One of the commonest skin conditions , eczema affects people of all ages and is extremely common in infants and children . Eczema or dermatitis is a response of the skin to various factors (see below)and it can run through various patterns and stages .It commences with redness of the skin due to dilatation of the small blood vessels there ,thin watery fluid then accumulates under the skin giving rise to blisters ,oedema (fluid accumulation )and itching . If the blisters break down ,there is weeping and wheals ,which can occur from scratching . this stage is then followed by scab formation ,which will heal the skin but may leave it dry , rough, thick and unsightly . on occasion scarring and disfigurement will occur . Eczema can and often does get secondarily infected , which will lead to further damage and scarring . Bleeding is not uncommon especially where the skin is very thin (for instance on the shins ), Five types of eczema are commonly described . they are contact , atopic seborroeic , varicose and discoid,
This extremely common condition starts with the affected area of skin showing a greater degree of redness than the surrounding skin . small blister like swellings then develop . and as these rupture they leave crusts or pits which ooze a clear , honey like fluid , as they heal , they become scaly and very itchy . Especially at night in the warmth of the bed . To deal with eczema properly constitutional treatment and dietary advice may well be needed .
Eczema is often an indication that other allergies and sensitivities exist in the patient and great care is needed to unravel the totality of the symptoms and provide treatment that is not likely to produce an early aggravation . However the following symptom treatments will help in alleviating the unpleasantness .
Contact Eczema ; As its name suggests , this is often the allergic response of the skin to an external agent that has come in contact with it . Common causes are detergents , watch straps , perfume , antiperspirants , deodorant , dyes of all kinds , rubber plasters , garden plants , nickel and other metals , bracelets and occasionally powders and contraceptives (diaphragms and condoms) . The eruption is usually only temporary and will disappear once the irritant but occasionally scratching may transfer the irritant to other parts of the body .
Atopic Eczema : This is probably the commonest form , fast appearing in young babies and infants . Usually there is a family history and the cause ,although allergic is not often the result of an external irritant , it can however be made worse through
Contact , this form of eczema is commonly associated with milk protein allergy and reaction to eggs and wheat and an exclusion diet will be a very common approach to treatment , infants usually get the eruption face and hands but in older children it will spread to the elbow creases and the knees . This form of eczema presents much more with dry itchy skin than the weepy variety . It can be triggered off by infection and chicken pox is well known to cause a serious relapse . Atopic eczema is associated with later onset of hay fever and asthma and forms one of the major allergic conditions , it is thought to be caused by a deficiency in linoleic acid that is necessary for the proper function of the skin capillaries (linoleic acid is found in evening primrose oil ).
Seborrhoeic Eczema : occurs where there is secretion of seburn and is common on the face , external ears , eyebrows and in young infants when it is known as cradle cap .It causes The scaly encrustation of the eye lids known as blepharitis . Occasionally it affects the front of the chest (the breast bone) . It is not as serious or problematic as atopic eczema and usually causes only minor irritation with little skin thickening it responds well to treatment .
Varicose Eczema :this is associated , as the name implies with varicose veins although this is not always obvious . It occurs on the inside and out side of the legs just above the ankle and can be very problematic for elderly patients because of its constant soreness and weeping . The skin often breaks down into a varicose ulcer . which can be difficult to treat because of the poor blood supply found the legs of people of an advanced age .
Discoid Eczema :affects young adults and appears as discs (i.e,coin shaped lesions) on the arms and legs, occasionally on the buttocks and lower abdomen which itch and weep and often become secondarily infected , this form of eczema is commonly affected by stress and tension and sometimes may be confused with insect bites or stings .
CAUSES : These are particular to each variety (see above) but all eczema is in part related to a hereditary . External (contact) or internal (food) allergy which worsens at times of weather change stress and emotional tension Symptoms : They vary with condition but include dry skin which may feel rough to touch and become thickened . redness and inflammation , swelling , blisters and weeping (wet eczema), infection scab formation ,Encrustation and weeping ,
accurate diagnosis is important and medical care will be necessary even in mild cases , avoid all material that is known to exacerbate the symptoms . Avoid all detergents , especially those containing biologically those containing biological enzymes , exclusion diets , especially in atopic eczema are well worth a try.
Try to avoid scratching ,especially at night . special gloves can be worn by small children and if you can not resist , rubbing is preferable to scratching . Contact your national eczema society as they can after much guidance and advice . Learn to cope with stress and practice a relaxation and breathing exercise . Great emphasis will be placed on eating a suitable diet including raw fruit (properly washed ) and raw vegetables . Avoid milk , eggs , cheese and wheat products , but it is best to do this under qualified supervision , a fluid fast can be tried for no more than 48 hours .
Homoeopathy treatment :
This is often very helpful but a precise homoeopathic diagnosis is often required . First aid measures include “graphites “.
Graphites is head remedy useful both in dry and wet cases . use when skin becomes thick ,most chronic cases have been cured by a few doses of 200 or 1000 potency given at long intervals .
Symptoms / Medicines :
Violently itching eczema , feelings of irritability –Anacardium
Honey yellow –coloured crusts , skin cracks easily and thick horny calluses form –Antimonium crudum
For chronic eczema where skin itches burns and swells but in spite of the burning sensation skin feels better for warm applications. Feels restless and irritable–Arsenicum album
Eczema on the scalp extending to the face , crusts are white and very itchy –Calcarea carb
Most scabby eruptions on the scalp , face , joints between the fingers and behind the ears . corners of the mouth and eyes become cracked and ooze a gluey thick honey like discharge . Itching becomes extreme , rest of skin may be dry and horny and the hair is dry and falls out —Graphites
Chronic eczema which is worse during periods and at the menopause –Manganum aceticum .
Most eczema especially on the scalp where it is chronic –Kalimuriaticum .
There is great itching which is worse when warm or wrapped up—Mezereum
Small blisters quickly from scabs and crusts from which an acrid thick pus emerges –Mezreum .
Moist eczema with out much itching –Natrum muriaticum .
Thick scabs which oozes pus , skin is harsh and dry , finger tips crack and the hands chap.—Petroleum .
Eczema is mainly on head and face cheeks and ears skin looks dirty greasy and unwashed –Psorinum .
Eczema with numerous small blisters that itch and tingle worse at night and in damp weather –Rhus toxicodendron .
Skin is rough and coarse with soreness in the folds and violent itching everywhere . Scalp is dry and hot with intense itching ,especially at night . scratching causes soreness and burning . water and washing make it worse and cause considerable burning and itching –Sulphur .
When it is specially on scrotum gets worse with cold , pus—Hepar sulphur .
When it is dry scaly on the scalp and face , crusts over scalp thin foetid excoriating discharge –Alumina .
When it is on the back of the hands wet in the bends of the knees gets worse on full moon –Bovista .
For eczema of face , genitals , scrotum, when there is much itching –Croton tiglium .
When it is wet on scalp pus turns into hard crusts on itching pus or fluid oozes out –Croton tiglium . Tuberculinum, thuja ,clematis agaricus should also be studied .