The First Step in Fixing Eczema: Where to Begin?

How do you get from A to B?

How do you get from A to B?

To do everything there is a process, and all processes require a start. Likewise, to fix eczema you would need to begin with your first step.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

What is the first step?

Do you start by sleeping more? Do you start by eating healthy? How do you eat “healthy”? According to what guidelines? Do you start by exercising more?

Mixed answers.

Because this is such a complicated question that can be diversely answered, this article here today will tell you WHERE to begin and HOW you should begin, whilst giving you the reason of each step.

The Main Reason Why There Are Mixed Answers

What do you think it means?

What do you think it means?

So if for me to claim eliminating eczema is possible, why do many people with eczema still exist?

Don’t get me wrong… I didn’t say it was easy. I said it is possible. Possible doesn’t mean easy. I removed my disease through hard work without shortcuts (if you do find one please tell me in the comments though).

The reason why there are mixed answers is also the reason why most people fail healing up their eczema.


Sounds too philosophical? It’s true. I hate getting answers like this too. First, it’s offending me; second, it sounds bullsh**. But hear me out.

Most people give up too easily or they get dissatisfied due to lack of results, so they Google new solutions and abandon their previous healing method… perhaps after only a week? 2 weeks max?

I know this because I did this myself too. I don’t see results in a week and I’m probably going off to try new things. Humans are always in search for shortcuts…

So what methods REALLY work?

The answer is in the big box.

The answer is in the center.

I’m not going to lie to you but most methods you hear out there will help.

Notice I said will help, I didn’t say will help completely. Why?

It’s not only because a patient is not persistent enough, but because most sources only give one side of the equation. For example:

  • Eat more vegetables.
  • Exercise more.
  • Sleep early, wake up early.
  • No gluten.

All these general statements are indeed helpful to a person with eczema, but it is rare to find a source that will give you all of the required actions to take on one page.

Plus, people are always looking for shortcuts, so it’s double the ease for a person to give up.

And the ONE unmixed answer is…

So now after reading that, you are probably thinking if you were to start today fully persistent, there should be no mixed answers, so what is that ONE answer?

It’s very straightforward.

Here are the general guidelines to eat for the FASTEST result:

  • No dairy products.
  • No gluten.
  • No artificial chemicals.
  • No foods with naturally unwanted substances e.g. tomatoes, grapes with natural MSG.
  • No excessive flavourers e.g. salt, vinegar, sugar, spices.
  • No yeast.

Click here for my food shopping list. (you’ll need this, so check it out)

I’ve revealed this “formula” all over my blog as often as possible, but you know… because I’m preaching via personal experience and several peer sources without “long-term medical research” (although certain claims do have), most people won’t believe me anyway.

So, that’s one more reason on top of not being persistent. Now do I still have to explain why there are mixed answers…?

The First Steps: Where To Begin Right Now?

Notice I said first steps with a plural. If it is a first step, why are there multiple first steps?

Remember I told you earlier most people fail to fix their eczema is because they never get an all-rounded answer? So here I’m providing the first steps for all action steps required for a proper recovery.

The reason why people just can’t follow the guidelines, be persistent, and get over with – is because it’s too difficult. I failed many times too (I wrote about this).

It’s too difficult to follow the rules set e.g. if you are used to eating donuts, bagels, bread everyday and how do you adjust all of a sudden if I told you to stay away from them 100%?

Extremely difficult!

This is why I’m writing this article to help you kick-start your first step into each key point.

1) No dairy products

Dairy products = milk, yoghurt (debatable but avoid anyway), cheese.

It’s a common misconception to think eggs are dairy, but they are not, they are simply derived from chicken and do not contain the same molecules dairy products have. Thus, being dairy-free doesn’t mean you have to stop eating eggs.

Unfortunately to see whether eliminating dairy will really help you or not, it’s required for you to stay off it for 3 months to see clear results.

2) No gluten

Gluten foods.

Gluten foods.

Gluten is by far the hardest food particle to avoid, simply because it’s everywhere! It’s a molecule found in grains e.g. wheat, barley, rye, oats (debatable but just avoid it). This means no bread, pasta, noodles…etc.

Here’s a list of foods with gluten inside.

Sometimes, you’d unknowingly ingest some gluten e.g. salad dressings, soy sauce. It’s in things you’d never know! Read the labels!

