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Eczema

Is there a connection between gluten and dry skin?

According to researchers and health organizations, there is.

In addition to that, gluten sensitivity or intolerance may cause other skin issues like itching, rashes, and dermatitis.

What is the Connection Between Gluten and Dry Skin?

Scientists say it’s common for intestinal diseases—like celiac disease—to cause symptoms in the skin.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system overreacts to the ingestion of gluten—a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.

When people with celiac disease consume gluten, it triggers an immune response in the small intestine. The immune system reacts as if gluten is a dangerous invader, creating inflammation. Over time, this reaction can damage the lining of the small intestine which in turn, can affect how well the small intestine absorbs nutrients from food.

According to the Mayo Clinic, people with celiac disease may notice symptoms like the following:

  • Anemia
  • Loss of bone density
  • Itchy, blistery skin rash
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Headaches and fatigue
  • Numbness and tingling in the feet and hands
  • Joint pain

Additional research shows that celiac disease—and even gluten sensitivity—may also be related to other skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.

CV Skinlabs Gluten Sensitivity

When Gluten Causes Blistering Rashes

The most well-known skin-related issue related to celiac disease is a condition called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH).

This is a chronic, intensely itchy, blistering skin rash. It tends to show up on the elbows, knees, buttocks, back, or scalp. Some people experience a burning sensation before the lesions form.

DH is caused by deposits of immunoglobulin A (IgA) in the skin. These are proteins or antibodies the immune system uses to fight against foreign invaders. When people with celiac disease consume gluten, the immune system creates these antibodies to fight it.

These antibodies, in turn, create inflammation that damages the lining of the small intestine. They can also trigger blister-like lesions on the skin.

In a large population study, researchers found that celiac patients were 1.5 times more likely to develop hives and almost two times more likely to develop chronic hives than the general population.

Celiac Disease and Psoriasis, Eczema

Studies have also found a link between celiac disease and psoriasis and eczema.

In one meta-analysis, scientists discovered that psoriasis patients were three times more likely to develop celiac disease than those without psoriasis. Other evidence has shown that those with psoriasis were almost 2.5 times more likely to have anti-gluten antibodies.

Several studies show that the two conditions share common genetic and inflammatory pathways.

Interestingly, some small clinical trials have shown that a gluten-free diet can help decrease the symptoms of psoriasis.

Other studies have shown a connection between gluten-related health issues and atopic dermatitis (AD), or eczema. In 2014, scientists reported that among children with celiac, AD was common. An earlier study showed that AD was about 3 times more frequent in patients with celiac disease.

Gluten and Dry Skin: Gluten Sensitivity

Some people are sensitive to gluten, even though they may not have celiac disease.

The difference between celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity is that people with celiac disease suffer intestinal damage when they eat gluten.

People who have non-celiac gluten sensitivity or intolerance do not have intestinal damage or the antibodies found in those with celiac disease.

They may, however, notice symptoms after eating foods with gluten in them. These may include:

  • Bloating and gas
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Joint pain
  • Mood swings

They may also find that consuming gluten leads to exacerbation of skin problems.

Many people with gluten sensitivity, like myself, suffer from very dry skin and report their skin is flaky and sometimes develops rashes, acne, and patches of eczema.

According to a 2021 review, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or intolerance may be linked to psoriasis, atopic dermatitis (eczema), and vitiligo (lightening of the skin).

Gluten and Sensitive Skin

Gluten and Dry Skin: Does It Help to Change Your Diet?

In a 2015 study, researchers found that participants diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) who also suffered from skin lesions improved after they adopted a gluten-free diet.

In a 2018 study, researchers also noted that those with NCGS commonly suffered from dermatitis, rash, and eczema. Some had scaly lesions resembling psoriasis. In all patients, a gluten-free diet led to the disappearance of the lesions within one month.

These studies aren’t conclusive. In other words, we don’t know for sure if a gluten-free diet will solve any skin issues you may have related to the ingestion of gluten. But there is evidence that in some people, it might.

Gluten and Dry Skin: Steps to Try

Every day we learn more about how closely connected are the digestive system and the skin. Both contain immune cells that if triggered by dietary factors, can overreact. (Read more about the immune system in your skin here!)

