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"A very good informative site about this very distressing condition. As an ex sufferer myself I can really relate to this as it advocates natural remedies rather than drugs and medicated ointments. A good site for the topic."
- Susan,

Placebo Method for Eczema Treatment

Thursday, 28 February 2008

For eczema sufferers with strong psychological links to their eczema outbreaks, placebo method is proven to be effective in some cases to remedy eczema symptoms with the most natural treatment of all - neither topical nor oral eczema treatments - with, just like any other medication methods, some side effects.

What is Placebo?

In general, placebo is a medicine given for the purpose of making patients believe that he/she is taking some medicine for his problems / diseases.

Most placebo medicines don't have any physical curative effect and contain no curative ingredients.

The premise behind placebos is that a part of patient's healing process, beside the curative ingredients themselves, is confirming and believing that taking a 'medicine' will actually help him/her to solve his/her physical problems / diseases.

This applied to eczema case by providing medicines that are said to treat the patient's eczema.

The Negatives of Placebo in Eczema Treatment

The patient, by psychological law of Expectation (anticipation) starts believing in the placebo medicine and experiences some psychological relief, but the internal deep-seated causative disease factors remain the same and further dangerously accumulates into a complicated case of disease.

Furthermore, the psychological results of placebo is artificial - the placebo helps an eczema sufferer to 'medicate' his/her skin problems by 'tricking' him/her into believing, not by encouraging him/her to have better will power, motive, mindset and understanding to triumph over his/her eczema.


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Eczema Treatments for Nummular Eczema

Nummular eczema usually appears on the arms and legs. Red, scaly, coin-shaped patches characterize nummular eczema. The disorder's name comes from nummus, the Latin name for 'coin.'

As the condition clears, the patches heal from the inside skin layers to the outer layer, the healing lesions resemble red rings, thus accounting for the disorder's other name, discoid eczema.

Discoid eczema is associated with the winter season, conditions of low humidity, and dry skin.

Some Eczema Medications and Treatments

(1) Halcinonide cream (Halog) is a medium-high potency corticosteroid cream, which was found to be effective in a study of 101 patients with moderate-severe skin conditions, including nummular eczema.

Halcinonide cream was prescribed twice or three times a day for three weeks, and patients were followed-up weekly during this period.

Sixteen patients stopped treatment after two weeks because their lesions had cleared. By the end of three weeks, the condition in 46 of the patients had completely resolved, the condition in 39 showed marked improvement, the condition in 10 had improved moderately, the condition in 5 showed mild improvement, and the condition in 1 did not show any improvement. No local or systemic side effects were reported.

I also found a number of papers about the beneficial effects of halometasone cream and ointment. This is a another medium-high potency corticosteroid preparation similar to halcinonide, but it is not available in the USA.

(2) Doxepin cream, applied 4 times daily, was found useful in a group of 309 patients, including 87 with nummular eczema, with 60% experiencing relief from itching within 24 hr and 84% by the end of the 7-day study.

Some patients with various types of eczema, including nummular eczema, were found to experience a worsening of symptoms when they were challenged orally with salts of chromium, cobalt or nickel. Some of these patients experienced improvement after following a diet low in
metal for at least four weeks.

(3) There are some reports on the improvement caused in some eczema patients by a low nickel / chromium / cobalt diet.

One concludes: “These research papers indicate that eczema sufferers may be helped by avoiding the main food groups which tend to be high in nickel - chocolate, nuts, beans, porridge oats - and that an allergy test or food elimination diet are worth considering to help overcome the condition.”

The problem with a low chromium diet is that it can cause other problems, because chromium is important in the functioning of insulin in the body. The sources of chromium in the diet are: “brewer's yeast, lean meats (especially processed meats), cheeses, pork kidney, whole-grain breads and cereals, molasses, spices, and some bran cereals. Brewer's yeast grown in chromium-rich soil is the best dietary source for chromium. Vegetables, fruits, and most refined and processed foods (except for some processed meats, which contain high amounts of chromium) contain low amounts of chromium. Hard tap water can supply 1 to 70% of your daily requirement.

In another paper, low cobalt and low nickel diets do not get approval from the author: “For nickel-sensitive patients, diets that avoid foods rich in nickel, such as canned foods, foods that are
cooked with nickel-plated utensils, herring, oysters, asparagus, beans, mushrooms, onions, corn, and spinach. Such restrictions are difficult for patients to follow and only rarely successful. For
cobalt-sensitive patients, a low-cobalt diet, which avoids apricots, beans, beer, beets, cabbage, chocolate, cloves, cocoa, coffee, liver, nuts, scallops, tea, and whole grain flour. This measure is also therapeutically unrealistic.”

If you do want to consider the diet route, it would be useful to establish first whether you do suffer a flare-up to any of these metals.

(4) The NCERx site mentioned above also gives some general advice on
prevention and treatment of eczema, which is applicable to all types.


  • Take quick lukewarm showers rather than long hot baths. If you want to have a bath, use lukewarm water and do not stay inside for more than 10-20 minutes. “Avoid using soaps: even a mild soap can dry and irritate skin. When you dry after a shower, pat yourself dry: rubbing can do as much damage to your skin as scratching. Once dry, moisturize with a gentle cream, ointment, or lotion.”
  • Things that cause allergies can trigger eczema and itching, so the recommendation is to avoid known allergens, including dust mites, pet dander, perfumes and soaps. “The best strategies to minimize contact with dust mites are washing clothing and bed linens and vacuuming on a regular basis.
  • Pillow and mattress wraps also help reduce contact with mites. Some people replace carpet with linoleum, wood or other flooring, as carpets tend to harbor large numbers of dust mites.”
  • Excessive sweating can make eczema worse, so losing weight can help, but do avoid exercise programs that cause profuse sweating and wear soft absorbent clothes during exercise.
  • Do avoid scratching the itchy bits!
  • Laundry soap can leave residue on clothes that aggravates eczema. Look for laundry soap designed for sensitive skin. Some people prefer to use baking soda to wash their clothes. Whether using a gentle laundry soap or baking soda, rinse clothes thoroughly to remove any residues.
  • If low humidity causes your skin to dry and crack, try using humidifiers in your home or office. Humidifying the air in the rooms where you spend time is a good strategy if you are prone to dry skin conditions.


Topical treatments
, i.e. treatments applied directly to the skin startwith moisturizers, which are the most common topical treatments.

  • Ointments, creams and lotions can "lock" moisture in, preventing the skin from drying out and cracking.
  • Coal tar – a traditional remedy, which can aggravate symptoms and cause the skin the become sensitive to sunlight. It is also sticky and messy to use.
  • Hydrocortisone Cream – hydrocortisone,, a corticosteroid, can be useful, but may become less effective after prolonged use. In fact, long-term use is not recommended, because it can “cause thin skin,stretch marks and excess body hair.
  • Topical Immunomodulators: these are a new class of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which have fewer side effects than corticosteroids, and which have been found fully or partially effective in about 80% of eczema cases. Tacrolimus is one such medication.

Oral medication is used in severe cases, or to treat complications. The substances used include:

  • Antibiotics: used to treat bacterial infections that can arise with eczema and worsen symptoms. However, they can have side effects.
  • Antihistamines: control itching, but might not be particularly effective, because histamine does not play a big part in eczema. The older types can cause drowsiness, and so should not be used while driving.
  • Corticosteroids: although these can be useful in severe cases, there is more chance of side effects than with hydrocortisone cream.

Therapy with ultraviolet light can reduce symptoms. The effect can be increased by using light therapy in combination with a drug called psoralen.

It is recommended keeping a food diary to see if any foods are associated with a worsening or improvement of symptoms. This really belongs to the prevention measures listed above.

One further approach, which is still controversial, is the use of Chinese herbal medicine. Some studies have found this effective in the treatment of eczema and psoriasis, while others have found no benefit. In addition, cases of toxic reactions to the medications used have
been reported. I have not found any literature on the use of Chinese herbal medicines in the treatment of nummular eczema specifically.


Edited for the purpose of Eczema Club blog.

Wet Wraps No Better Than Standard Treatment for Atopic Eczema

In a small study of children with moderate to severe eczema, a type of dressing called "wet wraps" was no better than conventional therapy at improving disease severity, new research shows. Moreover, the wet wraps were more difficult to apply and were associated with more skin infections.

With wet wraps, conventional emulsifying ointments and topical steroids are applied to the affected areas and then covered with a wet tubular retention bandage, serving as an occlusive dressing.

Based on their own encouraging results with wet wraps, Dr. D. Hindley, from Fairfield General Hospital in the UK, and colleagues decided to compare them against conventional therapy, which is similar but lacks the wet outer dressing, in a randomized study of 45 children.

