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Eczema is not one disease -it describes an entire category of skin diseases called ‘atopic dermatitis,’ which includes atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, stasis dermatitis, nummular dermatitis, and others. The common thread for these diseases is a known predisposition to develop allergies to many substances -sometimes very mild things like grass or tree pollen, sometimes more serious ones like food or medication. In the case of atopic dermatitis, the most common type, sensitization to environmental allergens, seems to be a prerequisite for developing it.
What is eczema?
Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) is a chronic skin condition that causes the skin to become red, itchy, and dry. It’s often associated with other conditions such as asthma, hay fever, and food allergies. Exposure to irritants or allergens can trigger an outbreak of eczema and make symptoms worse.
What causes eczema?
The exact cause of eczema is not known. However, it may be an inherited tendency which you can learn more about here. Scientists believe that many different factors such as environmental, food, and infective agents can trigger or worsen eczema. For some people, their triggers are clear, but for others, they are less noticeable.
There are many triggers behind eczema:
Environmental allergens – Many people associate the word ‘allergy’ with tree pollen or house dust mites…but any allergen from foods to medication can cause an allergic reaction.
Pet Dander- Although we often associate pet allergies with nasal congestion and sneezing, up to 15% of people and 40% of dogs may be affected by a skin allergy called ‘atopic dermatitis.
Food Sensitivities or Allergies- Those with eczema frequently have allergies or sensitivities to certain foods, particularly dairy and gluten. Many people with eczema find that they’re sensitive to eggs, soy, peanuts, and nuts.
Infections- Some studies suggest that a bacterial skin infection may trigger an increase in the number of inflammatory chemicals released in the body, worsening eczema symptoms. Many people see their eczema improve during a course of antibiotics for this.
Cosmetics – Parabens found in makeup and lotions can be a trigger for some people. Other common ingredients include formaldehyde releasers found in shampoos, fragrances used in most cosmetics, soaps, and even laundry detergents. And in recent news, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is located in most mainstream personal care products, including shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, etc.
Medication – Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen, can irritate the skin. Eczema sufferers may find that their symptoms flare when they take NSAIDs.
Cigarette smoke – Children who live with smokers are more likely to have eczema. One theory is that the chemicals in cigarette smoke break down skin barriers, making it easier for skin irritants to enter, which can worsen eczema.
Food allergens – Milk protein intolerance is common in infants with eczema. Gluten allergies may also be associated with the development of atopic dermatitis.
Dry skin – People with very dry or sensitive skin are more likely to develop eczema because it causes itching, making dry skin worse.
The symptoms of eczema:
People with eczema may experience any or all of the following symptoms:
- Intense itching of affected areas – which may worsen at night and lead to disturbed sleep.
- Dryness and cracking – Thickened, scaly skin can become flaky and dry.
- Redness and swelling – Inflammation causes blood vessels in the skin to dilate, resulting in red or violet-coloured patches on the skin.
- Blisters, bumps, or spots – The skin may blister, ooze fluid, and form crusts when scratched too much.
- Thickened skin patches – Sometimes scales can become attached to thickened areas of the skin, making them appear shiny and almost scaly in appearance.
- Soreness or stinging – The skin may feel sore and painful.
- Sensitivity to irritants – Some people with eczema may become sensitive to chemicals or other environmental factors that would not affect someone without eczema.
- Allergic reactions –Eczema can also be associated with other allergies such as hay fever, asthma, or food allergies.
How does one tackle this condition from the inside out?
There’s no right way to treat your child’s eczema, but there are some things you can do at home that might help relieve symptoms:
- Stress – A key sign of stress is the ‘fight or flight response, a physical reaction that prepares your body for danger. Stress releases hormones that can trigger inflammation throughout your entire body, including your skin, where they cause the blood vessels to widen and leak fluid into surrounding tissues. When this happens on your face around your nose, it’s easy to mistake for an allergic reaction. Some studies show that stress can be an essential trigger for dermatitis among people with pre-existing allergies.
- Diet – Studies show the food you eat can affect your skin. Eating foods that cause inflammation, such as processed meats, refined flours, and sugars can trigger eczema symptoms. Although it may take weeks or even months before dietary changes factor into your skin condition, this is often a very effective long-term solution to reduce the amount of itching and scratching.
- Allergens – Identifying and avoiding your triggers is your best defense against flare-ups. The most common eczema triggers are food, pets, and pollens and could be the reason for your child’s development of this skin condition.
- Moisturize – Apply moisturizer to soothe dry and itchy skin. Be sure to choose fragrance-free moisturizers that won’t irritate your child’s skin further.
- Bathe – A warm bath one to two times a day helps remove allergens, decreases itching, and promotes healing. Keep baths short (5-10 minutes) to avoid drying out your child’s skin. And use lukewarm water, not hot, and pat dry with a soft towel instead of rubbing the skin.
- Avoid scratching – It can be hard to break the habit, but allowing yourself or your child to continue scraping only prolongs healing and worsens symptoms. Try applying an anti-itch cream before bed if your child is unable to stop scratching at night.
- Sun exposure –Moderate exposure to the sun on your child’s skin can help improve eczema, but be sure to protect them with sunscreen before going outside for more than a few minutes.
Eczema is mainly managed by avoiding triggers, using moisturizers, and applying topical steroids for flare-ups.