For me there are more alternatives since Chinese diets base on rice and that’s gluten-free. So I suggest you begin your first step by replacing your gluten staple foods with gluten-free ones. Ideas = rice, millet, quinoa.

Do it for at least 3 months. And no cheating 100% because a little bit of it will give you the same consequence as with a lot.

3) No artificial chemicals

Read the labels of everything that goes into your mouth. If you don’t know what’s inside something, don’t eat it.

All fast food restaurants are banned, I think you know why.

There’s no first step here, just outright eat only purely natural foods (however, I do let myself off sometimes with foods with one or two chemicals, but never more than that).

4) No foods with naturally unwanted substances

nightshadesNot all foods in nature are good for people with eczema. Organic doesn’t directly mean good. For us, with eczema, good refers to foods that will not leave a negative impact on our skin condition overall.

Some foods tend to promote inflammatory responses in our body: the Nightshades family e.g. tomatoes, peppers, eggplants.

Here are two (1, 2) articles on Nightshades for more insight.

Also, coffee is natural but it’s bad for the gut so stay off it. If you really need that caffeine switch to tea.

5) No excessive flavourers

You need to cut down on flavourers e.g. salt, vinegar, sugar, spices. This is a hard step to take too but it is necessary for the fastest recovery from eczema.

A little salt is okay but use natural sea salt over commercial salt.

Learn to find gratitude with the natural flavours in foods without adding anything else. After my adjustment for my first few weeks of such a plain diet, my taste buds changed and I was able to not crave for extra taste. You’ll be surprized.

6) No yeast

No alcohol, Vegemite (I love that) and anything with yeast.

Note that yeast is used as a baking agent in bread, even possible in gluten-free bread. Therefore, make sure you know what you are putting in your mouth every time.

For alcohol lovers this might be hard, but cut down your alcohol intake day by day. Additionally, replace this habit with another drink, perhaps lemonade – at least it’s less damaging than alcohol because alcohol harms the gut real strong.

7)The 80/20 rule

This is one of the extremist rule, but it will surely promote a fast eczema recovery.

You are to eat no more than 20% of meat-based foods in any one day, so that means 80% plant-based foods.

For a more comprehensive list: please refer to the Salicylates Food Guide. It has everything you need, and get ready to start shopping for your groceries with that list!

8) Additional factors: sleep, exercise, stress


The body needs daily recharging – by sleep.

I need not explain what I mean by “sleep, exercise, stress,” right?

You need to sleep more, try to get at least 7 to 8 hours a day. In fact, I believe sleep is the most important I’ve written an entire research article on that and you must read it: How To Conquer The #1 Decision Maker For Healing Eczema: Sleep (read it later, open it first)

You need to exercise very often. I know our schedules are packed tight and busy. Here’s my quick tip. Right before your shower everyday, do some intense exercise – around 10 minutes, long and strong enough to make you puff out and sweat. You must sweat – it’s a sign of successful detoxification.

Stress is also important. Most of what I said on this article deals with physiological health linking to what we eat. However, our overall health is also determined by our mental health – this means you need to learn how to calm, be emotionally stable and not stressed out day to day. Try yoga. What I do is stretch every night and spend some time reflecting quietly alone for around 10 minutes a day.

Last Thoughts To Eczema Sufferers

Let me sum it up.

The main reason why most people fail to fix their eczema is because they find it too difficult, there isn’t an all-rounded source, they are not persistent enough and so they give up.

Let me remind you again, fixing eczema is possible AND super hard, but that’s the only way.

The first minute you step on my blog, you need to understand that you have to make sacrifices and control yourself by all means, in order to fix your skin condition. This is something I can’t help you personally but only via your own self-discipline.

Let me know if you have any questions or want more guidance on your first steps to fixing eczema in the comments below.


  • comment-avatar
    Emma 10/01/2014 (23:50)

    “Eggs are by-products of a cow”?

    • comment-avatar
      fotini 11/01/2014 (02:52)

      I agree; that is a strange statement to make

    • comment-avatar
      Harrison Li 12/01/2014 (14:46)

      My bad, I edited it. Thanks for pointing it out Emma.
      P.S. If you have any ideas for a post that you would be interested in and want me to write, please let me know.

  • comment-avatar
    Elin 11/01/2014 (04:59)

    Is it ok to eat herbs like oregano/basil/garlic?
    And when you eat vegetables like eggplant for once, does it mean you ‘down to zero’ again or is this ok for once a month or so?

