Atopic dermatitis (which is a form of excema) is generally a contact allergic reaction which irritates the skin and causes rashes, burning, inflammation, redness, slight elevated lesions and itching. The problem stays localised to the area where the allergen has touched and it is a delayed hypersensitivity reaction (the reaction to the allergen occurs 48-72 hours after the exposure). Skin allergies are the result of the release of excessive amounts of histamine from the body’s mast cells (immune modulating cells) in response to allergens and this over production of immune cells causes inflammation which irritates the skin and causes further sensitivities from outside agents. Put simply, it is an inflammatory condition due to a hypersensitive immune system.


  • Red, moist, swollen, painful, itchy skin (acute)
  • Crusty, scaly, red itchy skin (sub-acute)
  • Itchy, thickened, raised, scaly patches (chronic)


  • Atopic – childhood eczema, genetic, allergic on the face, neck, bends of elbows and knees, wrists, hands and ankles
  • Contact – face, palms of hands, fingers and feet
  • Varicose – ankles, legs with itchy, broken capillaries, slow to heal and often with ulcers
  • Seborrhoea – cradle cap in infants with red, scaly skin in the body folds. In adults presents as pink, scaly patches on the scalp, face, chest, back, armpits and groin
  • Exfoliative – severe scaling with large areas affected


  • Cosmetics and skin care products, detergents, deodorants,moisturisers, after shave lotions, creams, perfumes, dyes, soaps andlotions
  • Jewellery such as nickel based items and copper to a lesser degree
  • Rubber gloves, balloons, latex
  • Food allergies such as cows milk, eggs, cheese, sugar, gluten and food additives
  • Plants, grasses, pollens, dust mites and pollution


  • Increase oily foods in your diet to provide better moisture to the skin and a barrier to help soothe irritations – raw unheated olive oil, flaxseed oil, nuts, fish and avocados
  • Reduce inflammation within the body by alkalising the blood. Foods which are alkaline are sprouts, fish, miso soup, millet, vegetable broths and juices, water, lemon juice and green barley powder. Reduce inflammation causing/ heating foods such as wheat, sugar, dairy, alcohol, soft drinks, preservatives, processed and refined foods and red meat
  • Avoid allergic foods such as wheat/gluten, nuts, citrus, honey, dairy and eggs if this is a causative factor
  • Follow an elimination diet


  • Take a soothing bath. Put some chamomile and oats in a muslin cloth or stocking and tie it over the bath tap and let the warm bath water run through it. Chamomile is very calming to the skin and oats contain mucopolysaccharides which are anti-pruritic to soothe and heal the skin and reduce the itch
  • Use fragrance free moisturisers, shampoos, creams, soaps and deodorants (especially because the rash is present under the arms). The common irritants to the skin contained in most body and face care products are sodium lauryl sulphate or any of its derivatives, benzenes, petroleum based products, aluminium, chlorhexidine, dioxins, Ethylenediamide tetraacetic acid (EDTA), parabens and hydrazines
  • See a dermatologist to determine cause of what you are reacting to or have an blood and/ or allergy test
  • A food challenge can also determine whether a specific food is triggering a dermatitis reaction. The suspected food is removed from the diet and then gradually dded back into the diet and skin changes noted
  • Avoid exposure to the allergen as much as possible; avoid chemicals and extreme temperatures which can worsen symptoms. Avoid exposure to animal dander, feather bedding, dust, house plants, pollens, synthetic clothing, costume jewellery, perfumed soap, washing powder and cosmetics
  • Control sunbathing and swimming in the sea water
  • Manage stress which can trigger or worsen flare-ups
  • Address underlying contributing factors such as nutritional deficiencies, liver congestion, Candida and digestive insufficiencies
  • For babies with dermatitis issues it is best for the mother to breast feed for as long as possible and to avoid the common allergic triggers also


  • Aqueous based creams (water based, non-perfumed) with herbs added such as calendula, lavender, aloe vera, chickweed, vitamin E when applied to the skin may reduce the itch and help the skin to heal
  • Fish oil provides more essential fatty acids to the skin, reduces inflammation and moisturise and nourish the skin
  • Some herbs may help reduce inflammation and the body’s resistance to the irritants, such as Licorice, marshmallow, bupleurum, ginger, chickweed, pinellia, skullcap, albizzia, siberian ginseng, golden seal and chamomile. A naturopath can tailor make a herbal supplement to your needs
  • People with inflammatory skin conditions are usually deficient in anti-oxidants such as Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Selenium
  • A Micelle A and E capsule to decrease the inflammation while addressing immunity
  • B Complex to improve skin healing, reduce stress as a contributing factor and support immunity