• Dr A A Mundewadi

Eczema - Allopathic (Modern) Versus Ayurvedic Herbal Treatment

Updated: Mar 16

Eczema is a skin condition characterized by skin rashes accompanied by intense itching. The rash is in the form of fluid filled blisters, which rupture and then gradually heal with crusting. Along with asthma and hay fever, eczema forms a triad of allergic diseases which have a hereditary component; these may exist singly or all combined in affected individuals. Most individuals outgrow the tendency to eczema by five years of age; others may go on to have chronic and recurrent disease. Eczema may also be caused or aggravated by frequent washing; excessive sweating; the frequent use of rough and tight clothes, harsh chemicals, and rubber or plastic gloves; as also environmental factors like excessive dryness.

The diagnosis of eczema is usually made on clinical grounds taking into consideration the characteristic appearance and distribution of the rash, and the history of its appearance and trigger factors; a biopsy may rarely be required for a confirmed diagnosis. Treatment in the modern system of medicine is with the regular application of anti-inflammatory, anti-itch and steroid creams. Moisturizers help alleviate symptoms, while antibiotic creams and oral medicines treat secondary infections. Patients are advised to keep the skin clean, avoid known irritants, and wear loose, soft clothing.

There is always some element of hypersensitivity or allergy in the manifestation of eczema. While steroid and antihistamine applications suppress this sensitivity, Ayurvedic herbal medicines work directly on the skin, the subcutaneous tissue, and the vascular apparatus, to reduce sensitivity, treat inflammation, remove accumulated toxins and damaged tissue, reduce hyperpigmentation and strengthen the affected skin parts. Medicines are also given to heal the lesions and modulate overall immunity so that the tendency to recurrence subsides gradually.

For patients who have extensive lesions all over the body, or have intractable eczema not responding to standard oral treatment, generalized detoxification is done using Ayurvedic Panchkarma procedures. These include induced emesis, induced purgation, and bloodletting. A systematic course - or courses - of these detoxification procedures are done and followed up with oral treatment for helping the skin lesions subside fully, without recurrence. For limited, localized, and long-standing eczema, sometimes just simple bloodletting from a nearby vein does wonders as a standalone treatment.

From the point of view of Ayurved, dietary advice is an important part of treatment, both for early and complete healing, as well as for preventing recurrence. Dietary recommendations for eczema – and for all skin diseases in general – include avoiding excess of salt, curds (yogurt), sweets; fermented, fried or acidic food items; and fruit salads prepared in milk. Other than these, even other food items known to aggravate the condition, should be avoided. Breathing and relaxation techniques help in reducing stress. Clothing and lifestyle choices which act as triggers should also be avoided.

For most people affected with eczema, Ayurvedic herbal treatment of about 6-8 months usually suffices to bring about a complete remission. Further treatment at tapering doses, or dietary advice, suffices in preventing a recurrence. Ayurvedic herbal treatment can thus be judiciously used in the comprehensive management and treatment of chronic eczema.

Eczema, Ayurvedic treatment, herbal medicines, atopic dermatitis, nummular eczema, irritant dermatitis, contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, pompholyx.

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