What is eczema?
Eczema, a term derived from the Greek word ‘ekzema’ meaning ‘to boil,’ is a common symptom seen in skin inflammation in a variety of skin diseases that occur for different reasons.
Eczematous skin diseases show itching, soreness, dryness, erythema, excoriation, exudation, fissuring, hyperkeratosis, lichenification, population, scaling, vesiculation, etc.
Eczema can be described as a group of conditions that causes inflamed, irritated and itchy skin or any one of the cognitions within the group, such as atopic dermatitis or contact dermatitis.
Eczema affects both males and females equally and is seen more in people who have a family or personal history of asthma, food, and other allergies.
Stages of Eczema
Though eczemas are classified according to etiology, they are also categorized based on chronicity. They are
- Acute Eczema
- Subacute Eczema
- Chronic eczema
The eczematous disease may start at any stage and progress to another.
Types of Eczema
To understand a large number of eczematous skin diseases, they are classified into different categories.
- Classification based on Aetiology
- Classification based on morphology
Today the classification is almost standardized on etiology were known and skin site.
Below are classifications done based on causes.
- Exogenous eczema with external riggers, and the other is
- Endogenous eczema.
Management of exogenous eczema is to avoid or remove the cause, and endogenous eczemas need medications.
There may be some eczemas that may not fit into any described classification and are called unclassified eczema.
- Allergic contact eczema
- Eczematous polymorphic light eruption
- Infective dermatitis
- Irritant eczema
- Photoallergic contact eczema
- Post‐traumatic eczema
- Asteatotic eczema
- Atopic eczema
- Chronic superficial scaly dermatitis
- Eyelid eczema
- Hand eczema
- Juvenile plantar dermatosis
- Nummular dermatitis
- Pityriasis alba
- Metabolic eczema or eczema associated with systemic disease
- Seborrhoeic eczema
- Venous eczema
Symptoms of Eczema
The main feature of eczema is intense itching. It may disturb sleep and quality of life.
In Acute eczema, eruptions are seen with edema, vesicles, and sometimes with an excavation.
In chronic eczema, the symptoms become clear with erythema, scaling, excoriation, and lichenification.
Causes of Eczema
Eczema is a result of complex interactions of genetic predispositions, environmental triggers, and immune dysregulation. Here are the two factors that are responsible for the eczema
- Disturbed epidermal barrier.
- Deviated immune response, allergy, and impaired innate immunity.
Other factors such as
- Irritants and psychoneyuroimmunlogolgy
- Increased IgE production and role of allergy
- Cell-mediated dysfunction
- Autonomic nervous system dysregulation
- Food allergy and other nonallergic food hypersensitivities
- Skin barrier
- Microbial colonization
- Psychosomatic factors
Triggers of eczema
Eczema triggers may vary from person to person. some of the common triggers are
- Irritants – such as soaps, detergents, shampoo, etc.
- Environmental factors – cold weather, dry weather, pet fur, pollen, etc.
- Food Allergies – milk, eggs, peanuts, soya, wheat, etc.
- Cloths – synthetic fabric, wool, etc.
- Hormonal changes – women may find their eczema aggravating before their period or during pregnancy.
- Skin infection
- Psychological factors – stress, anxiety, etc.
Age and Eczema
Specific subtypes of eczema are more commonly seen in particular age groups. Most cases of Eczema seen in infants and young children are atopic. Perioral eczema is common in children with atopic eczema or may occur in non-atopic children.
Pompholyx and atopic eczema are less common in older people. However, nummular dermatitis occurs in elderly males in winter.
Contact dermatitis becomes less common with advancing age.
In general, eczema is known for its relapsing-remitting course.
Investigations and Tests in Eczema
Most cases of eczema are diagnosed clinically. Sometimes investigations help understand the condition better. Here are the few standard tests advised in eczema
- IgE level
- Culture and sensitivity tests
- Microscopy or dermoscopic examination
- Skin biopsy
- Patch test
Complications of Eczema
There is a risk of secondary skin infections caused by both bacteria and viruses.
