Eczema, Atopic Dermatitis
From Health Facts
Eczema, also known as dermatitis is a term that is used to apply to a wide range of persistent skin conditions. It is a very common condition with a prevalence of 2.4% to 7% in the population. It is considered both an inflammatory and allergic skin reaction that affects that outer layer of the skin. It is typically characterized by erythema (red), inflamed, flaking and itchy or dry areas of the skin. It is commonly found on the face, wrists, and insides of the elbows and knees. It can occur at any age and is common in infants.
The causes of eczema are varied. Overall it is due to a disturbance or reaction of the immune system that is being expressed through the skin.
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- Frequent bathing or showers can increase the susceptibility.
- Emotional tension can provoke and aggravate itching in patients with eczema. Individuals with eczema tend to show higher levels of anxiety, hostility and neurosis. 
- Stress response is a factor connected to Atopic Dermatitis in that the sympathetic response is elevated and parasympathetic response is dysfunctional in those suffering from atopy. This is exacerbated by the itching and scratching cycles experienced in those who suffer from eczema. 
- Environmental Allergens
- Contact to specific plant allergens such as poison ivy, oak, or sumac can cause contact dermatitis.
- Atopic dermatitis is also associated with environmental factors like pollution, allergen exposure and increase of industrialization and housing development .
- Environmental Allergies to pollen, mold, dust mites or animals can cause dermatitis.
- Environmental toxins such as nickel.
- Climate and Seasons
- Repeated water, solvent, or detergent exposure.
- Contact with rough materials (like wool) and synthetic fabric.
- Prescription Medications
- Topical medications such as bacitracin, neomycin, and benzocaine fragrances can cause eczema.
- Family History
When assessing eczema your naturopathic doctor will examine your skin and inquire about the following:
- When did your dry condition develop?
- Is it acute or chronic?
- What makes it better or worse?
- What are your hygiene habits?
- What other symptoms are associated with the eczema
- What impact does it have to your health and activities of daily living?
- What are your other health concerns?
- Laboratory testing can include: Food Allergy Test (IgE), Food Sensitivity Test (IgG), Basal Body Temperature, ferritin, serum Copper, selenium, Indican Test, Candida Test
Related Symptoms and Conditions
- The following symptoms and conditions are associated with increased risk of eczema or atopic dermatitis., , , 
- Dry Skin
- Allergic rhinitis
- Herpes simplex
- low Ferritin, high copper
The characteristics of eczema include:
- Eczema is characterized by inflammation, erythema, edema and vesiculation.
- Itching is often severe and can result in sensitive skin. Those with eczema may have a lowered threshold to the itch stimuli (an excess of substance P).
- Weeping or oozing of acute lesions is typical.
- Thickening of the skin may eventually occur because of repetitive rubbing and scratching.
- Dry, hyperkeratotic skin which has decreased water-holding capacity
- The skin has a tendency to be heavily colonized by bacteria, especially Staphylococcus aureus.
- Serum IgE is elevated in 80% of patients and all patients have positive skin, radioallergosorbent tests and other allergy tests.
Location of the rash The type of rash and the location on the body depends on age:
- Young children: skin lesions begin on the face, scalp, hands and feet. They are often crusting, bubbling or oozing rashes that itch.
- Older children and adults: the rash is commonly seen on the inside the elbows and knees, as well as the neck, hands and feet.
Types of Eczema
- Atopic dermatitis
- Stasis dermatitis
- Contact dermatitis
- Nummular eczema
- Seborrheic dermatitis
Energetics of Eczema
- From a TCM perspective Eczema is viewed as Heat and Dampness picture.
The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Eczema is considered a chronic disease.
The most important step is to identify and avoid anything that makes the skin condition worse. Treatment is typically more effective when it involves topical creams that provide relief from the itchiness and supplementation to reduce the inflammation, allergic responses and the underlying immune and metabolic abnormalities. An episode of contact dermatitis can take up to 3 weeks to resolve.
It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.
Home Care strategies include:
- When washing or bathing use cooler water. Short, brief exposures to water are best.
- Do not scrub or dry the skin too hard or for too long.
- After bathing use a chemical-free, natural moisturizer.
- Scratching open a healing lesion may result in scarring and may enlarge the rash.
Other Home Care Strategies
- Use chemical-free soaps and cleaners. Avoid anything that is known to cause, irritate or aggravate the skin.
- Avoid rough-textured or irritating clothing.
- A humidifier may assist in decreases the dryness of the skin.
- Stress relieve through exercises, mindfulness or meditation are often beneficial.
- Increase the skin's exposure to sunlight.
