A skin condition appearing as a rash on the skin, and may be irritated, itchy, red, and swollen, eczema can appear thickened and scaly; dandruff may form when the eczema develops on the eyelids or scalp. In severe forms of eczema, patches of blisters may arise that ooze clear fluids and then scab. Any part of the body can develop eczema, but it usually occurs on the head, chest, neck, knees, elbows, and hands. This chronic unpleasant condition fortunately, can be treated effectively with TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) that includes acupuncture treatments and herbs.
A person may develop eczema due to several factors but genetics is the most common cause. Almost all people with eczema come from families with a history of eczema and other allergic sensitivities such as food allergies, allergic rhinitis, asthma and hay fever. Sufferers of eczema also tend to have easily irritated dry skin and may have a history of dry nails, hair loss, dandruff, and psoriasis. The beginning of one’s eczema may start in childhood or adulthood. In children, this skin disease eczema may be associated with premature birth and c-sections. Children with eczema often develop eczema in infancy, and by adulthood, half of childhood eczema patients outgrow it. Adults with eczema usually develop an even more severe type of the disease.
Outbreak of eczema may be triggered by several factors. Eczema may occur in response to seasonal and/or temperature-related triggers such as dry winter house heat, sweat, cold weather, intense heat, and sweat. Irritants like dyes, perfumes, detergents, clearing chemicals, synthetic fabrics, wool, and certain types of metals (like in jewelry) that come in contact with the skin as well as food allergies may also cause an outbreak. The most common food triggers are wheat, diary, alcohol, and sweets. The occurrence of eczema can be induced by pollens. Other triggers include hormonal irregularities that accompany the menstrual cycle and illness. The triggers for eczema may vary from person to person, and for sufferers, it is important to observe carefully outbreaks in order to avoid the specific personal triggers.
Western medicine has several treatments for eczema. Ingested or topical drugs are the most common standard treatments. Antibiotics may be prescribed by Western physicians but these medications can be harsh on the digestive system not to mention having adverse side effects on the body. Steroids such as cortisone is another popular treatment due to its efficacy; the problem is that steroids also come with serious side effects such as bone and joint problems, compromised immune response, weight gain, and elevated blood pressure. Other medications can include immunomodulators, very strong topical drugs, and antihistamines. One should take note that while many of these remedies work, eczema is a chronic disease and sooner or later, patients can become resistant to drug treatments. Moreover, all these Western modes of treatment merely tackle the eczema symptoms not the underlying cause of the disease.
TCM and Eczema
TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine can provide people suffering from eczema a drug-free natural alternative treatment that addresses the symptoms as well as the root cause of the disease. Chinese medicine does not diagnose eczema as simply one condition. An acupuncture treatment starts with a consultation and comprehensive examination to help pinpoint the underlying cause of the imbalance. When a diagnosis has been determined a customized plan of treatment will be formulated to address the individual needs of the patient. A patient may for example, be diagnosed as having “excess damp heat.” This means that dampness in the body is causing edema or fluid retention, resulting in swelling on the skin. The inflammation and redness is a manifestation of an excess “heat” condition that impairs the body’s ability to cool and soothe itself. Usually the plan of treatment includes acupuncture to clear heat and dampness and restore balance to the flow and blood and energy. The treatment plan can also entail the use of prescription ingested and/or topical herbs to eliminate or minimize eczema symptoms and restore health to the body.
For the improvement of health, eczema sufferers may also need to make some basic lifestyle changes. If you have eczema it is better to wear cotton clothes as it is the least-likely fabric to irritate the skin. You also need to avoid traditional detergents and soaps, and use chemical-free moisturizers as well as gentle, moisturizing cleansers. If you have eczema, dietary supplements and essential fatty acids can dramatically restore the health of the skin. To support recovery, you can also add vitamins A, B, E, and zinc, as well as bioflavonoids, cod liver oil, and black currant oil. Eczema triggers should be identified and avoided as much as possible.
Dr. Hailing Fu is a doctor or Oriental medicine and the founder of Ling’s Acupuncture in Orlando, FL. She has also served as professor and clinic director at the Florida College of Integrative Medicine in Central Florida. College of Integrative Medicine in Central Florida.