In my work with GAPS Clients, one of the most common skin conditions that folks are dealing with is eczema. Frequently families and children are undertaking the GAPS Diet for eczema alone, and find that it resolves other issues as well.
Other skin conditions I see are keratosis pilaris, psoriasis, acne, rosacea, and dry skin.
The underpinnings of the GAPS diet works on the root causes of the skin conditions (an unhealthy gut and imbalance of microbes in gut & skin).
But while that is happening, there are GAPS remedies & tips that can help with the discomfort and speed the healing. I’ve seen many cases of eczema and other skin conditions clear up beautifully.
Not all skin conditions are remedied quickly or easily, some cases get worse before they get better, but with a little troubleshooting & patience, amazing things can happen.
Here are my top tips for using the GAPS Diet for Eczema:
1. Use edible or microbe friendly skin washing care.
Most commercial soaps and skin care are filled with harsh (& unpronounceable) ingredients that damage our skin’s ability to protect itself and restore its acid mantle after washing. The general GAPS rule is: if you
cannot eat it you shouldn’t put it on your skin. Dr. Natasha recommends washing with only water if you are struggling with any skin issues.
If washing with only water is unpalatable, then here are some of my WASHING product suggestions:
- MotherDirt skin care – this line of skincare actually puts beneficial bacteria back on your skin, and their cleansers don’t kill them off.
- Pine Tar Soap – naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory
- Alaffia – this line of products has pretty clean ingredients, and is socially conscious, helping cooperatives in Africa that help provide income and support to communities that need it.
- Vermont Soap Co. – a great Vermont company, VT Soap makes all natural soaps, cleaners, and more.
- Caroline’s Dream – for cleansing your face, this is my all-time favorite facial cleanser…another great Vermont product!
- VT Emu Oil Products – love their products, including their Blemish Control. Emu oil is naturally anti-inflammatory & contains the essential fatty acids, Omega 3, 6, & 9.
2. Use GAPS-friendly overnight applications.
These are GAPS remedies to use if you have active & severe eczema patches. Experiment a little with what works for you or your young ones.
- Night 1: Active Manuka honey or Manuka Honey Skin Cream – Raw, local honey will work, but I’ve found active Manuka honey like this one or this, to be very effective for eczema and skin rashes. Apply to eczema patches, cold sores, or rashes before bed, cover with plastic wrap or a piece of flannel covered with plastic wrap and secured with a bandage or similar. In the morning, rinse with plain water, and use one of the applications in #3.
- Night 2: Seaweed powder paste – Mix a small amount of seaweed powder with hot water, just enough water to form a paste, and apply in the same way as the honey. In the morning, rinse with plain water, and use one of the applications in #3. Some more seaweed powder sources are here, here & here.
- Alternate between the Manuka honey and seaweed powder, or see what works best for your skin.
3. Use GAPS-friendly moisturizing applications.
For severe eczema patches apply one of the following after rinsing off the overnight applications:
- Mashed ripe avocado
- Homemade yogurt, kefir, or sour cream
- Grassfed Beef Tallow, my favorite is this one (the most biologically identical to human skin) You can also make your own.
- Cold pressed sesame oil
- Cold pressed olive oil
- Cold pressed coconut oil (coconut oil can causes issues for some)
For other skin moisturizing needs I like:
- Grassfed Beef Tallow (my favorite)
- Shea butter – I like Alaffia’s shea butter (especially their passion fruit version) but also this unscented. There are other good shea butters on the market, look for fair trade.
- Caroline’s Dream Facial Creams – Vermont skincare that is pure, crafted with care, and luxuriously moisturizing. I love the Sandalwood & Geranium options.
4. Take GAPS-friendly eczema baths.
Experiment and rotate the following bath additions and see which one is the most soothing. Try one the first night, another the 2nd night, and so on. ALSO MAKE SURE BATH WATER IS FREE OF LEAD, CHLORINE & OTHER CONTAMINANTS.
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 3 – 5 tablespoons seaweed powder
- Gluten free oatmeal in a cotton bag for running the bath water through, or setting in the tub
5. For less severe patches, apply probiotics with avocado.
One of the root causes of eczema is an imbalance of microbes on the skin, so it can be helpful to apply 1-2 capsules of probiotic powder mixed with mashed avocado. Do this 2x per day until the patch clears.
6. Swim in the ocean and sunbathe.
This powerful duo (sun & sea) does wonders for skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and more. The sun and sea purify, mineralize, convert cholesterol into Vitamin D, etc. Get to the beach as often as you can.
7. Test for your (GAPS-legal) food sensitivities.
I’ve listed this as #7, but for many of my clients this can be one of the most important pieces. In my practice, I use a food sensitivity test that is over 90% accurate (which is remarkable success in the world of food sensitivity testing!). It’s called the MRT-150 by Oxford BioMedical. It tests for 150 different foods, and food chemicals.
When a person has a food sensitivity (which has its root cause in a leaky gut) then that food causes inflammation and mediator release of things like histamine, cytokines and prostaglandins.
A GAPS client could be sensitive to GAPS foods they are eating everyday, like chicken (think chicken stock) or cabbage (think sauerkraut). By individualizing the GAPS Protocol for my clients, based on the MRT (along with other tests I might see a need for, like a comprehensive GI panel), we can speed up the healing process, target our GAPS work, and soothe skin issues faster.
Again, the GAPS Protocol addresses the root issues of eczema and other skin conditions, but the remedies and tips above can go a long way to helping you find some relief. Please share this article with anyone you know who is doing GAPS and struggling with eczema.