If you know you have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant and are struggling with skin problems like dryness, eczema, psoriasis, hives, or other issues, you may wonder if a gluten-free diet may help.

The only thing you can do is try it. Keep in mind, however, that following a gluten-free diet can be difficult. It’s best to turn to this option only if you know you have celiac disease or have been diagnosed with NCGS. Otherwise, it may be best to simply cut back on your intake of gluten-containing foods. (Find a list of gluten-containing foods here.)

At my doctor’s recommendation, I adopted a gluten-free diet and it has indeed helped me feel better.

If you do decide to go completely gluten-free, be wary of commercially made gluten-free foods. Many contain extra fat or sugar, so always read your ingredient labels.

Then be sure to take proper care of your skin to help increase its defenses against inflammation. We recommend our CV Skinlabs products. All of our products are gluten-free and contain ingredients that help tame inflammation and calm the skin while building up the outer layer so that it’s more resistant to problems. Plus, moisturizing and healing ingredients keep skin supple while reducing symptoms of eczema, psoriasis, flaking, itching, rashes, and other associated skin issues.

Do you notice skin problems related to gluten?

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Rosacea vs. Eczema: What’s the Difference?

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Rosacea vs. eczema: do you know the difference?

It can be confusing. The two skin conditions do have some things in common, but they have differences too.

Whatever the case, if you’re suffering from one or the other—or even both—it can help to know more about them. Then you can target your skincare treatments to help ease your symptoms and enjoy healthier younger-looking skin.

Rosacea vs. Eczema: Are They the Same?

First, let’s talk about what these two conditions have in common.

Both cause similar symptoms, like itchy, red skin, bumps, rashes, dryness, and irritation. These symptoms may come and go, flaring up sometimes and then fading away at other times.

Both conditions are chronic as well. That means that they are long-lasting. You may experience the symptoms again and again for years or even throughout your life.

Because of these similarities, it can sometimes be difficult to determine if you’re suffering from one or the other. But there are clear differences between them.

Rosacea vs. Eczema: What are the Differences?

Let’s look at each of these conditions separately to see the differences.

What is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that mainly targets the face. It starts with a tendency to blush or flush easily. Then the redness may slowly spread beyond the nose and cheeks to the forehead and chin. Sometimes, even the ears, chest, and back may be affected.

In addition to the redness, rosacea can also cause the blood vessels in the face to appear more visible, and can sometimes be mistaken for acne. The red skin may feel hot and tender, and over time, the nose may become enlarged.

For the most part, the redness comes and goes with flare-ups, but over time, it can become permanent, particularly in the center of the face.

What is Eczema?

Eczema is another chronic skin condition that makes the skin red and itchy. As opposed to rosacea, which is mostly about redness and swelling, eczema is about dryness and itching. The symptoms vary from person to person but may include dry skin, itching (sometimes severe), red to brownish-gray patches on the skin, bumpy skin that may leak fluid, and thick or scaly skin.

Whereas rosacea mainly targets the face, eczema can appear in different areas of the body at different times. It can affect the cheeks and scalp, particularly in young children, but it can also show up in the creases of the elbows and knees, wrists, neck, ankles, and the crease between the buttocks and legs.

Eczema also comes and goes in flare-ups.

Rosacea vs. Eczema: What Causes Them?

Scientists aren’t sure what causes rosacea, but they believe it could be related to an overactive immune system and may share similarities with autoimmune diseases. (See our post, “Is Rosacea an Autoimmune Disease?”)

Environmental factors and heredity also likely play a role. In most cases, it’s probably a combination of factors that cause people to develop rosacea.

Rosacea flare-ups may be triggered by a variety of things, including hot drinks, spicy foods, temperature extremes, sun and wind, stress, exercise, and even some skincare products.

Eczema—also called atopic dermatitis—is also believed to be caused by a combination of factors. These include allergies, genetics, and environmental factors.

Eczema flare-ups may be triggered by dry skin, irritants (like detergents, fabrics, and chemicals), stress, and allergens.

Rosacea RiskRosacea vs. Eczema: Who’s At Risk?