However, medical intervention is also essential for severe cases. A dermatologist can help your child deal with this skin condition by counseling you on your eczema triggers and how to avoid them, prescribing the proper medication for the right time, and treating any associated conditions like allergies.
The dermatologist also prescribes various treatments for eczema-like:
- Topical steroid – This is the most common treatment for eczema. Topical steroids are lotions or creams that decrease inflammation and redness on your child’s skin, which can help stop itching and prevent scratching.
- Anti-inflammatory medications – NonsteroidalNonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) work by blocking a protein called COX-2, an enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain in your body. These meds reduce swelling, redness, and tenderness, making it easier for you to rest as well as providing relief from itching.
- Immunomodulators – Immunomodulator medicines affect how your body’s immune system responds to specific triggers. Usually prescribed for severe cases of atopic dermatitis, they help decrease inflammation and swelling.
- Light therapy – Phototherapy is another treatment for eczema that involves exposing your child to ultraviolet (UV) light, which can help suppress the body’s immune system response. While traditionally performed in a doctor’s office, some moisturizers are now available with phototherapy ingredients.
- Antibiotics –This type of medicine helps prevent and treat bacterial infections. If your child has oozing lesions or bacterial infections, an antibiotic may be prescribed to speed up the healing process.
- Prescription strength moisturizers –Applying moisturizer to affected skin can help protect against dryness and irritation. Creams and ointments work better than lotions for atopic dermatitis since they tend to be extra-occlusive (that is, they form a layer on the skin that holds in water).
When should you see a skin doctor?
- Seek help from a medical dermatologist when your eczema symptoms (i.e., dry, red, and itchy skin) are severe or when they don’t improve with home treatments like moisturizers and topical steroids.
- Your dermatologist can also advise how to manage flares of atopic dermatitis in conjunction with other medical interventions like dietary changes, immunomodulatory medications (Elidel/Protopic), anti-itch creams (Cortisone), antibiotics, phototherapy, or biological.
- If you feel the itch “magic marker” pen is not enough for itching, it is time to make an appointment. The proper treatment approach needs to be taken based on the severity of your child’s eczema.
- For mild cases, you can start with over-the-counter options like moisturizers and a topical steroid. When things get worse, seek help from your dermatologist, who can prescribe medications to suppress the itchiness and inflammation.
Homeopathic treatment for eczema from inside out:
- Homeopathic treatment for eczema has been used for over 100 years. Homeopathy is a system of medicine with a natural cure and no side effects as it is not directly working on the disease but the whole individual by triggering his internal healing mechanisms.
- Homeopathy helps your immune system deal with infections and also strengthens the skin layer preventing any further skin changes like erythema (redness), dermatitis (rash), and hyperpigmentation (darkening).
- Homeopathic treatment for eczema treats inside out it does not only help to relieve the itchiness but also brings a complete change in tone and colour of your child’s skin. Homeopathy for eczema is a natural treatment with no side effects to treat eczema from the inside out.
- As homeopathic treatment for eczema provides customized treatment to each individual, there are no side effects.
Homeopathic medicines for eczema :
- Sulphur: This medicine is a must in treating atopic dermatitis, as this provides instant relief from itching and creates an environment where the child becomes more comfortable. The state of restlessness usually associated with itching starts reducing. There will be minor scratching and over-rubbing, which further helps the skin to heal faster.
- Apis Mellifica: This medicine also provides instant relief, but its effect decreases after 6-7 hours, so it needs to be taken 2-3 times a day. It works best when raised reddish rashes occur in small patches, which create an intense burning sensation on scratching.
- Rhus Toxicodendron: This medicine is suitable for very active and restless children due to itching. The child will scratch till bleeding occurs but cannot bear even a bit of garment touching the affected area, as it causes a burning sensation. There may be small blisters on the skin, concentrated mainly at the bend of the elbow or knee joints. Sometimes there can be a pain in bones that can restrict normal movement too.
- Hepar Sulphuris Calcareum: This medicine provides excellent relief from itching if your child tends to scratch until bleeding occurs on most occasions. The skin rashes start disappearing with this medicine, but there is not much change in the reddish color of patches which remain the same throughout their course of treatment. This medicine should be taken during the first stage of eczema as it is a good remedy for fever with intense thirst and burning sensation from Within outward.
- Natrum Sulphuricum: This can be given if the itchiness spreads over the whole body, including palms, soles, folds of flexor area, and chest area. In such cases, there will be intense itching throughout the day, which tends to increase by sitting in water or after having a bath. The skin turns red and become moist due to excessive sweating, which feels sticky on the touch. There may be dryness in patches or all-over affected areas. Rashes look like blisters but do not contain any fluid, unlike herpes zoster (shingles) rashes.
- Graphites:This medicine is helpful if the patches are confined to palms and soles only. In such cases, there may be excessive sweating from both palms and soles, but they get stuck together after washing hands, making your child uncomfortable, resulting in increased itchiness. Most of the time, rashes disappear on scratching, leaving prominent brown spots behind.
Homeopathic treatment for eczema is holistic in which individualized treatment is given, taking into account all aspects of your health. If you have eczema, then it means your immunity system is weak. Homeopathy strengthens the immunity to prevent any further recurrence or worsening of the situation. Homeopathic treatment for eczema treats inside out. It not only helps relieve the itchiness but also brings a complete change in the tone and color of your skin. If you are looking for eczema treatment inside out, you can visit a registered homeopathic doctor. Book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy now!