Eczema is an inflammation of the skin, usually causing itching and sometimes accompanied by crusting, scaling or blisters. Some forms of eczema are better known as dermatitis. Eczema is sometimes caused by an allergy, but often occurs for no known reason.
What are Causes and Triggers of Eczema?
The cause of eczema is not completely understood but the most common type, atopic eczema, does seem to have a genetic component – in other words, it runs in families.There are a number of things that may trigger your eczema symptoms, that including irritants (soap,detergents), environment factors, food allergies, certain materials contacting skin, hormonal changes, and skin infections.
What is Atopic Eczema?
Atopic eczema is common in babies and often appears between the ages of two months and 18 months. An intensely itchy rash occurs, usually on the face, in the inner creases of the elbows, and behind the knees. The skin often scales in these areas, and small red pimples may appear. Many children with eczema (up to 80%) will develop hay fever and/or asthma.
What is Nummular Eczema?
This type usually occurs in adults. The cause is unknown. Nummular eczema takes the form of circular, itchy, scaling patches anywhere on the skin, similar to tinea, ringworm, from which the eczema needs to be distinguished.
What is Hand Eczema?
This type is usually a result of irritation by substances such as detergents and dishwashing liquid, but may occur for no ascertainable reason. You also may be told about contact dermatitis or housewives’ eczema.
How Your Doctor May Treat Eczema?
You are always advised to keep away from irritants if it is known. To reduce irritation and the likelihood of scratching, a soothing ointment should be applied to the affected areas, which should then be covered by a dressing to prevent scratching.
Your doctor may consider prescribe antihistamines. If severe, your doctor may prescribe you corticosteroids for inflammation and antibiotics for infection.
Unless the causative agent is identified and removed in allergy eczema, treatment may be ineffective. There are obviously side effects when you start using Steroids, which make skin thinner, and local skin defect function weaker. Antibiotics damage the immune system while killing bacteria.
Treatments can ease the symptoms in some eczema. You may be told that there is no cure for atopic eczema and many children find that their symptoms naturally improve as they get older; it may be associated with hormonal changes.
What Other Negative Effects Can Arise From Eczema?
The problems resulting from eczema are not purely physical in nature, and it may lead to psychosocialeffects. School children especially may be susceptible to these problems. Due to the skin’s increased redness, the presence of watery nodules or thickness, patients with eczema or similar skin conditions can suffer from anxiety related to their appearance or perceived problems, particularly if they misattribute their skin’s appearance with other conditions with embarrassing connotations such as syphilis.
The itchiness of the skin can cause distress in social situations as well, as the patient will be tempted to scratch the affected areas of skin, which could draw attention to the condition itself.
Also poor sleep may caused due to itching during night, subsequent lack of energy, and inability to focus or concentrate.
The Evidence: How Chinese Medicine (Herbs) Help?
There are plenty of clinical trails have proved that Chinese herbal medicine are rather effective on treating eczema and dermatitis. Although most of them completed in China(including Hong Kong) and published in Chinese, there are some English studies have published on famous English medical journals, includes Lancet,as following:
- The British Journal of Dermatology published a study revealing that Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine has been shown to be extremely effective in the treatment of severe cases of atopic eczema. “The study conducted over a one year period found that 49% of the children experienced at least 90% reduction in the severity of their eczema”. “These findings anticipate a wider therapeutic potential for traditional Chinese medicinal plants in this disease, and other skin diseases”.” Chinese herbs have a significant effect on the production of white blood cells and thereby affect the immune system, reducing allergic responses and alleviating inflammation”. ( British Journal of Dermatology 1992, 126, pp. 179-184.)
- A report in the British Journal of Dermatology reveals that Chinese herbs could significantly improve quality of life and reduce topical corticosteroid use in children with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis at Chinese university of Hong Kong. The study was done between February 2004 and July 2005, with 85 children suffering with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, where 42 children were given a mixture of five traditional Chinese herbal medicine for 3 month. (Hon, K.L.E et al (2007) Efficacy and Tolerability of aChinese herbal medicine concoction for treatment of topic dermatitis : a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. British Journal Of Dermatology, 157: 357-363)
- 40 adult patients with longstanding, widespread, atopic (genetically predisposed) dermatitis participated in the trial which lasted 5 months, 31 of the patients completed the study at the Royal Free Hospital in London . the result of both groups showed a rapid and continued improvement in the extent of erythema (redness of the skin) and surface damage during the time they consumed the Chinese herbal medicine. The authors of the study conclude that Chinese herbal medicine is the effective treatment for atopic dermatitis of adult, but also warns that further experiments are needed to ensure its safety especially in patients suffering from liver or kidney complications. (The Lancet, July 4, 1992, pp. 13-17)
- Between August 2006 and May 2008, the researcher Julia Wisniewski, MD, of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. and her colleagues studied 14 children with persistent eczema who were treated with traditional Chinese medicine at Ming Qi Natural Health Center in Manhattan.
“Improvement in symptoms and quality of life was seen as early as three months,” “Chinese medicine is a very good alternative to conventional therapy for children with eczema,” Julia Wisniewski says. They reported a reduction in the use of steroids, antibiotics and antihistamines in first 3 months with Chinese herbal medicine.
She also showed photos before and after of their progress. Redness, scaly feet and hands appeared much improved after six months treatment. (WebMD Health Newsm , March 17, 2009 (Washington, D.C.))
- In summary, there are plenty of positive clinical studies on eczema treatment by traditional Chinese herbal medicine, but the public is still uncertain of the safety and effectiveness. Therefore Hsiewe Ying Tan and colleagues have started a a new study,< Evaluation of the efficacy and safety of a Chinese herbal formula (RCM-106) for atopic dermatitis: study protocol for a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in children > which has been published on BMJ Open 2013;3:e003906 doi:10.1136/bmjope-2013-003906.