Eczema is a condition characterized by inflammation of the skin that is usually associated with blisters, red bumps, swelling, oozing, scaling, crusting, and itching.
There are various types of eczema. They include contact eczema, which is characterized by sharp demarcations where substances such as direct irritants, allergy-causing agents, chemicals, certain perfumes, and/or light exposure contact the skin to create a rash; and atopic eczema, which occurs primarily in people with family histories of allergy, vitamin B12 problems, asthma, and allergic respiratory problems such as hay fever. In infants two to eighteen months old, atopic eczema can cause weeping and crusty, red spots on the face, scalp, and extremities. In older children and adults it may be more localized and chronic. It may subside by three to four years and may reoccur in adolescence or adulthood.
Other forms of eczema include seborrheic eczema, which primarily occurs on the scalp, face, and chest; nummular eczema, which is characterized by coin-shaped chronic red spots with crusting and scaling and normally occurs after the age of 35 and is often related to emotional stress and, in winter, to dry skin; chronic eczema, which occurs in hands or feet, and which can get very severe; generalized eczema, which is characterized by widespread inflammation over much of the skin; stasis eczema, which occurs in the lower legs and is associated with poor venous return of the blood and a tendency of the skin to turn brownish; localized scratch eczema, which occurs in specific patches, often with whitish areas that are well demarcated by areas of increased pigmentation or colour, such as the arms, legs, ankles, and around the genitals, and is made worse by stress and scratching. Localized scratch eczema is much more frequent in women between 20 and 50 years of age.
The symptoms of atopic eczema may always be present and can cause your skin to become:
During a flare-up, your skin may be:
- extremely itchy, red, hot, dry and scaly
- wet, weeping and swollen
- infected with bacteria, usually Staphylococcus aureus.
The symptoms of atopic eczema vary according to how severely you or your child are affected by the condition. People with mild atopic eczema normally have only small areas of dry skin, which are occasionally itchy. In more severe cases, atopic eczema can cause widespread dry skin, constant itching and oozing fluid. Scratching can disrupt your sleep and make your skin bleed. It can also make itching worse, and a cycle of itching and regular scratching may develop. In children, this can lead to sleepless nights and difficulty concentrating at school.
Atopic eczema can occur in small patches all over the body. It is most common:
- in infants: on the face and scalp, and on the outer surface of the arms and legs
- in children: around joints on the arms and legs, such as the folds of the elbows or the backs of the knees
- in adults: in the joints, such as inside the elbows or the backs of the knees, and on the hands
There is no single cause of eczema – but a mixture of inherited and environmental causes that act together at different times.
You may be born with an increased likelihood of developing eczema, which you inherit from your parents. When you are exposed to environmental factors, such as dust or pollen, this causes eczema to appear.
There are also several triggers, which can make your symptoms worse.
Research suggests that atopic eczema is largely an inherited condition. This means that the cause lies in the genes that you inherit from your parents. If a child’s parents have atopic eczema, it is highly likely that the child will also develop the condition. Studies have shown that 60% of children who have a parent with atopic eczema also have the condition. If both parents have atopic eczema, there is an 80% chance that a child will also have the condition.
It is not yet known exactly which genes are responsible for eczema, although a protein called filaggrin is involved. Filaggrin attaches to a tough substance called keratin in cells and, along with other structures, forms a barrier at the skin’s surface. If there is a problem with your filaggrin, the skin barrier can no longer provide effective protection from the environment.
There may be a problem with your filaggrin if you have inherited a defect in the gene responsible for making filaggrin. In this case, you have a higher risk of developing atopic eczema. The filaggrin gene may account for up to one in five cases of eczema. Other genes responsible for skin inflammation may also be responsible.
If your genes make you more likely to develop atopic eczema, the condition will develop after you are exposed to certain environmental factors, such as allergens.
Allergens are substances that can cause the body to react abnormally. This is known as an allergic reaction. Some of the most common allergens that can cause atopic eczema include:
- house dust mites
- pet fur
Atopic eczema can sometimes be caused by food allergens, especially in the first year of life. Foods that typically cause allergic reactions include:
- cows’ milk
Some studies of children and young people with atopic eczema found that one-third to nearly two-thirds also had a food allergy. Having a food allergy increases the likelihood of your atopic eczema being severe. Allergies do not appear to play a role in many people with eczema. Other non-allergic factors may be just as important in bringing out eczema in someone who is likely to get it. These factors could include:
- cold weather
- harsh soaps
- washing too much
- rough clothing
Triggers can make atopic eczema worse, although they may not cause the condition.
