Holistic Natural Health Experts

Is Eczema an Autoimmune Disease?

Eczema is one of many skin afflictions. To better understand it, let’s first see some basic facts about the skin.

Skin facts

The skin is the human body’s largest organ, covering around 2 m2 and weighing around 12 kg for a man of 175 cm and 75 kg.

The skin is an organ in the truest sense of the word. It’s made up of cells, blood and lymph vessels, nerves, and complex sensory receptors. 

The skin also possesses a multiple-gland system. The immune system is also strongly present, providing essential protection against infection.

As the largest organ of our body and our protective envelope, the skin itself must secrete sebum to generate a protective film on its surface. This mechanism is itself under nervous, hormonal, and vascular control.

Any dysfunction can lead to dry, irritated, inflamed, or oily skin.

General causes of skin diseases

Overall, the skin can present 2 causes of disease: 

  • External
  • Internal


As the name says, external causes regroup all the factors that are going to influence skin health from the outside. In this category, we can include:

  • Wounds (rap, scratch, bite, sting, etc.)
  • Sunburns
  • Radiotherapy
  • Parasites 
  • Toxic substances (chemical products, corrosive substances, etc.) 


Internal causes are regrouping all the other causes then external. Here are some examples:

  • Reactions involving the immune system (infection, inflammation, allergy, etc.)
  • Reactions involving diet, digestion and intestinal flora (acne, intolerance, etc.)
  • Reactions involving the lymphatic, venous, capillary and arterial systems (e.g. rosacea)
  • Metabolic reactions (e.g. skin ulcers in diabetes)
  • Reactions involving the nervous and hormonal systems (e.g. neurodermatitis)
  • Reactions involving the glandular system (e.g. hyperhidrosis)

These internal causes can, of course, combine with external ones and collaborate in the onset of disease.

What is Eczema? 

Eczema is one of the most frequent skin diseases. It is an inflammatory skin disease, also known as dermatitis, although this term is much more general and refers to any inflammation of the skin, whatever its cause. It always involves the activation of the immune system.

It’s important to keep in mind that eczema is just one of many manifestations of skin imbalance.

Eczema should not be confused with irritation following the application of an aggressive substance to the skin.

It can be caused by internal, external or mixed causes.

Symptoms of Eczema

Eczema can appear in all areas of the body, on small or large surfaces. 

The affected area will generally be:

  • Pink-red
  • Pruritic (causing itching)
  • Dry or weeping with small watery vesicles or edematous
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Contact eczema

Contact eczema is an allergy, most often to metals like nickel. 

If you have a button on your pants to which you react, you’ll develop a rash as round as the button itself. If you remove the cause, the contact eczema disappears. You can develop contact eczema from dozens of chemical substances.

To prevent contact eczema, we recommend the following:

  • Avoiding the use of unnecessary chemicals in skincare and make-up products 
  • Avoiding high-risk jewelry (containing nickel and other allergenic metals)
  • Avoiding clothes and shoes with toxic dyes
  • Avoiding pesticides and food processing products by implementing a healthy diet

Eczema or atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a form of chronic eczema associated with atopic conditions. 

Atopy is a general term that includes all kinds of allergies, such as asthma, hay fever, and eczema (dermatitis). 

There are many causes, and genetic predispositions can be used to include just about anything.

In some children, atopic dermatitis can take on extreme proportions, affecting a large part of their skin and leading to unbearable itching. 

Dermatitis can occur in flare-ups, making exhaustive identification of allergens particularly difficult.

Chronic eczema

Whatever the cause, eczema can lead to itchy, scratchy lesions. 

These lesions can become infected, requiring anti-infective treatment and, over time, leading to thickening of the skin. 

Sometimes, the skin cracks, causing pain. Therefore, it’s important to treat eczema before it becomes chronic.

Is Eczema An Autoimmune disease?

Eczema cannot be said to be an autoimmune disease in the classical sense of the term, i.e., the production of autoantibodies or the specific attack of T lymphocytes on cellular antigens.

However, eczema always involves activation of the immune system, whether by an inflammatory reaction or by activation of allergen-specific T cells.

The exception to that is one truly autoimmune form of eczema called dermatitis herpetiformis. 

Dermatitis herpetiformis has nothing to do with herpes. It is linked to gluten and caused by anti-epidermal transglutaminase and anti-endomysial antibodies, which are present in some people with celiac disease.

The Immune System’s Role in Eczema

The involvement of the immune system in eczema is twofold: 

  • Innate immune system
  • Adaptive immune system

The innate immune system is activated by several cell types, including macrophages, natural killer and dendritic cells.

The adaptive immune system involves the B and T lymphocyte family. 

Inflammation is always present in eczema to varying degrees, and inflammation depends on the immune system.

If you want to know more about the immune system, don’t hesitate to subscribe now and read our ebook “Immunity: Our Health Ally” and listen to our webinars in replay. 

