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Dermatitis encompasses several skin disorders. Eczema is a type of dermatitis. Any skin inflammation may be considered dermatitis. Substances that irritate the skin, allergic reactions to drugs, detergents, and other chemicals are all culprits.
Dermatitis can affect almost any area of the body. Redness, scaling, and thickening of the skin may occur. Pinpointing the cause of the problem is the first step toward alleviating the symptoms.
Eczema appears as dry, cracking, crusting and red patches on the skin. Often there are swelling, weeping blisters. The skin can become inflamed and itchy. These symptoms often appear on the hands, feet, legs and even the ears. Small fluid filled blisters also can appear on the skin. These symptoms become inflamed with a burning and itchy sensation, which often leads to scratching.
When this condition is scratched excessively, it can lead to infection. This is often seen in children. Many factors can contribute to Eczema. Stress is a major factor. Allergies as well. Exposure to cleaning compounds, perfumes, detergents, household chemicals, soaps, food Allergies, as well as, nutrient deficiencies.
Dermatitis is not an age specific disorder and can appear on any one and can appear anywhere on the body, although as mentioned above, it is most often seen on legs, feet, arms and ears. There are often predispositions to this disorder. It is seen in heredity and can be traced through family history.
In children, eczema can be traced back to allergic reactions to dairy products such as milk and eggs, also wheat, peanuts, peanut butter, as well as nightshade vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, egg plants and bell peppers.
It is known that white blood cells (also known as lymphocytes) are a fundamental component of the Immune System that protects our bodies from invaders. When they make a mistake, an allergic response can occur. When a lymphocyte encounters a particle or cell and identifies it as a foreign invader, it produces antibodies specifically engineered to fight that particular threat.
There are five basic types of antibodies, called immunoglobulins, or Igs. Each is classified by type with a letter suffix: IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG and IgM. The Ig known to be responsible for most allergic reactions to food is IgE, although IgG is also commonly mentioned.
IgE Allergies occur when the Immune System, in an effort to reject a certain food or other substance, creates an antibody to that food, immunoglobulin E. In other words, the blood cells of an allergic person are “misinformed’ at the genetic level and cause the production of large quantities of IgE antibodies.
The antibody becomes attached on one side to the food/substance molecule and on the other side to a mast cell (mast cells are a type of cell containing histamine and other allergy mediators instrumental in the allergic response). When this happens, histamines and other chemicals are released from the mast cells, causing such immediate responses as runny nose, itchy eyes, skin rashes and Indigestion. IgE can cause anaphylaxis, an extreme, sometimes even life-threatening response in which the airways swell, sometimes to the point where the person cannot breathe.
The most common tests for food allergies are IgE skin tests, where the skin is scratched or pricked and allergens such as wheat, eggs and milk are applied. Within 15 to 30 minutes, local reaction may occur. Other types of tests include blood tests and patch skin tests. However, there are reports that blood testing for food allergies provides more reliable results than skin testing.
The latter are problematic because of their tendency to yield false positives. This means that people may show a positive result but are still able to eat a certain food. To summarize this difficult and confusing field, it appears that the efficacy of all allergy testing is under suspicion.
Dermatitis is divided into different classifications. Acute and chronic dermatitis are differentiated by a time period as well as symptoms. Acute dermatitis is seen with erythema and edema in papules, vesicles and sometimes large blisters. Chronic dermatitis is seen as lichenification, scaling and fissures.
There is a thickening of the dermal layer. Contact dermatitis is another classification, which is skin irritation due to exogenous agents such as water and other fluids, abrasives such as cleaning products, chemicals such as acids and alkalis as well as solvents and detergents.
Emotional issues play a big part in this disorder. Changing the way you think, can change a life of Stress and discomfort to a life of challenge and excitement. Thinking about a success or a past achievement is excellent when you’re feeling uncertain and Stress. You are instantly reminded that you’ve achieved before, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t achieve this time.
Positive affirmations. You should have a list of affirmations ready that you can start repeating when you feel stressed. They don’t have to be complicated. Just saying aloud “I can handle this” to yourself or “I know exactly what I am doing” will work. It pulls you away from the animal reflex to stress—the quick breathing, the cold hands—and toward the reasoned response, the intellect—the part of you that really can handle it.
It’s necessary to think these thoughts consciously because doing so automatically changes the mind-set that’s producing the stress. If you’re reciting an affirmation, you’re not thinking about whatever bothers you.
Researchers at the Kent & Canterbury Hospital in England, in a five year study, discovered that more than two-thirds of the people with chronic skin problems had experienced a “major life event”, such as a serious illness or death in the family, just before or occurring at the same time as their skin problems.
A study published in the British Medical Journal Lancet showed a significant improvement in eczema when patients took high doses of Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) in capsule form. There have been some reports that EPO can help in cases of atopic dermatitis. It takes a rather large number of these expensive capsules to produce results and it can take at least six months to see any results.
Flaxseed oil taken internally or applied externally often eases symptoms of eczema.
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.
Burdock Root - Helps to purify blood and restore the liver to aid in a restful sleep. Helps to reduce build up of Toxins in the skin resulting in boils and other skin disorders. Helps gallbladder functions and stimulates the Immune System.