Lifestyle recommendations include:
- Dietary recommendations
- The most important step is to identify and elimiate food allergies or sensitivities. Most individuals improve with an elimination diet. Cow's milk is the primary culprit. Other key food allergens in eczema are eggs, tomatoes, peanuts, and food preservatives and food colourings. To a lesser extent fish, soy, wheat, citrus, and chocolate.,  The exact food triggers is very individual. Tracking what you eat and your skin's reaction is often beneficial in identifying triggers.
- Eliminate intake of alcohol, caffeine, spicy or greasy foods, sugar and chocolate.
- Ensure a high fiber diet.
- Consume green and yellow vegetables rich in Beta-carotene.
- Ensure you drink adequate water.
The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.
Naturopathic Therapies for eczema (atopic dermatitis) include:
- Clinical Nutritional Supplementation includes
- Botanical remedies such as Burdock (Arctium lappa), Cleavers (Galium aparine), Coleus (Coleus forskolii), Dandelion Root, Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia), Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Nettle (Urtica dioica).,  Other herbs include Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), Cleavers (Galium aparine), Heartsease (Viola tricolor), Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa), Calendula (Calendula officinalis), Common Plantain (Plantago), Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
- Homeopathic remedies such as Arsenicum, Graphites, Nat mur, Petroleum, Sulphur, Tuberculium, Rhus tox, Psorium., 
- Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture recognizes the diversity in the symptom patterns that contribute to eczema. The different TCM strategies include:
- Cool Blood, Detoxify Poision and Drain Damp-Heat
- Cool Blood, Detoxify Fire Poison and Dissipate Blood Stasis
- Drain the Spleen and Detoxify Fire Poison
- Cool the Blood, Detoxify Fire Poison and Drain Damp-Heat
- Cool the Blood, Detoxify Fire Poisons and Scatter Wind
- Cool Blood, Detoxify Fire Poison and Scatter Wind
- Clear Yin and Blood, Vent Heat and Detoxify Fire Poison.
Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND 
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Murray Michael Atopic Dermatitis (eczema) Natural Medicine Journal, 1999 Vol2:4
- ↑ Hoffman D (2003) Medical Herbalism: The Science Principles and Practices Of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press.
- ↑ Kazakevich N, Moody MN, Landau JM, Goldberg LH (2011) Alcohol and skin disorders: with a focus on psoriasis. Skin Therapy Lett.;16(4):5-6 PMID: 21611681
- ↑ Jordan J, Whitlock F (1972) Emotions and the skin: The conditioning of scratch response in cases of atopic dermatitis. Br. J Dermatol;86:574-584.
- ↑ Tran BW, Papoiu AD, Russoniello CV, Wang H, Patel TS, Chan YH, Yosipovitch G (Jul 2010) Effect of itch, scratching and mental stress on autonomic nervous system function in atopic dermatitis. Acta Derm Venereol.;90(4):354-61. PMID:20574599.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Gutierrez EL, Galarza C, Ramos W, Mendoza M, Smith ME, Ortega-Loayza AG (2010) Influence of climatic factors on the medical attentions of dermatologic diseases in a hospital of Lima, Peru. An Bras Dermatol;85(4):461-8. PMID:20944906.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 Campbell James, Chapman Shane, Dinulos James, Zug Kathryn (2005) Skin Disease, Diagnosis and Treatment, Elsevier Mosby
- ↑ Thomas KS, Dean T, O’Leary C, Sach TH, Koller K, et al. (2011) A Randomised Controlled Trial of Ion-Exchange Water Softeners for the Treatment of Eczema in Children. PLoS Med;8(2):PMC3039684.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Patrizi A, Pileri A, Bellini F, Raone B, Neri I, Ricci G. (2011) Atopic dermatitis and the atopic march: what is new? J Allergy (Cairo) 2011:5 PMID:21941575
- ↑ Murray Michael 1996 Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements, The Essential Guide for Improving Your Health Naturally Prima Publishing
- ↑ Godfrey Anthony, Saunders Paul Richard, Barlow Kerry, Gilbert Cyndi, Gowan Matthew, Smith Fraser 2010 Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine, Vol 1: Botanical Medicine Monographs, CCNM Press, Toronto
- ↑ Boon Heather, Smith Michael 2004 The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to the 50 Most Common Medicinal Herbs, Robert Rose, Toronto
- ↑ Hoffmann David (1992) Therapeutic herbalism: A correspondence course in phytotherapy
- ↑ Hershoff Asa 2000 Homeopathic Remedies, A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and their Homeopathic Treatments, Avery Publishing Group, New York
- ↑ Ullman Robert, Reichenberg-Ullman Judyth 1997, Homeopathic Self-Care, the quick and easy guide for the whole family. Prima Publishing
- ↑ Rose Barry, Scott-Moncrieff Christina. Homeopathy for Women. 1999 Firefly Books.
- ↑ David Bray