The conventional therapy was applied at least three times daily, whereas the wet wraps were applied once daily for 12 or more hours. The SCORing Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD) index was used to gauge disease severity over the 4-week study period.

The researchers' findings appear in the Archives of Disease in Childhood for February.

Both treatments provided significant and similar improvements in disease severity. With wet wraps, the SCORAD score fell from 53 to 24 and with conventional therapy, it dropped from 41 to 17. Topical steroid use in each group was also comparable.

Five children treated with wet wraps received antibiotics for skin infections compared with none of the children treated with conventional therapy (P = 0.05). Nurses and others caring for the subjects agreed that the wet wraps were significantly more difficult to apply than the conventional therapy.

"Though there may be clinical situations where wet wraps are a useful option, we found no advantages of wet wraps to conventional treatment when used over a 4-week period, and some disadvantages," the investigators conclude.

Reference: Arch Dis Child. 2006;91:164-168

Authors: News Author: Anthony J. Brown, MD; CME Author: Penny Murata, MD

(c) Medscape Today

Childhood Eczema Treatment with Aromatherapy and Massage

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Researchers are continually reviewing treatments which can help help childhood eczema. One solution recently considered by the School of Applied Science, South Bank University, London, UK was Aromatherapy - therapeutic massage incorporating a blend of aromatherapy essential oils.

A group of eight children, all born to professional working mothers, were studied to test the hypothesis that aromatherapy, used as a complementary therapy in conjunction with normal medical treatment, would help to alleviate the symptoms of childhood atopic eczema.

The children were randomly assigned to one of two groups; the first group received aromatherapy (massage with essential oils). The essential oils, chosen by the mothers for their child, from 36 commonly used aromatherapy oils, were: sweet-marjoram, frankinsence, German chamomile, myrrh, thyme, benzoin, spike lavender and Litsea cubeba.

The second group was used as a control and these children received the counselling and massage without essential oils. Both groups received counselling and and a massage by the therapist once a week and the mother every day for a period of 8 weeks.

The treatments were evaluated by daily day-time irritation scores and night time disturbance scores, determined by the mother before and during the treatment. General improvement scores were allocated two weeks after the treatment by the therapist, the general practitioner and the mother.

The results showed a significant improvement in the eczema in both of the groups of children following therapy, but there was no significant difference in improvement shown between the aromatherapy massage and massage only group.

The report therefore concluded that 'there is evidence that tactile contact between mother and child benefits the symptoms of atopic eczema but there is no proof that adding essential oils is more beneficial than massage alone'.

Further studies on the essential oil massage group showed a deterioration in the eczematous condition after two further 8 week periods of therapy, following a period of rest after the initial period of contact. This may have been due to a decline in the novelty of the treatment, or, possibly allergic contact dermatitis provoked by the essential oils themselves. The researchers conclude that prolonged studies with aromatherapy essential oils are needed as short-term beneficial results could be overturned by adverse effects after repeated usage.

Another point that this study highlights is that people who wish to use aromatherapy essential oils should consult a professionally trained aromatherapist rather than self-prescribe, as these oils can cause harm if used incorrectly.


Phytother Res 2000 Sep;14(6):452-456Evaluation of Aromatherapy to help treat childhood eczema
Anderson C, Lis-Balchin M, Kirk-Smith M

Edited from Internet Health Library (c)

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Foods and Atopic Eczema

A common worry of a sufferer of any condition is "am I doing something to cause the condition and can I avoid it?" The obvious target for this kind of worry is food.

However there are only a few skin conditions that can genuinely be said to be caused by diet and eczema is NOT one of them. The link is fairly obvious in the case of a food allergy - when the food that causes an allergy is eaten the symptoms that are far more likely are vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, tingling of the mouth, dizziness or collapse in severe cases. A skin reaction can be seen in food allergy when it appears as an itchy rash with wheals over the body and tongue and facial swelling.

What is noticed with atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis), however, is that sufferers are more likely to develop allergies to foods and other things and this can give rise to confusion. It is not the allergies causing the eczema, but it is the genes that make the person more likely to develop eczema and allergies.

Wheals on the skin that can be caused by a food allergy

Small children in infancy, after weaning, can develop allergies to foodstuffs which they usually grow out of.

  • These allergies are usually to nuts
  • eggs
  • dairy products

If these are eaten, a wheal will develop around the mouth or on the rest of the body (as seen left), but it is a different rash to that of eczema.

The child will usually grow out of the allergies, dairy first, then egg and then nuts, but the nut allergy can often persist into adulthood.

What foods are safe to eat with eczema?

Through scientific research from medical staff and dieticians throughout the world over a number of years, there has not been any obvious link found between eczema and any particular food in the diet.

Some sufferers do find that some foods can make their eczema worse though this cannot be applied to all sufferers of eczema.

Various foods are commented on below:

There is no evidence of a link between vegetables and eczema and vegetables make up an important part of a well balanced diet. In fact vegetables and fruit, especially citrus fruits, are an important source of vitamin C which helps to keep skin healthy. Lack of vitamin C can cause changes in the skin, which includes broken hairs and small bruises around the hair follicles.

Through scientific research from medical staff and dieticians throughout the world over a number of years there has not been any clear- cut link found between eczema and eggs in the diet.

Some individuals, however, may find excluding eggs of benefit, though this cannot be applied to everyone.

Young children can develop a wheal and flare around their mouth within minutes of eating eggs, but the link between this and eczema is not clear. Children usually grow out of this.

If a link is suspected then you should document this clearly and consult your doctor.

Dairy products - A lot of anxiety about these
A true allergy to these is rare. If someone does not have the enzyme lactose it can mean that they are unable to break down milk causing diarrhoea and problems with absorbing food. However it is possible that milk can cause an allergy. Soya milk can be used but this itself can cause an allergy. Goats milk can also cause an allergy. A clear link should be made between any food and eczema.

Can cause urticaria in children and go on to cause a serious allergy - anaphylaxis.

  • No known problems with eczema. Choosing to be vegetarian is a personal choice Gluten and wheat - no evidence of any clear link
  • Alcohol - not food! no evidence of any link with eczema

Remember it is crucially important to have a healthy balanced diet at all times.

How do I know if I have a food problem and what should I do?

A great deal is written about diet and diseases and as a consequence a lot of anxiety can arise over whether or not someone has a food allergy or food intolerance. A brief overview is given below:

Food allergy

A true food allergy will have an immune response. This means when your body is exposed to a food that you are allergic to you will have specific symptoms every time, usually diarrhoea and vomiting, though a skin rash can occur.

Tingling of the mouth can also be a symptom. This may be caused by antibodies to the food and, though not always, the antibodies may be detectable through a blood test.

Food intolerance

Intolerance is when your body cannot process the food in the normal way and the body rejects the food. Intolerances are important to deal with. Consult your doctor if you feel you need help. The symptoms may appear like indigestion, however the symptoms may overlap with those of a food allergy so it is important to address the issue of a food intolerance.

What do you do if you think the skin rash is caused by a food that you are allergic to?

If you think you have a problem food, keep a record of your symptoms. Consult with your doctor about the findings before you do anything else and if it is felt that there is a relationship between the two, your doctor will decide on the best plan of action.

  • Each time you have the skin rash record what you were eating the 24 hours before.
  • Avoiding the problem food should completely clear the rash if it was causing the rash in the first place.
  • If you are clear of the skin rash while avoiding the problem food, eating the food should again cause the skin rash to return.
  • To test the link to a "problem food" can be eaten deliberately as a food challenge - this should be under expert supervision if the reaction is severe enough to be life threatening.
  • EVERY time the problem food is taken the rash should appear, if there is a true link.

If your skin does not improve when you remove the food, it is an indication that the food is unlikely to be causing the skin problem.

© Ltd.

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Varicose Eczema

What is varicose eczema?

Eczema is a common skin disorder characterised by red, scaly and often very irritating patches of skin. In varicose eczema, also known as gravitational or stasis eczema, the condition is preceded by varicose and often ulcerated veins and the eczema is usually concentrated around the damaged veins.

Conventional Medical Treatment

Conventional medical treatment typically involves elasticated supports to assist the venous blood supply and topical applications to alleviate the irritation. In some people, elasticated bandages cause further pain and cannot be used and there are many documented side effects associated with topical ointments (including hydro-cortisones).

Topical medical applications in varicose eczema often cause eczema in other parts of the body. Researchers in France (1) revealed that patients with leg ulcers or varicose eczema commonly suffer from contact eczema due to the allergic reactions to local applications of pharmaceutical preparations. This contact allergy may concern not only the active ingredient but also the excipient, the preservative, or even the perfume. They warned that in all cases of leg ulcers, of varicose eczema, but also of badly healed ulcers, tests should be carried out and urged the pharmaceutical industry to perfect non-allergenic preparations.

