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April 20, 2018  |  Login
 
Eczema
 
by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.

Eczema is a troublesome but common skin disorder that affects up to 15 percent of the population. In its acute form, eczema causes inflamed red, dry, and itchy skin. Some patches may blister and weep, and, eventually, these areas may crust over. If the eczema is a chronic problem, the skin will continue to itch but may thicken and take on a leathery consistency. Usually, dry scales develop, and the skin's color may change.

Most acute cases are brought on by an allergic response. Sufferers may be allergic to a certain food or to other substances; in either case, it's quite possible to have a reaction from ingesting the allergen or just from touching it. If you can identify the irritant and remove it, the eczema will usually disappear. But if the skin continues to be exposed to the irritating factor, the rash may spread and develop into a chronic condition. Stress may aggravate acute eczema and keep it from resolving.

Eczema can appear in infancy or early childhood and most often develops on the face and the head or in the folds of the elbows, the knees, or the groin. In some cases, it will disappear as childhood progresses and either stay away for good or recur in adolescence or adulthood. Chronic eczema is a complex condition that usually involves a family history of eczema, asthma, or hay fever; difficulty handling stress; or food sensitivity. It has also been linked to abnormalities of the immune system, as well as to candidiasis and low levels of essential fatty acids and deficiencies of other nutrients that help keep down inflammation. Poor digestion and detoxification can also be at the root of eczema. Like most complicated ailments that involve the whole body and lifestyle, holistic treatment is the best approach for both relief and resolution. Conventional therapy for chronic cases is usually quite frustrating for the patient, as it generally just suppresses the skin problem and causes further spreading or intensifies the symptoms. Treating the root cause(s) with natural therapies, as described in this section, is, in our opinion, a superior way to help resolve this aggravating condition.

 
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