Causes and incidences – The cause for eczema is always said to be unknown. It is supposed to be inherited through genes. The common triggers are dryness, sweat, low humidity, acids, irritants, alkali, detergents, meat, egg, fish, cosmetics, costumes, jewellery, nylon socks, drugs lowering immune mechanism, stress and skin diseases like scabies, herpes, erysipelas, impetigo, urticaria, dermatitis.
Types – Eczema may be acute or chronic by the nature of symptom presentation. It is mostly localised, but can also very rarely occur as a generalised condition. It may be of dry or wet (oozing) type. Usually it is classified with its causative factor/triggers, i.e., as exogenous or endogenous which means due to external factors or internal factors.
Usually symptoms vary from person to person in presentation, place, intensity and suffering. The lesion may remain in one place or have the tendecny to spread to other places adjacently or otherwise. Likewise, after remission, the lesion may recur in the same place or in a different place. The common symptoms are
- Dry, itchy, scaly rash
- Raised patch with ill-defined margin
- Unpleasant feeling – like tickling, pricking, creeping, pinching, annoying, etc.
- Uncontrollabe tendency to scratch
- Scratch provoking cracks
- Burning pain after scratching
- Redness with odema (swelling)
- Exudation – sticky discharges
- Ends in crust formation, thickening (hyperkeratosis – leathery in appearance)
- Discolouration of the skin
- Restlessness and irritability due to itch which disturbs work and sleep
Since cause is unknown and suspected to be inherited, no one can aim/claim to prevent eczema. But caring skin even in a simple manner can prevent triggers and flare-ups. Preventing flare-ups is more important since no one can guarantee total cure even after prolonged medication. This means that people should take care of their skin (for moisture) in a continuous manner, even after active medication.
- Control scratching
- Wash and keep the parts clean
- Use moisturiser to avoid dryness of skin especially in winter
- Keep nails short and trim
- Maintain personal hygiene
- Dry the sweat fast
- A lot of water to maintain good hydration
- Fresh fruits and vegetables for healthy skin especially carrot, apple, pineapple, papaya, cherry, ginger, beetroot and spinach
- Vitamins A, C and zinc supplements for healthy skin
- Scratching, to avoid infection
- Irritants or allergic substances – food / pollens / chemicals / drugs
- Long time exposure of extreme temperatures / direct sunlight
- Swimming pool water
- Excessive sweating
- Cosmetics – strong soaps, powders, perfumes
- Stimulants – coffee, alcohol, smoking & chewing tobacco
- Preservative added tin-packed foods / drinks
- Animal proteins i.e. meat, fish, egg, also mil in high concentration
- High sugars, i.e. chocolate, pastry, cakes
- Emotional or mental stress
- Unnecessary medication
- Woollen clothes
Allopathic approach is usually against the causative factor or disease. In eczema, since the causative factor has not been identified, treatment is aimed at temporary management with medications and external applications.
Usually skin complaints are tough to treat and eczema and psoriasis are the toughest. Recurrences and remissions are very common in the treatment of eczema as every tide has its ebb. Nobody can claim complete cure since it can recur after 5-6 years or even more than that. So everyone should aim for a longer remission period. Homeopathy very commonly provides it without any side-effects. After Homeopathic treatment, one cannot notice the flare-ups i.e. ,even when it recurs, it is less intense and goes away soon. This shows that the disease is tapering with effective Homeopathy treatment.