I was contacted by Harrison Li, of Cure Eczema Slowly, who wanted to share some of the things he has learned during his 10-year struggle with eczema. I believe that lifestyle changes and dietary changes can be very helpful in remedying certain ailments. In my post "Milk Did My Body Wrong", I explained how simply removing one problem food group from my diet resulted in amazing changes to my health. The following are Harrison's tips, which he has asked me to share with you all, in the hopes that it might also lead to improvements, for those suffering from eczema. These are presented as suggestions and as a personal testimonial. Everybody is different, so please consult a physician or health care professional, before making any major adjustments.
60 Nuggets of Gold from 10 Years of Eczema
Hi, reader of Amazing and Atopic. I’m Harrison. I’m honoured to be featured on Selena’s blog here today.
I would like to share with you my success story of becoming eczema-free. I was a fine kid until 6 years old, when bad luck struck me and I started getting dry skin. Dry skin turned into itchy skin. Itchy skin turned into never-ending wet bloody sores. The wounds got so bad the plasma got stuck on to my white school uniform all the time. I hated life, I hated myself. I hated getting into showers because upon water contact with my young delicate broken skin would make me cry in agony. I have all these memories of my so-called “childhood”. All these didn't matter too much, but as I grew up I felt the social humiliation and embarrassment in front of my friends and even strangers. It was annoying being stared at and looked away. I knew it had to change.
I tried many kinds of lotions, creams, steroids, herbal medicines and bathing formulas. Nothing gave me a permanent relief. I dived on to my laptop and searched endlessly of the whole internet for a practical solution. Finally, I found a method that made sense – dietary changes. I followed an extremely restrictive diet which took a little over 6 months for my body to heal and detoxify unwanted toxins from my body.
It was a painful process because I had to go through the healing crisis, a period of time (3 months for me) that worsened my eczema to the extreme due to the natural effect of detoxification. My skin was crocodile-like it even hurt to move, I could literally feel my skin stretching.
After 10 long years of suffering from eczema, I must say, through a combination of dietary changes, habitual changes, lifestyle changes and a little bit extra of everything, has allowed me to recover from eczema. I’ve decided to share my personal tips with you.
Note: The advice listed here come from my personal experience and achieved results, but everyone’s different so may have to make certain adjustments.
1. If the place you live at has high humidity or high dryness levels, install the appropriate appliance to bring the levels back to the mean.
2. It depends on the household size, but if you are to use any air conditioner for heating or cooling, do not move the temperature to the limits of each appliance instead, have it in the middle is best. That means no AC for down to 16 degrees (60°F) in the summer.
3. Clean your house every week, sweep the dust, but wet it first so they don’t fly in the air which can get into your breathing. And try to clean your house right before you have to leave, so you can avoid breathing in most of the dusty air particles.
4. No carpets, rugs or any substance that is hairy-like in your house, this includes teddy bears – try to avoid contact if you really need to keep them. These fabrics cause build-ups of dust mites, bacteria and unwanted substances.
5. Have multiple bed sheets and pillow cases for exchange every month.
6. Switch your closet with all 100% cotton only apparel. Don’t buy or use anymore artificial fabrics.
7. Never wear tight clothing because it will interfere with proper breathing of your skin pores.
8. No steroids at all, not even for emergency or any type of situations. Steroids not only block the detoxification process of your body, you’ll also be able to develop steroid-induced eczema and you’re simply trading a short-term relief for a long-term suffering. Not worth it.
9. Have three levels of topical treatments: casual lotion, petroleum jelly for really dry skin if the casual lotion doesn’t work and an emergency itch buster that is organic.
10. Some itches are intolerable, learn to relieve itches properly. There are multiple methods that can reduce your itch without breaking your skin cells. First, you can slap the affected spots hard, because pain covers up itches. Still itchy? Slap it again and make it stronger.
11. Second, you can grab some water and rub it on your itching spot, the water helps soothe the itch and also rubbing it in circles is still a lot better than pure scratching. Ice-packs are even better.
12. Third, divert your attention to something else, for this to be effective the activity you do must be really attention-grabbing e.g. watching a hilarious comedy.
13. Fourth, manually pump out your adrenaline levels. How? Do vigorous physical activities in a short amount of time e.g. kicks and punch, continuous jumping and so on. This is my personal trick but I find it useful.
14. For infants, consider using a pair of Scratch Me Not mittens– they are skin-safe mittens for infants with eczema to wear without allowing them damage their skin.
15. Allergies are a big problem in life, being uncertain of the triggers is worse. I highly recommend taking an allergy test, although the results may not be 100% accurate, it will still give you a clear grasp of what may be dangerous to you. Remember, the test for IgE levels is the one that matters. Here’s more information about blood tests.
16. Eat an apple every single morning (morning is best), because it’s full of antioxidants and essential nutrients.
17. Drink at least 2L of water every day.
18. Drink no artificial beverages and no acidifying beverages.
19. Don’t drink icy cool water or boiling hot liquids.
20. Don’t use a plastic container for your frequent water consumption, as long periods of usage, the chemicals of the plastic bottle will degrade and come off, mixed in within your beverage.
21. Consume zero amounts of artificially processed, refined, made products.
22. Retain an eating balance of 80% alkalizing foods and 20% acidifying foods. Here are food charts.
23. Drop omega-6 intake, sodium (salt) intake and raise omega-3 intake and potassium intake. These are crucial diet factors that can affect your inflammatory responses.