How does eczema begin?

A quantity of various substances can activate inflammation, which in turn activates the immune system that triggers eczema. 

But it can also start with a direct imbalance of the immune system itself that triggers eczema. 

Substances that can activate inflammation and trigger eczema, depending on the individual’s sensitivity, are contained in:

  • Perfumes, cosmetics, dyes, possibly related to work (hairdresser, painter, etc.)
  • Detergents and cleaning products
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Chemical substances used in industry
  • Additives and pesticides, possibly related to work (farmer, horticulturist, etc.)
  • Processed or treated foods, possibly related to work (baker, etc.)
  • GMOs or other modified foods 
  • Medicines
  • Etc.

When a person is allergic (atopic terrain), eczema (atopic dermatitis) can also occur in relation to natural molecules. 

Finally, eczema can also occur when the substance/food is ingested orally.

The case of peanut allergies is a great, well-known example. 

The massive use of peanut oil in injections (vaccines and medicines) has caused a dramatic increase in allergies because you can’t introduce food into the blood, muscles, or skin that should only pass through the digestive tract.

Thus, in peanut oil, there are always proteins remaining that will trigger an immune response.

On the other hand, once you’re allergic to one substance or food, you can develop cross-reactions, i.e. become allergic to other foods with similar structures.

Factors that unbalance the immune system : 

  • Diet
  • Legal and illegal drugs
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Toxins and heavy metals
  • Vaccines and medications
  • Dysbiosis
  • Pollution

An unbalanced immune system doesn’t necessarily lead to allergy – it’s just one of the possibilities.

Other factors contributing to Eczema 

People with eczema sometimes find that their condition worsens when they experience : 

  • Stress and overwork
  • Emotional overload
  • Fatigue
  • Seasonal changes (cold, wind, excessive heat)
  • Dietary changes

Like many other health disorders, these factors are not causal, but rather the straw that breaks the camel’s back, or the revealing element of the underlying physiological situation.

It’s obvious that the immune system also depends on the nervous and hormonal systems, and that the factors we’ve just mentioned throw these two systems out of balance.

Similarly, the microbiota itself is affected by the immune, nervous and hormonal systems. It depends on the microbial baggage acquired at birth and on diet, as well as on antibiotic therapy. In turn, the microbiota modulates the immune, nervous and hormonal systems.

So, we mustn’t confuse peripheral factors with causal factors, as far too many people tend to do.

It is only logical that eczema sufferers should learn to manage stress and exertion more effectively, as part of an in-depth treatment that includes a healthy diet.

Effect of Eczema on your immune system

Eczema, especially atopic dermatitis, is a sign of an imbalanced immune system. As a sign, it does not have a direct effect on the immune system, it is only a warning that should be taken seriously.

However, the eventual disappearance of this sign (eczema) does not automatically mean that the immune system is back in balance. 

As we mentioned several times throughout our articles on many health topics, the absence of symptoms does not equal being healthy. 

Sometimes, if the imbalance diminishes, symptoms disappear, often temporarily, until the imbalance increases again.

Holistic treatment/prevention of Eczema 

Before looking at holistic natural treatments of eczema, let’s review the conventional medicine treatment options. 

Conventional treatments

Like most diseases, the conventional medicine approach focuses on killing the symptoms, not treating the causes.  

For that, it uses three main groups of molecules for treatments:

  • Corticoids
  • Anti-histamines
  • Immunosuppressants

These treatments all have more or less serious side effects and do not restore health as they don’t solve any causes of the disease. 

However, in severe cases, corticosteroids and antihistamines may be unavoidable for short-term use. 

Holistic natural treatments

Natural medicines take a much more in-depth and holistic approach to the causes of eczema and atopic dermatitis, including:

  • The interrelation of the various systems and organs 
  • The diet
  • The body’s overall health
  • Etc.

Like most diseases, the natural medicine approach focuses on identifying and treating the causes while soothing symptoms. 

For that, it uses a combination of complex diagnostics tools and methods, personal observations, and personalized treatments based on various therapies and remedies. 

Here are some examples of that complexity:

  • Chinese and Western phytotherapy in all its forms
  • Aromatherapy
  • Homeopathy
  • Biotherapies (enzymes, homeopathic complexes, etc.)
  • Supplements
  • Prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics
  • Acupuncture
  • Chromotherapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Magnetic fields
  • Osteopathy and massage
  • Reflex therapies

Benefits of treating eczema with natural medicines

With natural medicine treatments, you can benefit from:

  • Side-effect-free treatments respecting natural physiology
  • Treatments that can be taken simultaneously with chemical drugs if needed
  • Treatments that will aim at solving eczema but also your other health problems

For people who suffer from eczema caused by real allergies, the substances in question must be avoided, sometimes for life. 

However, identifying and avoiding them is not the same as restoring health, which is why natural treatments remain essential.

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