The Unbearable Itch of Eczema
As a teenager, everyone in some point of their lives experience pimples, zits, boils, cysts, and blackheads. But the worst skin problem is having Eczema. Don’t you ever get tired of scratching your skin until it bleeds? Or have nasty blisters and scars on your body, because of the uncontrollable itch! What causes this skin disease and how can we treat it?
SKIN CONDITIONS AND ECZEMA
Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become inflamed or irritated, which usually appears very dry, thickened, or scaly. No matter which part of the skin is affected, eczema is almost always itchy. Sometimes the itching will start before the rash appears, but when it does the rash most commonly occurs on the face, knees, wrists, hands, or feet.
Eczema affects about 20 percent of adults and children in the U.S. Most infants who develop the condition outgrow it by their 10th birthday, while some people continue to experience symptoms on and off throughout their life. The most common type of eczema is known as atopic “dermatitis,” or “atopic eczema.” Atopic refers to a group of diseases that develops other allergic conditions, such as asthma and hay fever.
In fair-skinned people, these areas may initially appear reddish and then turn brown. Among darker-skinned people, eczema can affect pigmentation, making the affected area lighter or darker. In infants, the itchy rash can produce an oozing, crusting condition that occurs mainly on the face and scalp, but patches may appear anywhere. With proper treatments, the disease can be controlled in the majority of sufferers.
NATUROPATHIC APPROACH TO TREATING ECZEMA
Conventionally accepted medical approaches of assessment for this condition may include looking at your skin rash and asking about stress in your life, your diet, drugs you are taking, and any chemicals or materials you may be exposed to at work, to find the cause of your rash. Generally your medical doctor may prescribe topical corticosteroids to relieve the itching and the redness. However, used over a long period of time, these cortisone based creams can haveside effects such as thinning out the skin, especially when used to the sensitive skin of babies.
Under the concepts of naturopathic medicine, assessment is oriented toward determining what is impeding your body’s ability to function normally. At Natural Medical Solutions & Naturally Ageless Naturopathic Clinic, our naturopathic doctor, Dr. Gail Ravello focuses on finding the root cause of the problem and then treating it with naturopathic treatments along with nutrition/ diet and lifestyle changes and / or supplements. Dr. Ravello might also recommend acupuncture as part of the treatment, depending on your symptoms. At your initial consultation, Dr. Ravello may recommend food / environmental allergy or intolerance testing, and any other tests that she feels would be helpful in diagnosis and treatment.
Here are some natural treatment approaches that I suggest to help soothe eczema:
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol, coffee or soft drinks
- Limit your sugar intake and avoid junk food
- Eat lots of fresh vegetables and whole foods; identify food allergens as quite often this exacerbates eczema
- Drink plenty of water
- Exercise daily and get outside for fresh air
- Stay away from things that irritate your skin
- Don’t spend too much time in the sun
- Lubricate your skin with oil, moisturizers after bathing
Eczema may be exacerbated with stress and anxiety, so mind-body techniques such as meditation, tai chi, yoga, and stress management may help prevent it. Starch, oatmeal, and other baths may temporarily relieve the symptoms.
A healthy lifestyle is of utmost importance to prevent re–occurrence of eczema. Anything that aggravates the symptoms should be avoided. This includes food allergens; although food allergies are a very individual matter, common irritants may include wheat, corn, dairy, soy, peanuts, eggs, beef, and lamb.
Here are a few things that you can change in your diet to help reduce the flare-ups that come with eczema:
- Discovering which foods you are allergic to and avoiding them is important. The most common allergenic foods include dairy products, soy, citrus, peanuts, wheat, fish, eggs, corn, and tomatoes.
- A rotation diet, in which the same food is not eaten more than once every four days, may be helpful in treating chronic eczema.
- Eat fewer foods that cause inflammation, such as saturated fats (meats, especially poultry, and dairy), refined foods, and sugar.
- Increase intake of fresh vegetables, whole grains, and essential fatty acids (cold-water fish, nuts, and seeds).
- Increase your intakes of flavonoids, which are found in dark berries and some plants, help, reduce swelling, strengthen connective tissue, and help reduce allergic reactions.
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE AND ACUPUNCTURE FOR TREATING ECZEMA
Traditional Chinese Medicine is very effective in treating eczema. Usually, at the naturopathic clinic, we use acupuncture and herbal therapy to treat various skin disorders, and eczema as well. Acupuncture involves the insertion of sterilized fine steel needles at specific points in the body in order to stimulate the function of internal organs.
Three body meridians are essential to the treatment of eczema – the lung, spleen and liver meridians. These three organs have direct influence on the skin. Blood plays a defensive role by delivering nutrients and removing metabolic wastes, toxins and pathogens from the body. Usually, once the preliminary diagnosis is done, our naturopath may suggest acupuncture as part of the treatment plan and may suggest the patient to come in once a week for an hour–long relaxing and pain free acupuncture treatment. The naturopathic treatments for eczema provided at our clinic aim for the complete elimination of the root cause of the eczema.