    • comment-avatar
      Harrison Li 12/01/2014 (14:53)

      Elin, glad you asked!

      Although those are not from the maximum safety list, they will not hinder your healing process too much, as they also have great healing properties, so eat in moderation.

      No, our body won’t go down to zero just from 1 bite of something we should avoid. It’ll slow us down and perhaps (if sensitive) will give you a few scratches, internal heat that following few days, but it won’t do enough harm to make you restart. However, gluten is an exception for some people + allergy cases (avoid 100%). So, it’s okay to give in once in a little while, or else life would be very boring, right Elin?

      P.S. Please let me know if you have more ideas/questions/comments.

  • comment-avatar
    Akhil 06/02/2014 (19:39)

    You have mentiond in the blog above that orange and grapes are acidifying foods. But as far as i know , these foods are actually good sources of alkalizing foods. And also orange may be considered a citrus, in the end it alkalises the body by leaving alkalizing residue in our body. I just would like you to check up on that if you wouldnt mind. Anyways great info given here. And thanks for all the input. Your message gives out a ray of hope.

    • comment-avatar
      Harrison Li 07/02/2014 (01:08)

      Hey Akhil, thanks for your feedback. The information I use is referenced from a book written by a well-known nutritionist. Also, I look up different sources online, although I understand there are mixed answers – I conclude using what I think would be more suitable (if something is unsure, I’d prefer not taking the risk to misguide others into thinking it’s safe; plus oranges are full of natural sugar which is most quite beneficial when overload and when there are better alternatives). As for the alkalizing effect of the orange, please share with me with more info I’d love to look into that. Thanks for your feedback again 🙂

      Keep in touch,

  • comment-avatar
    Tanner 06/04/2014 (13:11)

    i know you said being stressed can contribute to a break out so what if i smoked marijuana medicinally for the stress reducing properties? I’m just asking because you sound like you have been pretty stressed out over the years and maybe you would know if it would do more good than bad?…. or vice versa? anyways….thanks for the info. I am more hopeful now after reading your story.

    • comment-avatar
      Harrison Li 12/04/2014 (18:18)

      Hey Tanner,

      I don’t suggest taking medicinal stimulants for improving stress-related problems. Why? Simple. It’s unnatural. If a person has stress, don’t fix it externally with a temporary drug, but heal it from within naturally!


  • comment-avatar
    Jal 21/04/2014 (13:07)

    Today I went to a skin doctor and she said that I have eczema. And this was because I put to much different types of cream on my face until it was abit to harsh for my face. She prescribed for me a cleanser, a lotion and a moisturizer. She said it can be reversed and u can be cured. But do u know how long it would most likely take( estimate)? I’m really very conscious about my looks and this is the first time in my whole life I have this.

    • comment-avatar
      Harrison Li 21/04/2014 (18:39)

      Hey Jal,

      Glad to have you tell me about it. Could you describe the eczema symptoms you’re having? Where are the patches and how strong?

      The doctor is most likely right in the diagnosis but will most likely be wrong in the treatment. Unless the creams and stuff the doctor gave you is 100% natural and has no chemicals in it, I suggest you throw them away now. They may give you a temporary relief, but that simply suppresses your actual damage inside the body, the longer you use it, the worse it is, and it is a lot harder to fix later. At this point, you’re in a very good position compared to many other people I know, please throw those chemicals away, yes, you’ll have to live with dry skin and perhaps unappealing features.

      What I suggest you do now is:
      1) Don’t use anything chemical-ish, not even the so-called moisturizers. Unless they are made naturally.
      2) Don’t eat anything chemical-ish. The more artificial stuff your body has to deal with, the longer for your body to heal your skin condition.
      3) Sleep more, exercise more and limit stress – these are factors that will promote healing.

      I’m throwing a bunch of info to you at once, but this is exactly how you can work it out and get rid of the skin condition before it develops into a state that is more difficult to tackle.

      Let me know if you have more questions.


      • comment-avatar
        Clarsah 09/12/2014 (07:35)

        Hello! I too am experiencing my first flare-up, and was wondering about the prohibition on vinegar. I use it externally to wash my hair; I have been “no poo” for about three years. What that means is my “shampoo” is a tablespoon of baking soda to a cup of water and my “conditioner” is a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of water. Which aligns with the “use less chemicals” advice. The flare up is not on my scalp or back (I have long hair so it touches my back); it’s on my forearms. Plus I’ve been doing it a long time with no problems. But I thouht I’d ask as you recommend avoiding it. Thanks!