Hormonal changes in women
Hormones are powerful chemicals that are produced by the body and have a wide range of effects. Changes in the levels of certain hormones can affect the symptoms of atopic eczema in some women. Many women’s eczema is worse at certain times during their menstrual cycle. Some women have a flare-up of their eczema in the days before their period.
Pregnancy, which causes hormonal changes, can also affect atopic eczema:
- More than half of all pregnant women find their symptoms get worse.
- One-quarter of pregnant women find their symptoms improve.
While stress is known to be associated with atopic eczema, it is not fully understood how it affects the condition. Some people with eczema have worse symptoms when they are stressed. For other people, their symptoms cause them to feel stressed.
See the Health A-Z topic about Stress for more information and ways to manage stress.
After vigorous exercise, sweating may make your eczema symptoms worse. Try to keep cool when you are exercising by drinking plenty of fluids and taking regular breaks.
Irritants can make your symptoms worse. What irritates you may be different to what irritates someone else with the condition, but could include:
- soaps and detergents, such as shampoo, washing-up liquid or bubble bath
- some types of clothing, especially wool and nylon
- very cold, dry weather
- unfamiliar pets
Other possible triggers include:
- substances that touch your skin – such as perfume-based products or latex (a type of naturally occurring rubber)
- some food products – such as fish, peanuts and kiwi fruit, which can make your symptoms worse, although this does not mean you are allergic to them
- environmental factors – such as tobacco smoke, living near a busy road or having water that contains lots of minerals (hard water)
- the changing seasons – most people with atopic eczema find that their symptoms improve during the summer and get worse in the winter.
Eczema is often called Dermatitis, and may be a symptom of an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency, allergies secondary to digestive disorders such as hydrochloric acid deficiency, rashes secondary to immune diseases, genetic metabolic disorders, and/or nutritional deficiencies, especially of niacin (vitamin B3) and B6, as well as other B vitamins. To minimize your risk of developing eczema, avoid irritating substances, wear natural non-irritating materials, use soothing ointments, and check to see if dietary, nutritional, and/or and allergy-causing factors need to be considered.
As with all diseases this did not happen overnight. The very first thing you must do is see a licensed health professional. Find a list of practitioners in your local area here
Here are some things you can discuss with your practitioner:
- Eliminate Candida: Click here to find out how
- Do the Hydrogen Peroxide Protocol to strengthen the immune system: Click here to find out more
- Drink 3oz of Colloidal Silver, three or four times a day for 60 days www.colloidsforlife.com/ Silver has long been recognised as a powerful natural antibiotic. Colloidal silver is silver that has been removed electronically from its source and then suspended in water. It is used to treat a myriad of diseases.
- Go on a fast to clear your system of toxic waste www.wecarespa.com
Hydrotherapy is the application of water, ice, steam and hot and cold temperatures to maintain and restore health. Treatments include full body immersion, steam baths, saunas, sitz baths, colonic irrigation and the application of hot and/or cold compresses. Hydrotherapy is effective for treating a wide range of conditions and can easily be used in the home as part of a self-care program. Many Naturopathic Physicians, Physical Therapists and Day Spas use Hydrotherapy as part of treatment. We suggest several at-home hydrotherapy treatments. Please seek the advice of your alternative health care practitioner before undergoing these procedures to make sure they are appropriate for you.
*Purified water is essential for any hydrotherapy treatment. The section Remedies for Treating Chlorinated Bath Water offers clear instructions and recommendations.
- We recommend regular colonics to remove toxicity from the body. Read more about colonics by clicking here. Find a practitioner here.
- Most of the water that we drink is very acidic and in order to heal our bodies need a more alkaline state. During the programme drink alkalised water, which you can buy from Real Water www.drinkrealwater.com/
- Get a shower filter available at www.ewaterdeal.com pinch of sea salt.
Prescription and non-prescription medication:
We know that when the body is out of balance, energy doesn’t flow, leading blockages and eventually dis-ease. Here are some things you can do to combat stress and restore balance:
- Go to a Dr Morter BEST (Bio-Energetic Synchronisation Technique) Practitioner.
- Sign up for Energetic Re-Balancing: 2 practitioners to consider are:
- Stephen Lewis, founder of the Aim Program. Find out more by clicking here.
