Getting to the Root of Eczema

What is eczema?

Eczema is a chronic superficial inflammation of the skin characterised by itching, flaking and/or rash, affecting around 15 million people in the UK. The various types of eczema include: atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and stasis dermatitis.

The causes of eczema are poorly understood but it is thought that genetics and environmental factors play a key role in its development. There are similarities between eczema and other atopic allergies in that the immune system is reacting against an allergen which then leads to an inflammatory response.

What are the symptoms of eczema?

For most people, eczema's main symptom tends to be itching. This can range from mild to moderate, but can become severe if inflammation is high and this can naturally lead to excessive scratching.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Dry, sensitive skin
  • Inflamed, discolored skin
  • Rough, leathery or scaly patches of skin
  • Oozing or crusting
  • Areas of swelling

Not all of these symptoms are neccessary for the diagnosis of eczema and the condition can come and go depending on diet, stress and environmental factors such as exposure to chemicals or irritants.

Conventional treatments include anti-histamines, steroids and topical creams than can cause unwanted side effects and usually only provide symptomatic relief without addressing the underlying causes.

The treatment of eczema using Chinese Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture have long been used to treat various skin conditions. There is a framework of understanding in Chinese Medicine that diagnoses the particular patterns associated with the various presentations of eczema. This might include constitutional deficiencies of the Spleen, Kidney and Lungs, Inflammation or Heat, the accumulation of fluids and Damp and the notion of 'wind' in the skin which translates loosely to the itch that can be so distressing.

Herbs are administered internally as decoctions, powders, teas or pills and externally in the form of lotions, creams and washes that can soothe irritated skin, balance the immune response and encourage healing.

The following pages provide an insight into the treatment of eczema with Chinese Herbal Medicine including the extensive research into this condition.

We hope that patients suffering from this distressing chronic condition will feel confident in seeking the help of one of our many highly qualified RCHM practitioners for the treatment of their eczema or dermatitis.