Whilst varicose eczema is a chronic and often debilitating condition there are several alternatives available which have been shown to help the underlying cause (ie. varicose veins and poor blood supply) and alleviate the irritation of the resulting eczema.

(1) [Contact eczema in patients with leg ulcers] Eczema de contact chez les patients atteints d'ulceres de jambe. Degreef H; Dooms-Goossens A; Gladys K Phlebologie (FRANCE) Jan-Mar 1986, 39 (1) p135-43

Eczema Self Care - Tips to Reduce Itching and Soothe Inflamed Skin

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

To help reduce itching and soothe inflamed skin, try these self-care measures:

  • Try to identify and avoid triggers that worsen the inflammation
    Rapid changes of temperature, sweating and stress can worsen the condition. Avoid direct contact with wool products, such as rugs, bedding and clothes, as well as harsh soaps and detergents.

  • Apply an anti-itch cream or calamine lotion to the affected area
    A nonprescription hydrocortisone cream, containing at least 1 percent hydrocortisone, can temporarily relieve the itch. A nonprescription oral antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl, others), may be helpful if itching is severe.

  • Avoid scratching whenever possible
    Cover the itchy area if you can't keep from scratching it. Trim nails and wear gloves at night.

  • Apply cool, wet compresses
    Covering the affected area with bandages and dressings can help protect the skin and prevent scratching.

  • Take a comfortably cool bath
    Sprinkle the bath water with baking soda, uncooked oatmeal or colloidal oatmeal — a finely ground oatmeal that is made for the bathtub (Aveeno, others).

  • Choose mild soaps without dyes or perfumes
    Be sure to rinse the soap completely off your body.

  • Moisturize your skin
    Use an oil or cream to seal in moisture while your skin is still damp from a bath or shower. Pay special attention to your legs, arms, back and the sides of your body. If your skin is already dry, consider using a lubricating cream.

  • Use a humidifier
    Hot, dry indoor air can parch sensitive skin and worsen itching and flaking. A portable home humidifier or one attached to your furnace adds moisture to the air inside your home. Portable humidifiers come in many varieties. Choose one that meets your budget and any special needs. And be sure to keep your humidifier clean to ward off bacteria and fungi.

  • Wear cool, smooth-textured cotton clothing
    Avoid clothing that's rough, tight, scratchy or made from wool. This will help you avoid irritation. Also, wear appropriate clothing in hot weather or during exercise to prevent excessive sweating.

© 1998-2008 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All rights reserved.

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Topical Immunomodulator for Eczema Treatment

The most recent buzz on steroid-free eczema treatment evolves around the use of topical immunomodulator (TIM). Tacrolimus ointment is the first in the new class of steroid-free Topical Immunomodulators (TIMs), and as such represents the first true breakthrough since the introduction of topical steroids more than 50 years ago for the treatment of T-cell mediated inflammatory skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis.

What is topical immunomodulator?

Some eczema treatments (eczema creams) are considered as topical immunomodulators (TIMs) because they change some of the functions of the immune system that cause atopic dermatitis without suppressing the whole immune system.

These medications do not contain corticosteroids. However, they should only be used during flare-ups.

Topical Immunomodulator Treatments

Topical macrolide immunomodulators (calcineurin inhibitors) are approved for the treatment of atopic dermatitis. These medications do not contain corticosteroids (steroids-free and steroid side effects-free).

TIMs include tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel).

Tacrolimus (FK 506) is currently available as an ointment with a concentration of 0.03% and 0.1% and pimecrolimus (ASM 981) is available as a 1% cream. Itching, burning and irritation at the application site skin may be observed within the first days of treatment. Patients are asked to minimise/avoid natural or artificial sunlight exposure during topical treatment. Tacrolimus ointments becomes the prioritised medicine for the face lesion.

Topical immunomodulators are not indicated for use in the presence of virus infections such as herpes simplex, herpes zoster, eczema herpeticatum or varicella. So far, they do not cause the associated cutaneous atrophy seen with longterm application of topical corticosteroids. Besides, rebound and tachyphylaxis are reduced compared to those associated with topical corticosteroids.

Why Topical Immunomodulator?

Topical Immunomodulator is mainly used for mild or moderate eczema sufferers, which are representing the majority of people suffering with eczema. Your doctor may prescribe the steroid-free TIMs if both you and your doctor have tried other eczema medications with no or less effective results. Therefore, usually TIMs are prescribed by doctors only after other eczema medication methods fail or less effective.

Some Words of Caution

One has to bear in mind that there are not enough long-term data of these agents to definitely rule out long-term side-effects of topical immunomodulator therapy.

It is recommended to take the following precautions:

  • DO NOT use any TIMs continuously for a long time
  • Use TIMs only on areas of your skin that have eczema
  • DO NOT use TIMs on a child under 2 years old


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The Role of Ceramides in Eczema

Skin Lipids that Keep Skin Moisturized

Scientists are uncovering the important role that ceramides play in the barrier function of the skin.

The top layer of the skin is the epidermis, and the top layer of the epidermis is the stratum corneum (SC). Even though the SC is very thin -- 10-30 mm or one-tenth the thickness of a piece of paper -- it is the main barrier of the skin. It keeps chemicals that come in contact with the skin from absorbing into the body, and it keeps water inside the skin from leaching out.

Lipids in the Skin

The SC contains three types of lipids -- ceramides, cholesterol and free fatty acids. These lipids have different chemical compositions and different functions throughout the body. There are nine different types of ceramides in the SC, conveniently named ceramide 1 through ceramide 9, and they account for 40-50% of the lipids in this outermost layer.

Ceramides and Skin Disease

Scientists have learned that people who have eczema have significantly fewer ceramides in their SC. On the other hand, people with psoriasis (another itchy, flaky rash sometimes confused with eczema) have the same number of ceramides compared to people with normal skin. However, the psoriasis-sufferers have less ceramide 1, 3, 4, and a sub-set of 5 and 6; and more ceramide 2 and another sub-set of 5.

Replacing Ceramides Improves Eczema

Recent studies have shown that lipids can be replaced with topical preparations. Interestingly, all three lipids have to be replaced at a certain ratio to restore the barrier function of the skin. If the incorrect balance of lipids is applied, it actually takes longer for the skin to heal.

The healing effect of ceramides has been studied in eczema, but there are no studies yet for psoriasis.

Moisturizers with Ceramides - Not All the Same

There are several moisturizers that claim to have ceramides in their ingredients, but these are just regular moisturizers unless they can show:

  • The moisturizer also contains cholesterol and free fatty acids
  • The ratio of these three ingredients is correct


Berardesca E, et al. "Evaluation of efficacy of a skin lipid mixture in patients with irritant contact dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis or atopic dermatitis: a multicenter study." Contact Dermatitis. 5(2001):280-5.

Chamlin, Sarah, et al. "Ceramide-dominant barrier repair lipids alleviate childhood atopic dermatitis: Changes in barrier function provide a sensitive indicator of disease activity." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 47(2002): 198-208.

Choi, Myeong Jun, and Howard Maibach. "Role of Ceramides in Barrier Function of Healthy and Diseased Skin." American Journal of Clinical Dermatology 6(2005): 215-22.

Coderch L, et al. "Efficacy of stratum corneum lipid supplementation on human skin." Contact Dermatitis. 3(2002):139-46.

Kucharekova M, et al. "Effect of a lipid-rich emollient containing ceramide 3 in experimentally induced skin barrier dysfunction." Contact Dermatitis. 6(2002):331-8.


©2007, Inc., a part of The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.

Becoming Suicidal Because of Eczema

Monday, 25 February 2008

Does the title shocks you? Unfortunately, it's true.

I didn't realise that having an eczema can make a person becoming suicidal. I have a relative that is so depressed of her eczema, she thought of committing suicide - SEVERAL TIMES.

From her case, it's not due to the eczema itself - it's the depression caused by the continuous torture of itches and sleepless nights.

You see, eczema suffers don't get the attention and empathy they need to move on. Many people underestimate the severity of eczema by-products: low self esteem, anger, anxiety, depression, frustration, etc. I questioned those people I met that said, "Well, eczema is unlike cancer - it's just itches... you can't die because of eczema" - I said, "well, you are d*mn wrong. People with eczema will eventually becoming suicidal because of people like you underestimate the effect of eczema in one's life, and it hurts."

