Eczema Treatment in Ayurveda
Eczema is a common skin condition marked by itchy and inflamed patches of skin. It is broadly applied to a range of persistent or recurring skin rashes characterized by redness, skin oedema, itching and dryness with possible crusting, flaking, blistering, cracking, oozing or bleeding.
Types of eczema includes :
- Contact dermatitis
- Atopic dermatitis
- Dyshydrotic eczema
- Nummular eczema
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Stasis dermatitis
- Hand eczema
What causes eczema ?
The causes of eczema are unknown,but it is presumed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Genetic studies found that eczema occurs about three times more frequently in individuals with celiac disease and about two times more frequently in relatives of those with celiac disease.
Certain substances or conditions can cause eczema to become worse. It includes irritants such as soaps, detergents, shampoos, disinfectants and also allergens like dust mite, pollens, dandruff and pets. Very hot or cold weather, high and low humidity, excessive sweating, skin infections can also bring out the disease. Women can experience increased eczema symptoms at times when their hormonal levels are changing like during pregnancy and at certain points of menstrual cycle. Food items including dairy products, eggs, nuts, soy products, meats, wheat and some juices from fresh fruits can also cause eczema flare ups.Stress is also an important factor which increases the intensity of symptoms.
What are the signs or symptoms of eczema ?
The signs and symptoms of each type of eczema are:
- Contact dermatitis-It occurs when a chemical or other substance irritates the skin. Symptoms include itching, redness, burning sensation associated with presence of stings. Fluid filled blisters can form which may ooze or crust over time. Skin became thicken, scaly or leathery.
- Atopic dermatitis-It is the most common form of eczema usually seen in children. Symptoms includes rashes, skin may get darker or lighter or thicker and sometimes small bumps may occur.
- Dyshydrotic eczema-It causes small blisters to form on hands and feet which is more common in women than men. Symptoms are fluid filled blisters on palms, soles, toes, fingers etc, which may cause itching, cracking and form like flakes.
- Nummular eczema-This causes round coin shaped spots, itching and scaly appearance which can be triggered by a reaction to an insect bite or by an allergen.
- Seborrheic dermatitis-People may experience rashes, dryness, flakiness (dandruff), peeling or redness
- Stasis dermatitis-It happens when fluid leaks out from a weakened vein which may cause swelling, redness, itching and pain.
- Hand eczema-It commonly seen in people who are doing jobs like cleaning or hairdressing where one regularly uses the chemicals that irritate the skin. Symptoms include itching, redness, dryness etc which may form cracks or blisters.
Eczema in Ayurveda
The contemporary system of medicine has been greatly advanced, particularly in the field of dermatology, but there is no specific medicaments for sure cure of eczema except antihistamines and steroids which may have long term toxic effects.
According to ayurveda, eczema can be correlated to a type of skin disease called Vicharchika. It is characterized with symptoms namely kandu (itching), sraava (discharge), pidaka (vesicles) and shyava varna (discoloration).
As the disease involves more than one dosha (like vata, pitta or kapha), the line of treatment will be based on the presence of particular symptoms. The most aggrevated symptoms should be treated first. The Ayurveda classics advocates several lines of conservative treatments for skin diseases, especially vicharchika. Also the disease which doesn’t respond to various medical treatments are definitely blood vitiated disorders as per ayurvedic understanding.
Classical texts like Charaka samhitha offers detailed treatment for vicharchika according to dosha predominance including snehapana (ghee taking), virechana (purgation) followed by rakta moksha (bloodletting) and vamana (therapeutic emesis) for vata, pitta and kapha predominant conditions respectively.
Common Ayurveda treatments for eczema
Major treatments are described below:
- Raktamokshana (bloodletting): A study on the use of Raktamokshana specifically utilizing jalouka (leeches), indicated a dramatic improvement of the symptoms of Vicharchika. Thus leech therapy proved to be an effective, time saving, affordable and acceptable treatment in skin disease especi2in eczema. Various methods are employed for blood letting such as the use of shringa (horn), jalouka (leech), alabu (gourd), pracchaana (scarifications) and siravyadha (vein puncture).
- Virechana karma : It is a systematic purification done by giving purgative drugs which is better for skin diseases where pitta and rakta are mainly involved.The role of virechana karma as a treatment for vicharchika has also shown to be highly valuable for this condition.
- Rasayana therapy : Rasayana therapy improves tissue nutrition. If a person is reasonably healthy, he or she can do rasayana therapy after undertaking cleansing treatments.
- Lepas : Lepas are topical treatments used to address symptoms on Vicharchika. According to the text Baavaprakasha, drugs such as amla, turmeric, shathavari etc are commonly used in the treatment of Vicharchika.
- Vamana : It is an important therapy among the Panchakarmas where medications are given for therapeutic vomiting in the presence of a physician. Vamana is considered to be the effective treatment for both pitta and kapha in excess.
- Samana chikitsa : If the condition of the patient is not possible for performing cleansing therapies, then we do Samana chikitsa by giving proper medications.
Researchers observed that people with high levels of perceived stress have more skin issues compared to people with moderate or low levels of stress. Specifically high stressed people experience more itchiness, hair loss, excessive sweating and scaly skin than less stressed people of their same age group. Yoga is a mind- body practice that uses meditation, breathing technique and physical poses to improve physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being. For many people with eczema or other skin diseases, managing symptoms is a daily challenge. Yoga and meditation may be particularly helpful for them because of its ability to reduce stress and their by avoiding flare ups caused due to the same.
What are the home remedies for eczema ?
- Aloe vera : The antibacterial and wound healing properties of aloe vera can protect skin from infections and promote healing of broken skin.
- Coconut oil : Coconut oil contains healthful fatty acids that can add moisture to the skin which is useful for people with dry skin and eczema.
Also virgin coconut oil may protect the skin by improving the health of skin barrier and thereby preventing inflammation.
- Honey : Honey is a natural antibacterial and anti inflammatory agent which prevents skin infections and promotes wound healing.
- Dietery changes : Include food items such as lentils, turmeric, cinnamon, beans, leafy greens etc in the diet which reduces the inflammation of body.
Some Preventive measures
- Establish a skin care routine and follow doctor’s opinions for keeping the skin healthy.
- Wear gloves while doing water related activities (wear cotton gloves inside plastic gloves for absorbing sweat.
- Use mild soap for bath or shower and pat the skin dry instead of rubbing.
- Take a bath or shower with lukewarm water.
- Drink 8 to 12 glasses of water minimum for maintaining a healthy skin.
- Wear loose cotton cloths.
- Try to avoid getting too hot and sweaty.
- Practice stress relieving techniques such as yoga and meditation daily.
- Limit exposure to known allergens and irritants.