In the realm of skin conditions, the terms "eczema" and "dermatitis" are often used interchangeably, though they have distinct characteristics. These skin conditions can perplex many, and grasping their distinctions and commonalities is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective management.


Demystifying Eczema and Dermatitis

Let's delve into the intricacies of eczema and dermatitis, exploring their origins, symptoms, phases, varieties, and natural treatment options.

What is Eczema 

Eczema typically commences with dry, itchy skin, and persistent scratching transforms it into the familiar angry, red rash. It predominantly manifests in skin flexures such as elbow patches, knees, and the neck. Although eczema can affect individuals of all ages, it predominantly emerges before the age of five, impacting 10% - 20% of children. Remarkably, nearly half of these young sufferers outgrow it before reaching adulthood. Diagnosis hinges primarily on clinical observations and symptom assessment.

What is Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis, the most prevalent form of eczema, is a constituent of the "atopic triad," along with asthma and allergies. An intriguing fact is that approximately 70 percent of patients with atopic dermatitis have a positive family history of atopic diseases. Common triggers for eczema flare-ups encompass dietary factors, stress, irritants, and environmental elements. Notably, the incidence of eczema has surged 2- to 3-fold globally since the 1970s. In Western treatment paradigms, the initial line of therapy typically features emollients and topical corticosteroids. In cases of unresponsiveness, treatment options may progress to include topical calcineurin inhibitors, phototherapy, or immunosuppressive agents.


Navigating the Phases of Eczema

Understanding the various phases of eczema  is vital for effective management. Let's explore them in detail:

Acute Dermatitis: Itching often precedes the appearance of the rash in acute eczema. The intense itching can lead to relentless scratching, resulting in red, weepy, and torn skin.

Subacute Dermatitis: The subacute phase bridges the gap between acute and chronic dermatitis. Symptoms are generally less severe, with reduced itching but a possible burning or stinging sensation due to open scratches. Rash borders are less distinct, and the rash tends to be drier rather than blistered and oozing. Many acute eczema rashes naturally progress into the subacute phase during the healing process.

Chronic Dermatitis: Chronic dermatitis refers to eczema flares that persist for an extended duration, often three months or more. However, chronic eczema isn't solely defined by time; it exhibits its own set of distinct symptoms.


Exploring Four Dermatitis Varieties

Dermatitis comes in various forms, each with its unique characteristics:

1. Atopic Dermatitis:

As mentioned earlier, atopic dermatitis is part of the "atopic triad" and often coexists with asthma and allergies. It predominantly affects skin flexures, such as elbow patches, knees, and the neck.

2. Contact Dermatitis:
Contact dermatitis can be allergic, resulting from a delayed reaction to allergens like poison ivy, or irritant, occurring when chemicals or physical agents damage the skin faster than it can repair itself.
3. Xerotic Dermatitis: 
Also known as Asteatotic eczema, often referred to as eczema craquelé due to its cracked appearance, is a prevalent form of dermatitis that arises from excessively dry skin.  While it can manifest in various areas of the body, including upper limbs and trunk, the shins are the most frequently affected site.  it typically worsens in winter and cold, dry weather.
4. Seborrheic Dermatitis: 
Closely associated with dandruff and causes dry or greasy peeling of the scalp, eyebrows, face, and torso.



Investigating Causes and Risk Factors

Understanding the underlying causes and risk factors associated with eczema is essential:

Skin Barrier Impairment

Research has shown that the development of atopic dermatitis is genetically linked to chromosome 1q21, resulting in mutations in the filaggrin gene. This gene encodes a protein critical for the epidermis's barrier function, potentially leading to heightened exposure and sensitisation to cutaneous antigens.

Genetics and Family History

Around 70 percent of eczema sufferers have a positive family history of atopic diseases, including asthma and allergies.

Birth and Childhood Influences

Early childhood experiences can trigger epigenetic and developmental changes. Factors such as the mode of birth (vaginal or c-section), feeding method (breastfed or bottle-fed), and environmental allergen exposure play pivotal roles in eczema development. Additionally, where one grows up, including exposure to environmental allergens like pollens and pets, can contribute to the condition. 

Gut Health and Microbiome

Research shows the link between eczema, gut health, and the microbiome. The condition of the skin closely parallels gut health. Food sensitivities, dietary choices, imbalanced microbiomes, yeast, toxins, and an irritated local immune system in the gut can lead to leaky gut and subsequent skin inflammation. 

Immune System Dynamics

Individuals with eczema and atopic conditions often exhibit an over-activation of the "TH2 dominant" branch of the immune system, elevating the risk of allergies, autoimmune disorders, and other skin conditions.

High Toxic Load

An excessive accumulation of toxins in the body can manifest as skin issues, causing irritation and systemic inflammation, thereby increasing susceptibility to allergies.

Naturopathic and Natural Eczema and Dermatitis Solutions

Tailored Care for Unique Journeys


Every individual's journey with eczema is distinctive, requiring personalised strategies to address specific imbalances and needs. There's a wealth of treatment options available, some of which can be adapted and customised to suit individual circumstances and evolving symptoms. Among these options, natural and naturopathic approaches stand out as gentle, holistic solutions for managing eczema.

Diet and Nutrition Therapies

Diet plays a significant role in managing eczema and dermatitis. Certain foods can exacerbate symptoms, while others can help soothe the skin from within. Consult with a healthcare professional or nutritionist to explore dietary changes that may benefit your eczema.

Natural Eczema Skincare Solutions

When it comes to eczema, the products you use on your skin matter. Opt for natural  eczema skincare solutions  that are free from harsh chemicals, fragrances, and irritants. Look for products with ingredients like shea butter, calendula, and  organic Mānuka oil, Kānuka oil which are known for their soothing properties. These natural remedies can help alleviate itching, redness, and dryness associated with eczema and dermatitis.

Herbal Medicine

Herbal remedies have been used for centuries to address various health issues, including skin conditions like eczema. Herbs like chamomile, calendula, have anti-inflammatory and soothing properties that can provide relief from eczema symptoms. Consult with a qualified herbalist to explore herbal remedies tailored to your specific needs.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine offer holistic approaches to managing eczema. Acupuncture can help balance the body's energy flow and address underlying imbalances that contribute to eczema. Chinese herbal medicine, prescribed by a qualified practitioner, can also be an effective complementary treatment.

Supplements and Orthomolecular Medicine

Certain supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and vitamins, can support skin health and manage eczema symptoms. Consult with a healthcare provider to determine which supplements may be beneficial for you, as individual needs can vary.

Light and Phototherapy

Light therapy, or phototherapy, exposes the skin to controlled amounts of natural or artificial ultraviolet light. This treatment can help reduce inflammation and itching associated with eczema. Phototherapy should be administered under the guidance of a dermatologist or healthcare professional.


Hydrotherapy involves the use of water in various forms, such as baths and compresses, to alleviate eczema symptoms. Soaking in a lukewarm bath with added emollients or oatmeal can hydrate the skin and relieve itching. Consult with a naturopathic practitioner for guidance on hydrotherapy techniques.


A Holistic Approach to Eczema & Dermatitis Management


Eczema and dermatitis are complex skin conditions influenced by numerous factors. Understanding their intricacies and exploring natural and naturopathic solutions can be a valuable part of your eczema management plan.

Always consult with a healthcare professional or naturopathic practitioner for personalised advice and tailored treatment plans. It's essential to complement natural remedies with medical guidance to ensure safe and effective eczema management. Please note that the information provided here is not medical advice and should not replace professional medical consultation.






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