The type of oil used for baby massage is extremely important. New research shows olive oil and sunflower oil damage the natural skin barrier, exacerbating and possibly instigating eczema.
The barrier provides a crucial protective function for the skin, preventing loss of moisture and the entrance of harmful microorganisms or irritants.
The recent research on olive and sunflower oil has created an unfounded perception that ALL natural oils damage the skin barrier but this is like 'throwing the baby out with the bath water'.
Far from damaging the natural skin barrier, organic, cold pressed sesame oil (NOT the cooking sesame oil found in the supermarket) actually strengthens the skin barrier. Sesame seeds contain significant amounts of lignans, a type of micronutrient packed with antioxidants and cold pressed sesame oil is naturally comprised of 40% linoleic acid. Studies have shown linoleic acid is extremely important when it comes to normal skin barrier function and people with eczema show reduced levels of linoleic acid in their skin. Without sufficient amounts of linoleic acid, you can expect to experience serious essential fatty acid deficiency, which leads to increased water loss, skin dryness, and inflammation. Also of interest is the fact that the body doesn’t construct linoleic acid itself, we have to get it from outside sources.
Why some people develop have eczema is not well understood. We know that with eczema the skin barrier does not work as well, so the goal is to strengthen this while also reducing stress levels and strengthening the immune system. Daily massage for babies with eczema helps to measurably reduce cortisol levels (‘stress hormone’) as well as strengthening the immune system by improving the function of the body’s ‘natural killer cells’ (a type of white blood cell that plays a major role in the rejection of both tumours and virally infected cells).
Because children with eczema have sensitive skin and can often have allergies to various products, conducting a patch test prior to use of any product is extremely important.
Moisturising the skin regularly is best carried out via a short massage twice a day. The massage strokes themselves assist with eczema by increasing circulation and lymph flow for the affected areas.
Using a product used that actually nourishes and repairs the damaged skin and helps to strengthen the skin barrier is vital to achieving good results and seeing eczema improve.
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