        • comment-avatar
          Harrison Li 07/07/2015 (11:24)


          The “no poo” strategy you follow is great and should not be confused with a correlation with the symptoms you show of eczema. Since the flare-up did not appear at places of contact, this means the concoction is not the actual problem. Since you mentioned you suddenly got it after 3 years, there are two explanations: 1) You’ve always had autoimmune problems that simply never got worse enough to surface now. 2) You had short-term triggers. And no, you don’t need to stop your natural shampoo.


  • comment-avatar
    kate 08/03/2015 (17:16)

    Hello harrison,

    does that mean once I eat a little gluten in the process( even just a bite in the first 3 months), the whole thing would be ruined and i have to start all over by counting another 3 months?


  • comment-avatar
    Debbie 21/05/2015 (05:42)

    Hi Harrison! WOW…I’ve NEVER read ANYTHING better or more TRUE on how to cure Eczema! You’re honesty, without vague & empty promises and without bogus “quick fixes” is WONDERFUL!! I LOVE total honest and REALISTIC guides…because then I KNOW what I’m dealing with and NOT expecting overnight miracles!! Everything in life, that’s worthy anything GOOD, takes work and self-control…or as you put it, self-discipline…something most people either don’t have at all, or if they do, it’s a struggle to chronically maintain. I’m one that has little of both, but am working on gaining both! I’ve just recently developed this Eczema/Dermatitis thing…it started with excessive cleaning with harsh detergents, but I TOTALLY BELIEVE the ultimate cause is internal. I will give it my BEST EFFORT to be rigid, but learned a long time ago I drop the ball sometimes…but will keep working at it, till I’m successful. THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH for the BRUTAL TRUTH about this internal issue and how to tackle it head on! Your work in helping people is BIG DEAL…hopefully many will find your website! I would like to have a complete list of all of the “Nightshade” foods…did I overlook it somewhere?

  • comment-avatar
    Bobby 22/05/2015 (15:15)

    Dear Harrison,

    I have been suffering from Eczema ever since I was a kid. But only in recent years, it has developed into a severe case of eczema. I am really at a loss now. QV cream, QV bath oil and mometasone creams, hydroxyzine tablets and etc. Even steroid tablets (I regret it now so, so much.)

    I didn’t know what all these are actually doing to me until I became really health-conscious when I realized my face and body is so affected by eczema. I stopped looking in the mirror, cringing whenever I see myself. My cheeks and eyelid area are darkened, sometimes reddish. My neck looks very, very dirty.

    It is strongly affecting me, mentally. Do you have a way of clearing up the darkened areas and lightening of the neck area? I will be trying out your method.

    • comment-avatar
      Harrison Li 07/07/2015 (16:49)

      Dear Bobby,

      I feel the deepest empathy for you. And I mean it when I say I understand the pain you are going through because I too experienced the disturbing appearance of severe eczema. Solution-wise regarding skin discoloration, there is no true elimination except for a complete healing from dietary approach. From my experience, discoloration came as one of the last things that were to be completely normalized despite weeks after the diet started. The only advice I can give you is to facilitate your recovery in all ways possible, assuming you are able and willing to go through what it takes in the short term.


  • comment-avatar
    Vera Lund 31/05/2015 (12:01)

    This is awesome, my life is about to change!
    Thank you!

    • comment-avatar
      Harrison Li 07/07/2015 (16:50)

      Vera. No problem. I try my best to help. 🙂

  • comment-avatar
    Norma macmaster 06/06/2015 (02:11)

    Is it ok to drink coconut based keifer?

    • comment-avatar
      Harrison Li 07/07/2015 (17:04)

      Absolutely. Richer in probiotics than yoghurt as more strains of beneficial yeast and bacteria are available. Additionally, easy to make and sustainable.

  • comment-avatar
    Mazeena Deen 23/06/2015 (10:26)

    Is fasting good for eczema?

