Eczema – also sometimes referred to as dermatitis – is a common skin condition marked by an itchy red rash that can appear in skin folds around the knees, elbows or neck. Children commonly suffer from eczema, but studies have also shown the condition to be widespread in adults – with recent studies showing that up to 30% of the population suffers from eczema at some point in their lives.
The causes of eczema are not fully understood, but researchers and scientists believe that the condition is probably the result of a number of factors including genetics and the patient’s environment. Eczema is usually mild and causes itching and irritation, but in more severe forms, it can lead to pain and discomfort, can disrupt sleep and can limit daily activities. Traditional treatments for eczema include creams, ointments or corticosteroids and doctors often recommend that patients avoid soap, detergents or materials that could increase irritation.
Looking at eczema from a traditional Chinese Medicine perspective is a wholly different approach. While allergies and environment may be factors, Chinese Medicine also explores the role of the body’s overall health and balance (both physical and emotional). Ailments and illnesses occur when this balance is disturbed and skin conditions, rashes and irritations can be external symptoms of other health factors and problems like emotional stress, diet and fatigue.
So, to treat eczema, Chinese Medicine takes a more whole body / whole patient approach. I talk with my patients to learn more about their health and habits. Is there an underlying health problem or illness? A change in work or stress levels? An alteration in diet? Using this information I then develop a customized treatment regimen of herbs, acupuncture and even diet for each patient. Using this personalized approach to restoring overall balance, I have had success decreasing patients’ eczema, itching and irritation.
This approach has worked for others, as well, and more and more patients are turning to Chinese Medicine to help treat the underlying cause of their eczema. In fact, a study published in 2011 showed that acupuncture treatment helped reduce itch intensity for patients suffering from eczema.