What is Eczema?
Scientifically known as Atopic dermatitis Eczema is a condition that results in inflamed, itchy, red, cracked, and rough skin patches. Blisters may occur sometimes. It is a common occurrence in children but may affect people from any age group. It is a long-lasting (chronic) disease and tends to flare periodically.
Sometimes, asthma patients may get affected by other problems like asthma and hay fever. Roughly 40% of the population worldwide has eczema, nowadays, and this number is constantly growing. The skin has a functional relationship with the internal organs and internal glands. Any kind of impairment in their working may lead to eczema or dermatitis. Some people recover from this condition but others suffer from it throughout their adult lives.
Researchers are yet to find the exact causes of atopic dermatitis. But self-care and Ayurvedic treatment of eczema can provide relief from itching and prevent new outbreaks.
Types of Eczema
Types of eczema are as follows:-
- Atopic Dermatitis: It is considered a more severe form of eczema. It always begins in childhood and typically affects the insides of the elbows, backs of the knees, and the face, but can cover most of the body. This sub-type often appears in people with genetic disturbances, asthma or hay fever.
- Contact Dermatitis: Contact dermatitis happens when you touch a substance that irritates your skin that causes some allergic reaction. Detergent, bleach, jewellery, paint, tobacco, smoke may cause this type of eczema.
- Dyshidrotic eczema: It is a common problem for people who work at places that expose them to irritants like hairdressing, healthcare and laundry.
- Neurodermatitis- It's a type that is very similar to atopic dermatitis but is caused by stress.
- Stasis dermatitis: It is skin irritation in the lower leg usually related to circulatory problems
Causes of Eczema
The actual cause of eczema is unknown, but it's thought to be linked to an overactive response of the immune system to an irritant. It is this response of the body, which results in symptoms of eczema. Moreover, eczema is generally found with a history of asthma and other allergies in most families. In some cases of children, the main cause of eczema is an allergy to a particular food. Also, some defects in the skin barrier could allow moisture out and germs. Most consistently identified causes for eczema are given below:
- Irritants: These consist of shampoos, detergents, soaps, fresh juices of fruits, disinfectants, meats, and vegetables.
- Allergens: Pets, Dust miles, pollens, mould, and dandruff, etc. also lead to eczema.
- Microbes: These consist of bacteria like aureus, staphylococcus, certain fungi, and viruses.
- Extreme temperatures: Too cold or hot weather, humidity variation, and excessive perspiration may also result in an outbreak of eczema.
- Foods: Nuts, dairy products eggs, soy products, and wheat, etc. products can cause eczema.
- Stress: This does not directly cause eczema but is the main reason for making the symptoms worse.
- Hormones: Women experience an increased level of eczema symptoms during their hormone levels gets changed. It often happens during the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.
Signs and Symptoms of Eczema
The Eczema symptoms can vary, depending on the age of the person. It is more common in infants, that includes the following sign and symptoms:
- Dry skin
- Severe itching at nightfall.
- Red to brownish-grey patches, especially on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, inside the bends of the elbows and knees, and in infants, the face and scalp.
- Raw, sensitive, swollen skin from scratching
- Small, raised bumps, which may leak fluid or watery discharge and can crust over when scratched
- Thickened, cracked, scaly skin
Diagnosis of Eczema
Diagnosis of eczema doesn’t need any lab tests. Doctors can identify it with a close examination of the skin and a review of the patient’s medical history. Patch testing can also be used to determine other diseases or conditions related to the skin which accompany eczema.
Eczema Treatment in Ayurveda
The eczema Ayurvedic treatment is based on Ayurvedic principles of healing and well-being. According to Ayurveda, eczema is similar to Vicharchika, it is a Kapha originated dosha. The symptoms are Kandu (excessive itching), Pidika - (pustule), syava-(discolouration/hyperpigmentation), Bahusrava (profuse oozing), etc. There is limited information regarding specific eczema treatment in Ayurveda. Therefore, Ayurveda treats Vicharchika based on symptoms of patients. The eczema is treated with the following ayurvedic therapies:
- Vamana: Also known as emesis therapy, Vamana is the first of the five treatments. It is considered an effective treatment for both Pitta and Kapha doshas. Vamana can also be used as preventive therapy for Kapha based diseases like psoriasis, eczema, etc. It improves relative symptoms and condition.
- Virechana: It is the second out of five therapy of panchakarma. It cleanses the body by detoxifying the lower waste elimination pathways of the body. Virechana is used to cure the Pitta disorders to cleanse the primary site of the pitta - stomach and small intestine.
- Basti: It is a therapy used for rectifying Vata related problems. Basically, it is an enema that purifies the colon. Vata is a known cause of approx. 60% of all human diseases and 80% of those diseases can be treated with simple enema therapy.
- Rakta Mokshana: This eczema treatment in Ayurveda is also known as bloodletting. It uses leeches to draw the vitiated blood and results in the creation of new blood. According to Ayurveda, blood vitiation is the leading cause of eczema. Therefore, Rakta Mokshana is one of the optimal eczema treatments in Ayurveda.
Home Remedies for Eczema
Eczema home treatment and natural treatments can soothe the dry, itching skin and several other symptoms:
- Moisturize your skin at least twice a day: Use a product that works for you. You might try bath oils, creams, ointments or moisturizers. Use the moisturizer at least twice a day to prevent eczema.
- Don't scratch: Rather than scratching over the itching area, try pressing the skin. Cover the itchy regions with soft cotton covering if you can’t resist scratching it every now and then. Regarding children, it is good to trim their nails timely and get them to wear gloves during the nights.
- Take a warm bath: Use the baking soda in the bathwater and soak the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes, then pat dry. Always apply lubricant or moisturizer if the skin feels damp.
- Aloe vera: The antibacterial and antimicrobial effects of aloe vera can prevent skin infections, which are more likely to occur when a person has dry, cracked skin. Aloe vera has wound healing and soothing properties.
- Apple cider vinegar: Due to its capability to fight the bacteria that affects the skin in eczema disease.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil has good fatty acids that provide moisture to the skin and help the patient in dry skin and eczema.
- Use humidifiers: Indoor air often runs hot and dry. It soaks the normal moisture content from the skin and worsens eczema symptoms like flaking and itching. A portable humidifier can be used to add some moisture to dry air.
Preventions and Lifestyle Changes for Eczema
- Avoid spicy or oily food and a hot humid atmosphere.
- Always wear loose cotton clothes and avoid wearing synthetic clothes because they inhibit preparation.
- Avoid harsh soaps and use mild herbal soap for bathing.
- Do not rub towels or napkins while drying your skin. Make sure to use smooth, soft towels whenever you pat dry yourself after bath.
- Keep away from caffeine-based beverages, spicy, and canned food items.
- Practice Bhujangasan and Agnisaar Pranayam to enhance your body’s immunity.