- . Find out more by clicking here.
- Consider using Mary Millers Iching System Products – ichingsystemsinstruments.com
- Reiki healing is very powerful in releasing stress and emotional baggage. Find a practitioner here.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has had remarkable results in dissolving stress. Find a local practitioner here (link) or go to www.thetappingsolution.com orwww.tftrx.com
- Try Hypnotherapy to relax the mind. Find a practitioner here.
- Alphabiotics www.alphabiotics.biz
There are several types of eczemas. In Ayurveda , all the three doshas can lead to eczema. The symptoms of the different eczemas are:-
Vata dosha type: When the vitiation of the vata dosha produces the eczema, it is felt in the dryness of the skin. There is pain and severe itching of the affected region.
Pitta dosha type: Pitta dosha vitiation can cause oozing from the affected part. There are other symptoms shown such as burning and fever.
Kapha dosha type: When there is an imbalance of the kapha, it is more observable on the skin. The skin becomes thick and is accompanied by oozing and itching.
Consult a licensed practitioner who may recommend the following:
- Alsi (Linum usitatissimum) Linseed
The oil of the linseed is mixed with an equal amount of lime juice and applied on the inflamed region. This is effective in the treatment of many skin ailments including eczema.
- Arka (Calotropics gigantica) Dead Sea Apple, Swallow Wort
The juice of the arka is mixed with sesame oil and turmeric. This is applied externally over the affected skin.
- Babul (Acacia arabica)
The bark of the babul tree is potent in the treatment of eczema. It is boiled in water and the fumes are used to foment the affected areas.
- Butea (Butea monosperma)
In the treatment of skin diseases such as eczema, its the seeds of the butea tree that are useful. The seeds of the butea are mixed with lime water and are applied on the affected regions to get the required benefits.
- Mahua (Madhuca indica) Madhuca
The leaves of the madhuca are ground into a paste and applied as bandages on the affected regions. This provides immense relief to the itchy pains. However, the bandage must be changed regularly, i.e. after every three to four hours.
- Karanja (Pongamia pinnata) Indian Beech
The oil of the karanda made into an emulsion with lemon juice has very good soothing properties for the inflammations of eczema.
- Palasha (Butea monosperma) Butea
The seeds of the palasha are ground, mixed with lemon juice and applied on the affected region. This is especially beneficial on dhobi’s itch, a type of allergic contact dermatitis with tight clothes.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
The therapeutic principle of TCM is to clear away pathogenic heat and remove dampness. Consult a licensed practitioner who may recommend the following decoction for acute eczema:
honeysuckle flower, dittany bark, talc, coix seed, phellodendron bark, scutellaria root, oriental wormwood, plantain seed (wrapped with a piece of cloth before it is decocted ), atractylodes rhizome, flavescent sophora root, licorice root.
All the above ingredients are to be decocted in water for oral administration.
Or for sub-acute eczema: arctium fruit, cicada slough, schizonepeta, ledebouriella root, atractylodes rhizome, flavescent sophora root, dried rehmannia root, anemarrhena rhizome, Chinese angelica root, gypsum, black sesame seed, licorice root.
All the above ingredients are to be decocted in water for oral administration.
Or for chronic eczema: Chinese angelica root, white peony root, multiflower knotweed root, black sesame seed, ligusticum root, dried rehmannia root, moutan bark, schizonepeta, cicada slough, tribulus fruit, dittany bark, licorice root.
Acupuncture has also proven to be successful in treating eczema.
Bergamot, chamomile, lavender, melissa, neroli, eucalyptus, geranium, and/or juniper can help speed healing and relief of symptoms when applied topically to the affected areas.
Consult a licensed practitioner who may recommend the following:
- Rhus tox
- Arsen alb
These remedies should be taken alone and not in conjunction with other remedies but a licensed practitioner will advise.
Dulcamara, Rhus tox., Sulfur, Arsen alb., and Graphites, taken alone or in combination with each other can help speed healing. Petroleum and Psorinum are also effective homeopathic remedies, but must be taken alone.
Herbal remedies such as cleavers, nettle, yellowdock, or red clover tea or tinctures may be very effective. They are often combined with relaxing herbs such as chamomile, linden flowers, or skullcap. One combination would be equal parts of cleavers, nettle, and chamomile drunk as an infusion three times a day. A stronger mixture combines the tinctures of figwort, burdock, and cleavers in equal parts; take one teaspoon of this mixture three times a day.