You know what? There will be (or already are) children with eczema that will become suicidal due to peer pressure and low self esteem. In adulthood, eczema plus the pressure of life itself will bring eczema sufferers down. The impacts of eczema is apparent.

You and I have to create awareness about eczema - to educate people about what eczema is and what you can do to manage eczema, in term of the eczema itself and the psychological effects of eczema.

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Eczema Detox Bath With Dead Sea Salt

What is a Detox bath?

Detox bath is a hydrotherapy technique and a natural and healthier, not to mention completely safe, alternative of keeping our body disease free. It boosts the body’s innate ability to wash out all waste deposits. Soaking yourself in a detox bath can help to release toxins, promote energy, circulation and well being.

History of Using Detox Bath

The ocean, mineral and hot springs baths have been used for centuries world wide, for their therapeutic effects. In spas and healing centers today, the use of water therapy is popular once again.

The famous Egyptian queen Cleopatra, too, was supposedly in favor of Dead Sea salt baths. The experience of soaking the body in Dead Sea Salt bath is second to none.

Why Use a Detox Bath For Eczema?

Our bodies have ways to detoxify themselves naturally. However, the stressful lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits have taken their toll on the natural detoxification system our bodies use.

Our bodies cannot cope with the high-level toxins accumulated in our bodies everyday, and, therefore, they cannot properly clean the blood and the intestinal tracts. The food that we consume is not absorbed properly and all this manifests through weight gain and other health problems, including eczema.

You can consider using a detox bath if you feel ill, or in combination with a detox program and especially if you are exposed to environmental toxins or skin related diseases, such as eczema or psoriasis. An eczema detox bath draws out impurities and enables other natural therapies to work with greater effectiveness.

Why use dead sea salt versus normal salt?

Dead sea salt comes from The Dead Sea. The Dead Sea lies at the bottom of the Syrian - African Rift Valley. It is close to 400 meters (1280 feet) below sea level.

Today, medical research proved that the Dead Sea does provide mineral-rich waters, that can have therapeutic benefits. Multiple studies show the efficacy of these minerals in treating and preventing various skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, and rheumatism. Dead Sea Salts contain an average of 30%-33% mineral content (whereas other sea or ocean salts only contain a mere 3% mineral content!)

These minerals in dead sea salt consist primarily of:

Magnesium - which assists the body in cell metabolism.

Sodium - aids in detoxification. Helps expel waste and absorb nourishment.

Potassium - helps regulate muscle contractions and to balance skin moisture.

Calcium - helps in the building of healthy bones and teeth. Also cleanses your skin pores.

Bromides - has relaxing and anti-biotic properties. Dead Sea Salt has a 50% higher
concentration than other salts.

Iodine - assists in energy production (necessary for proper production of the hormone thyroxin)

This unique mineral composition of the Dead Sea makes it ideal for people seeking relief from skin and rheumatic disorders. Apparently, your skin absorbs Dead Sea salt, vitamins and other substances into the body. It is also accepted that Dead Sea salts and vitamins can have a wonderful effect on circulation, metabolism as well as relieve muscle tension.

How do I Prepare an Eczema Detox Bath with Dead Sea Salt?

For treating various illnesses, just add two pounds of Dead Sea salt in lukewarm water. Check that the temperature of the water is two degrees higher than your body temperature. If you want to use the salt for maintaining good health, you may go for two handfuls.

About the author:

Evelyn Lim has been suffering from eczema for many years. She now reviews products for natural eczema treatment. For more information, please refer to her site at

Nettle Herbs for Eczema Natural Remedy

Benefits of Nettles

If the nettle plant has ever stung you, try not to hold a grudge, because its virtues far outweigh its offenses. Wherever nettles grow, they have been used by the local folk as a food and in herbal remedies.

Uses of Nettles

Throughout early Europe, nettles were credited with nourishing and immune-stimulating properties.

Nettles have been used in herbal remedies for their nourishing and immune-stimulating properties.

Nettle tea was used for intestinal weakness, diarrhea, and malnutrition -- uses that persist to the present time. Nettles also act as a diuretic and are useful in treating kidney weakness and bladder infections. As a diuretic, nettles can help rid the body of excess fluid (edema) in persons with weakened hearts and poor circulation.

Nettles also have been used topically to treat eczema and skin rashes and soothe arthritic and rheumatic joints. In fact, the plant has been most widely studied for its value in the treatment of arthritis and gout. When uric acid, a product of protein digestion, accumulates in the joints and tissues, a very painful inflammatory condition known as gout can result. One tablespoon of fresh nettle juice several times a day has been shown to help clear uric acid from the tissues and enhance its elimination from the body.

Fresh nettle preparations sting a bit, and it is this sting that seems to have a healing effect: The reddening and stinging of the skin appear to reduce the inflammatory processes of dermatologic conditions (such as eczema) and rheumatic conditions (such as arthritis and gout). The tiny, stinging hairs contain formic acid and a bit of histamine. (Mosquitoes and biting ants also secrete formic acid, which is responsible for the familiar stinging and itching of their bites.) Nettles also are high in anti-inflammatory flavonoids, and they contain small amounts of plant sterols. They are extremely rich in vital nutrients, including vitamin D, which is rare in plants; vitamins C and A; and minerals, including iron, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Since nettles contain numerous nourishing substances, they are used in cases of malnutrition, anemia, and rickets, and as a tonic to help repair wounds and broken bones. You can cook nettles and eat them as you would steamed spinach -- their taste and appearance are similar. Nettles are a healthy and tasty addition to scrambled eggs, pasta dishes, casseroles, and soups. You also can juice nettles and combine the juice with other fresh juices, such as carrot or apple juice, for weak, debilitated persons, such as cancer and AIDS patients. Nettle preparations also have been shown to be effective in controlling hay fever symptoms.

Nettle root has been found to increase a protein in the blood to which hormones bind. Ingesting nettle root helps to effectively reduce the amount of sex hormones that are "unbound"; that is, free to affect various tissues in the body. This can be helpful in cases of excessive hormonal stimulation, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome in women or benign prostatic hyperplasia in men.

Nettles Preparations and Warnings

Like all herbs, there are some precautions you should take before using nettles medicinally.

Nettles Preparations and Dosage

Be sure to wear gloves when picking nettle leaves in full bloom. Once the plant has been crushed, dried, cooked, or tinctured, the hairs no longer sting. Harvest nettle roots after the plant begins to die back in the early autumn.

Herbal Tea: Use 1 tablespoon of dried herb per cup of hot water. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day.

Tincture: Take 1 or 2 teaspoons per day.

Juice: Drink 1 or 2 ounces per day.

Use nettles as you would greens, such as steamed spinach, collards, kale, or bok choy.

Nettles Precautions and Warnings

Old, late-season nettles can develop hard, stony, microscopic mineral conglomerates that can irritate the kidneys and lead to swelling of urinary organs and retention of urine, when used repeatedly. For this reason, young spring nettles, picked before flowering -- usually in early summer -- are preferred for food and medicine.

Be aware that most suppliers of nettles do not pay attention to this important caution against using the older nettles. Ask about the supply of nettles your health food or herb store sells. Of course, you can grow and pick your own nettles. Otherwise, no dangers or warnings are cited commonly in modern research or literature.

Side Effects of Nettles

Other than the stinging rash the fresh plant can produce, side effects are uncommon. Medicinal preparations do not cause stinging or rashes; only direct contact with the living plant causes these reactions. Tingling in the mouth after drinking nettle tea occurs occasionally. Very rare allergic reactions, such as dizziness and fainting, have been reported.


Eczema Club Blogging Group at

Sunday, 24 February 2008

I proudly announce that Eczema Club has created a blogging group at

The purpose of this group is simple - to create better awareness on all things related to eczema, including but not limited to eczema treatments, eczema pictures, eczema articles and eczema blogs - worldwide.

Let's share your story and your solutions to fight or make peace with your eczema.

Do you have any suggestions or ideas? Please leave your comments on this post, and let us support each other.

Bad Food and Good Food for Eczema

Those suffering from eczema need to carefully consider their diets as what a person eats and drinks plays a big role in how healthy they are. You can improve or worsen a case of eczema by what you consume on a daily basis. The saying, “You are what you eat” couldn’t be more true than it is for those with eczema.

There are certain foods that are very common triggers of eczema flare-ups. Keep in mind though that not all triggers will be the same for everyone. You will come to learn what triggers your eczema by a simple process of trial and error. If you eat something and your skin reacts badly to it then don’t eat it again.

The most well-known food triggers include cow’s milk, wheat, shellfish, peanuts, eggs, soy, corn, oranges, tomatoes, lemons, strawberries and food preservatives (such as MSG for example).

