Eczema

A skin complaint characterised by redness, itch, dryness with pimples or blisters.

What to look for…

  • patches of itchy, dry, thickened skin, usually on wrists, face, and inner creases of the knees and elbows.

  • skin sores, patches of redness, scaling, sometimes small bumps or blisters that may ooze fluid.

Eczema is a form of dermatitis characterised by chronically itchy, inflamed and reddened skin.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is generally hereditary however one person in a family could have the condition while all the other people in the family are not afflicted with it. It is most common among infants, many of whom grow out of it. Eczema is often associated with asthma, so children with that disorder may be at greater risk of skin problems. Stress or emotional upsets can often be the cause as well.

Causes

This skin complaint is often puzzling to experts. It can be caused by emotional upsets or it may have no apparent cause. Many cases of eczema are related to allergies. In sensitive people, outbreaks can be caused by ingesting certain foods, such as cow's milk, eggs, wheat, and nuts, as well as by inhaling airborne irritants like dust mites and pollen.

Eczema is also caused by contact with irritants in common substances, such as woollen and synthetic fabrics, latex rubber, certain detergents, chlorine-based products, the mineral nickel used in plated earrings and other jewellery, and certain chemicals.

In people susceptible to eczema, it is apparent that outbreaks may be caused by a change in the way a person's immune system copes with certain types of stress.

Traditional Treatment

Treatments are focused on relieving symptoms as it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the actual causes of the disease. At-home remedies and over-the-counter medications are usually sufficient unless the complaint becomes unbearable or worsens in any way.

Most doctors will suggest you take warm baths to relieve the itching and to slowly remove the crusted parts.

If the eczema is allergy related, taking oral antihistamines may help. Some medications prescribed are very strong and should only be taken with care and constant supervision by your doctor.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative therapies are available to help both the symptoms of eczema and some of the causes. Only use with the supervision of a qualified and trained practitioner as some herbs may cause allergic reactions.

 

Aromatherapy - Essential oils of Lavender (Lavandula officinalis), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Jasmine (Jasminum officinale), and Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may be capable of soothing Eczema related to allergies. Vapouriser or diluted in a carrier oil and use in massage. (see section on aromatherapy for more information). Essential oils of Lavender (Lavandula officinalis), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Jasmine (Jasminum officinale), and Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may be capable of soothing Eczema related to allergies. Vapouriser or diluted in a carrier oil and use in massage. (see section on aromatherapy for more information).

 

Chinese Herbs - Beneficial herbs include Siler root (Ledebouriella divaricata), Chinese Foxglove (Rehmannia glutinosa), and Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis), which are said to be anti-inflammatories, and Peony (Paeonia lactiflora), which is said to affect the immune system. These herbs should only be used under the supervision of an experienced Professional. Beneficial herbs include Siler root (Ledebouriella divaricata), Chinese Foxglove (Rehmannia glutinosa), and Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis), which are said to be anti-inflammatories, and Peony (Paeonia lactiflora), which is said to affect the immune system. These herbs should only be used under the supervision of an experienced Professional.

 

Herbal Therapies - Evidence suggests that Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis) may effectively treat itching associated with Eczema. However, people with liver disease or high cholesterol should use this treatment only under medical supervision, and pregnant women should not use it at all because of its effect on oestrogen and progesterone levels. Evidence suggests that Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis) may effectively treat itching associated with Eczema. However, people with liver disease or high cholesterol should use this treatment only under medical supervision, and pregnant women should not use it at all because of its effect on oestrogen and progesterone levels.

Burdock (Arctium lappa) root and Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root may also be effective. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) ointment soothes dry, flaky skin and helps inflammation and itching.

Do not take any of these herbs for longer than
one month without supervision.

 

Homoeopathy - A Homoeopathic remedy to soothe inflamed skin that patients can apply safely at home is topical Calendula ointment. Do not attempt to treat eczema with other Homoeopathic remedies, however, without consulting a qualified Homoeopath. A Homoeopathic remedy to soothe inflamed skin that patients can apply safely at home is topical Calendula ointment. Do not attempt to treat eczema with other Homoeopathic remedies, however, without consulting a qualified Homoeopath.

Your Homoeopath with examine you thoroughly and make a recommendation in accordance with your symptoms and lifestyle.

During Homoeopathic treatment, Eczema may actually get worse before it gets better, so professional supervision is important.

 

At-Home Remedies - Try to learn to relax and avoid becoming overly stressed as this can be a trigger to your problem. Lavender oil can be helpful to relax. Try to learn to relax and avoid becoming overly stressed as this can be a trigger to your problem. Lavender oil can be helpful to relax.

  • To soothe itchiness, try a warm bath followed by an application of topical ointment such as calendula

  • Watch your diet.

Dietary Considerations

If Eczema is caused by allergic reaction, your diet will be of utmost importance. As mentioned previously, avoid cow's milk, eggs, wheat flour, and nuts, also to limit red meat. Eat foods rich in zinc and vitamins A and C such as wholegrains, seeds, fresh fruit, and vegetables (red, yellow and green.)

You may benefit from a zinc supplement. Ask your Doctor or our Pharmacist to assess your particular case.

Prevention

Try not to wean your baby off breast milk too early as doctors suggest that this can cause Eczema to develop.

Avoid triggering food allergies that might bring on Eczema.

Babies should also be protected from potential allergens.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have any of the symptoms above flare up

  • the inflammation does not respond within a week to treatment with over-the-counter creams. A Physician may suggest more aggressive forms of treatment.

  • you develop blisters filled with pus

  • you have a bout of Eczema and are exposed to anybody with a viral disease.