Chamomile - Chamomile’s medicinal properties range from skin inflammations to lightening hair to treating digestive problems. As a mild sedative, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial, it improves digestion by relaxing the muscles throughout the gastrointestinal system and it can induce an overall sense of calm and well-being.
Dandelion - is a leading remedy for detoxing the liver. It stimulates the flow of bile, a fluid that aids fat digestion, which is why it’s used for liver and gallbladder disorders. Dandelion has scientifically documented potent diuretic properties. It relieves Constipation and eases Bloating and swelling. Dandelion should be used for 4 to 6 weeks at a time. For it’s liver benefits dandelion is helpful for skin disorders.
Red Clover - is an herb suggested for chronic conditions affecting the skin. It is a diuretic, but it’s unknown exactly how it works for skin conditions. Use nonfermented Red Clover which is safe. Red clover contains a substance called genistein, which has anticancer properties.
Thyme Leaf - The pungent oils found in Thyme are an effective antimicrobial in the treatment of respiratory infections. When taking Thyme, people often note tasting it on their breath as the oils permeate through the respiratory system to reduce the proliferation of viruses during infections. It also warms the digestion and reduces metabolic congestion, aiding to clear the body of conditions for infection.
Aromatherapy can help with hives, eczema, dermatitis, bee stings inflammation, and dryness. Helpful, are Essential oils such as Chamomile, Cedarwood, Lavender, Geranium, Tea Tree, Lemon, Myrrh, Thyme.
Aromatherapy is extremely helpful with stress! Reducing stress, anxiety, boost immunity, and relieve numerous conditions all caused by stress. Stress reduction is one of aromatherapy’ s specialties! Helpful, are Essential oils such as Bergamot, Chamomile, Rose, Lavender, Clary Sage, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang will relax you. Where as Basil, Geranium, Rosemary… will recharge, revitalize and stimulate you. Rosemary and Geranium oils also strengthen the Adrenal Glands, which are effected by stress.
Dilute essential oils with a Carrier Oil or add a few drops to a moisturizing lotion and massage into the skin for Sore Muscle treatments or stress release. Use anytime, especially before bed for calming and inducing sleep. Add a few drops to boiling water and lean over it with a towel for a steam facial, or diffuse to help ease Tension and stress. Diffuse for balancing and help with calming down. Inhale the essential oils deeply as they diffuse into the air.
Baths, Diffuser blends, inhalants, massage oils as well as, skin treatments, hair treatments and body treatments all allow you to pamper yourself while improving the condition of your body, your mental state, as well as, your emotional/spiritual well-being.
Take an oatmeal bath. Oatmeal soothes irritation and reduces itching. For an additional soothing treat, add milled oatmeal to the bath, and even using oatmeal as a soap substitute. For the bath, pour 2 cups of milled oatmeal into a tub of lukewarm water. Milled oatmeal is simply oatmeal that has been ground to fine powder that will remain suspended in water. Add a cup of Witch Hazel and dilute it in the bath water for additional relief.
Dermatitis is aggravated by dehumidified air, especially during winter months when forced-air heat circulates in the home. Forced-air heat is more drying than other types of heat. Since dry air tends to aggravate the itching of eczema or dermatitis, keeping indoor air moist should be a primary concern of sufferers and their families. If you can counter dry air with a good humidifier, then forced-air heat is not as much of a problem. Humidifiers are like air conditioners—you really need a big unit to do anything. If you sleep next to it, however, that’s okay. Put it next to your bed.
This is even more so with steroid drugs (cortisone and related compounds). Never use cortisone, prednisone, or other steroid drugs to treat skin reactions unless they are very severe or life-threatening. If you must take these powerful hormones, limit your use of them to two weeks. Steroids perpetuate dermatitis through their suppressive action. They also lower immunity.
Air-conditioning your house is probably the single most important thing you can do to alleviate pollen problems, and it can help with two other chief inhalants—molds and dust mites.
Vitamin C has Antihistamine activity. Vitamin C supplementation has been reported to help people with hay Fever in preliminary research. Consider 3,000 - 6,000 mg of Vitamin C in divided doses, per day.
Bioflavonoids such as Quercetin, might act synergistically with Vitamin C as both have antihistaminic activity. Although some doctors of natural medicine advise people with hay Fever to take 400 mg of Quercetin two to three times per day, only limited preliminary clinical research has yet suggested that Quercetin benefits people with this condition.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine often views eczema and skin disorders as related to Wind, noting that symptoms come and go rapidly, cause congestion, and make the person want to avoid windy situations. This Wind often coexists with a deficiency of the Protective or Wei Qi, deficiencies of the Spleen and Stomach systems and components of dampness and heat in the body. Also blood deficiencies, blood heat and Toxins are also cited for causes leading to this disorder.
The acupuncturist also looks for constitutional or more deeply-rooted signs in each person who presents with allergy symptoms. The principle here is treating the whole person. Often people with chronic allergies also have eczema and show signs of Spleen or Kidney Deficiency as well as Lung signs according to TCM.
Xiao Yan Qin Shi Gao is based on an ancient herbal formula that is made into a soothing, skin calming lotion that is applied morning and night. This is one of the best non-steroidal lotions to treat a wide variety of dermatitis conditions.
Visit Your TCM practitioner for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac - http://www.peacefulmind.com - Therapies for healing mind, body, spirit
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