Atopic eczema

Also known as atopic dermatitis. Chronic allergic skin disease with itching exanthema. Related to other allergic conditions, especially asthma and hay fever. A common illness for children below 18 months.

The disease is also referred to as allergic eczema or Besnier's prurigo. The eczema is most often located in the area of the bend of the arm, the hollow of the knee, on the wrist and in the face. The disease can be developed at different times during childhood.

It is essential for the maturation of a child’s immune system that an intestinal flora with many bacteria types is established. If there are too few gram negative bacteria or if the intestines are colonized too late, the production of IgE antibodies is increased leading to an increased risk of allergy.

The first thing to do is to determine which food groups or other agents are prone to elicit allergy or hypersensitivity. Some experience a remarkable improvement in their condition when they eliminate the food groups from the diet to which they are allergic.

Ordinary foodstuffs that can contribute to the development of allergies are: Egg, milk, other dairy products, chocolate, peanuts, soya, tomatoes, potatoes, and nuts, together with gluten from wheat, rye, barley and oats, which is most pronounced in coeliac disease (gluten intolerance).

In infants, the most frequent cause of food allergy is milk from cows. It is therefore recommended to breast-feed children as long as possible; especially in familes with many allergiy sufferers. If breast-feeding is impossible, certain milk replacements are available that seldom cause allergy. The family physician, pediatritian, health visitor, or dietician are familiar with these products and are also the ones that can offer you the required advice on childhood allergy.

A candida fungus which has spread too much in the digestive canal can be a contributory cause in developing eczema.

Additives, colouring matters, conservatives, and perfume can also cause allergy and eczema.

There are many indications that allergiy sufferers have problems with the absorption and conversion of essential fatty acids (omega 3 and -6) which are important to the skin.
Deficiency in these fatty acids can lead to eczema-related conditions.

A daily supplement of fish oil, however, will in many cases provide better results because it rectifies the imbalance in the omega 3 - omega 6 fatty acids ratio. If necessary you can take a supplement of both.

Research has shown that mothers who take a daily supplement of lactic acid bacteria a couple of weeks before the birth until 6 months after the baby is born reduce the risk of their child developing eczema.

A stressfull existence filled with worries etc. can aggravate already existing eczema.

Recommendations

Preventative initiatives
Research has shown that mothers who take daily supplements of lactic acid bacteria starting a few weeks before giving birth until their child is six moths old, reduce the risk of their child developing eczema.

Women with allergies can take lactic acid bacteria during and after pregnancy. Their children should also receive daily supplements until they are at least one year old.

The most effective bacteria against atopic eczema are:

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus reuteri

A healthy and varied diet is important. One should seek to avoid a large dependence on animal fat, since this can increase the inflammation-like process.
Because of the iching it can be tempting for the the child to scratch the eczema. This can cause inflammation. Clean and cut the nails of the child. Knittens made of cotton is also a possibility. The iching can be soothened by a cool, wet cloth or cold packs, and one should make sure that the child avoids sweating.

An itching eczema can disturb the sleep, so it might be a good idea to consider giving the child something mildly sedative before bedtime.

Be examined for increased candida growth.

Nursing mothers are recommended to avoid gluten-containing food and to take the relevant dietary supplements - including lactic acid bacteria - and pass them on to the child with the milk. Children who are not breast-fed can be given lactic acid bacteria dissolved in water.

General recommendation for dosing of vitamins and minerals for children:

Age: Dose
0 - 6 moths: mothers milk
6 - 12 moths: approximately 1/6 of adult dose
1 - 3 years: approximately 1/3 of adult dose
3 - 6 years: approximately 1/2 of adult dose
6 - 9 years: approximately 2/3 of adult dose
9 - 12 years: approximately 3/4 of adult dose
More than 12 years: adult dose.

Make sure that the person suffering from eczema get the vital omega 3 fatty acids (in the form of fish oil or flaxseed oil)

Bioflavanoids that can be found in fruits and vegetables are strong antioxidants that can help to keep down the eczema.

A supplement of vitamin C as either ascorbic acid or buffered calcium ascorbate (for people with delicate digestion) is also beneficial to the condition. Vitamin A and -E are also good for the skin. Vitamin A is made from betacaroten and can be found in carrots. Betacarotene is also available as supplements.