Some people may experience an immediate sensitivity which means that an allergic reaction within a period of two hours of eating a trigger food could take place. Other people may find that they have a delayed sensitivity which means that the allergic reaction will not show itself anywhere from six to twenty-four hours after eating a specific food. In both instances, the symptoms of the reaction might include any one (or many) of thee things- swelling and redness of the skin, itchy eyes, sneezing, wheezing, pain in the abdominal area, vomiting and diarrhea.

It might also be a good idea for those who suffer from eczema to keep a detailed food diary, marking down everything you eat and at what times in order to pinpoint what foods cause you problems.

Studies have shown that consuming one-tablespoon of flaxseed oil a day is helpful in reducing the inflammation associated with eczema. Flaxseed oil is an excellent source of essential fats. If you prefer, flaxseed also comes in powder form and can be sprinkled on a variety of foods.

Taking nutritional supplements of herbs is an excellent way to bolster your daily diet and decrease your chance of eczema flare-ups.

Evening primrose oil is an excellent supplement as it contains a high percentage of an omega-6 fatty acid known as GLA (or gamma linolenic acid). GLA has been proven to aid in healing with regards to eczema breakouts.

Evening primrose oil is used a great deal in Europe for eczema sufferers. An average daily dose is two to four grams, taken with meals. Be aware that supplementing your diet with evening primrose oil will not produce instant results- in fact it will more than likely take up to six months or longer of taking the supplement daily to see results. If you can be patient than you will more than likely be pleased with the results.

Zinc is another supplement that is believed to help with a case of eczema. However be aware that taking too much zinc every day can bring about a copper deficiency in the body which can usher in other health problems you don’t need. If you choose to take a zinc supplement, do not consume anymore than thirty milligrams a day.


Eczema in the Winter

Eczema Basics

Although kids with eczema typically have flares, or times when their skin gets red and itchy, year-round, winter can be a particularly bad time of year for kids with eczema.

Contributing to eczema problems during the winter include:

  • cold, dry air outside, and harsh windy days
  • dry air inside, and associated low humidity, because you often have the heater on
  • wearing heavy clothing, with irritating fabrics, including wool, to try and keep warm

To help prevent eczema flares during the winter, be sure to follow your usual skin care regimen, which should include the use of mild soaps, frequent use of moisturizers, and avoiding known triggers.

During the winter, you may need to increase the use of a moisturizer or switch to something 'stronger.' For example, if you typically use a lotion to moisturize your child's skin, consider switching to a cream, or better yet, an ointment, such as Aquaphor.

A humidifier and keeping your home at a comfortable, but not overly warm, temperature can also be helpful. Keep in mind that the regular use of a humidifier can increase dust mites and mold, and if your child with eczema also has allergies or asthma, then it could worsen those conditions.

Most importantly, if your child's eczema is usually worse in the winter, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician so that you can be prepared for any extra flares that your child gets and you can discuss better preventative skin care.

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Hard to Control Eczema in Children

Parenting Tips

If you are already doing every you should be doing to manage your child's eczema, including:

  • avoiding known triggers
  • controlling eczema flares with the short term use of a low or medium potency steroid cream or ointment or non-steroidal eczema medicine, such as Elidel or Protopic
  • using a moisturizer every day and within three minutes of getting out of the bath or shower
  • not using hot water in the bath or shower and using a mild soap, like Dove or Oil of Olay, or a soap substitute, such as Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
  • washing your child's clothes with Dreft

and you still can't get it under control, you might consider that your child could have a secondary skin infection.

Many eczema experts believe that the Staph. aureus bacteria infects many children with eczema and can cause eczema flares and prevent them from getting under control. In fact, one study showed that more than 90 percent of patients with atopic dermatitis were colonized with the Staph. aureus bacteria.

That is why many doctors, in addition to prescribing a steroid cream or ointment or a non-steroidal medicine, such as Elidel or Protopic, for eczema, will also prescribe an antibiotic.

If your child is already on antibiotics and his skin still looks infected, then he could have the MRSA or resistant Staph bacteria on his skin and he may need a different antibiotic, such as Bactrim or Clindamycin, to get the infection under control.

A skin culture can also help to determine if your child's eczema is complicated by a bacterial infection and which antibiotic will help to treat it.

These tips were submitted by Vincent Iannelli, MD from Dallas, Texas

Reference: Atopic Dermatitis. Simpson EL - Med Clin North Am - 2006 Jan, 90(1), 149-167


©2007, Inc., a part of The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.

Eczema Condition Care Guide

Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is an allergic skin condition, common in infants, children, and young adults, that produces itchy, thickened, red areas on various parts of the body. It tends to come and go and often travels with other allergic conditions such as asthma.

Dermatologists treat eczema with topical steroids. This kind of treatment is suppressive to the immune system, not curative, and strengthens the disease process. Steroids also have a weakening influence on the immune system.

The following regimen is recommended:

  • Eliminate milk and all milk products from the diet.
  • Take 500 milligrams of black currant oil twice a day. Give children under 12 half that dose. This takes six to eight weeks to produce the desired effect.
  • Try visualization or hypnotherapy to take advantage of the mind/body connection in allergic skin disorders.
  • In Japan, doctors have achieved spectacular success with severe eczema by the use of hot spring therapy. Patients are required to soak each day in hot spring water (delivered to homes in large bottles) and participate in individual and group counseling. No medications are used.
  • Try aloe vera gel and calendula lotion or cream on irritated skin.


Probiotics for Eczema Treatment

Saturday, 23 February 2008

About Probiotics

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microbial organisms that are naturally present in the digestive tract and vagina. Probiotics are considered beneficial and are sometimes referred to as "friendly" bacteria.

Some of the ways they are thought to promote health include suppressing the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, improving immune function, enhancing the protective barrier of the digestive tract, and helping to produce vitamin K.

There are over 400 species of microorganisms in the human digestive tract, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

A number of medical, diet, and lifestyle factors are believed to disturb the balance in the colon. This imbalance is called dysbiosis. Factors include:

  • Inadequate dietary fiber
  • Oral antibiotic therapy
  • Infant formula feeding

Ingestion of environmental toxinsNo longer kept in check, less healthy bacteria and yeast may flourish, which is thought to increase the likelihood of conditions such as infectious diarrhea and vaginal yeast infections.

Sources of Probiotics

Probiotics can be found in capsule, liquid, powder, or tablet form. Acidophilus drinks can be found in health food stores and some grocery stores and Asian grocers.

Probiotics can also be found in cultured dairy products such as yogurt or kefir, however, the number of live organisms varies greatly from product to product due to differences in processing methods. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut also contain probiotics.

Once ingested, probiotics colonize the intestines and other parts of the body and can sustain themselves unless they are destroyed by antibiotics or other factors.

Although they are thought to be essential for health, because they can sustain themselves in the body under normal circumstances, there is no recommended daily intake of probiotics.


"Prebiotics" are also thought to improve the balance of probiotics in the intestines.

They are non-digestible carbohydrates that stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. Sources of prebiotics include fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin, found in onions, asparagus, chicory, and banana. FOS is also available as a supplement and is sometimes combined with probiotic dietary supplements.

Why Do People Use Probiotics

  • Diarrhea Due to Antibiotic Use
  • Traveler's Diarrhea
  • Side Effects of Radiation Therapy
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Vaginal Yeast Infections
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Immune Support
  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Prevention of Colds
  • Allergic Rhinitis / Hayfever
  • Constipation
  • Colon Cancer Prevention
  • Pouchitis
  • Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth
  • Canker Sores

What is the Evidence for Probiotics

Diarrhea: A literature review found 185 studies published in what they deemed to be credible journals between 1980 and 2004. The most commonly studied condition was diarrhea (41 or 22% of the 185 studies).

Seven studies looked at probiotic use in adults, focusing on the strains Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus GG, L casei, L acidophilus, and S boulardi. Although they varied in dose and probiotic strain, in six of the studies, probiotics shortened the course of diarrhea or decreased its severity.

Many studies have looked at probiotic use in children. Once again, there is a wide range of doses and probiotic strains. The most commonly used strains were Lactobacillus acidophilus, L casei, L GG, and Bifidobacteria. In 20 of the studies published between 1980 and 2004, all of the studies found an improvement.

Seven out of 12 controlled trials reported a definite prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. In addition, a meta-analysis looked at 9 randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trials with a total of 1214 patients. Six of the nine trials showed a significant benefit of probiotics.

More evidence is needed on the effectiveness of probiotics in such conditions as lactose intolerance, constipation, heart disease risk factors, and Crohn's disease.

Safety Concerns of Probiotics
Side effects of probiotics may include mild, temporary digestive complaints, such as gas and bloating.