Rosacea seems to be more common in people of European descent, particularly those who have skin that burns easily in the sun. It is also more likely in adults, typically seen in men and women after thirty, though women are diagnosed with it more often. Men often experience more severe cases and are more often affected by a type of rosacea that attacks the nose.

If you have a family history of rosacea, or if you smoke, you are at a higher risk of developing it.

Eczema often starts in early childhood, though it can develop at any age. It’s thought to be mostly an inherited condition, associated with asthma or hay fever. Those with a family history of the condition, or who suffer from these types of allergies, may be more at risk.

A 2017 study found that some people with eczema have a deficiency in a protein called “filaggrin,” which helps keep moisture in the skin while keeping bacteria out.

Restorative Skin EczemaRosacea vs. Eczema: How to Treat Them?

So far, doctors can’t cure either of these conditions. But we can work on controlling the symptoms. Both require gentle, nourishing skincare treatment.

First, check with your dermatologist. An official diagnosis can give you a clearer understanding of what your skin is going through, and can help you create an effective treatment plan.

There are medications available to treat both conditions. These include creams, ointments, and gels. They help reduce flushing and constrict blood vessels in rosacea, and help control itching and repair the skin in eczema.

There are also oral drugs that may help. Doctors may prescribe antibiotics or acne drugs for more severe cases of rosacea that cause acne-like breakouts. They may also prescribe oral drugs to control inflammation in both conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a new injectable drug (called Dupixent) that can help treat severe cases of eczema.

If the blood vessels are enlarged and visible, laser therapy can help them appear less visible. There are some potential side effects, like swelling and bruising, but usually, these go away within a few days. Talk to your dermatologist about the benefits and risks.

Rosacea vs. Eczema: How to Manage Them?

There are several self-care practices you can use to help control your symptoms and reduce your flare-ups of both of these conditions.

Identify and Avoid Triggers

Find out what causes your flare-ups and work to avoid those triggers.

Protect Your Skin

Apply sunscreen daily and always protect your skin from damaging UV rays. If you have rosacea, this is especially important, as the sun can trigger a flare-up. Those with eczema, however, may benefit from short periods of unprotected sun exposure.

Moisturize Well!

Both of these conditions lead to dry, irritated skin that needs moisture. Use a product with natural and non-toxic ingredients that helps drive moisture deep into the skin where it can help with symptoms. We recommend our Calming Moisture and Body Repair Lotion, as they both contain anti-itch, hydrating ingredients.

Treat Rough Areas

If you have rough areas of skin that are cracked, dry, and flaky, give them some extra TLC. We recommend our Restorative Skin Balm, the all-natural healing bond and steroid-free ointment. It provides a seal of moisture over the rough area and can help soften and soothe the skin. Great for using overnight!

Be Gentle

If you have either of these skin conditions, your skin naturally qualifies as sensitive skin. That means it’s important not to rub or touch your face too much, and to use gentle, natural products. Your cleanser is especially important—make sure it does not contain sulfates and has some moisturizing properties.

Try Natural Ingredients

Aloe vera, calendula, sunflower oil, and other natural skin care products contain a lot of natural anti-inflammatory and protective compounds. (See our post, “12 Natural Solutions for Eczema.”)

Control the Itch

It’s not a good idea to scratch when your skin itches, as that can lead to open sores, infection, and scarring. Control the itch with our CV Skinlabs products, and with cold compresses, oatmeal baths, apple cider vinegar, and soft, gentle clothing fabrics. Our Rescue + Relief Spray has special anti-inflammatory ingredients that can be particularly soothing if you store it in the refrigerator.

Use a Humidifier

If you live in a dry climate, your skin is likely to feel worse. Use a humidifier in your bedroom at night to help keep your skin hydrated and less likely to itch.

How do you tell the difference between rosacea and eczema?

Featured Photo by Monstera from Pexels.

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If you’re looking forward to gardening this summer, but you’re worried about an eczema flare-up, this post is for you!

Gardening can help you live a healthier, more stress-free life, but not if it causes skin problems. Unfortunately, for those with eczema, that’s often what happens.

