Look to Your Diet
The better your diet, the better your skin will generally look and feel. Eating a nutrient-dense diet that’s rich in plentiful sources of antioxidants, vitamins, protein, and good-quality fats while avoiding inflammatory foods like refined sugar and flour can make a big difference in the look and feel of your skin overall.
But, that’s not the whole story.
If you (or your nursing baby) suffer from dry and rough skin or even eczema, it’s time to look at potential triggers. Food sensitivities can impact skin health and trigger eczema as well as other skin disorders. Eliminating common allergens like gluten, dairy, nuts, soy and corn may help. If it doesn’t, consider undertaking an elimination diet or a gut-healing protocol.
Be Careful with Overbathing
Bathing too frequently or in water that is too hot can not only disrupt the skin’s microbiome, but it can also contribute to dry skin and skin conditions like eczema. Bathing too frequently, more than a few times a week, dries out the skin and removes the skin’s self-protective natural barriers like sebum .
Doctors recommend that you bathe babies no more than two or three times a week, advice you might take yourself if you also suffer from dry skin or eczema.
Avoid Soap (Really!)
Just like overbathing can dry out your skin and make many skin conditions worse, using soaps and detergents too frequently can also dry out your skin.
My skin is particularly sensitive, and I avoid using soap entirely as even the mildest soaps leave my skin feeling burned and itchy for days. Instead, I mix up a natural salt scrub from sea salt, olive oil and essential oils which nourishes the skin as it cleanses. While I love my salt scrub, remember that salt is rough, and is not appropriate for small children or those suffering from eczema.
Detergents and soaps are not only largely unnecessary for cleaning the body’s skin (keep them around for washing your hands), they can also be particularly damaging to those with sensitive skin like babies and young children.
While some soaps, cleansers and detergents are made from natural or less toxic ingredients than others, they all strip the skin of oils that form a natural protective barrier for the skin.
Nourish Your Skin Topically
Your skin is your largest organ and it readily absorbs what you apply to it, which is why I maintain the rule that I’d never put on my skin what I wouldn’t put in my mouth. Instead, I recommend choosing moisturizers, balms and oils made from food-based ingredients like olive oil, tallow, honey and both medicinal and culinary herbs.
I’m partial to the Organic Manuka Honey Skin Soothing Cream that the Eczema Company sent to me, along with their Organic Calendula Oil, both of which are made with simple, all-natural ingredients. The skin cream is what I use on my notoriously dry (and sensitive) skin. I just dab a tiny bit on my fingertips and gently massage it into my face, while I use the calendula oil to soothe my baby’s skin just after I bathe him.
Coconut Oil is Good, But Not Good for Everything
Natural-minded mothers seem to use coconut oil for just about everything: cooking, oil pulling, and as a moisturizer. Here’s the thing: While coconut oil is great for many things, it doesn’t make a particularly good moisturizer for people with dry or sensitive skin. Coconut oil tends to have a somewhat drying effect, which makes it a great moisturizer if you have oily skin, but can be irritating if you have dry or sensitive skin.
After my baby was born this fall, he developed a little redness on his bottom and in his underarms which the doctor attributed to yeast – it’s a fairly common problem for babies. We applied coconut oil to his skin, and the irritation disappeared within a few days, but, a new problem arose: he developed dry, rough skin. We cut out the coconut oil and began to apply this calendula oil which is made from nourishing olive oil and skin-soothing calendula. All that dryness disappeared within a day!
Quick Resources for Better Skin
The Eczema Company sent us a few things to try that have now become a steadfast part of my skincare routine. Started by a mom who was searching for answers for her own baby, The Eczema Company is focused on sharing natural eczema treatments and tips.
This Organic Manuka Honey Skin Soothing Cream fixed up my post-partum dry skin beautifully, and I use it as my primary facial moisturizer, where my skin is the most sensitive. Keep in mind that the tiniest dab goes a long way. It’s made from simple, nourishing ingredients like organic olive oil, beeswax, manuka honey and a few others (check out the full list here).
This Organic Calendula Oil is made from olive oil and calendula petals, both of which help to soothe and nourish skin naturally. Just massage a little into your skin after you bathe.