Eczema, or Atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition experienced as itchy and inflamed patches of skin. It is often seen in babies and young children, but can come in a variety of types in children, teens, and adults.
Other types of eczema include:
- Contact dermatitis: caused by contact with irritants. Burning, itching, and redness occur. The inflammation goes away when irritant is removed.
- Dyshidrotic dermatitis: affects fingers, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet - with itchy, scaly patches of skin that flake or become red, cracked, and painful. It is more common in women.
- Nummular dermatitis: dry, round patches of skin in the winter months. It usually affects the legs. It’s more common in men.
The cause of the condition is currently not fully understood, however, it is thought to be triggered by an overactive immune system, which subsequently responds aggressively when exposed to irritants. The condition is also sometimes caused by an abnormal response to the body’s proteins - where the immune system is unable to fully differentiate proteins that are part of the human body and those that are the proteins of invaders, such as bacteria or viruses – which leads to inflammation.
Common triggers of eczema flare-ups include:
- Chemicals in cleaners and detergents which dry out the skin
- Rough scratchy material, e.g. wool
- Synthetic fabrics
- Increased body temperature
- Sudden temperature changes
- Sudden drop in humidity
- Food allergies
- Animal dander
- Upper respiratory infections
Treatment is based on the individual and may include medications, such as cortisone, antihistamines; light therapy, lifestyle changes. Complementary therapies may also be advised (aromatherapy, meditation, relaxation, yoga, acupuncture).
Ayurvedic Approach to Eczema (Vicharchika):
According to classical Ayurvedic texts, Eczema is known by the Sanscrit name Vicharchika, and presents as such things as excessive itching, boils/pustules, discoloration/hyperpigmentation, profuse oozing, marked linings/lichenification/criss-cross marking, pain and excessive dryness.
Eczema is considered to be one of skin disorders of ‘Kushdra kushtas.’ According to Ayurvedic classics, kustha is defined into two categories, seven types of leprosy and 11 types of skin diseases. All the different types of Kustha are caused by the three doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha), or body homours, so predominance or minimal role of each dosha needs to be determined.
According to Ayurveda include, individuals who indulge in the following, are more likely to develop skin conditions, such as eczema
- Habitual intake of incompatible food items and liquids
- Habitual intake of unctuous and heavy substances
- Suppression of natural urges (particularly vomiting)
- Habitual exposure to physical exercise and/or intense heat after eating excessively
- Habitual intake of food when the previous meal is not properly digested
- Those who ingest newly cultivated cereals
- Those who ingest excessive curd, fish, salt and sour substances.
- Those who indulge in eating excessive amounts of black gram, radish (rice) flour preparations, sesame, milk and jaggery
- Sleeping regularly during the day
BENEFICIAL AYURVEDIC HERBS FOR ECZEMA:
Vata Pitta Balancing: sariva, turmeric, triphala, cardamom, guduchi, shatavari, yastimadhu
Vata Kapha Balancing: sariva, turmeric, triphala, cardamom, guduchi, ashwaganda, tulsi
Pitta Vata Balancing: sariva, turmeric, triphala, guduchi, shatavari, yastimadhu
Pitta Kapha Balancing: sariva, turmeric, triphala, neem, guduchi, manjista
Kapha Vata Balancing: sariva, turmeric, triphala, cardamom, guduchi, ashwaganda, tulsi
Kapha Pitta Balancing: sariva, turmeric, triphala, guduchi, manjista
Traditional Ayurvedic Treatment(s) for Eczema:
Ayurvedic treatment approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual, the current imbalances, their age, strength, severity of the condition, and if other conditions are also present. Treatment approaches can include:
- Panchakarma detox therapies (as required)
- Diet and lifestyle changes in order to balance Vata and balance digestive fire
- Removal of Ama in GI tract (if present).
- External remedial measures (lepas, pastes, baths, dharas etc)
- Internal remedies (herbs)
- Internal/external snehana (oleation therapies)
- Abhyanga massage
General Ayurvedic Nutritional Guidelines for Asthma:
Ayurvedic nutritional approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. One should eat compatible foods, and in accordance to one's imbalances. Some additional general guidelines include:
- One should eat the foods that one does not react to.
- One should eat according to the digestive capacity. As a guide, eat to fill the stomach 1/3 with solid food, 1/3 with liquid and leaving 1/3 empty to allow room for digestive secretions in the stomach.
- One should eat at regular times/intervals.
- Avoid excess eating (and emotional eating), eating during indigestion and eating while previous meal is being digested.
- One should eat wholegrains and non-processed foods.
- AVOID: Cold foods, raw foods, leftover foods (24 hours), frozen foods, cold water, processed and packaged foods, soft drinks, alcohol, coffee, wine, high fat foods, greasy foods, potatoes. No sesame, no sour/acidic foods, no jaggery, no milk, no eggplant.
- Use adequate amounts of ghee in your cooking.
- One should avoid overeating. Allow 6 hours between meals and snack 3 hours after a meal, and eat only if hungry.
- Breakfast should be easy to digest, lunch the main meal, and dinner should be lighter than lunch.
- Eat home cooked meals, preferable made on the same day as prepared.
- Drinking a small amount of buttermilk just after meals.
- Use all of the five senses at mealtimes. Savour the food that you are eating.
- Eat in a pleasant environment. Eat seated and try to avoid TV and electronic devices whilst eating.
- Eat slowly, eat with respect/reverence for what you are eating, chew thoroughly.
General Ayurvedic Lifestyle Guidelines for Eczema:
Ayurvedic lifestyle approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. Some general guidelines include:
- Listen to the messages from the body more, and learn to follow your instinct.
- Negative feelings such as stress and tension should be avoided.
- Allow for sufficient rest and sleep. Go to bed at a regular time each day, and best before 10pm. Avoid also sleeping during the day.
- Keep to a routine as much as possible during the day.
- Get sufficient daily activity and exercise, without overdoing exercise. Balanced activity/exercise is healthy, but avoid over-exertion.
- Avoid stress, anxiety, fear and tension. Look at counselling for self-care and working through any stress, anxiety, anger or any other mental health and/or emotional issues.
- Practice stress relieving techniques, such as yoga and meditation.
- Deep breathing for 10 minutes a day is very beneficial. Meditation, yoga and pranayama can also be highly beneficial.
- Do not undertake physical/mental work beyond your capacity.
- Excessive intercourse should be avoided.
- If possible, avoid chemical contraceptives.
- Follow an active lifestyle, yet only take exercise according to one’s individual capacity.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Be in bed by 10pm and wake at a regular time each day.
- Use mild soap for bath or shower and pat the skin dry instead of rubbing.
- Take a bath or shower with lukewarm water.
- Wear loose natural fibre clothing
- Try to avoid getting too hot and sweaty.
- Limit exposure to known allergens and irritants.
- Do not suppress bodily urges (burping, passing gas, bowel movements etc).
If you have any concerns about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician. See our Ayurvedic Practitioner Services and Consultation Page for more information.