Eczema (or atopic dermatitis) is inflammation of the skin causing dry, oedematous (swollen), red and itching. In more severe cases the skin can become cracked, sore and bleed. The most common areas affected are;
- behind the knees
- inside of the elbows
- side of the neck
- around the eyes and ears
This is a chronic condition and the cause is unknown. It can run in families and usually found in people who are sensitive to allergens. Therefore very often it is found alongside other conditions such as asthma and hay fever. Thus, a combination of genetic and environmental factors are presumed to be responsible. It can flare up periodically with but then improve for a short period. Most commonly it is found on the arms and behind the knees. Scratching is an instinctive reaction to the itch, but it stresses the skin even more and causes it to become sore, crack and bleed, later becoming infected.
The skin represents any internal imbalances in the body. This can be your psycho-emotional well being, diet, general constitution, immune health, environmental conditions (e.g. cold, damp, wind, dryness) and skin sensitivity. Therefore skin health must start from the inside first. Identifying any allergies to inhalants (house dust and mites), foods (dairy, eggs, shellfish, additives, colouring, wheat), chemicals (creams, soaps, shampoo) and micro-organisms (e.g. yeast, mites and bacteria) with help to eliminate allergic triggers. Use of strong soaps and excessive washing removes natural skin oils and should be avoided.
Conventional treatments use a variety of skin creams and emollients, antihistamines and corticosteroids. Atopic eczema gradually clears up or considerably improves as children grow older.
Integrative & Complementary Medicine Treatment
The aim of complementary medicine treatment would be to strengthen and regulate the immune system, whilst reducing stress.
Acupuncture can be used to correct underlying energetic imbalances and support the immune and strengthen the immune system therefore preventing allergic reactions.
Nutrition: Nutritional, dietary, vitamin and mineral and essential fatty acid deficiencies must be addressed along with cleaning up the diet to reduce the toxic overload and improve digestive processes. This will help to dampen down the inflammatory response and revitalise the body.
Aromatherapy: Carefully chosen aromatherapy essential oils can help ease the inflammation and support the immune system, however care should be taken to avoid oils that may cause possible further allergic reactions. Aromatherapy essential oils such as Tea Tree will help to strengthen the body’s immune system and others e.g. lavender, geranium will assist in relaxationCarrier oils can also be used for their nourishing qualities.
Massage: will help to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Other therapies: Chinese medicine herbs aims to heal the skin and prevent flare-ups by reducing ‘heat & damp ’ within the body. This and other complementary therapies such as homeopathy and herbal medicine can beneficial, whilst other therapies can alleviate stress, fatigue and well-being.