The diagnoses for eczema have been dramatically increasing in the years since World War II. About one in nine Americans will develop some type of dermatitis in their lifetime. It is believed that more than 31 million people here in the US suffer from eczema and that almost 11% of children have dermatitis. This increase is believed to be caused by pollution, cosmetics, the food supply quality, diet changes, and lifestyle factors. We are exposed to GMO produce, CAFOs, and toxic food colorings, things our grandparents never had to face. These factors cause our immune system to be always on high alert, and on certain instances, an immune system on high alert will attack itself.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can treat eczema regardless of its cause. Regular Chinese herbal treatment and acupuncture can scale down the recurrence of flare ups, raised patches, redness, scaling, and itchiness. Acupuncture can help individuals who suffer from seasonal eczema, in certain weather, or with allergies. This treatment will work, even when even conventional Western medications don’t seem to.
Eczema and Dermatitis
A skin disorder that falls under the umbrella of dermatitis, eczema generates symptoms such as itchiness, irritation, and inflammation. Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema and is a skin condition that usually accompanies allergic conditions such as hay fever, food sensitivities, and asthma. Besides atopic dermatitis, there are other forms of eczema.
What Are The Different Kinds Of Dermatitis?
Dermatitis usually results in the appearance of rashes in the feet, hands, neck, and crooks of the knees and elbows. It can also lead to lichenification (thickening of the skin), blisters (that sometimes ooze, then crust over), skin inflammation, and skin color changes. The following are the different forms of dermatitis and their corresponding symptoms.
1. Contact Dermatitis: This type of dermatitis is caused by the skin coming in contact with either an allergen or an irritant resulting in inflamed sore oozing/weeping rashes and redness. Allergic contact dermatitis often manifests as rashes that look patchy, streaky, or red and are usually delayed one to two days after exposure. Rashes that are rough, red and dry are typical manifestations of irritant contact dermatitis.
2. Seborrheic Dermatitis: A very common condition that’s also known as dandruff, cradle cap (in babies), or seborrheic eczema, seborrheic dermatitis comes about when the skin becomes oily, flaky, and inflamed. Scales that look yellowish or white are often present. Occasionally present is the redness of the skin. The scales are usually found in regions areas of the skin that are naturally oily, like the ear or scalp. The middle of the chest, behind the ears, lips, creases of the nose, eyelids, and the eyebrows are the other commonly affected areas.
3. Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis): Caused by the skin’s hypersensitivity to certain things, atopic dermatitis leads to redness and inflammation, occasionally along with itching. This condition is very similar to an allergic reaction although dermatitis cannot arise from allergies. Infants are the most susceptible to this skin condition and some of them tend to outgrow it as they approach adulthood. It is very common for atopic dermatitis sufferers to have a family history of food sensitivities/intolerances, eczema, seasonal or non-seasonal allergies, or asthma. Although a connection exists between the two, allergies do not trigger atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis tends to be aggravated when the sufferer is exposed to the substances to which he/she is allergic to.
What Causes Eczema?
There can be several causes of eczema from the viewpoint of Chinese medicine. Illness can occur when there is some type of imbalance in the body. Emotional and lifestyle factors, toxin accumulation, poor diet, and stress are the main contributors to these imbalances. Nowadays, we also have to consider hormone infections and imbalances.
So far, science still does not know the exact cause of eczema. Researchers theorize that what occurs when eczema arises is that the immune system reacts and is activated when it perceives an allergen, irritant or any foreign substance, or even a non-existent substance has entered the body. But when the substance has been removed, this fails to shut off the activation causing the immune system to attack the body itself, which in this case, the skin.
To regain the natural balance of the body, Chinese medicine practitioners use herbal medicine and acupuncture regardless of the cause of the eczema. Treatments may include long-term planning (which may not necessarily involve acupuncture and herbal medicine) in order to maintain the results. These treatments may involve lifestyle and diet recommendations after regular visits to the practitioner have stopped. A lot of patients, though, still come for regular treatment to tune-up their body as they feel very much revitalized or relaxed after acupuncture treatments. As most people have occasional flare-ups during treatment periods, we encourage seasonal visits (quarterly visits) especially when they’re under a great deal of stress.
How Is Eczema Treated With Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture?
We have explained before that Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture work for eczema by bringing back the body’s natural balance. Chinese medicine physicians accomplish this by building up what is deficient and decreasing what is in excess. This is partly done by calming down the hyperactive immune system resulting in dermatitis. Herbal medicine and acupuncture also aid in stopping itching and cooling inflamed, red skin. To help support acupuncture treatments between visits, one can use topical herbal medicine soaks to stop itching.
Practitioners can tell patients what they can expect after three to six months of regular treatment with herbal medicine and acupuncture and when they come in for treatment of a skin condition. It will take longer to treat the flaking, itching, and redness without herbal medicine. And a complete resolution in eczema symptoms is unlikely If the patient is unwilling to change his/ her diet. To consolidate the treatments after the symptoms have disappeared and to ensure symptoms won’t recur, practitioners can recommend a continuance of treatments for another month or so.
Vital Gate Acupuncture
107 W 82nd St
New York, NY 10024