophy is a condition I see often in my practice. Someone who has suffered with long-term eczema, for example, will have areas on their body where the skin has become paper thin. Blood vessels can be seen in detail, as the skin has become almost transparent. Other side effects include easy bruising, changes in pigmentation, and stretch marks that are permanent and irreversible.

What are the alternatives commonly used in holistic medicine?

1. A homeopathic medicine

A homeopathic medicine chosen specifically for you based on your unique symptoms can have a profound effect on healing your skin.  An individual consult is needed to find the right substance that will help heal your body.

2. Chamomile

A superstar remedy for the skin, chamomile is effective for soothing bug bites, healing wounds and relieving skin infections and rashes. It helps alleviate pain from hemorrhoids and has powerful anti-itching properties. It is commonly used in the treatment of eczema, although needs to be introduced slowly as it can trigger allergies. Avoid camomile if you’re allergic to ragweed — the two plants are in the same family.

Chamomile creams and ointments are widely available, or just brew a very strong mug of chamomile tea, pour onto a washcloth and use as a compress on affected areas of the skin. Drink a mug while you’re at it — a cup before bed makes for wonderful night’s sleep.

3. Tamanu nut oil

This rich oil is extracted from the seeds of a South Pacific evergreen tree. It reduces inflammation, alleviates pain, and has antibacterial properties.  It is used in acne, eczema, psoriasis, shingles, scrapes and cuts, but should be avoided by anyone with a nut allergy.

Although this oil can be used at full strength, I find it to be a very “active” oil and can be irritating to some when used in its pure form. I always recommend diluting it at 50% with a carrier oil such as almond oil, olive oil or sunflower oil.

4. Sea buckthorn oil

Sea buckthorn oil is a deep-orange oil that comes from the berry of the sea buckthorn plant. The benefits to the skin are wide-ranging.  It helps in the healing of chronic conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. It also benefits burns including sunburns and radiation burns for those undergoing cancer treatment.

To use topically, dilute the pure oil with a carrier oil such as jojoba, avocado or almond. A small amount of sea buckthorn oil goes a long way. I recommend using it at a strength of 10% or less.

5. Borage seed oil

Borage seed oil can be taken internally (in capsules) or used topically. It has been shown to benefit seborrheic dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis, reducing both inflammation and redness. Used topically, it has anti-inflammatory effects, moisturizes the skin, and strengthens the skin barrier. This ability to lock in moisture helps stop itching.

Although all these remedies are natural, that doesn’t mean they are safe and effective for everyone. For those with sensitive skin, especially atopic eczema sufferers, make sure you test any new topical product. Use a small amount of the oil on a test area before applying to skin lesions, rashes or sensitive areas.

Tell me about it

I would be really interested to hear about the skin issues you are having and what has and hasn’t worked for you. Leave a comment below.

Work with me

If you would like to discuss your skin issues with me directly to see how I can help, just send me a message via the contact form here on the website – https://judecorfield.com/contact/ or message me on Facebook – m.me/judecorfieldhomeopathy.

Jude Corfield R S Hom (NA)  judehomeopath@live.ca