Eczema is such a common condition that it affects every one of five children during their school-going age. It is also a very common disease found in infants. Eczema in adults could be a recurring chronic condition, which the person may have to live with throughout life. Hence, it can be safely assumed that eczema is one of the most prevalent skin problems in the world today.
Eczema is dermatitis, i.e. an inflammation of the upper layers of the skin known as the epidermis. It is actually a whole group of skin ailments that can affect all age groups.
Eczema is an itchy condition, which leads to red rashes when scratched. For this reason, eczema is also called as ‘the itch that rashes’. In some people there may be different kinds of inflammations observed such as redness of the skin, flaking, chapping, cracking, drying up and even rupturing and bleeding. Even the extent of eczema infection differs from one person to another.
In Sanskrit, eczema is termed as vicharchika. Another closely resembling disease in Ayurveda is paama. The signs and symptoms of both vicharchika and paama can be correlated to the symptoms of eczema.
There are several types of eczemas. In Ayurveda , all the three doshas can lead to eczema. The symptoms of the different eczemas are:-
Vata dosha type – When the vitiation of the vata dosha produces the eczema, it is felt in the dryness of the skin. There is pain and severe itching of the affected region.
Pitta dosha type – Pitta dosha vitiation can cause oozing from the affected part. There are other symptoms shown such as burning and fever.
Kapha dosha type – When there is an imbalance of the kapha, it is more observable on the skin. The skin becomes thick and is accompanied by oozing and itching.
Medical science describes the different types of eczemas according to their causes and the symptoms. The following tables details the different types of eczemas:-
The causative factors of vicharchika are vitiations in all the three doshas – vata, pitta and kapha. The pitta vitiated vicharchika is the most common. Vitiation of the skin occurs through imbalance between the pitta and the blood to produce eczema. Vata and kaphadoshas are responsible for the pathogenesis of the disease that produces the different types of symptoms.
However, the exact causes of eczemas are still a mystery to medical science. However, there are several risk factors where eczema is concerned. The following are a few of them:-
The following people are at much higher risk of eczema than others:-
People who have a history of respiratory ailments such as asthma and hay fever
People who have other people suffering from eczema in their family
People who constantly wear tight clothes and underwear
People who are allergic to nickel, poison ivy, rubber and particular synthetic fabrics
People who cannot bear cold and dry winds
People who are allergic to certain foods
People who are allergic to detergents and soaps
There are several basic guidelines to be followed when a person has eczema. The following are some of them:-
Identify the allergic factor that is causing the eczema and remove it completely from the environment.
If the eczema is due to an ingredient in the diet, then abstain from that particular food completely.
Soaps and detergents must not be used on inflamed skin. Special non-fragrant soaps are available in the market made from herbal ingredients. These must be used.
After bath, the skin must not be allowed to remain wet. It is water drying up from the skin that aggravates the eczema.
During bathing, olive oil added to the water helps. Similarly, an oil or a ghee massage can be had about an hour after the bath.
Baths should not be too prolonged or too frequent. Use warm water for the bath, but not hot or cold water.
Towels used for drying the skin must not be rough. Use a soft fiber towel and only pat dry. Rubbing on the skin will aggravate the inflammation drastically.
Woolens must be strictly avoided. The same applies to blankets.
Avoid sweating as much as you can.
Be wary of using objects on the skin such as spectacles, artificial jewelry, footwear, furs and synthetic fibers. Identify and isolate the allergenic materials.
People with eczema problems must not visit places where there is cold and dry climate.
The house where a person lives in must always be kept clean and dust-free. Regular cleaning and dusting of each corner of the house must be done.
Stress is also related with eczema flare-ups. Extreme emotions like anger and shock must be avoided.
Since food is one of the causes of eczema, it is important to be cautious about the diet. Generally a person with eczema can have a normal diet, but without the specific allergic factor. Depending on the constitution of the person, he or she can be allergic to just about any kind of food. Hence, one of the steps of diagnosing eczema is to identify if any foodstuff is the cause of the eczema. If so, then that food must be eliminated from the diet.
Furthermore, people with eczema must keep away from the following foods:-
Salad vegetables like cucumbers and radish must not be used.
Fruits like oranges, watermelons and papayas must be avoided as they are contra-indications to eczema.
Ice-creams and cold drinks must be strictly avoided.
Several spices and oils can aggravate eczema. Hence they must be taken with moderation.
Nuts are harmful to eczema, especially cashew nuts.
Foods with a high mineral content such as ginger, onion and ladies finger (okra) must be curtailed in the diet.
Mustard is a strict no-no.
Ayurveda has a very rich repertoire of treatment methods for Eczema cure. Several Indian indigenous herbs are found to be very effective in the treatment of the problem. Their curative measures are being studied even to this day, and with astounding results. The following are some of the most potent herbs with their actions on the human body:-
The following Ayurvedic preparations are highly beneficial in eczema cure:-
It must be borne in mind that while taking any Ayurvedic preparation, the doctor must be consulted first. Most of the herbs do not have any side-effects (and are indeed a regular part of the diet), but some people may be allergic to certain herbs and may show adverse reactions.