Eczema or dermatitis, as it is sometimes called, is a group
of skin conditions, which can affect all age groups. The severity of the
disease can vary. The general predisposing causes are: age, familial
tendency, allergy, debility, climate, and psychological factors. Eczema
usually occurs in infancy, at puberty and at the time of menopause. There is
usually a family history of allergy, such as asthma, eczema, and hay fever.
General physical debility predisposes one to eczema by lowering the
resistance of the individual. Climatic extremes such as heat, dampness and
severe cold, and also, psychological stress, promote the development of
eczema. Local factors for example dry skin, greasy skin, excessive sweating,
and varicose veins predispose to eczema. The signs and symptoms of paama and
vicharchika, that are described in ayurveda, may be correlated with eczema
- Atopic eczema is the commonest form of eczema and is
closely linked with asthma and cold symptoms. It can affect both children
and adults, usually running in families. It is proposed that people with
atopic eczema are sensitive to allergens in the environment, which are
harmless to others. In atopic type, there is excessive reaction by the
immune system producing inflamed, irritated and sore skin. One of the most
common symptoms of atopic eczema is its itchiness (or pruritus), which can
be almost unbearable. Other symptoms include overall dryness of the skin,
redness, and inflammation. Constant scratching can also cause the skin to
split, leaving it prone to infection. In infected eczema, the skin may crack
and weep (‘wet’ eczema).
- Allergic contact dermatitis develops when the body’s
immune system reacts against a substance in contact with the skin. The
allergic reaction often develops over a period through repeated contact with
the substance. For example, an allergic reaction may occur to nickel, which
is often found in earrings, belt buckles and jeans buttons. Reactions can
also occur after contact with perfumes, detergents, chemicals, rubber, and
such other substances.
- Infantile seborrhoetic eczema, is a common condition
affecting babies under one year old, the exact cause of which is unknown. It
usually starts on the scalp or the nappy area and quickly spreads. Although
this type of eczema looks unpleasant, it is not sore or itchy and does not
cause the baby to feel uncomfortable or unwell. Normally this type of eczema
will clear in just a few months, though the use of medicated creams and bath
oils can help to speed this along.
- Adult seborrhoetic eczema characteristically affects
adults between the ages of 20 and 40. It is usually seen on the scalp as
mild dandruff, but can spread to the face, ears, and chest. The skin becomes
red, inflamed and starts to flake. The condition is believed to be caused by
the yeast or fungus growth.
This disease usually is constitutional, though as we have
seen, it is sometimes due to local influences. No matter where the eczema
may appear, it must be remembered that the poisons eliminated through these
skin manifestations are carried by the blood; therefore, eczema is really a
blood or constitutional disease, so it must be treated as such. The ordinary
methods of treating this trouble, with external applications alone, will be
inefficient in most instances.
Such treatment simply heals the surface sores without
removing the constitutional cause. One should realise that this is a
constitutional difficulty, and should proceed with an Ayurvedic blood
purifying process, commencing with snehana (literally, ‘to oleate’ or ‘to
make smooth, with oily preparations), swedana (to induce sweating by
application of heat) and panchakarma (cleansing procedures—vamana, virechana,
vasti, siro-virechana, and andrakata mokshana).
There are a number of ways to manage eczema all of which
begin with an effective skin care routine.
|Use a mild soap or no soap on the eczema. Warm starch bath
in winter and cold plain water in summer helps a lot. After the bath, blot
yourself with a smooth towel and avoid rubbing. If there is dryness of skin,
an oil, butter or ghee massage for about an hour before a bath, helps
lubricate and soften the skin. Do not take baths too often. Add olive oil to
the water. In addition, take quick showers with warm (not hot) water.
Washing your body with cold or warm water will help preserve your natural
oils. Our skin is supposed to be slightly acidic, and soap removes this very
important acid mantle because it is alkaline. The slight acidity of the skin
protects us from bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. |
|Avoid extremes of climate. Moderate temperature, with
fresh air and the mild sun are usually beneficial. |
|Stay away from wool clothes and blankets. |
|Try to keep away from excessive sweating. For example, do
not wear too many clothes. |
|Take light diet. Avoid allergenic foodstuffs like
excessive salt, tea, coffee, alcohol, milk, eggs, cheese, fish, sugar, hot
spices, and food additives. |
|Avoid cutting of vegetables especially garlic, onion,
tomatoes, and ladies finger. Also, avoid peeling of oranges. Be cautious
about marking nut, cashew nut, mustards, radish etc., as these may cause
contact dermatitis. The same is true with hair dies, kumkum, lipstick, face
creams, nail polish and remover, eyebrow pencil, perfumes, depilatories,
deodorants and perfumed hair oils. |
|The other common offending substances are—rubber footwear,
spectacle frames, furs, artificial jewellery, and synthetic clothes. Avoid
contact with fluffy toys, grass, flowers and chemicals. Wear rubber gloves
when you do housework. Put a little cornstarch inside the gloves.
Alternatively, try latex gloves lined with cotton. |
|Do not fatigue yourself, either physically or mentally.
Learn to live within the limits of your mental and physical strength,
knowing your inborn weaknesses. It is a chronic but not a serious disease
and, therefore, do not get depressed. Avoid anger, resentment, and
frustration. Rest to the affected part is recommended; bed rest becomes
necessary in generalised eczemas. |
|Apply the juice of the tender leaves of Terminalia catapa
(Jangali badam) over the affected parts. |
|The emulsion made from Karanja tel (oil extracted from
Pongamia pinnata seeds) and lemon juice is a very useful application.
|Prepare ointment by boiling together one part of til oil
(sesame oil), 16 parts of milky juice of Calotropics gigantica (Madaara or
Arka or Jilledu) and one part of turmeric. Apply it externally. |
|One can expect cure by internal usage of tender leaves of
Tephrossia purpurea (Sarapunkha) in the form of expressed juice for a longer
|Pancha Tikta Ghrita Guggul—2 teaspoonfuls mixed in warm
milk on empty stomach is an effective remedy for eczema. |
|Kadirarista, in the dose of 20 ml mixed with equal
quantity of water, should be taken twice a day after meals. |
|Panchanimbaadi choornam half to one teaspoonful twice
daily after meals, gives good results. |
|Mahaamanjistaadi kaada, Saaribaadyarishta, Gandhaka
rasaayana are some of the specific medicines that are used internally.
Externally, Mahaa-marichyaadi taila, Guduchyaadi tailam, are advised.|
As we all are genetically different with
different constitutions and patterns, we respond to treatments in many
different ways. Hence Standard Ayurvedic Treatments are always individually
formulated. This article is intended only for information. It is not a
substitute to the standard medical diagnosis, personalized Ayurvedic
treatment or qualified Ayurvedic physician. For specific treatment, always
consult with a qualified Ayurvedic physician.
Dr. Ch. Murali
Manohar, M.D. (Ayurveda)
Directorate of Women Development,
Main Road (Sarathi Studio Road),
Hyderabad - 500073.,
+91 (040) 23742146; Mobile: 09246575510
a.m. to 1.30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.
a.m. to 1.30 p.m.