In the summer of 2011, when Essaan from Bengaluru was just seven years old, his mother noticed that the skin of his face and neck was flaking. She ignored it presuming it was due to dryness.
By the rainy season and winter late that year, the rash became worse. His skin had lost its natural sheen, she recalls in a recent conversation with Happiest Health. Essaan’s issue remained unaddressed.
Around 2016, sweat also became a trigger because of which Essaan could not play sports. His skin problem only got worse, with the rash now spreading almost all over his body, accompanied by intense itching.
In 2017, when Essaan, now around 13, saw a fluid ooze from the rashes, his family realised that the problem was not innocuous and approached a dermatologist.
Essaan was diagnosed as having eczema and put on medication. The condition improved. However, once the medicines were stopped, the rashes were back, just as the doctor had cautioned the family. Creams and lotions did not help.
Essaan’s mother approached Dr Sanjay Panicker, consultant at Amrita Homeopathy, Bengaluru, seeking a long-term solution. Dr Panicker went over the boy’s medical history and prescribed medicines along with a change of diet and lifestyle. He also advised him to look out for the triggers.
Within a few months, Essaan’s condition improved, as all rashes from head to toe came down. Essaan’s mother recalls that the extent and frequency of allergic rhinitis which bothered Essan until 2018 also reduced with medications. She says, “His skin condition has reduced by 90 per cent and continues to improve.” He remains on medication but things are looking up for him, she adds.
What is eczema?
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a non-contagious, chronic skin condition that leads to red, dry, and itchy skin. The itch is usually intense. Constant scratching leaves the skin cracked, sore and raw. This can make the skin prone to bacterial, viral, or fungal infections.
Read more about eczema here.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, about 80 per cent of children with eczema also develop asthma with or without allergic rhinitis later in life.
Experts say that the condition can either flare up due to triggers or go into a period of remission when the rash disappears. Remission happens usually with medications, diet, and lifestyle changes.
Common skin irritants
Dr Ajay Yadav, consultant at Dr Ajay’s Homeopathy, Mumbai, lists the following common triggers for eczema:
- Dry skin
- Irritants such as soaps, detergents, lotions, perfumes, cosmetics
- Allergens such as pollens, house dust mites, animal dander, mould
- Temperature and humidity changes which make the skin dry
- Certain foods such as milk, eggs, and nuts
- Hormonal changes
- Woollen, nylon and polyester fabrics
The condition affects the person’s quality of life as the constant itching causes physical discomfort, social embarrassment and sleep loss. It can also lead to low self-esteem, anxiety and depression owing to misconceptions about eczema.
Addressing the body and the mind
Dr Panicker says that homeopathy considers all the physical and mental aspects of the person in detail before prescribing medicines and lifestyle changes.The medicines are chosen keeping in mind any emotional triggers of the condition. Emotional causes could include grief, humiliation, fear or anxiety.
The location of the rash on the body, its appearance, severity and triggers are all equally important factors when choosing medicines.
Dr Yadav says homeopathic medicines can also reduce the individual’s risk of developing related conditions such as asthma and allergic rhinitis as medicine boosts the individual’s immunity to allergens.
Tips to stay comfortable with eczema
- Wear a soft and comfortable fabric, preferably cotton. Avoid those which irritate the skin and trigger the rash
- Avoid scratching the rash as it worsens the symptoms and leads to infections
- Use mild and fragrance-free products
- Keep the affected area dry and clean
- Hot water showers strip the skin of its natural oils, causing dryness and itching. Bathe in lukewarm water. Moisturise the skin immediately after showering to lock the moisture in and soothe the skin. Pat the skin dry with a clean towel instead of rubbing it on the skin.
- Note down the patterns or triggers that might have aggravated the condition and try to avoid them.
- Keep the mind relaxed and strong against stress by doing breathing exercises or pranayama.
- Maintain a sleep schedule as getting adequate sleep reduces eczema flare-ups.