Posts Tagged ‘cause of eczema’
Jan 31, 2012
Oct 20, 2011
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are effective treatments for atopic eczema. This guide will explain how acupuncture and Chinese herbs work to treat atopic eczema.
Atopic eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is the most common type of chronic eczema (1). Those with atopic eczema often have a family history eczema, hay fever, and asthma.
Symptoms of Atopic Eczema
Atopic eczema nearly always begins in childhood. For most people, it clears before becoming an adult. However, for some it will cycle between flare ups and remittance. Flare up can be caused by infection, stress, chemical irritants, or sometimes changes in the weather.
Eczema causes terrible itching. Particularly in atopic patients, the scratching of an itch in many cases is what leads to the development of dry, irritated, and inflamed skin associated with eczema. The itch is very intense it is often difficult to control during sleep.
Eczema can occur on the face, or patches in the body. Commonly, eczema occurs on the inside of the elbows and back of the knees. Chronic, long term eczema, may lead to thickening of the skin called lichenification.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine approach to Atopic Eczema
Traditionally, Chinese medicine called eczema the “wind of four crooks” referring to the eczema rashes on the inside of the elbows and knees (2).
Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach to diagnosing eczema, considering physical, emotional, and environmental factors. The primary diagnosis is made by looking at the skin. This is combined with information from taking the pulse, observing the tongue and the skin, and asking in depth questions.
In Chinese medicine, too much “heat” is a common cause of eczema, which leads to the itch, redness, and irritation. Other imbalances called “dampness” can result in swelling and in some cases vesicles. Another possible imbalance is too little energy, or what we call “qi deficiency.” The acupuncture and herbs help to clear the heat from the body or to boost the body’s energy.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment of Atopic Eczema
The treatment will often combine acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and topical herbal creams. Acupuncture is very effective to control the itching in eczema. I find that auricular and body acupuncture combination to be the most effective. After the acupuncture, I often will use magnet stickers in ear acupuncture points that correspond to the specific area of the body the itch is found. It is possible that the same physiological mechanisms which acupuncture uses to reduce pain are effective for stopping itch in eczema (3).
Chinese medicine focuses on correcting the imbalance. If heat is the cause of the eczema, we will use herbs that traditionally are used to “clear heat” from the body, such as sheng di huang (rehmannia) and jin yin hua (honey suckle) may be used to clear heat. Many of the heat reducing herbs are also potent anti-inflammatory and perhaps have immunoregulatory properties. Dampness is also a possible cause of eczema. For this, ku shen (sophroa) is effective. There are also herbs specifically for the symptoms. For example, di fu zi (broom cypress) is very effective in reducing itch.
External herbal creams are very effective at decreasing inflammation and stopping itching. For some people, reduction in inflammation and itching happens after the first visit. Generally, I want to see some reduction in itching and inflammation within the first 2-4 weeks. The treatment course is about 3-4 months.
For many patients, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine leads to long term reduction of symptoms.
1. PubMed Health. Atoptic Eczema. Accessed 10/21/2011.
2. Mazin Al-Khafaji. Atopic Eczema “Wind of the four crooks.” Journal of Chinese Medicine. Number 77: p5-8. February 2005.
3. Pfab F, Huss-Marp J, Gatti A., et al. Influence of acupuncture on type I hypersensitivity itch and the wheal and flare response in adults with atopic eczema – a blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.Allergy. 2010 Jul;65(7):903-10. Epub 2009 Dec 11.
written by Joseph Alban
Apr 26, 2010
Eczema is a chronic skin disorder which causes intense itching. Eczema is often said to be “the itch that rashes” because the itch precedes the rash and inflammation. Scratching the itch then leads to inflammation.
Eczema is best understood as a group of skin conditions that have similar types of inflammation. Eczema rashes are often dry and the skin may thicken from scratching. Eczema is also prone to becoming infected.
For thousands of years, Chinese medicine physicians have used acupuncture and herbs to help different types of eczema. The therapy is targeted to stop the itching and regulate the inflammation.
Types of eczema
There are many types of eczema which acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help. Here is a list of the most common.
- Atopic eczema, or atoptic dermatitis, is the most common form of eczema.
- Pompholyx eczema
- Stasis eczema
- Nummular eczema
- Lichen Simplex
Chinese Medicine Approach
Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach to diagnosing eczema, considering physical, emotional, and environmental factors. By taking the pulse, asking in depth questions, and observing the tongue and the skin, the acupuncturist will diagnose the what particular imbalance is causing the symptoms.
Too much “heat” is a common cause of eczema, which leads to the itch, redness, irritation, swelling, and vesicles. The acupuncture and herbs help to clear the heat from the body.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs Treatment
The treatment goal is to correct the root cause of the condition, which can lead to long term benefits, even long after the treatment has stopped. The treatment and diagnosis are tailored to each person’s symptoms. Depending on the severity of the condition, treatment may involve acupuncture, Chinese herbs, or both. Some conditions will clear rapidly, but others may take longer. In general, a treatment course is three to six month
Every person is individually diagnosed to for their specific imbalance which is causing their symptoms. Most often, focusing on clearing heat, boosting the energy, and promoting circulation will help clear the lesions and stop the itching. This can help to treat the root of the disease as well as help resolve the symptoms. Clearing heat usually will include the acupuncture points of Large intestine 11, 5, and 4. Because the lungs are so often related to eczema, lung 5 and lung 6, on the front of the elbow are often added. Spleen 6 and Spleen 10 are effective at moving the blood.
Chinese herbs focused on clearing heat are effective such as sheng di huang (rehmannia) and jin yin hua (honey suckle) may be used to clear heat. If damp heat is present, often long dan cao is effective. Ku shen (sophora) is helpful for itching. The goal of the treatment is to clear heat, dispel the wind and dampness, and move the blood to stop itch and promote healing. External herbal creams are very effective at decreasing inflammation and stopping itching.
A number of studies in England have shown that a Chinese herbal formula is effective in treating eczema. One double blind randomized crossover study treated 40 adults with chronic eczema with an herbal formula (in later studies, this formula is entitled Zemaphyte). This study concluded that the herbal formula was effective for reducing skin lesions, redness, itching, and helped the patients sleep better. This same formula later showed to have immune system regulatory effects.
Read more about acupuncture and Chinese medicine and the Immune System
- Reset Your Immune System: Long Lasting Effects of Chinese Herbs
- Acupuncture and Chinese herbs for Winter Eczema
- Resetting the Immune System: Allergies, Asthma, and Acupuncture