Understanding Eczema

If you google “what causes eczema?”…

The typical answers describe an inflammatory skin condition, genetic in origin, primarily related to an abnormality in the skin. The answers seem to suggest that since it is genetic we are unable to change the root cause of the problem.

Most people think of eczema as an isolated skin condition since it has an obvious presence on the skin. I want to squash these notions right here and now. Eczema (AKA atopic dermatitis) is a systemic condition that starts in our guts. That’s right – in our bellies.

So, you need to start thinking of it as an inside-out problem. Once we understand how the problem starts in our gut, we can then make the internal changes needed to heal our skin from the inside out. What gives me the right to make that statement? I have successfully treated thousands of eczema patients by healing their guts.

If you or your child is suffering from eczema take solace in the notion that you are not alone. Incidence of eczema has increased 2 to 3-fold in industrialized nations since the 1970s, with approximately 15% to 20% of children and 1% to 3% of adults affected worldwide. Population-based studies in the United States suggest that the prevalence is about 10.7% for children and 7.2% for adults. Non-Hispanic black children are disproportionately affected with nearly 1 in 5 kids developing the disease. The onset of disease commonly presents by 5 years of age, with the highest incidence occurring between the ages of 3 and 6 months, but it can occur at any age. Approximately 60% of patients develop the disease in the first year of life and 90% within the first 5 years of life. 20% of children who develop eczema before 2 years of age will have persisting symptoms of disease well into adulthood (and this number is likely even higher).

If you live in the United States you are disproportionately affected by eczema.  Children born outside of the USA have a 50% less chance of developing eczema but that risk increases to match American-born kids after 10 years. Additionally, kids in urban areas are more commonly affected than their more rural counterparts. And the disease does not differentiate by wealth – in fact, children of parents with greater than high school education are also more commonly affected.

So now you hopefully understand that the gut plays a vital role in the development of eczema. So, to start the healing process in the skin, we must start from the inside – healing the gut. Stay tuned as we cover more eczema-related topics in the next few weeks.

In Good Health,

Dr Ana-Maria Temple

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