What’s the difference between Eczema and Psoriasis?
Sometimes it is difficult to diagnose a skin disease as visually similar symptoms can also appear in many conditions. Likewise, eczema and psoriasis show some similar signs. Though eczema and psoriasis have a similar look, they are different diseases. Let us learn how they are identical visually and what’s the difference.
Similarities between eczema and psoriasis
- Both eczema and psoriasis are non-contagious but can lead to infections
- Skin rash raised patches with redness and itching are seen commonly.
- They can appear in the hands, feet, scalp, or other parts of the body.
Difference between eczema and psoriasis
- Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system is dysfunctional, and skin cells grow too fast.
- Eczema is caused by complex interactions of genetic predispositions, environmental triggers, and immune dysregulation.
- Itching may present in psoriasis and eczema, but in eczema, the intensity will be more where some people may scratch their skin till it bleeds.
- Though both can appear in any part of the body, psoriasis is commonly seen in the scalp, elbow, knee, buttocks, and face.
- Eczema is commonly seen on the inside of the elbows and back of the knees.
- Eczema is seen more in children, and psoriasis is common in middle-aged persons, but both can start at any age.
- Many psoriasis patients feel better in summer, but for eczema patients, it may not help.
Learn More about the Difference Between Psoriasis and Eczema
As there is no cure for eczema, treatments help to revive the symptoms effectively. Detailed history taking will help understand the previous treatment experiences and how well the patient followed the medicine as prescribed.
The first line of treatment in eczema is patient education. This helps a patient to understand the condition and better cooperation between physician and patient. Counseling will also help to deal with the psychological aspects of eczema in a better way.
Symptomatic treatment includes the use of emollients, oil baths, and application of moisturizers.
Inflammatory condition is managed with anti-inflammatory treatments such as topical steroids, calcineurin inhibitors, wet wrap dressing, antiseptics, and oral antihistamines.
Uv therapy has also been found beneficial in many patients.
Depending on the severity and need, other medications such as antibiotics and immunosuppressive drugs are also advised.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Eczema
According to Ayurveda, skin diseases are caused due to vitiation of three dosha’s, but specific symptoms indicate their doshic predominance. Eczema shows close resembles the Vicharchika type of skin disease mentioned in Ayurveda.
Vicharchika can be defined as a disease that covers the skin in a distinguished manner causing caring of skin in hands and feet.
According to vagbhata, vicharchika has eruptions that are itching black and full of liquid. Charaka says it is the skin lesion with itching, eruptions on the skin, the darkness of the skin color with profuse oozing. Sushruta says the lesions show marked lining as skin is broken, excessive itching, pain with dry lesions on the body. When the vicharchika occurs only in feet with itching, burning, and pain, it is known as Vipaadika.
Causes for Vicharchika according to Ayurveda
The causative factors for skin diseases can be classified into four categories for better understanding. They are
- Food (Ahara Hetu)
- Lifestyle (Vihara Hetu)
- Conduct (Achara Hetu)
- Others (Anya Hetu)
The main causative factors of skin diseases are consuming incompatible food (viruddhahara) and not following dietary rules (mithya ahara). Consumption of food substances that act as an antagonist to the body’s tissues can change the normal functions of the cells that produce diseases. Intake of food without following dietary rules also produces disease.
Unusual physical and mental activities, which are against the prescribed daily regimen, produce many diseases and are the main causative factors in skin diseases.
The conduct of a person also leads to skin disease as it can cause both psychological and physical discomfort such as behavioral misconduct, antisocial activities, sinful deeds, etc.
Other causes include coming in contact with a person suffering from skin diseases, hereditary, worm infestation, etc.
