Eczema

Eczema is a condition characterized by inflammation of the skin that is usually associated with blisters, red bumps, swelling, oozing, scaling, crusting, and itching.

What To Consider

Eczema can be due to allergies, 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.

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 color, 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.
To minimize your risk of developing eczema, avoid irritating substances, wear natural nonirritating materials, use soothing ointments, and check to see if dietary, nutritional, and/or and allergy-causing factors need to be considered.

Eczema may also be a symptom of an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency.

Self-Care Tips

Diet
Eat an organic, whole foods diet and avoid potentially allergy-causing foods, especially sugar, wheat, milk, and dairy products, including yogurt. Also avoid excess consumption of fruit, especially citrus and sour, as these foods may aggravate symptoms.

Nutritional Supplementation
Vitamin A and GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), an omega-6 essential fatty acid found in high quantities in evening primrose oil, have both been shown to improve the symptoms of eczema. Other useful supplements for preventing and reversing eczema include vitamin B complex, vitamin B6, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc.

Aromatherapy
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.

Flower Essences
Rescue Remedy for accompanying stress, and Rescue Remedy Cream on the affected areas.

Herbs
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.

Homeopathy
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.

Hydrotherapy
Apply a heating compress to the affected areas once a day or as needed.

Juice Therapy
The following juice combinations can help speed healing: black currant and red grapes; carrot, beet, spinach, cucumber, and parsley, and wheat grass juice.

Topical Treatment
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.

Caution

If your symptoms persist despite the above measures, seek the help of a qualified health professional.

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