This condition is an inflammation of the skin causing discomfort and itching. Eczema affects about one in 12 people and is becoming increasingly common. This skin condition typically is first seen in childhood and frequently the symptoms ease as the child becomes older.
However, eczema can appear again later in life and can also start for the first time in an adult who has not previously experienced a case of eczema.
Some of the symptoms of eczema include the following:
- Inflamed, itchy skin
- Patches of skin that are rough, flaky and red. These can occur mainly on the hands and knees, the elbows, the face and the armpits
- Tiny, red pimples
- Patches of dry and scaly skin
- Scratch marks where the skin has become irritated
- Cracks or blisters, sometimes accompanied by bleeding
- Weeping sores that have a thin, watery or crusty discharge
- Disturbed sleep patterns
Causes of Eczema
Eczema can be triggered by stress, house dust, pollen, animal fur and dander, food allergies and environmental factors. This condition is also highly associated with hay fever and asthma.
This skin disease is highly unpredictable and frequently there is no apparent reason for its onset. The condition can be very upsetting, especially to children.
Types of Eczema
There are a few different types of eczema, including:
- Generalized eczema – This is typified by inflammation that is widespread over much of the skin.
- Atopic eczema or dermatitis – This occurs in individuals with a family history of allergies, vitamin B12 problems, asthma, and allergy-related respiratory problems such as hay fever. In infants ranging from 2 to 18 months old, this condition causes weeping, red, crusty spots on the face, scalp and extremities. In older children and adults it may be more chronic and localized. The condition may subside by the time the child is 3 to 4 years old and reoccur during the teenage years or in adulthood.
- Seborrheic dermatitis or eczema - A condition that occurs on the face, scalp and chest.
- Nummular dermatitis or eczema – This condition is characterized by coin-shaped red spots that have crusting and scaling. This eczema usually occurs after the age of 35 and is frequently associated with emotion stress. In winter, this occurs because the skin is overly dry.
- Stasis eczema – Associated with poor venous return of the blood, this condition occurs in the lower leg and causes the skin to turn brownish.
- Localized scratch dermatitis or eczema - This occurs in specific patches, frequently with whitish areas well demarcated by areas having increased color or pigmentation, such as on the arms, ankles, legs, and around the genitals. The condition is made worse by scratching and stress. This type of eczema is most common in women between the ages of 20 and 50 years old.
- Chronic eczema – Occurs on the hands and feet and becomes very severe.
A proper diagnosis of eczema can be made by utilizing the following tests:
- Intestinal permeability – urine
- Detoxification profile – urine
- Vitamin and mineral analysis – especially for magnesium and B6 problems – blood
- Digestive function and microbe/parasite/candida testing – stool
- Food and environmental allergies – blood and electrodermal
- Essential fatty acid profile - blood
Eat a basic diet containing whole foods to encourage a balanced immune system and a healthy internal balance. Consume essential fatty acids every day (flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are good sources). Eat pumpkin or sunflower seeds daily, as they are excellent sources of zinc, a mineral that encourages the proper metabolism of fatty acids.
Drink 8 ounces of pure water every day to flush out toxins and to promote skin health.
When a person is constipated the body has to find other ways to get rid of body waste – such as expelling toxins through the skin. Eat lots of whole grains, vegetables and fruits. These foods are full of fiber and will keep the digestive tract clear.
Avoid all additives. Try to determine if a food allergy is the cause. Several common food triggers are dairy, citrus fruits, soy, tomatoes, shellfish, eggs, wheat and gluten.
Some herbal supplements that are extremely beneficial include:
- Vitamin A
- Dandelion root
- Red clover
Different juices can be made to promote better skin health. Try juicing black currants and red grapes; carrots, beets, spinach, cucumbers, and parsley; or using any green vegetables in combination.
- Balch, J.F. & Stengler, M. (2004). Prescription for Natural Cures: a self-care guide for treating diseases and health problems with natural remedies including diet and nutrition, herbal medicine, nutritional supplements, bodywork, and more. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
- De Vries, J. (1992). Skin diseases. Edinburgh : Mainstream
- Goodman, T. (1984).The skin doctor's skin doctoring book.New York : Sterling
- Papadopoulos, L. (2003). Understanding skin problems : acne, eczema, psoriasis and related conditions. Chichester, West Sussex : John Wiley and Sons Ltd
- Turkington, C., (1998). Skin deep : an A-Z of skin disorders, treatments and health. New York : Facts On File
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