CHILDRENS PROBLEMS: ECZEMA (DERMATITIS)

Eczema is a simple term for what is a complicated condition. Many people have their own idea of what eczema is but, medically speaking, it is characterized by irregular skin patterns with various characteristics. Eczema may be nothing more than a dry scaly patch ofskin or it may be characterized by redness, swelling, cracking and dry or exudative lesions. This damaged skin is more open to infection and therefore there may be associated pimples or pus.

Contrary to popular belief, eczema is not always a longstanding or chronic condition and may occur as an acute condition arising as quickly as it may disappear. By definition, eczema has no recognized orthodox cause and, strictly speaking, any rash that resembles eczema that has a known cause, such as topical irritants, staphylococcal infections or food/drug allergy reactions, should be referred to as dermatitis. Despite eczema occasionally being exudative of clear fluid (serum), the main characteristic is dryness and redness. Eastern medical philosophies consider eczema to be a condition of excess heat, although the serum may be an attempt to correct the problem, in which case this form of eczema would be considered to be ‘damp heat’. Alternative therapies are therefore geared towards finding the cause of this excess heat and removing it. Hahnemann, the father of homeopathy, formulated the medical belief of the presence of deep-seated tendencies or problems he called miasms . One of these miasms was known as the psoric or psora which is manifest by skin eruptions, and Hahnemann believed that Vs of all chronic illnesses were ascribed to suppression of skin conditions. Indeed, in the centuries before the advent of the suppressive effects of steroids, many diseases showed themselves initially through the skin. As homeopaths fervently believe in the transmission of a disease process from one generation to the other until treated effectively, skin conditions and particularly eczema are looked at as a problem of the internal working of the body rather than as an actual problem with the skin and frequently ‘passed on’ from generation to generation.

The skin is certainly a remarkable organ having many functions. It is directly or indirectly related to most other organs and systems in the body and therefore when dealing with a skin problem one must look closely at the body as whole. The skin acts as protection and contains many of the facets of the immune system; it can absorb and excrete, performing functions similar to the lung and the kidneys (sweat and urine are very similar in composition); and the skin can transform sunlight into chemicals that are both protective and essential to our well-being, such as melanin (our tanning process) and the production of vitamin D (essential for our survival).

The skin is also a reflector of our emotional state, becoming, for example, pink with embarrassment, red with anger and white with fear. The skin, therefore, according to Eastern philosophies, reflects the inherent energy of the heart, lung, liver and the nervous system because all of these organs have associated emotional states.

When the skin misbehaves, therefore, the answer may be an associated underlying condition affecting any of our organs.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Eczema must be treated holistically and as far as possible without suppression. Very often the condition is so severe that steroids or natural equivalents are necessary, but they should be used only in conjunction with a complementary medical view and then only sparingly.

Review eczema with a homeopathic practitioner in conjunction with a Chinese or Tibetan doctor. Remember, however, that many herbal treatments, although effective, are plant steroid-based and may be suppressive.

In acute eczema the homeopathic remedies Psorinum, Calcarea carbonica and Graphites can be used at potency 6 every 2hr until your complementary medical specialist is consulted.

A tablespoon full of sodium bicarbonate in a pint of warm or cool water (depending on which is most soothing) may reduce the itch.

Dry eczema can be treated and protected from infection by the use of Calendula or Urtica creams, vitamin E cream or non-medicated petroleum jelly extracts.

A base massage oil may have Roman chamomile, lavender or neroli essential oils added, which can be soothing if not curative.

The following vitamins and supplements should be taken in amounts recommended by a specialist: vitamin A, vitamin E, copper, flax seed and gamma-linoleic acid.

Ensure that no chemicals, including medicated soaps or shampoos, come into contact with the skin. Water, glycerine soaps or aqueous cream should be the only cleansers.

The close connection of the psyche with the skin requires that stress management techniques are employed. If the patient is old enough, then psychotherapy, hypnotherapy or techniques such as neurolinguistic programming (NLP) should be instigated. If the child is too young, then massage techniques should be employed. It is important to understand that a child’s stress may be a reflection of the anxiety levels within the house and that unhappy parents or siblings may need counselling in order for the child’s skin to clear up.

Eczema may be a reflection of food intolerance or allergy. Assessment through Vega or bioresonance computers, as well as blood tests, is recommended in resistant cases.

Low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, ie hypochlorhydria, is a common finding in patients with eczema. This decreased ability to break down foods may lead to the absorption of larger food molecules, leading to allergic responses. Tests to check for hydrochloric acid secretion are available through a complementary medical practitioner and should be checked.

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