Does that mean you have to avoid gardening and give up all its benefits just because you have this skin condition? We certainly hope not! Below, we provide several tips that can help you enjoy your garden, flare-free.

What Causes an Eczema Flare-Up?

According to the National Eczema Organization, common triggers for eczema include:

  • Dry skin: When your skin gets too dry, the outer barrier is compromised. That means irritants, microorganisms, pollution, and more can make their way into the deeper layers of skin, triggering a flare-up.
  • Irritants: Everyday products and some natural substances can irritate your skin and lead to a flare-up. Examples of common irritants include soaps, detergents, surface cleaners and disinfectants, synthetic fragrances, metals, cigarette smoke, certain fabrics like wool and polyester, and even Cocamidopropyl betaine, which is used to thicken shampoos and lotions.
  • Harsh skin care products: Skin care products that contain harsh ingredients like fragrances, preservatives, formaldehyde, dyes, mineral oils, sulfates, and more can irritate and damage the skin, leading to a flare-up.
  • Stress: Emotional stress can be a trigger for eczema, though scientists aren’t sure why. We do know that the skin is sensitive to our psychological states via the nerves, hormones, and immune system.

Why Does Gardening Cause an Eczema Flare-Up?

Reviewing the list above of common eczema triggers, you may have noticed that gardening wasn’t listed. So why does gardening sometimes cause a flare-up for some people?

All we have to do is look a little more closely at what is involved in gardening, and how the tools we use and the air around us may irritate the skin.

Common triggers for an eczema flare-up when gardening include the following:

  • Pollen: We usually garden in the spring and summer, when many plants are releasing pollen into the air. Eczema is often linked with allergies, so being exposed to these allergens can trigger a flare-up.
  • Plant chemicals: Some plants contain chemicals in their leaves, stems, and flowers that can be irritating to sensitive people. It’s so common that florists are known to often get dermatitis from clipping chrysanthemums and tulips. Plant sap can also cause irritation and rashes.
  • Harsh chemicals: As noted above, harsh chemicals in cleaners, detergents, and skin care products can trigger eczema. There may be harsh chemicals in the gardening products you’re using as well, particularly if you’re applying pesticides.
  • Sweating: Sweating on its own can irritate the skin. After it evaporates, it leaves behind a salty residue that can worsen the itch.
  • Clothing materials: If you’re wearing gloves or clothes that you then sweat in while out working in the garden, you could be irritating your skin with the materials in those items.
  • Water: Believe it or not, water can be an eczema trigger in some cases. When you’re gardening, if you’re wetting and drying your hands multiple times, that can break down the skin’s protective barrier, making it more likely that irritants will work their way into the skin and cause a flare-up.
  • Minor skin traumas: When you’re working in the garden with your bare hands, you can cause micro-tears and scratches from digging, handling gardening tools, and other activities that can lead to a flare-up.

Summer Sun EczemaDoes the Sun Help or Hurt Eczema?

Studies show that exposure to UV radiation from the sun may be helpful to those with eczema. This is why phototherapy (UV light therapy) has been used as an adjunctive treatment for eczema for many years. It works by exposing the skin to controlled bursts of UV rays for a specified period of time.

It is important, however, to realize that while some sun exposure can be helpful, too much can be harmful. The ideal exposure time depends on how sensitive your skin is to sunlight. As a general rule, 10-30 minutes of sunlight exposure several times a week is thought to be helpful for most people.

Excessive sun exposure, however—particularly if it causes a sunburn—can do more harm than good, exacerbating eczema symptoms.

7 Tips to Prevent an Eczema Flare-Up While Gardening

To enjoy your gardening activities this summer while still taking care of your skin, try these seven tips.

1. Wear Non-Irritating Gloves to Prevent Eczema

First, don’t garden with bare hands. There are too many risks that you will come into contact with irritating substances that could lead to a flare-up.

Second, take some time to find gloves that will not irritate your skin, even if you get sweaty. Look for those made of natural materials like cotton. Avoid those made of rubber or plastic. It may also help to stay away from those with a lot of printed designs, as they contain coloring agents that may be irritating to the skin.

Third, remove your gloves now and then to allow your skin access to some fresh air. This can cut down on sweat irritation.