Zinc is extremely important to the function of the skin, and many people suffering from eczema are deficient in zinc. Zinc is also important to the metabolism of fatty acids in the body. A way of determining zinc deficiency is by putting a zinc tablet under the tongue. If the tablet does not really taste like anything, zinc deficiency is probably present. If the taste is very metallic and unpleasant there is usually enough zinc in the body. One can also use a zinc test that contains zinc in fluid form and the same procedure is used here for determining a deficiency.

When taking zinc supplements, one should preferably also take a copper supplement, so it is a good idea to take a multivitamin-mineral tablet in the morning, and a zinc supplement before bedtime since the two minerals compete for the absorption mechanisms in the intestine.

A good remedie for external use against atopic eczema is a vitamin lotion or -oil that has natural compounds; an oil with vitamin A or -E, for example (wheat-germ oil) or olive oil which are all free from hormones, preservatives, and perfume.

Some good advice for treating eczema:

  • Use tepid water in the tub or when showering. Extremely hot water irritates the skin.
  • Preferably one should use liquid soap with a low pH-value.
  • Avoid ordinary soap. Use soap with olive oil or olive oil baby-shampoo.
  • Avoid high temperatures that makes the skin sweaty.
  • Avoid greasy lotions that interferes with the skin's breathing.
  • Avoid medications with benzocaine or antibiotics that are available without prescription.
  • Cold, moist packs (Aloe vera gel or juice, boiled water, chamomile tea, and milk for children not suffering from milk allergy) soothen the itching.
  • Silk is a good material for clothing; also for the pyjamas or nightgowns since the coolness of the material has a soothing effect on the itching.
  • Use cotton and other natural fibres close to the body, except from wool, which should propably be avoided. If there is also inflammation of the eczema, one can try applying one single drop of Tea tree oil - if one is not allergic to this oil.

Relevant herbs:

  • Aloe vera has a soothing effect on the itching and a directly healing effect on the skin.
  • Burdock, smooth (Arctium lappa) can be used both in- and externally. It has a diuretic effect and is bacteriostatic in conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and many other infective conditions of the skin.
  • Echinacea purpurrea strengthens the immune system.
  • Chickweed (Stellaria media) is used agaist all kinds of eczema.
  • Pennywort (Centella asiatica) can be applied to the area of the eczema as powder, or mixed with water and used in packs.
  • Golden rod (Solidago virgaurea) detoxifies and cleanses the kidneys in conditions of accumulated of waste products.
  • Oatmeal (Avena sativa) can be used in a tepid bath if the eczema covers a large area of the skin.
  • Garlic (Allium sativum) has a general bacteriostatic and strengthening effect on the immune system.
  • Chamomile (Chamomilla recutica) has a soothing effect on the itching, when it is applied as a tea directly onto the skin.
  • Vervain (Verbena officinalis) is good for children, it is effective against exhaustion, and also insomnia.
  • Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) can have a curative and regenerating effect when used externally as part of a lotion.
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita) has a soothing effect, when used as a lotion, extract, decoction and tea directly onto the area of the eczema where it reduces the sensivity of the skin. It must not be used as undiluted ethereal oil!
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis) has a strengthening effect and is mildly sedative when used as a tea.
  • Tea tree (Malaleuca alternifolia) if the eczema is inflamed - only a single drop - if there is no allergy.
  • Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) as part of a lotion is good for suppurent eczema.

Creams based on the active substances glycyrrhetinic acid and curcumine (extracted from tumeric) have been shown effective. The effect can already be seen after a weeks use.

Warnings

One should avoid corticosteroids if this is at all possible. Corticosteroids are the most common compound in lotions used against eczema, but is has damaging effects on the skin when used over a long period of time. Prolonged use of corticosteroid lotions causes the skin to become thin and vulnerable, especially on the hands and in the facial area. Corticosteroid-compounds can also contain fluoride. Avoid medications with antibiotics and benzocaine that are available without a prescription. Avois using perochemical products and lotions that contain parabene and lanoline.

Remarks

Also see "Allergy", "Asthma", "Bronchitis and Asthmatic bronchitis", "Coeliac disease", , "Eczema", "Food allergy", "Food intolerance", "Hay fever", "MCS - Multiple Chemical Sensitivity", and "Nickel allergy".

Relevant Articles