Eczema: what can you do about it?

Updated: May 18

Eczema is a widely known and (in)famous skin condition that many people suffer from. If you have it or had it in the past, you know how painfully annoying it can be. Red, dry, and itching skin are the most common complaints. What causes eczema, and what can you do to treat, or even better, prevent it?

WHAT IS ECZEMA? First, let us start with explaining what eczema is. Eczema is an inflammatory reaction of the skin expressed in symptoms like redness, itching, rashes, and skin flakiness. This reaction can be temporary or chronic and is caused by external or internal factors. Genetics plays an important role in many cases. Eczema generally develops in children within the first six months to five years of age. Also, adults can develop this skin condition later in life, even if they never suffered from it as a child.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF ECZEMA To understand the cause of eczema, we must look at the different forms of it. The three most common forms are described below:

  • Constitutional dermatitis has a chronic course, and often starts between the age of two to six months. Constitutional eczema is also called atopic eczema because the condition is part of the ‘atopic syndrome’, which also includes hay fever and asthma. Atopy is a problem with the immune system that makes it more likely to develop allergic diseases. When you have atopy, your immune system is more sensitive to common allergic triggers that you breathe in or eat.

  • Contact dermatitis is a hypersensitivity reaction of the skin after contact with a substance (for example perfume or preservatives) for which an allergy has been developed.

  • Seborrheic dermatitis is characterized by red, inflamed patches of skin with greasy flakes. These spots are often on areas with many sebaceous glands such as the face, scalp, back, and chest. Often, the presence of yeasts called malassezia seems to be involved in this form of eczema. It can also be caused by an irregular response of the immune system.

Although the manifestation of eczema symptoms can differ enormously per person, in general it can be said that, with any form of eczema (intense) itching, redness, and sometimes blisters develop.

HOW TO TREAT ECZEMA Unfortunately, the cause and severity of this skin condition depends per person, which is why there is no straight answer on how to treat eczema. Also, there is still a lot we don’t know about the cause and how to treat it. Some people find relief in hormone cream or other topical and/or immunosuppressant medications. This may offer a temporarily relief, but it doesn’t address the cause.

Although we still know little about what causes eczema, we do have a lot of information on what may trigger it. We will discuss the most common forms:

  • Contact dermatitis This is caused by direct contact with a substance or an allergic reaction to it. To prevent such a reaction, you will have to find out which substance is causing it so you can avoid contact. The substance can be anything that touches the skin, varying from deodorant to facial cream to laundry detergent. If you suspect something to be the cause, simply avoid using it for two to four weeks and see if your skin clears up.

  • Constitutional dermatitis Constitutional eczema, also called atopic eczema, is a form of eczema that mainly occurs in childhood. Eczema usually starts before the age of two and is primarily characterized by intense itching. Constitutional eczema is often accompanied by a predisposition to developing allergies. If atopic eczema develops during infancy, it is highly likely that it will automatically disappear at a later age. However, eczema can also be chronic or can flare-up at a later stage. The exact cause of constitutional eczema is unknown. It is assumed that eczema is caused and maintained by a combination of various factors. On the one hand there is genetic predisposition; on the other hand, there is the influence of allergic and non-allergic factors from the environment, foods, but also gut health can play a part. Foods that are often associated with eczema include eggs, some nuts, soy, and foods that contain gluten, lactose, and sugar. We recommended trying the elimination diet; removing certain foods for a period of time, then reintroducing them, and monitoring your eczema for four to six weeks. This is a very effective way to determine if you are sensitive to any particular food. If your symptoms get worse after adding a particular food to the diet, you may want to consider avoiding this in the future. If symptoms do not improve after eliminating a food, you probably do not need to remove it from the diet, and you should rather look for another trigger. If you would want help with this process, we recommend searching for a holistic therapist or specialist, such as an orthomolecular physician, dietary or gut health specialist.

  • Seborrheic dermatitis There is still a lot unknown about the cause of seborrheic dermatitis, but it may be related to a yeast (fungus) called malassezia that is found in the oil secretion on the skin and to an irregular response of the immune system. A number of factors increase the risk of developing seborrheic dermatitis, including neurologic and psychiatric conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and depression, a weakened immune system, and recovery from stressful medical conditions and medications. Although no particular food has been identified as a trigger, some studies link certain foods to seborrheic dermatitis. One study [1] found that a western dietary pattern that mainly consists of meat and processed food - food that has been cooked, canned, frozen, dried, baked, and packaged - might trigger seborrheic dermatitis. Processed foods include:

  • Cheese

  • Tofu

  • Bread

  • Cake

  • Cookies

  • Ketchup

  • Chips The same study showed that a higher intake of fruit lowered the risk of seborrheic dermatitis for women by 25%. You may want to try to avoid eating processed food, eat more fresh and organic fruits and vegetables, and start with an elimination diet. Seborrheic dermatitis has also been observed to become less severe in the summer season. Hence, exposure to sunlight may help in reducing the flaring of seborrheic dermatitis. You may also consider light therapy, but that should be discussed with your physician.

PROBIOTICS AND ECZEMA More and more studies are conducted about the relationship between our health and probiotics. Research has shown that children with a certain type of eczema have a different bacterial composition at a young age. It seems that probiotics can help [2] with and even prevent [3] eczema. It seems that children with eczema have a lesser amount of lactic acid bacteria and certain bifidobacteria in their gut. Supplementing with probiotics may help to improve their condition.

