Eczema comes from the Greek word "ekzein", meaning "to boil". It is also known as dermatitis, literally meaning inflammation of the skin. It is a condition in which the skin becomes dry, scaly, extremely itchy, red, and crusty and may also bleed in extreme cases.
The surface of the skin contains water and oil which gives it enough moisture to keep it hydrated at all times. When one is suffering from eczema
, the normal moisture is lost allowing the skin to get exposed to irritants, bacteria and infection. Some of the daily substances like soap, washing liquid further rob the essential oils required for it to remain well-nourished, thus irritating the skin.
What can Cause Eczema?
The exact cause is unknown, but it is linked to genetic inheritance. Eczema can run in families, making their members much more prone to the condition. Persons with eczema are more prone to hay fever and asthma
as there are underlying allergic processes that lead to eczema.
The flare ups are caused by irritant substances like soap, detergent, hand wash, shampoo, disinfectants and even certain fruit juices, vegetables, nuts, soy products, dairy products, wheat, egg and meat can cause the acute inflammatory reaction.
Certain allergens like pollens
, dust mite, microbes and pet dander/fur can trigger eczema
in an individual. Extreme temperature, excessive sweat are also responsible. Stress is another major factor that is known to cause eczema.
What are the Types of Eczema?
There are different types of eczema:
- Atopic Dermatitis- This refers to a familial tendency and genetic inheritance for eczema. It is an intolerance towards seemingly harmless substances like pollen, dust, wool, etc.
- Contact Dermatitis- This is commonly the result of repeated exposure to an irritant substance like detergent, dye, chemicals, polish, soap, etc.
- Adult Seborrheic Dermatitis- This affects hairy areas like the scalp, torso, and folds of the body like armpits, and groin. It produces a yellowish flaking skin.
- Infantile Seborrhoeic Dermatitis- This affects an infant’s scalp and is also called as Cradle Cap. It is similar to adult seborrheic dermatitis.
- Discoid Dermatitis- This produces coin shaped lesions of eczema on the skin.
- Pompholyx- This is a severe version of eczema that produces large blisters on hands and feet.
- Asteatotic Dermatitis- This affects adults over the age of 60 years and causes severe dryness.
- Varicose Eczema- This is common in legs of people having varicose, enlarged veins for long.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Eczema?
Eczema symptoms vary from individual to individual, and people of all ages are affected, but eczema is commonly seen in children and young adults. Some of its prominent symptoms include:
- Sensitive and dry skin
- Severe itching
- Recurring red rashes
- Leathery rough patches with scaling of skin
- Oozing, crusting or bleeding may occur depending on the severity
- Inflamed red skin
Intense itching is the hallmark of eczema, where the patient may scratch until it bleeds which further damages the skin and leads to more irritation. It is a cycle where itching forces one to scratch leading to skin damage and a tendency to restart an itch.
How is Eczema Diagnosed?
The diagnosis is purely based on the physical appearance, clinical examination and analysis of personal and family history given by the patient. However, skin biopsy and allergy test are done to rule out other causes of similar skin conditions and to pin point the exact cause to treat difficult atopic dermatitis cases.
How does Homeopathy Treat Eczema?Homeopathy
is a holistic science and considers the whole person that is affected and not just the affected part. Every individual in the family is eating, breathing and wearing the same thing as the affected individual, but why does only one particular person suffer from otherwise harmless substances?
As discussed earlier, eczema is often linked with other medical conditions and a detailed history, right from the time of pregnancy of the mother to the birth of the child and childhood history are all considered while evaluating a case in homeopathy. A patient’s physical history, mental history, past medical history, family history, habits, preferences, lifestyle and mental health are all taken into consideration. After taking the history and examining the patient, the homeopathic physician evaluates the case by analysing the symptoms obtained. After fully studying and applying his knowledge of various homeopathic remedies, the doctor may suggest remedies according to each individual. This is classical homeopathic practice. However, there are certain specific, emergency remedies which a homeopathic physician may use in cases of acute flare ups, if necessary.
There are several remedies in homeopathy called as ‘constitutional remedies’ that give the best results in the cases of chronic, stubborn eczema.
What are the Common Homeopathic Medicines for Eczema?
Remedies like Alumina, Arsenicum album, Antimony crud, Apis mellifica, Belladonna, Calcarea carb, Calcarea sulph, Dulcamara, Graphites, Hepar sulph, Medorrhinum, Petroleum, Sulphur, Urtica urens, are commonly used for eczema treatment based on the different symptoms of the patients.
The 5 most common homeopathic remedies for eczema are as follows:
- Arsenicum album: It is a homeopathy remedy made from arsenic trioxide powder mixed with lactose. This mixture can relieve burning sensation caused by itchy eczema.
- Graphites: Prepared using powdered form of graphites, this mineral is prescribed extensively for curing eczema with immense crusting and oozing of yellow/honey-like discharges. Hard, rough skin with cracks and crusts, especially on the left hand side of the body responds beautifully to graphites. Cold compresses or rubs can be given to the patient as it improves their condition greatly.
- Medorrhinum: Persons affected with eczema are passionate with extreme tendencies. Being nervous, these persons often have eczema right from childhood, often along with asthma. Itching is intense to the point of bleeding. Patient’s complaints tend to improve by visiting sea shores.
- Sulphur: A most well known homeopathic remedy for skin troubles, sulphur relieves intense eczema with severe redness, itching, rawness, burning and dirty looking patches. Bathing, warm conditions and heat exposure can worsen the condition, but the patients may opt for cold water bath and staying in dry surroundings to neutralize its effects and heal faster.
- Psorinum: A remedy prepared from a nosode, intense chilliness, itching and bleeding characterize the eczema needing psorinum. Offensiveness of discharges and despair and depression are common accompaniments of the eczema that progresses to cure with psorinum doses.
Other homeopathic remedies include Urtica Urens ointment, which can in some cases give relief to itchy eczema. Calendula ointment can help in broken and infected skin. It speeds up the healing process in cases of rawness and inflammation. Some people find the combination of its soothing property and the moisturizing effect of the oily base of the ointment extremely helpful.
Health Tips for Eczema
- Keeping skin moisturized plays a vital role in managing eczema.
- In case of contact dermatitis protective clothing/gloves can be used when coming in contact with the irritant substance.
- Taking appropriate nutritional supplements is beneficial. Like Omega-6 fatty acids as persons suffering from dry skin tend to have a severe omega-3 deficiency. The best source of both omega 3 & 6 fatty acids is found in flax seed oil.
- Vitamin A and its precursor beta-carotene are essential for promoting keratin growth.
- Eczema sufferers have been found to have low levels of folic acid. It is important that they have plenty of green leafy vegetables in their diet, or a supplement can be taken.
- The amino acids histidine and glutathione in combination have been shown to lessen the intensity of allergic eczema.
- Zinc supplementation up to 40mg per day can help people suffering with skin problems, including eczema and psoriasis.