Natural health: Seborrheic dermatitis and cellulitis

Seborrheic dermatitis (sometimes referred to as seborrheic eczema) is thought to be linked to overproduction of the yeast, says Megan Sheppard.

Q. I have recently developed seborrheic dermatitis on my face, leaving it itchy, red and sore. In between flare-ups, my skin looks scaly — like a snake shedding an outer layer. 

I’ve been using cooled boiled water and aloe vera which are soothing. I’ve also given up wearing makeup. I’m a vegetarian and don’t drink alcohol. 

Is there anything else I can do?

A. Seborrheic dermatitis (sometimes referred to as seborrheic eczema) is thought to be linked to overproduction of the yeast, pityrosporum ovale. 

This yeast is naturally present on the scalp, and is no cause for concern until it multiplies out of control.

A hairstyle where the hair is touching the face (particularly a fringe) can exacerbate the problem, but the yeast can take over in the eyebrows, eyelids, and folds of the nose or lips without having contact with your hairdo.

Dandruff is actually a case of seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp without the inflammation you are experiencing, as is cradle cap on babies and toddlers.

As you have already discovered, you will need to be very discerning about the toiletries you use on your skin. 

I recommend the Living Nature range from New Zealand as it is based on extracts from the manuka shrub, which can be used specifically to treat many skin conditions, including seborrheic dermatitis, herpes simplex, and a number of bacterial infections. 

Living Nature products are available in Ireland from Botanical Brands (www.botanicalbrands.com 0044 -845- 250 8455).

You can even use pure manuka essential oil, also available from Living Nature, to treat the area. 

Despite the strong action of this oil, it is gentle enough to use neat on the skin — however, it is wise to do a small patch test first to check for any reaction. 

You can also use 10 drops per 100ml of boiled water, rose hydrosol, or aloe juice and use as a soothing spray for your face. 

Manuka is also thought to have a calming and stabilising effect on the emotions — important in the treatment of any skin condition — and will help to prevent the occurrence of a secondary bacterial or fungal infection.

Q. I have been suffering from cellulitis in both legs for six months. My doctor gave me an injection and cream to rub on, but there’s not much improvement. 

The irritation is particularly bad at night (I wear heavy duty stockings during day). What can I do to get some relief?

A. Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin which quickly spreads to the underlying tissues, causing the painful swelling and tenderness in the area that you are experiencing. 

While there are a number of bacteria that may be responsible for this infection, the most common culprits are Streptococci and Staphylococci bacteria.

The symptoms you are experiencing are a combination of the effects of the bacteria together with the body’s attempt to heal the affected area. It is important to support your immune system as it will be working overtime to clear the infection. 

Blackcurrant, astragalus, schisandra, reishi, cleavers, and pau d’arco are among my favourite herbs for immune regulation, along with kitchen herbs such as garlic, marjoram, and thyme. 

You can often find some or all of these herbs together in natural immune support formulations, or you can make a tea from the fresh or dried herbs.

Goldenseal is particularly effective used topically, but be warned — it is bright yellow and will stain. You can apply the tincture directly to your legs at night and then wrap with a bandage. 

It is a good idea to use disposable gloves before applying goldenseal, and also to apply a layer of oil (olive or coconut work well) to the skin first to reduce the staining.

Exercise to improve lymphatic flow, such as deep breathing, yoga, and tai chi are useful in treating cellulitis. 

Homeopathy is also said to help, with rhus tox being a commonly prescribed remedy for the treatment of cellulitis.

Do you have a question for Megan Sheppard?

Email it to feelgood@examiner.ie or send a letter to:

Feelgood, Irish Examiner, Linn Dubh, Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork

NOTE: The information contained in this column is not a subsitute for medical advice. Always consult a doctor.


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