To alleviate itching, bathe affected areas of your body with lukewarm or cold chickweed infusion. For cracked, dry, or painful skin, use a salve made from calendula flowers and St. John`s wort leaves.
Goldenseal applied externally may also be helpful.
Rescue Remedy® for accompanying stress, and Rescue Remedy Cream® on the affected areas. Crab Apple (cleansing when feeling toxic, contaminated or unclean.)
The following juice combinations can help speed healing: black currant and red grapes; carrot, beet, spinach, cucumber, and parsley; and wheat grass juice.
Apply evening primrose oil directly to cracked and sore areas of the skin. A topical paste made from ginkgo and licorice root extract has also been shown to improve eczema symptoms.
Reflexology can help in the following ways:
- Regular reflexology treatment will stimulate the skin, promoting the natural process of skin foliation and renewal. Reflexology will help the healing process of eczema, softening and soothing the skin.
- Stress will be reduced as reflexology brings deep and beneficial relaxation allowing the body’s systems to rebalance.
- The endocrine system responsible for the hormonal secretions will be regulated and any imbalances restored to their correct and finely-tuned levels.
Consult a licensed practitioner who will work on the following areas: diaphragm, liver, kidneys, intestines, adrenals, all glands, thyroid. The Reflexologist will also take into consideration diet, particularly allergies, lactose intolerance and a possible adverse reaction to dairy products.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): This is proven to be beneficial because it reduces stress and help balance the energy system. Visit a licensed practitioner.
Alternative Professional Care
If your symptoms persist despite the above measures, seek the help of a qualified health professional. The following professional care therapies have all been shown to be useful for treating and relieving the symptoms of eczema: Biofeedback Training, Bodywork (Acupressure, Shiatsu), Detoxification Therapy, Energy Medicine (Light Beam Generator, Ondamed, Photon Stimulator), Environmental Medicine, Hypnotherapy, Magnetic Field Therapy (North Pole Magnetic Energy Application), Mind/Body Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Orthomolecular Medicine, Osteopathy, and Oxygen Therapy (Hydrogen Peroxide Therapy).(See Glossary for descriptions of these Alternative Therapies.)
Natural cure for eczema: www.getbest.info/natural-cure-for-eczema/
Getting to the root of asthma: drbenkim.com/articles-eczema.html
Eczema – Natural healing: eczema-natural-healing.com/eczema-remedies.html
EFT Cures Eczema: www.eftmastersworldwide.com/content/eft-clears-eczema/
Two cheap natural cures for eczema: billlorrette.hubpages.com/hub/Eczema-Natural-Remedies-For-You
Acupuncture for Eczema: www.youtube.com/watch?v=78Q-Uu0A7DI
Ayurvedic home remedies for eczema: www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_gPQBYJqVc
Chinese Medicine eases Eczema: news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7291783.stm and http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/141238.php
Acupuncture and easing the itch of eczema: www.reuters.com/article/2009/12/22/us-acupuncture-ease-itch-eczema-idUSTRE5BL3J320091222
Further Information (links and books)
The Skin Cure Diet: Heal Eczema from Inside Out, Kathleen Waterford; Eczema – Natural Ways, Sheena Meredith; Natural Foods that reverse Eczema by Linda Jordan; Natural Remedies for Eczema: What Works and Why, Jeffrey Fisher.
GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) Evening primrose oil
www.barleans.com (800) 445-3529
Rescue Remedy®, Bach Flower Essences
www.caycecures.com (800) 862-2923
www.longevityplus.com (800) 580-7587
Vitamin B complex, Total B Liquid Sublingual Formula
Magnesium, Magnesium oxide powder
www.lef.org (800) 678-8989
Zinc, Zinc Food Complex
www.newchapter.com (800) 543-7279
Andrea Butje | Aromahead firstname.lastname@example.org – aromatherapy
Carrie Vitt email@example.com – organic food recipes.
David Spector-NSR/USA firstname.lastname@example.org – meditation, stress
judith hoad email@example.com – herbalist.
Kath May firstname.lastname@example.org – reiki, tai chi.
Lillian Bridges email@example.com – Chinese medicine, living naturally.
Monika firstname.lastname@example.org – aromatherapy.
Rakesh GAC@AyurvedicLifeStyles.com – Ayurvedic Practitioner.