Probiotics may also help seborrheic dermatitis. According to recent studies, when a non-living extract of the bacterium Vitreoscila filiformis [4]) and an oral probiotic (L. Paracasei [5]) were applied to the skin the symptoms improved: there was less redness and inflammation of the skin.

SKINCARE AND ECZEMA The cause of eczema is different for everyone. Some people may react strongly to certain hair dye, soap, or cosmetic ingredients such as methylisothiazolinone, fragrances and allergens like eugenol, geraniol, citronellol, citral and farnesol, quaternium-15, formaldehyde, and balsam of Peru. Others have no problem with cosmetics at all. If you find that some products trigger your eczema, you can best avoid that product. To determine which specific ingredient triggers your eczema can be quite a challenging task, because skincare products so often consist of many different ingredients. The best thing you can do is study the ingredient list of that product and compare it with other products that you had a similar reaction to. If you are lucky, you find out which ingredient triggers the eczema. Also, keep a close eye on your skin when you start using a (new) product.

Comme Ça offers several 100% natural and vegan skincare products that may help to calm skin with eczema symptoms.

Le Youth Sérum soothes irritated skin

This serum contains pure and organic vanilla, which has a strongly calming effect [6]. This can be extremely beneficial to irritated skin. This 100% natural skincare product, vegan and cruelty-free, is a gorgeous blend of plant oils that moisturizes dry and sensitive skin, as well as itchy, irritated skin. Simultaneously, the vitamins and antioxidants protect against premature skin aging. The algae extract restores skin elasticity [7], and together with the Acmella-Oleracea extract, it reduces the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles [8].

La Prickly Pear Seed Oil helps to calm

Our prickly pear seed oil is a very gentle, organic face oil that works well to calm and soothe irritated skin due to its high concentration of vitamin E [9] and linoleic acid [10]. La Prickly Pear Seed Oil is an incredible moisturizer that softens the skin and is suitable for dry, sensitive, and oily skin. It quickly sinks into the skin and doesn’t leave the skin to feel or look greasy. Besides, the prickly pear seed oil is supercharged with vitamins to nourish and protect the skin: a superb choice when looking for a 100% natural skincare product for eczema skin.

“SO, NOW WHAT TO DO WITH ECZEMA?!” As you have read, eczema is a broad subject and ditto problem: there is no fixed answer or 1 go-to solution when it comes to prevent or stop eczema. Using probiotics, avoiding processed foods, starting an elimination diet, and using skincare that doesn’t cause flareups is a good way to start your journey and investigation. If regardless, you continue to have problems, it is certainly a good idea to visit your physician. It may be helpful to get an allergological examination, light therapy or use antihistamines. We wish you the best of luck to find what works for you!

1. Martijn G.H. Sanders, Luba M. Pardo, Rebecca S. Ginger, Jessica C. Kiefte-de Jong, Tamar Nijsten, Association between Diet and Seborrheic Dermatitis: A Cross-Sectional Study, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Volume 139, Issue 1, 2019, Pages 108-114, ISSN 0022-202X, (

2. Zuccotti G, Meneghin F, Aceti A, Barone G, Callegari ML, Di Mauro A, Fantini MP, Gori D, Indrio F, Maggio L, Morelli L, Corvaglia L onbehalf of the Italian Society of Neonatology. Probiotics for prevention of atopic diseases in infants: systematic review and meta-analysis.Allergy2015;70: 1356–1371. (

3. Kim JY, Kwon JH, Ahn SH, Lee SI, Han YS, Choi YO, Lee SY, Ahn KM, Ji GE. Effect of probiotic mix (Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus) in the primary prevention of eczema: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2010: 21: e386–e393. (

4. Guéniche A, Dahel K, Bastien P, Martin R, Nicolas J, Breton L. Vitreoscilla filiformis bacterial extract to improve the efficacy of emollient used in atopic dermatitis symptoms. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venerol. Published online June 2008:746-747. doi:10.1111/j.1468-3083.2007.02428.x

5. Reygagne P, Bastien P, Couavoux MP, et al. The positive benefit of Lactobacillus paracasei NCC2461 ST11 in healthy volunteers with moderate to severe dandruff. Beneficial Microbes. Published online October 13, 2017:671-680. doi:10.3920/bm2016.0144 6. Saboori, Somayeh & Shab Bidar, Sakineh & Speakman, John & yusefi rad, Esmaeel & Djafarian, Kurosh. (2015). Effect of Vitamin E supplementation on serum C-reactive protein level: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. European journal of clinical nutrition. 69. 10.1038/ejcn.2014.296.

7. Letawe C, Boone M, Piérard GE. Digital image analysis of the effect of topically applied linoleic acid on acne microcomedones. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology. 1998 Mar;23(2):56-58. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2230.1998.00315.x.

8. Vaghasiya, Yogeshkumar & RATHISH, NAIR & MAYUR, SONI & SHIPRA, BALUJA & Chanda, Sumitra. (2004). Synthesis, structural determination and antibacterial activity of compounds derived from vanillin and 4-aminoantipyrine. Journal of the Serbian Chemical Society. 69. 10.2298/JSC0412991V.

9. Pascale Goyat, Lucie Brun, Sebastien Barre, George Rosson. Microalgae as sustainable source of powerful actives. (2014). Natura-Tec, France.

10. Frederic Demarne, Ghislaine Passaro. Use of an Acmella oleracea extract for the botulinum toxin-like effect thereof in an anti-wrinkle cosmetic composition. (2009) Patent application.