People who are immunosuppressed should seek medical advice before using probiotics. It is possible that the probiotic itself may cause a serious infection. One death was reportedly linked to probiotic use in a person taking immunosuppressant medication.

Potential Drug Interactions

Probiotics may interact with immunosuppresant medication (see above).

Probiotics are recommended by some health practioners during and/or after antibiotic use.

Research on Probiotics in the Management of Atopic Eczema

The Department of Paediatrics, University of Turku, Finland has commenced a research to explore the potential of probiotics to control allergic inflammation at an early age. The assesment was done in a reandomised double-blind placebo-controlled study.

A total of 27 infants, mean age 4.6 months, who manifested atopic eczema during exclusive breast-feeding and who have had no exposure to any infant or substitute formula were weaned to probiotic-supplemented, Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-12 or Lactobacillus strain GG (ATCC 53103), extensively hydrolysed whey formulas or to the same formula without probiotics.

The extent and severity of atopic eczema, the growth and nutrition of infants, and concentrations of circulating cytokines/chemokines and soluble cell surface adhesion molecules in serum and methyl-histamine and eosinophilic protein X in urine were determined.

RESULTS: The SCORAD score reflecting the extent and severity of atopic eczema was 16 (7-25) during breast-feeding, median (interquartile range).

After 2 months, a significant improvement in skin condition occurred in patients given probiotic-supplemented formulas, as compared to the unsupplemented group; chi(2) = 12.27, P = 0.002.

SCORAD decreased in the Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-12 group to 0 (0-3.8), and in the Lactobacillus GG group to 1 (0.1-8.7), vs unsupplemented 13.4 (4.5-18.2), median (interquartile range), in parallel with a reduction in the concentration of soluble CD4 in serum and eosinophilic protein X in urine.

CONCLUSION: The results provide the first clinical demonstration of specific probiotic strains modifying the changes related to allergic inflammation.

The data further indicate that probiotics may counteract inflammatory responses beyond the intestinal milieu. The combined effects of these probiotic strains will guide infants through the weaning period, when sensitization to newly encountered antigens is initiated.

The probiotics approach may thus offer a new direction in the search for future foods for allergy treatment and prevention strategies.

Other Researches on Probiotics Effects on Eczema

There’s a new study published in the the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, supporting previous findings that the consumption of pre-and probitics does prevent the onset of atopic dermatitis (also called neurodermatitis, atopic eczema) in children.

Apparently, supplementing a pregnant women’s — and later, their newborns’– diet with probiotics/prebiotics resulted in a reduction of eczema and atopic eczema cases.


Edited and compiled by Eczema Club.

Eczema Photos

Eczema on the elbow - Photo (c) Richard Stanley.

Atopic eczemaThis view shows the red (erythematous) scaly patches (plaques) characteristic of atopic dermatitis.

Eczema on the faceLupus erythematosis often produces a "butterfly rash" or malar rash, seen here on a young girl's face. This is the characteristic appearance of the butterfly rash.

Eczema on the armsThis person has inherited allergic skin inflammation (atopic dermatitis) on the arms. Red (erythematous), scaly plaques can be seen on the inside of the elbows (antecubital fossa). In adults, atopic dermatitis usually involves the body creases, or flexural areas (antecubital fossa and popliteal fossa).

Eczema in an infantAtopic dermatitis is quite often seen on the cheeks of infants. It consists of red (erythematous), scaling plaques that are diffusely scattered over the infant's body and face.


Natural Treatments for Eczema

What is Eczema?

Also known as: atopic eczema, atopic dermatitis, infantile eczema

Eczema is a chronic skin disorder characterized by itching rashes, which may be red, scaly, dry, or leathery. There may be skin blisters with oozing and crusting.

Eczema usually occurs for the first time in infants, with rashes typically occuring on the cheeks, elbows or knees. Eczema, although often less of a problem in adulthood, can persist, especially if a person is exposed to allergens or chemical irritants or is under stress. In adults, eczema is commonly located on the inner elbow or behind the knee.

People with eczema frequently have family members with asthma, hay fever, or eczema.

Natural Remedies for Eczema

1) Probiotics

Probiotics, or "good" bacteria, are live microbial organisms naturally found in the digestive tract. They are thought to suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, influence immune function, and strengthen the digestive tract's protective barrier.

Studies suggest that babies at high risk for allergic disorders such as eczema have different types and numbers of bacteria in their digestive tracts than other babies, and that probiotic supplements taken by pregnant women and children may reduce the occurrence eczema in children.

A large, long-term study examined whether the use of a probiotic supplement or a placebo could influence the incidence of eczema in infants. Researchers randomized 1223 pregnant women carrying high-risk babies to use a probiotic supplement or a placebo for 2 to 4 weeks before deliver.

Starting from birth, infants received the same probiotics as their mothers had plus galacto-oligosaccharides (called a "prebiotic" because it has been shown to help multiple strains of beneficial bacteria flourish) for 6 months. After 2 years, the probiotics were significantly more effective than placebo at preventing eczema.

In addition to the use of probiotics to prevent eczema, probiotics have also been explored as a treatment for infants and children who already have eczema. Some studies have found that probiotics alleviate symptoms of eczema only in infants and children who are sensitized to food allergens.

Researchers are testing different strains of bacteria to see if one particular strain is more effective for eczema. One of the most commonly used probiotic strains used in eczema studies is Lactobacillus GG. Other strains used include Lactobacillus fermentum VRI-033 PCC, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Bifidobacteria lactis. The prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides has also been used.

Consult a qualified health professional before using probiotics. Children with immune deficiencies should not take probiotics unless under a practitioner's supervision. For more information about probiotics, read Acidophilus and Other Probiotics.

2) Topical Herbal Creams and Gels

Gels and creams made from herbal extracts of chamomile, licorice, and witch hazel have been explored to reduce symptoms of eczema. The following are results of some of the preliminary studies.
  • A double-blind study compared a 1% and 2% licorice gel compared to a placebo gel for eczema. After two weeks, both the 1% and 2% licorice gels were more effective than the placebo gel, and the 2% gel was more effective at reducing redness, swelling, and itching than the 1% gel.

  • A study compared chamomile cream to 0.5% hydrocortisone cream or placebo. After two weeks, the chamomile cream was more effective than the hydrocortisone cream, but was not significantly more effective than the placebo cream. This study was not double-blind, so it cannot be used as proof that chamomile cream is effective for eczema.

  • In a German double-blind study, 72 people with moderately severe eczema used either a placebo cream containing witch hazel extract, 0.5% hydrocortisone cream, or the cream alone for 14 days. The hydrocortisone was more effective than witch hazel. Witch hazel was not significantly more effective than the placebo cream.
Consult a qualified practitioner before using any topical herbal applications. Some herbs, such as chamomile, are known to cause allergic contact dermatitis.

3) Gamma-linolenic Acid

Gamma-linolenic acids (GLA), such as evening primrose oil and borage oil, are a type of essential fatty acid. GLA has been shown to correct deficiencies in skin lipids that can trigger inflammation, which is why it is thought to help with eczema. However, recent, well-designed clinical studies with GLA have generally found that it does not help with eczema.

For example, one double-blind study examined the use of borage oil (500 mg a day) or placebo in 160 adults with moderate eczema. After 24 weeks, the overall effectiveness was not significantly better with borage oil compared with the placebo.


Dry Patches - The Eczema Blog

Eczema blogI have visited this blog several times and found it very 'down to earth' (sorry about the choice of words) - meaning, the blog is on her eczema condition updates, as well as very useful information about what has caused her new eczema patches, what remedies she has tried, and some general information on eczema and allergies.

About the writer (drunkenspaniel), here's what I copied from her blog:

She has a number of medical conditions, but has always had very sensitive eczema-prone skin, and she decided to write this blog because there wasn’t a huge amount of easily accessible information on the Web in the UK about eczema and dry skin. Drunkenspaniel hopes that, in time, this will be a forum for skin-condition sufferers to converse with one another about things that affect them.

She is so right about the information accessibility about eczema, which I think not only in the UK, but also anywhere else. Eczema lacks coverage and attention, and need more awareness and exposure, because, well, most of us are silent sufferers - we need to talk about our conditions and share remedies, but not in the open. Why? Not because people are not caring, but because people are not AWARE about the impacts of eczema on one's life. We certainly need more drunkenspaniels :)

You can visit her informative blog at She also has another personal blog. Please take time to visit the blog - interesting blog that pretty much gives you a glimpse of her other interests.

Eczema from A Child's Point of View

Friday, 22 February 2008

NEASE Children BrochureI recently came across one website section of National Eczema Association (NEA), a non-profit organisation giving support and education, as well as doing research on eczema. It's called NEASE (National Eczema and Sensitive-Skin Education).