2. Apply Some Restorative Skin Balm Before Gardening

One of the main reasons the skin suffers while gardening is because of the risk of skin barrier breakdown. Sweating and consistently rinsing your hands irritates and dries your skin.

Try applying our Restorative Skin Balm to your hands before you put on your gloves. It can help keep your skin moisturized and happy while you’re working. It contains castor oil, which is often recommended to treat eczema. The active component in castor oil is ricinoleic acid, which helps tame inflammation and provides pain-relieving effects.

You can also use the Restorative Skin Balm as an after-gardening balm to help your skin recover from any micro traumas it may have endured while you were working.

Best lip balm for eczema: Use the same balm on your lips before you go out to prevent drying and chapping!

3. Watch Your Sun Exposure

Limited sun exposure can be a good thing, but overdoing it can increase your risk of problems. It’s easy to get involved in what you’re doing and forget how long your skin has been exposed.

Check the UV index in your area before you go out. Try to avoid gardening in the middle of the day when the sun is most intense. Instead, go out in the morning or evening to reduce your risk of a flare-up.

Gradually extend your gardening time. Start by working for only 15 minutes, then move up to 30, then 45, etc. Give your skin time to build up its natural defenses.

Finally, apply sunscreen when you need to. It can be particularly important on sensitive areas of the skin like on the ears (to avoid ear eczema), nose, back of the neck, and scalp.

Cooling Spray Eczema4. Keep Yourself Cool and Refreshed

It’s not just excessive exposure to the sun that can trigger a flare-up—so too can excessive heat. If you get too hot while you’re working, your skin is more likely to get irritated.

That means you want to do everything you can to keep cool while you’re gardening.

How to keep cool while gardening:

  • Take cool water with you and sip regularly. Use an insulated bottle to keep the water cool.
  • Covering your skin can be a good idea, but only if the fabrics are breathable. Good options include cotton, bamboo, and silk.
  • Use our Rescue + Relief Spray. Take it with you in your gardening tools tray or belt. When you start to get warm, spritz it on your skin. It will help cool you off while giving the skin helpful anti-inflammatories that can help prevent an eczema flare-up.
  • Shed layers: Dress in layers so you can shed some as you warm up. This can also help keep you cool.
  • Take a break: No matter how much you’d like to finish what you’re doing, put your self-care first. Take a break when you need to, and go inside and cool off.

5. Know What You’re Using and Avoid Harsh Chemicals

Before you use pest control products, plant foods, and fertilizers, know what you’re exposing yourself to. Many gardening products can cause rashes and skin burns if you’re not careful.

Read the label carefully. Choose products that are less toxic if you can. Then follow all the precautions when it comes to applying the products. If the label suggests you cover your skin, for example, make sure you do so. Otherwise, don’t use the product.

When using fertilizer, wear gloves, then wash your hands when you’re finished and apply some lotion afterward to care for that barrier. (We recommend our Restorative Skin Balm or Body Repair Lotion.)

6. Keep Your Hands Away from Your Face and Your Ears

As you’re working in your garden, sap, pollen, chemicals, and other materials can gradually build up on your skin or gloves. Then if you touch your face, you can easily transfer those materials onto your skin and even into your eyes.

Try to stay aware of what you’re touching, and stop yourself before putting your hands on your face or even your ears. Ear eczema is a common condition that causes irritated, itchy skin on the ears and sometimes even in the ears.

Get used to using your arm if you need to scratch. Better yet, take some clean tissues or paper towels with you and use those to scratch an itch if you need to.

7. When You Finish Gardening, Shower and Change Your Clothes

This is one of the most important steps if you want to avoid an eczema flare-up, but one that most people don’t think to do.

While you’re working in the garden, pollen, chemicals, plant materials, and more get onto your skin, clothes, and hair. To give your skin the best chance of remaining healthy and happy, it’s best to jump in the shower and wash all this off once you’ve finished for the day.

Then dump your clothes into the laundry and put on some clean clothes. These steps will help to reduce your exposure to all those elements that may trigger an eczema flare-up.

How do you avoid an eczema flare-up when gardening?

Photo by Matteo Badini from Pexels.

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