Chronic, skin eruptions occur, often inflamed and red, accompanied by scaling, blisters, and itching.
What Is Eczema?
From Modern Western Medicine
Sometimes called dermatitis, eczema is caused by an allergy but often occurs for no known reason. There are several types. Atopic eczema, which occurs in people who have an inherited tendency to the disorder, is a chronic, superficial inflammation. Common in infants between the ages of two months and 18 months, atopic eczema occurs as a mild, but very itchy rash, consisting of small red pimples that usually appear on the face, in the inner creases of the elbow, and behind the knees. The rash spreads as the baby scratches the irritation. Atopic eczema often clears up by itself, but emollients, such as petroleum jelly, are usually effective in providing some comfort and reducing irritation. Doctors prescribe corticosteroid ointments and antibiotic drugs in severe cases.
Nummular eczema usually occurs in adults as an itchy, scaly rash that often appears in circular patches. Corticosteroid ointments are often prescribed, but the disorder does not respond well to treatment.
Hand eczema is caused by irritating substances, such as detergents, that come into contact with the skin. The hands and palms may be covered with itchy blisters, scales, and cracks. Protective gloves can prevent exposure to irritants. To further protect the hands, thoroughly dry after washing and cover with unscented hand cream.
People with varicose veins can suffer from stasis dermatitis, a condition in which areas of the legs can become inflamed, irritated, and discolored. The legs can be wrapped with compression bandages or special stockings to reduce swelling. Mild corticosteroid ointments are prescribed by doctors.
In order to reduce irritation of the skin, absorbent cotton fabrics should be worn.
From Traditional Medicine
The skin is one of the ways the body eliminates waste products. When the blood-cleansing and eliminative organs—especially the liver and kidneys—function properly, the demands of the skin to eliminate waste is small, and can be handled easily without causing any skin irritation or eruption. However, when waste products accumulate and exceed the capacity of the blood-cleansing organs, the skin is used by the body to eliminate waste. Such eliminations can manifest as skin eruptions, scaling, pimples, and rashes, such as eczema.
Most skin diseases, including eczema, are caused by an excess of saturated fat. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, such as fish oils, improve overall fat metabolism when they are eaten with food, rather than taken in capsules or added to the food.
Foods to Eat
- Whole grains
- Vegetables, especially beta-carotene-rich ones, such as carrots, winter squash, and leafy greens
- Seaweeds (to detoxify)
- Sprouts, especially alfalfa and soy
- Whole fruits, in moderation
- Sesame seeds, which are rich in oleic fatty acids
- Unrefined, sesame oils
Foods to Avoid
- Animal products
- Fruit juices
- Spicy foods
- Fatty foods
- Citrus fruits
Herbs to Treat Eczema
The following herbs are used to induce sweating, which is a good way to eliminate toxins that are trying to come out:
- Sarsaparilla root
- Burdock seed
- Yarrow leaves and flowers
The following herbs are all potent blood cleansers (use any one):
- Dandelion root
- Chaparral leaves
- Echinacea root
- Yellow dock root
- Burdock root
- Red clover blossoms
- Horehound leaves
- Poke root, which is a traditional Western tea for chronic skin conditions. (Use no more than 1 tbsp. of poke tea twice daily.)
- Equal parts sarsaparilla root, yellow dock, sassafras root bark, marshmallow root, and red clover blossoms
Hydrotherapy (apply to surface of the skin)
- Raw honey
- Goldenseal or poke tea
- Slices of fresh papaya
- Grated, crushed daikon radish or raw potato (squeeze out juice)
- Sliced cucumber, dabbed with vinegar
The above dietary suggestions are consistent with Chinese medicine. Chronic eczema is frequently caused by inadequate yin, or the capacity to withhold energy in the kidneys and the other organs. Symptoms of deficient yin that manifest as eczema include frequent thirst, weight loss, insomnia, night sweats, and hot palms and soles. Other symptoms may include anxiety, surface energy, and irritation. Any one of these symptoms may suggest inadequate yin, in which case the following foods and herbs are recommended: millet, barley, wheat germ, wheat, rice, seaweeds, microalgae (especially spirulina and chlorella), tofu, black beans, kudzu, persimmon, grapes, blackberries, and watermelon. Herbs to strengthen yin are marshmallow root, prepared rehmannia root, mandarin, asparagus root, and aloe vera gel.