As part of their campaign to improve the health and the quality of life of eczema sufferers, they launch NEASE for children, purposed to educate and support children eczema sufferers and commit research on child eczema.

I intrigued by their Children NEASE brochure. Not only wonderful design-wise, but also highly informative, yet simple. The best part of the brochure is, of course, the content - described from a child's point of view about his/her eczema - created by the children who suffer eczema themselves.

It's illuminating to learn from the simple brochure about what happen in a child with eczema's mind - paranoia, embarrass, humiliation, anger, anguish, afraid... making me think that there's so much things to do to give necessary supports to the young eczema sufferers, which is to me, for one reason only - what they learn to cope in their young age will determine their success in surviving eczema in their adolescent years; Eczema is physical in nature, but the psychological impacts are more destructive than the physical impacts.

Give support to the young ones by either donating your time and/or money to any eczema organisations you like, or by creating better awareness about eczema's impact on one's life - anything. Some of you've been there. I've been there.

Note: No affilation whatsoever between the NEA and I. I just love their causes and would like to support in any ways a blogger can.

Eczema and Diet - Are You Suffering From Insufficient Nutrients

There are two main reasons why you are suffering with eczema. The first reason is because your body is overwhelmed with toxin and waste.

The second reason you may suffer with a disease is because of insufficient nutrients caused by improper or insufficient diet.

The main causes of this are (1) inadequate consumption of foods that supply healthy nutrients; (2) poor absorption where your digestive system has great absorption problems and (3) excessive loss of nutrient where nutrients are being used up to ward off other illnesses.

If you do not eat the appropriate amount of, or quality of nutrients which make up a healthy diet over a long period of time you will suffer some sort of health crisis.

When your body is suffering a health crisis it will produce symptoms that act as early warning signals.

When you go to the doctor they will prescribe something, anything that will suppress these symptoms or warnings. But just like the rats in the underground tunnels, these symptoms become stronger and become immune to the treatments and drugs.

Then, when you return to your doctor they will prescribe even stronger drugs and medicines.

You need to look at the foods you are eating to ensure they are supplying your body with the important health enhancing nutrients that your body is crying out for.

The foods that usually effect people who suffer with eczema are common. Deficiencies in essential fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, Zinc, Calcium, vitamin B, Silica and Selenium to name just a few.

With sufficient and regular supplies of these nutrients eczematous skin will begin to heal and disappear completely.

To learn more, download my free guide Start Healing Your Eczema Today

Homeopathic Remedies for Eczema

Eczema is the common term for atopic dermatitis—a chronic, allergic skin irritation. An itchy, flaking rash may appear on the inner surface of elbows and knees, the backs of the upper arms, wrists, cheeks, scalp, or eyelids. From the homeopathic point of view, the suppression of skin eruptions (especially with cortisone or other drugs) can lead to deeper health problems. Homeopathic and herbal remedies can be soothing during flare-ups—but for deeper treatment, a constitutional remedy should be chosen by an experienced practitioner, to fit a person on many levels, and bring the body into better balance.

For dosage information, please read the information at the end of this section.

Antimonium crudum: People likely to respond to this remedy have eczema with thick, cracked skin and are also prone to indigestion. They are usually sensitive and sentimental, love to eat (craving pickles, vinegar, and other sour things), and may be overweight. Children can be shy and irritable, insisting that they not be touched or looked at. Itching is worse from warmth and sun exposure. Antimonium crudum is often indicated for impetigo, plantar warts, and calluses, as well as eczema.

Arsenicum album: People who need this remedy usually are anxious, restless, and compulsively neat and orderly. The skin is dry, itches, and burns intensely. Scratching can make the itching worse, and applying heat will bring relief. Indigestion with burning pain and a general feeling of chilliness are often seen when Arsenicum is indicated.

Arum triphyllum: This remedy can be useful when allergic skin eruptions are focused on the lower part of the face, especially around the mouth. The chin may look chapped and feel hot and irritated. The lips are cracked (and usually raw from the person picking them) and the nostrils may be sore. People who need this remedy are often inclined toward throat irritation and hoarseness.

Calcarea carbonica: This remedy is suited to people who are chilly with clammy hands and feet, and tend to develop eczema and cracking skin that is worse in the wintertime. They are easily fatigued by exertion, and feel anxious and overwhelmed if ill or overworked. Cravings for sweets and eggs, a sluggish metabolism, and a tendency toward weight problems are other indications for Calcarea.

Calendula: This remedy (in potentized homeopathic form) can be helpful if the irritated skin has a tendency to get infected. Topical use of the unpotentized herb in lotion, gel, or tincture form is soothing to irritated skin, and can often ease inflammation and prevent infection without artificially suppressing it.

Graphites: People likely to respond to this remedy have tough or leathery skin with cracks and soreness, and often have a long-term history of skin disorders (impetigo, herpes, etc.) The areas behind the ears, around the mouth, or on the hands are often cracked, with a golden oozing discharge that hardens into crusts. Itching is worse from getting warm in bed, and the person will often scratch the irritated places till they bleed. Difficulty concentrating, especially in the morning, is often seen in a person who needs Graphites.

Hepar sulphuris calcareum: This remedy may be helpful to very sensitive, chilly people whose eczema is extremely sore and becomes infected easily. The skin, especially on the hands and feet, looks chapped and deeply cracked and is very slow to heal. The person usually feels vulnerable and irritable, with a low resistance to illness and infection.

Mezereum: A person who needs this remedy often has strong anxiety, felt physically in the stomach. Intensely itching eruptions start as blisters, then ooze and form thick crusts, and scratching can lead to thickened skin. Cold applications often help the itch (although the person is chilly in general). A craving for fat and a tendency to feel better in open air are other indications for Mezereum.

Rhus toxicodendron: A person whose eczema has blisterlike eruptions that look red and swollen, itch intensely, and are soothed by hot applications may respond to this remedy. The person is restless from discomfort and often is very irritable and anxious. Muscle stiffness, relieved by warmth and motion, is also likely. A person who needs Rhus tox often craves cold milk.

Petroleum: This remedy is indicated for individuals whose skin is extremely dry and tends to crack, especially on the fingertips and palms. Eczema is worse in winter, with deep, sore cracks that often bleed. The person feels a cold sensation after scratching. Itching is worse at night and from getting warm in bed. The skin is easily infected, and may get tough and leathery from chronic irritation.

Sulphur: Intensely burning, itching, inflamed eruptions that are worse from warmth and worse from bathing suggest a need for this remedy. Affected areas may be red, with scaling or crusted skin. Eruptions can be either dry or moist. This remedy is sometimes helpful to people who have repeatedly used medications and ointments on their eczema without success.

Homeopathy Dosage Directions

Select the remedy that most closely matches the symptoms. In conditions where self-treatment is appropriate, unless otherwise directed by a physician, a lower potency (6X, 6C, 12X, 12C, 30X, or 30C) should be used. In addition, instructions for use are usually printed on the label.

Many homeopathic physicians suggest that remedies be used as follows: Take one dose and wait for a response. If improvement is seen, continue to wait and let the remedy work. If improvement lags significantly or has clearly stopped, another dose may be taken. The frequency of dosage varies with the condition and the individual. Sometimes a dose may be required several times an hour; other times a dose may be indicated several times a day; and in some situations, one dose per day (or less) can be sufficient.

If no response is seen within a reasonable amount of time, select a different remedy.

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Quality organic herbs for homeopathic remedies for eczema

Eczema Treatment and Research Info

Eczema is a common inflammatory condition of the skin. Many skin diseases cause symptoms similar to those of eczema, so it is important to have the disease properly diagnosed before it is treated.

Checklist for Eczema

Rating Nutritional Supplements Herbs
2Stars Borage oil
Evening primrose oil
Fish oil (EPA/DHA)
Witch hazel
Zemaphyte® Chinese herbal formula
1Star Vitamin C Calendula
Red clover
Shiunko (topical)
See also: Homeopathic Remedies for Eczema
3Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1Star An herb is primarily supported by traditional use, or the herb or supplement has little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

What are the symptoms of eczema? Eczema is characterized by scaling, thickened patches of skin that can become red and fissured. It may also appear as tiny blisters (called vesicles) that rupture, weep, and crust over. The most troublesome and prevalent symptom of eczema is itching, which may be constant.

Conventional treatment options: White petrolatum, hydrogenated vegetable oil, or other emollients are often recommended to hydrate the excessively dry skin of eczema. The mainstay conventional treatment for eczema is topical corticosteroid cream or ointment (triamcinolone [e.g., Aristocort®, Triacet®, Kenalog®], mometasone [Elocon®], cortisone [e.g., Cortone®] and others). Avoidance of known allergens is also recommended.