Signs and symptoms of vicharchika in Ayurveda
- Pruritus (Kandu)
- Pain (Vedana)
- Burning sensation (Daaha)
- Darkening of the skin (shyava varna)
- Whitening of skin (Shweta varna)
- Redness of the skin (Rakta varna)
- Profuse discharge ( Bahu sraava)
- Dryness (Ruksha)
- Thickening and lichenification of skin (raji)
Ayurvedic treatment for Eczema
Ayurvedic treatment for eczema aims to remove the causative and triggering factors of eczema and prevent the reoccurrence of eczema by bringing back balance in the doshas.
It is known that skin diseases take a long time to get cured. Therefore, one must be patient to continue the treatments as advised by the doctor.
While explaining the treatments for skin diseases, Charaka says that the vitiation of three doshas causes all the skin diseases. Therefore, the treatment should be started only after assessing the dosha predominance in that condition. The predominant dosha should be treated first, and then the other doshas are treated to cure the disease.
The following treatment plan is adopted in treating eczema
- Avoiding causative and triggering factors
- Palliative medication
Avoiding causative and triggering factors will help stop the disease’s progression by restricting the vitiation of doshas.
When the disease is mild, palliative medications are advised to manage the disease.
In chronic conditions, purificatory (panchakarma) procedures are advised to remove morbid doshas from the body for better absorption and action of medications.
According to Ayurveda, the main causative factors of skin diseases are intake of incompatable and improper food. In treating eczema, diet plays a vital role. Avoiding the triggering food helps in minimizing the flares. An eczema diet with treatments helps in curing eczema.
What food to take in Eczema?
- Easily digestable or light food
- Bitter vegetables
- Old grains
- The meat of arid land
- Rice that grows in 60 days
What food to avoid in Eczema?
- Food that takes long tme for digestion/Heavy food
- Sour predominant food and drinks
- The meat of marshy land
- Meat and Fat
- Rice that causes the burning sensation
- Food that blocks the channels
- Sugarcane products
In a diseased state, regular intake of unwholesome, incompatible food, unusual activities, etc., makes the disease progress further and complicated. So one must follow the dietary and lifestyle changes along with the medication for curing the disease.
Preventive tips for Eczema
- Wear cotton-lined gloves when cleaning or while using soaps and detergents.
- Avoid using perfume, air fresheners, and other scented products
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid using hot water. Use lukewarm or cool water.
- After the shower, don’t rub the skin with a cloth to dry the skin. Instead, pat gently to absorb the water.
- After shower apply moisturizer to prevent the dryness
- Mild sun exposure may be good, but hot sun and sweating can irritate your skin. It is advised to use sunscreen to avoid sunburns helps to prevent eczema flareups.
- Choose loose, breathable cotton cloth instead synthetic one.
- Choose laundry detergent made for sensitive skin or babies.
- Choose fragrance-free nonsoap cleansers for shower and PH-neutral shampoos without fragrance.
- Practice deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation to manage your psychological conditions like stress and anxiety.
- Have a quality sleep.
- Avoid allergic things getting inside your home.
- Wash your bedding regularly in hot water.
- Avoid the food and drinks that trigger your eczema, such as wheat, peanut, milk, fish, eggs, etc.
- Use a humidifier when the weather is cold and dry.
- Do exercise daily. It will help to ease stress and improve immune functions.
- Avoid scratching your skin. It may lead to secondary infections such as bacterial or fungal.
Eczema is a non-contagious skin condition that affects as many as 15% to 20% of people. As there is no cure, one can only manage the symptoms. Ayurvedic treatment for eczema helps to cure eczema naturally using dietary and lifestyle changes along with herbal medication. In chronic eczema, purificatory procedures such as panchakarma treatments will help eliminate morbid doshas or toxins from the body and help cure eczema quickly.
Disclaimer: The information on this page is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or ayurvedic treatment for eczema without consulting the doctor. Likewise, consult your physician before beginning an exercise regime.
For more information and to Consult Dr. Chaithanya KS call +919945850945