Getting to the root - Eczema Patient Story

This case is being kindly shared by Alan Watt (62), owner of a picture framing company who was diagnosed with discoid eczema in spring 2014. He has a family history of psoriasis and allergy related issues affecting his nose and sinuses.

His GP prescribed Betnovate, a steroid cream, to alleviate the inflamed itchy patches on both shins. However over the course of the summer and autumn, the redness and itching extended to both sides of the legs. The eczema then progressed to most of the body with extreme itching experienced on the chest, arms, legs and ankles. A course of Prednisolone tablets was prescribed followed by anti-histamines Fexofenadine during the day and a more sedating anti itch tablet, Atarax, at night.

Two courses of antibiotics were also required to treat an infection affecting the skin in both ankles diagnosed as cellulitis. By the winter, a clear discharge was draining from the inflamed areas of the skin on the legs which now had an orange peel appearance. The itching had become more persistent on the arms, wrist creases, legs and ankles. This irritation had become so severe that bleeding and disruption of sleep had resulted from the severity of the itching. Digestion had also become an issue with bloating and discomfort as a result of the increasing consumption of medication. Standing in a workshop as well as running a business with all the commitments required was becoming increasingly challenging. Alan returned to his GP and received a repeat course of the same Prednisolone tablets and anti-histamines followed this time by a referral to Aberdeen RoyaI Infirmary’s Skin Clinic. The appointment was expected to take some time so Alan decided, while he was waiting, to consult a Member of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine, Kathleen Powderly (pictured below), to see if he could receive a more effective course of treatment.

Alan’s feedback speaks for itself:

"Life had become dominated by my skin condition so consulting Kathleen at this stage was an opportunity to seek a different approach as the treatment received so far was clearly not working.

After a consultation which involved a detailed history and pulse taking, along with careful observation of the tongue, I was given a mixture of herbal granules to take three times per day in warm to hot water, which is very similar to making a cup of coffee. I saw Kathleen for regular reviews and received additional advice about my diet and lifestyle. I was delighted to see a reduction in my symptoms and a sustained improvement. By the time I received my hospital appointment my skin was sufficiently improved not to warrant any standard treatment which was a relief because of the increasing side -effects from the prescribed tablets and steroid cream which eventually would weaken my skin. I was still keen to attend this appointment to share my positive experience but the skin consultant expressed no enthusiasm for either my improved condition or form of treatment. He criticised the GP’s choice of medication as the reason for my lack of progress.

My skin condition continued to improve and has remained stable ever since with very intermittent minor flare ups controlled by a short course of Chinese Herbal Medicine with the same easy to take granules. I have been delighted by the care and the ongoing support I receive and my renewed confidence to enjoy life both at work and leisure.

I recommend seeing a professionally trained practitioner from the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine after enduring such discomfort over a long period of time."


Kathleen Powderly is an experienced RCHM practitioner who has worked in healthcare for 45 years. She practices from her clinic in Aberdeen.