Eczema is a skin disease, which is observed as exfoliation of the skin, mostly accompanied by severe itching. In the chronic stages, there may be oozing of pus and bleeding from the affected regions. It is also commonly referred to as dermatitis.
Eczema does not choose its sufferers on the basis of sex or age. It afflicts people from the oldest to the youngest and all ages in between. It is also as common among males as it is in females.
Often eczema-prone people are more likely to suffer other disorders as well. Eczema can in some incidences be caused by sensitivity to certain foods and/or contact allergens such as, dust or mold. Also allergenic forms of eczema can be made worse by sweating or overheating, as well as exposure to extreme hot or cold temperatures.
Eczema can take on various forms, from mild to moderate to severe.
The most typical type of eczema is known as atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis. This variety affects approximately one in every eight children under the age of five in the United States annually. An estimated thirty percent of babies develop atopic eczema. Many outgrow the skin problem, often by the time they are toddlers, around two or three years old. Others will cease exhibiting symptoms as they enter their school years. However, there are still other children who continue to suffer their eczema symptoms into their teenage years and on into adulthood. Many children who continue to have eczema as adults are often those who have mild or moderate symptoms as opposed to severe cases. Generally speaking, eczema is much worse in the early years of a child's life than it will be as they age.
There are quite a few varieties of eczema. It is generally broken down into the allergenic and non-allergenic types.
Allergenic eczema results from allergies and health experts theorize that it has a family link, as do such other disorders as hay fever and asthma. Allergic forms of eczema include the extremely common atopic eczema, irritant contact eczema, and allergic contact eczema.
Non-allergenic forms of eczema include adult seborrhoeic eczema, also known as dandruff, infantile seborrhoeic eczema, also referred to as cradle cap, varicose eczema which normally affects older people and is generally concentrated around the ankles and discoid eczema.
Eczema is an infectious disease. It can spread from one person to another. It has been found to run in families. Especially if there is some allergy, then there is greater chance of eczema.
It is believed that high stress levels play a factor in flare-ups as are women's fluctuating hormone levels experienced during the menstrual cycle, during pregnancy and during menopause. Low humidity can also be a factor when it comes to eczema flare-ups.
Eczema can be best managed by moisturizing twice daily and using fragrance and alcohol-free emollient lotions and creams and lotions; by avoiding irritants like chemicals, harsh detergents and materials like nickel that could cause a flare-up; by keeping oneself from becoming overheated or too stressed and by wearing clothes that are made of mainly cotton fabrics.
In Ayurveda, eczema is known as Vicharchika. It is caused due to the vitiation of all the three doshas - vata, pitta and kapha. See some natural cures and home remedies for eczema below.
Useful Herbs for the Treatment of Eczema
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.
Linseed (Linum usitatissimum) Linseed is applied on the affected regions in the form of its oil mixed with lime water. This is effective in the treatment of many skin ailments including eczema.
Madhuca (Madhuca indica) Madhuca leaves are used to get the madhuca oil. This is applied on the regions where the eczema has occurred to obtain relief.
Dietary Treatments for Eczema
The following dietary rules are very important for eczema patients to be obeyed:-
Sour foods must be avoided. This includes all pickles, curds, etc.
Bitter tastes are useful. These are obtained from vegetables such as bitter gourd, bitter drumstick and flowers of the neem tree.
Turmeric has a soothing effect on the skin. It must be used liberally in flavoring the food. Turmeric is also useful if it is applied locally over the affected parts.
Ayurvedic Treatments for Eczema
Eczema is a constitutional disease. Its cause is deep-seated within the body. Hence external medications are not effective in eczema. With such medications, the outer symptoms may disappear, but the underlying cause remains. Ayurveda attempts at curing eczema from its roots. The method used is an elaborate process to purify the blood of the individual.
The different steps involved are:-
a) Snehana - This method oleates the skin, i.e. makes it smooth using oily preparations.
b) Swedana - This method induces sweating which removes the toxins from the blood.
c) Panchkarma - These are the five steps to improve the blood. They include vamana (emesis), virechana (purgation), vasti (enema), siro-virechana (errhines) and rakta mokshana (blood-letting).
The following Ayurvedic preparations are used in the treatment of eczema:-
One teaspoonful of Panchatikta ghritam twice a day and one tablet of Arogyavardhini thrice a day are prescribed to all patients of eczema.
In addition, a dosage of 50 milligrams of Chaturmukha rasa with gold is prescribed to be taken twice a day along with 15 milliliters of Khadirarishta thrice a day. All treatments must be continued for one month.
Physicians would suggest massaging the area with Mahamarichyadi taila or Guduchyadi taila.
Home Remedies for Eczema
Applying the juice of the wild almond (Terminalia catapa) on the affected parts provides relief.
An emulsion can be made with the seeds of the karanja (Pongamia pinnata) and lemon juice. This is very beneficial if applied externally.
An ointment is prepared using one part of sesame oil, sixteen parts of arka (Calatropics gigantica) and one part of turmeric. This should be applied externally.
Prepare a brew of the peel of the banyan tree. Both drinking this brew and applying it externally over the affected parts show promising results.
After meals, take one teaspoonful of Panchanimbadi choorna, which is available at all Ayurvedic outlets.
There are some other preventive methods that are necessary for people with eczema. These are enlisted below:-
Soap must not be used over the affected regions. Mild soaps can be used, but it is best to avoid them. Hot water must not be used for baths. Adding some olive oil to the water helps.
If the skin over the affected part is excessively dry, then a ghee or an oil massage will help. This will prevent the skin from erupting.
People with eczema should take care that their bodies do not suffer from sudden extremities of climate. Hence, traveling must be done with care.
The products of wool are not good for skins affected with eczema. Hence, people with eczema must avoid blankets and sweaters that are made of wool.
People with eczema must take care that they do not sweat too much. Sweat can irritate the eczema.