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Eczema is a general term for rash-like skin conditions. The most common type of eczema is called Atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis). Eczema is often very itchy. When you scratch it, your skin becomes red and inflamed (puffy).
Eczema affects people of all ages but is primarily seen in children. Those who “grow out” of their eczema during early childhood may see it recur again in later life.
In the UK, one in five children and one in twelve adults have eczema while eczema and contact dermatitis account for 84-90% of occupational skin disease.
Atopic eczema is a genetic condition based on the interaction between a number of genes and environmental factors. In most cases there will be a family history of either eczema or one of the other ‘atopic’ conditions i.e asthma or hay fever. (National Eczema Society)
Several studies suggest that atopic eczema has a more profound effect on the quality of life than other skin diseases, such as acne and psoriasis.
With atopic eczema, there is often “a vicious cycle of itching, scratching and more itching that further inflames the immune system and further damages the skin barrier,” said Dr. Peter Lio, clinical assistant professor of dermatology and pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. (National Eczema Association)
Scratching is an instinctive reaction to itching, and it is particularly difficult for babies and children to resist the urge to scratch. Unfortunately, scratching does not stop the itch, but in addition it also aggravates the skin and makes the condition worse. The only effective way to stop a baby or child from scratching is to stop the itch.
Different from commonly seen TCM methods such as clearing heat, cooling blood, dispelling wind, and drying dampness, Zuowen focuses on the chief complaint ‘itch’, and comes up a treatment principle that based on a famous piece of theory from Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen – 诸痛疮疡，皆属于心 ‘All pain (diseases with) itch and sores, without exception they are associated with the heart.’ Tailored to individual constitution, his unique treatment, which combines herbs, acupuncture, diet and exercise, aims to relieve the itch, break the itch-scratch cycle, calm the immune system, and stop reoccurring damages to the skin barrier.
Case 1 – baby eczema
Boy, nearly 3 years old. He has had severe eczema since birth. He has had various treatment including steroids cream, but with little effect. When at its worst, eczema was all over the body and he was hospitalised due to infection.
His first visit was on 1st February. Eczema patches were seen on arms, legs, back, armpits, groin areas and scalp, red, itching, he couldn’t stop scratching.
He was given small does Chinese herbal powder to take from 4th February. On his second visit on the 8th, skin condition was significantly improved, not itching at all.