Q.: I have struggled with eczema which was worse during winter, since I was a child. Now at 34 years old, I am 13 weeks pregnant and I noticed small red itchy patches of skin appearing under my armpit. My friend's eczema was tremendously relieved by homeopathic treatment and she suggested that I try Homeopathy .Can Homeopathy help me and is it safe to take during pregnancy?
A.: Yes, Homeopathy is a very safe and gentle medicine to use during pregnancy, while nursing and for new born babies.
In my experience, Homeopathy is very helpful in relieving flare ups of eczema quickly, preventing future flare ups, and in the long term, healing the patient from the inside out.
What is Eczema?
The word Eczema comes from the ancient Greek word Ekzein meaning "to boil or flow out". To understand this, we can think about an acute case of eczema. Intense skin inflammation might end up forming little blisters (vesicles), which can burst or open up after scratching, leading to the weeping or 'flowing out' of fluid.
Basically, Eczema describes inflammation of the skin, which is accompanied by redness and intense itching. Many times you might hear the term "dermatitis" which is often used interchangeably with "Eczema". In Latin, Dermatitis simply means the same - "inflammation of the skin".
There are many different types of Eczema.
The most common types of eczema in my practice are atopic eczema, which may be associated with asthma or hayfever (especially in children) and allergic contact eczema, when the body's immune system reacts against a substance in contact with the skin. For example, an allergic reaction may occur to nickel, which is often found in earrings, belt buckles and jean buttons.
How to recognize eczema
Most patients may experience similar symptoms , like red itchy patches of skin , inflamed areas of skin that might have blisters and weep (ooze liquid), or dry patches of skin with white dry scales. Many children will have eczema located mostly in folds of the skin, like behind knees, in elbow creases, groin areas, neck or behind the ears.
What causes eczema
According to the National Eczema Association, it is estimated that over 30 million Americans suffer from eczema.
Unfortunately, scientists do not know the exact cause of eczema yet . Some researchers say that eczema is a genetically inherited condition that people are born with. Some environmental factors like pollen or pet fur, and internal factors such as hormonal changes and stress may cause eczema symptoms to be worse.
What triggers Eczema
From my experience in helping many children and adults suffering from eczema, various factors can make eczema worse.
Here are just a few examples :
- One of the most common triggers are different foods, for example oranges, milk, eggs, soybeans, fish and wheat.
- The second important trigger , is stress. In long lasting stress, your body produces a hormone called cortisol which can affect the digestive system and cause an imbalance in friendly bacterial populations. Stress can also overstimulate the adrenal glands and exhaust them, causing adrenal fatigue. A chain reaction can lead to a weakened immune system and various diseases, including eczema.
- Digestive problems. James Barker, N.D., in his article, "Skin Health, Eczema, and Preventative Strategies", emphasizes the importance of a well functioning digestive system : " If the eyes and the skin are the portals through which we may observe the body's internal health, the gut then is the door through which a majority of disease initiates its entrance into the body.. .. It goes without saying that...the first area of treatment then for the patient displaying eczema should be the gastrointestinal lining, without a doubt".
- Inhalants, like dust mites or pollen, can also trigger eczema to flair up along with other allergy symptoms (like sneezing, runny/stuffy nose, itchy eyes, sore throat).
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy, and thyroid problems
- Frequent bathing, over-washing of hands, dry climates, cold weather
- Infections (Staph, Streptococcus, Herpes Simplex, Candida)
What can I do to cure eczema
You have probably heard that your skin is the largest organ in your body. Despite it being located on the exterior of our body , our skin is still very much connected to our internal organs. It is important to take care of your body inside and out, primarily what is beneath the surface. Regardless of what you use externally on the skin, it is whats done internally that makes all the difference. This is especially the case when it comes to improving your eczema. I strongly believe that skin problems are not isolated conditions, they simply point to inner turmoil or imbalance which manifest outwardly on the skin. That is why topical remedies cannot cure persistent skin conditions without supportive therapies. It is crucial to care for your insides to resolve your eczema.
Considering the core wisdom of the body to push illness from more vital organs to less important ones, the skin protects us from more serious illnesses.
There are many alternative ways to relieve eczema. For example, Homeopathy. Its holistic approach to every patient individually helps to cure eczema in many chronic cases.
Improve your diet
Try to avoid foods that can cause allergies and food sensitivities, like eggs, milk, peanuts, soybeans , fish, shellfish and shrimp,wheat or gluten-containing foods like oats, barley and rye.
Fast foods, fatty or fried foods can also trigger eczema flair ups. Try to minimize sweets and dairy (including milk, cheese, cream cheese).
Sometimes, certain kind of fish or eating too much fish can worsen eczema, but intake of essential fatty acids, cod liver oil or flax seed oil might help.
Good quality probiotics (good bacteria for your gut) are a very important factor in keeping the immune system healthy.
Fluctuations in hormones can trigger eczema, so if you have irregular periods or thyroid issues, try to fix them. Fluctuations in hormones during pregnancy are the most frequent cause of eczema flare ups. Homeopathic medicine is one of the most effective and safe medicines to relieve your sufferings.
Apply only natural and high quality skin care products to your face and body. Cheap cosmetics and lotions often contain harsh or even dangerous chemical ingredients. Products with high alcohol content will also irritate skin. Natural moisturizing creams and lotions formulated specifically for skin with eczema can be helpful. Keeping your skin clean is important, but over-cleansing can strip your skin of moisture and actually make your eczema worse. Over-washing your hands or over-bathing can cause dryness of your skin.
Glycerin soaps or lotions high in glycerin attract moisture to the skin. This is great if the climate you are in is humid but if the air is drier than your skin, glycerin will leach water from your skin into the air.
Direct contact of your skin with wool( clothing, coats, socks, blankets, upholstery) might also aggravate your eczema.
Be careful with Hair dyes (even professional salon-quality dyes) as they can cause allergic reactions.
Emotional stress and upset can exacerbate your skin problems, especially eczema. Deal with your stress in healthier ways and avoid stuffing emotions or letting minor annoyances stress you out. Try thai chi, yoga, dance or other form of regular exercise. Walking each day will help more than you may think (take your dog with you!). There are many alternative therapies that can help you to relieve stress, like acupuncture, massage therapy, herbal medicine, and reflexology. One of my favourites is Homeopathic medicine, which can cure a patient rather than just the disease.
An Oatmeal bath is one of the most helpful healing remedies at home. Oatmeal contains special natural elements: saponins, polysaccharides, fats and proteins. By working synergistically, they help to sooth your skin, alleviate the itching and inflammation, cleanse your skin naturally, and help to protect your skin from potentially irritating substances, including allergens.
An Old Recipe:
Grind four cups of oats into a powder in a blender. Add this powder to your bath using warm water, since hot water can make eczema worse. Take a soak in the oatmeal bath for 15 minutes -20 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly with warm water and pat yourself dry
You can try natural moisturizers with extracts of blueberry leaf and licorice . They can help to soothe and protect your skin from bacteria and other disease-causing microbes.