  • comment-avatar
    Maria 17/07/2015 (06:14)

    Hi Harrison,
    First of all, congratulations on your success in curing yourself and particularly on your effort in helping others, truly remarkable!
    I have no skin conditions and no allergies. However, my 4 months old kid has been diagnosed with eczema recently and given the usual plan, hidrocortisone creams, bath in QV oil and moisturizing with Dermeze (paraffin).
    His forehead and under his chin gets very red and even though it doesn’t seem to be itchy fortunately, it’s heartbreaking to see him like that. We applied the hidrocortisone after the first flare up and it worked wonderfully, but now it appeared again (yep, short- term solution). Very frustrating!
    I was hoping you could help me with the following questions:
    1) I’m breastfeeding, so I was wondering if changing my diet could help my baby. Do u have knowledge on this? I will soon introduce solids into his diet so I’m planning of giving him eczema friendly foods, but my breast milk will still be his main source of nutrition for some months.
    2) My parents in law have a cat and his fur is just everywhere around their place, when my mum and my sister visited, they got an allergic reaction to it (runny noise, coughing)… Do u think going there could affect my baby’s flare ups?
    3) I have a cold pressed organic coconut oil that I’ve been using for moisturizing. I would prefer to use it instead of the paraffin. Do u think it works as well? Also, do u know any natural replacements for the QV oil in put in his bath? I think the water in our area is hard.
    4) There are natural hot springs relatively close to us. They claim the properties in their water are good for ezcema. Do u have knowledge or experience in this?
    Thanks in advance for your help!

    • comment-avatar
      Harrison Li 25/07/2015 (00:43)

      Hi Maria,

      Thanks. Just a tiny disclaimer, I have limited experience in infant eczema. Most of what I know is from talking to other parents. I’ll try my best to answer.

      1) Changing your diet is very important because his source of irritant proteins are coming from the milk. A way to look at it is to imagine his diet was your diet. As for eczema friendly foods and related questions on infant eczema, I want to recommend you to a book I read called “The Eczema Diet” by Karen Fischer, a nutritionist who rid her daughter of eczema too.

      2) Acute reaction to allergen like animal dander is considered allergic contact dermatitis. Reactions are immediate. However, your child has atopic dermatitis, which is chronic and is largely due to food sensitivities. The question is whether your child ALSO has allergic dermatitis to cat hair. It’s possible and I can’t pinpoint. But judging the fact that your family members have it, there is a genetic predisposition. A useful fact is that, one parent with eczema has 50% chance to pass it on, with it going up to 80% if it were two parents. In short, avoiding is precautionary.

      3) The coconut oil is good, assuming no specific allergies. You can consider oatmeal or guava leaves, which are smoothing to the eczema skin.

      4) All people with eczema must avoid prolong water contact. Showers/baths should be as short as possible and as cold as possible. Otherwise, the already impaired skin barrier and its oils will lead the skin to crack open, allowing more foreign particles to penetrate. No good. Learned this the hard way.

      Best regards,

  • comment-avatar
    Craig 14/08/2016 (14:02)

    Just a heads up for people that I did almost exactly what HL is suggesting, and it cured me of pretty crazy eczema that I had for a good few years. It flared up every start of summer and every start of winter.

    I started with a veggie+fruit juice detox for a few days, and then proceeded for a 30 day menu plan which eliminated the following things:

    (1) dairy
    (2) wheat
    (3) sugar/refined sugar/chemicals (tho I used honey when I wanted as a sweetener.
    (4) alcohol
    (5) caffeine
    (6) no meat for the first two weeks, then gradually entered meat in but in small portions and only every few days.

    Once the 30 days were over, I spent the next 20 days slowly (emphasis on slowly) re-introducing things.

    I lost all traces of excema and it has never come back. I’m just returning to look at this again because my 3 year old daughter is flaring up.

    • comment-avatar
      Saul Lopez 03/10/2017 (07:25)

      Hello, Can you please explain your juice detox, I would like to do one too 🙂 Thank you

  • comment-avatar
    Kay 30/07/2017 (15:56)

    Hi Karen Fischer recommends papaya and spelt. It is on your these are on you acidifying list. Thoughts? You also mentioned no gluten, so what do you eat for carbs? Just white rice?

    • comment-avatar
      Harrison Li 15/08/2017 (17:53)

      Hi Kay. Good point. Here’s a nice list for your reference:

      Gluten-containing food (to ban): Barley, Bran, Bulgar, Graham flour, Kamut, Rye, Semolina, Spelt, Wheat.

      Gluten-like food (can avoid to be safe): Amaranth, Buckwheat, Millet, Quinoa, Wild rice.

      Personally, I mostly eat rice. I can also eat the occasional noodles (since I’m not in highly restrictive period anymore).