Dietary changes that may be helpful: Eczema can be triggered by allergies.1 2 Most children with eczema have food allergies, according to data from double-blind research.3 A doctor should be consulted to determine whether allergies are a factor. Once the trigger for the allergy has been identified, avoidance of the allergen can lead to significant improvement.4 However, “classical” food allergens (e.g., cows’milk, egg, wheat, soy, and nuts) are often not the cause of eczema in adults.

A variety of substances have been shown, in a controlled trial, to trigger eczema reactions in susceptible individuals; avoidance of these substances has similarly been shown to improve the eczema. Triggers included food additives, histamine, salicylates, benzoates, and other compounds (such as aromatic compounds) found in fruits, vegetables, and spices. 5 These reactions do not represent true food allergies but are instead a type of food sensitivity reaction. The authors of this study did not identify which substances are the most common triggers.

It has been reported that when heavy coffee drinkers with eczema avoided coffee, eczema symptoms improved.6 In this study, the reaction was to coffee, not caffeine, indicating that some people with eczema may be allergic to coffee. People with eczema who are using a hypoallergenic diet to investigate food allergies should avoid coffee as part of this trial.

Nutritional supplements that may be helpful: Researchers have reported that people with eczema do not have the normal ability to process fatty acids, which can result in a deficiency of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).7 GLA is found in evening primrose oil (EPO), borage oil, and black currant seed oil. Some,8 9 10 but not all,11 12 13 14 double-blind trials have shown that EPO is useful in the treatment of eczema.

An analysis of nine trials reported that the effects for reduced itching were most striking.15 Much of the research uses 12 pills per day; each pill contains 500 mg of EPO, of which 45 mg is GLA. Smaller amounts have been shown to lack efficacy.16

Supplementation with borage oil, another source of GLA, has led to reductions in skin inflammation, dryness, scaliness, and itch in eczema patients in some,17 but not all, preliminary18 or double-blind trials.19

Many years ago, use of large amounts of vegetable oil (containing precursors to GLA) was reported to help treat people with eczema,20 21 but these studies were not controlled and do not meet modern standards of research.

Ten grams of fish oil providing 1.8 grams of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) per day were given to a group of eczema sufferers in a double-blind trial. After 12 weeks, those using the fish oil experienced significant improvement.22 23 According to the researchers, fish oil may be effective because it reduces levels of leukotriene B4, a substance that has been linked to eczema.24 The eczema-relieving effects of fish oil may require taking ten pills per day for at least 12 weeks. Smaller amounts of fish oil have been shown to lack efficacy.25

One trial using vegetable oil as the placebo reported that fish oil was barely more effective than the placebo (30% vs. 24% improvement).26 As vegetable oil had previously been reported to have potential therapeutic activity, the apparent negative outcome of this trial should not dissuade people with eczema from considering fish oil.

Although supplementation with 400 IU of vitamin E per day has been reported in anecdotal accounts to alleviate eczema,27 research has not supported this effect.28 Moreover, rare cases of topical vitamin E potentially causing eczema have appeared.29 People with eczema should not expect vitamin E to be helpful with their condition.

A double-blind trial reported that use of a hypoallergenic infant formula plus probiotics (500 million organisms of Lactobacillus GG bacteria per gram of formula, taken for one month) initially led to improvement in eczema symptoms in infants with suspected allergy to cows’ milk.30

However, by the end of two months, both the group receiving Lactobacillus GG and the placebo group had improved approximately the same amount. In the same report, a preliminary trial giving 20 billion Lactobacilli twice per day to breast-feeding mothers led to significant improvement of their allergic infants’ eczema after one month. Probiotics may reduce allergic reactions by improving digestion, by helping the intestinal tract control the absorption of food allergens, and/or by changing immune system responses.

In 1989, Medical World News reported that researchers from the University of Texas found that vitamin C, at 50–75 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight, reduced symptoms of eczema in a double-blind trial.31 In theory, vitamin C might be beneficial in treating eczema by affecting the immune system, but further research has yet to investigate any role for this vitamin in people with eczema.

Are there any side effects or interactions? Refer to the individual supplement for information about any side effects or interactions.

Herbs that may be helpful: The table below summarizes the three categories of herbs used for people with eczema: anti-inflammatories and herbs that affect the immune system (immunomodulators), astringents (herbs that bind fluids and exudates), and herbs that affect the liver (also called alteratives). Alterative herbs are poorly researched. Astringents are only helpful if applied topically when weeping eczema is present; they will not help people with dry eczema.

Mechanism of Action Examples
Anti-inflammatory and/or immunomodulator Allium cepa, Calendula, chamomile, chickweed, licorice, onion, Zemaphyte® Chinese herbal formula
Astringent (helps dry up weeping lesions) Oak, witch hazel (also anti-inflammatory)
Alterative (liver-supportive) Burdock, red clover, sarsaparilla, wild oats

Zemaphyte®, a traditional Chinese herbal preparation that includes licorice as well as nine other herbs, has been successful in treating childhood and adult eczema in double-blind trials.32 33 34 One or two packets of the combination is mixed in hot water and taken once per day. Because one study included the same amount of licorice in both the placebo and the active medicine, it is unlikely that licorice is the main active component of Zemaphyte®.35

Several Chinese herbal creams for eczema have been found to be adulterated with steroids. The authors of one study found that 8 of 11 Chinese herbal creams purchased without prescription in England contained a powerful steroid drug used to treat inflammatory skin conditions.36

A cream prepared with witch hazel and phosphatidylcholine has been reported to be as effective as 1% hydrocortisone in the topical management of eczema, according to one double-blind trial.37

Topical applications of chamomile have been shown to be moderately effective in the treatment of eczema.38 39 One trial found it to be about 60% as effective as 0.25% hydrocortisone cream.40

Onion injections into the skin and topical onion applications have been shown to inhibit skin inflammation in people with eczema, according to one double-blind trial.41 The quantity or form of onion that might be most effective is unknown.

A Japanese topical ointment called Shiunko has been reported to help improve symptoms of eczema, according to preliminary research.42 The ointment contains sesame oil and four herbs (Lithospermum radix, Angelica radix, Cera alba and Adeps suillus) and was applied twice daily along with petrolatum and 3.5% salt water for three weeks. Clinical improvement was seen in four of the seven people using Shiunko.

Topical preparations containing calendula, chickweed, or oak bark43 have been used traditionally to treat people with eczema but none of these has been studied in scientific research focusing on people with eczema.

Burdock, red clover, sarsaparilla, and wild oats have been used historically to treat people with eczema, but without scientific investigation.

Are there any side effects or interactions? Refer to the individual herb for information about any side effects or interactions.

Other integrative approaches that may be helpful: Numerous trials have reported that hypnosis improves eczema in children and adults.44 A preliminary trial emphasizing relaxation, stress management, and direct suggestion in hypnosis showed reduced itching, scratching, and sleep disturbance, as well as reduced requirements for topical corticosteroids. All of the patients studied had been resistant to conventional treatment.45


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3. Niggemann B, Sielaff B, Beyer K, et al. Outcome of double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge tests in 107 children with atopic dermatitis. Clin Exp Allergy 1999;29:91–6.
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37. Laux P, Oschmann R. Witch hazel –Hamamelis virgincia L. Zeitschrift Phytother 1993;14:155–66.
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39. Aergeerts P, Albring M, Klaschka F, et al. Vergleichende prüfung von Kamillosan®-creme gegenüber seroidalen (0.25% hydrocortison, 0.75% flucotinbutylester) and nichseroidaseln (5% bufexamac) externa in der erhaltungsterpaie von ekzemerkrankungen. Z Hautkr 1985;60:270–7.
40. Albring M, Albrecht H, Alcorn G, Lüker PW. The measuring of the antiinflammatory effect of a compound on the skin of volunteers. Meth Find Exp Clin Pharmacol 1983;5:75–7.
41. Dorsch W, Ring J. Suppression of immediate and late anti-IgE-induced skin reactions by topically applied alcohol/onion extract. Allergy 1984;39:43–9.
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Eczema Club reader review

"You have a great site with honest evaluation of dangerous herbal products plus the good advice. Many will be helped by your site if they apply what you have posted."
- Muryal,

"Great looking blog and a good little niche to help fellow sufferers. The laout is easy on the eye and the navigation a breeze. I liked the article on water softeners. Its great that you provide your readers with information like ongoing studies and research. As for you question, I really don't know of any way you can improve your blog. It looks great to me. I wish you all the best."
- Linda,