24. Eat low amounts of foods high in natural chemicals such as salicylates, amines and glutamates.
25. Each meal should contain at least 50% vegetables, 25% of proteins and 25% of carbohydrates. Do not deviate.
26. Consider eating plain organic natural fresh yoghurt as part of your daily ritual, they contain live cultures which are beneficial bacteria for your gut to help fight off harmful bacteria.
27. Try to only eat acidifying protein (meat, fish) during the day, and go vegetarian at night because when you digest the acidifying foods, you face a chance of itching, therefore it’s better to face the itch while your conscious than to uncontrollably itch your skin while your asleep.
28. Wash your hands every single time as soon as you get home. You can’t see the germs with your naked eye.
29. Shower only, never bath. Never shower for more than 10 minutes.
30. Only shower with cold water. In winter if you have to, lukewarm only.
31. Never start a shower warm thinking you can gradually cut it down to cold, because it’s impossible and counter-effective.
32. Don’t use shampoo at all. Trust me. Human beings don’t need chemicals to survive. Not just because of that, but because shampoo strips off your natural hair oils.
33. Don’t use artificial body wash, only use on necessary parts (you know where).
34. It sounds silly to LEARN how to clean yourself, but eczema sufferers must only rub, no scratching or hard rubbing.
35. Never rub yourself dry, only pat yourself with the towel and let the water absorb into the fabric.
36. Apply moisturizers within the 5 minutes after your shower to lock in all moisture.
37. How to properly moisturize? Squeeze lotion into your hands and rub it in circles until it’s equally spread out on your palms, then rub it on your skin. Don’t squeeze directly to your skin because that overloads the lotion into your pores.
38. Don’t use facial wash or any artificially made products. Why do we need to survive off chemicals?
39. Try to choose a type of toothpaste that has low potency of chemicals. This is going to be one major source of artificial chemicals going into your body if you follow a diet of strictly organic foods.
40. Don’t use any artificially made products, at all. This includes: body sprays, deodorants, perfumes, facial masks, make-up, shaving cream…etc.
41. Try to use a homemade laundry detergent, there are recipes out there including the use of apple cider vinegar and coconut oil.
42. Wear gloves when washing dishes, at all times.
43. Plan 3 times of vigorous aerobic exercises every week for around 30 minutes, and 2 sessions of strength training. This is the recommended weekly schedule for physical activities. Sweating promotes itches at first, but it goes away later. But that doesn't mean sweating is bad, it is actually one of the best detoxification mechanisms.
44. Cut all high-intensity physical activities during your recovery. High-intensity means while you’re in the act, you can barely talk in a conversation.
45. No swimming in chlorinated pools at all. And try to avoid swimming, even if it’s at the beach with natural sea water, prolonged sessions of skin contact under water is still damaging and will cause extreme skin dryness after. If you have to go in the water, pre-treat your skin with a safe protective ointment.
46. Bring a towel to wipe your sweat during physical activities. An excessive accumulation of sweat will block out skin pores which creates itching.
47. Go get a shower as soon as you can after a strong session of sweat.
48. Learn to take deep breaths. Slowly: inhale through your nose and pump out your stomach, exhale through your mouth and move back your stomach. Repeat 3-5 times.
49. Every day, spare 10-15 minutes of your time in a quiet room, free of distractions, sit down, close your eyes and take a reflection of everything: what you've been doing today, what you want to achieve, how close you are to your goals, are you on track and so on.
50. Learn to not act on burst emotions: anger, jealousy, hatred…etc. These will stress you up and stress promotes itching. Harness your anger.
51. Learn to de-clutter your house and organize everything, your mind will subconsciously feel frustrated and stress due to the messiness, and you don’t want stress for eczema.
52. Understand that having eczema is not the worst thing that could happen to you, there are more unfortunate people in the world such as people with cancer, diabetes, heart disease…etc.
53. Don’t compare yourself with other people, it doesn't tell you anything, you’re just making unnecessary thoughts that simply stresses you out.
54. Eczema sufferers are more introvert-like, so you need to cover up the loss of not being able to outgoing. Simple tips: smile every day, say hi to everyone, be friendly, polite and kind! Your attitude really means everything.
55. Substitute your hobbies and passions that are restricted because of your eczema, into something you can focus mainly under the ceiling.
56. Stretch every night before you go to sleep, it helps promote good blood flow and allow proper rejuvenation of your body’s maintenance system. Stretching includes: sitting on your bed with your feet parallel lined out and bend your back to aim for your toes. Repeat on both legs, hold for 10 seconds each and finally perform on both feet together.
57. Every morning you wake up and every night before you sleep, wipe dead skin cells and dust mites off your pillow and bed. They are itch-promoting substances.
58. Sleep by 11pm every night. You’ve got to let your immune system and vital organs take a break to rest and heal.
59. Understand that eczema is curable. It is curable. Proof? I am a living proof. How? Through extreme dedication, persistence and patience plus the natural approach that I’m currently making it into a book. So, don’t lose hope.
60. [space left for your very own personal best tip, please share…]
The tips I provide here are all based from my personal experience all these 10 years through trials and error.
Now, I've left the 60th tip for you to fill up, what will you share?
Harrison Li once suffered from eczema for 10 years but he cured it in 2013. He is writing a book to help others do the same. Meanwhile, grab his free PDF on 13 Eczema Questions You’ve Always Want Answered Truthfully.