Atopic eczema is a chronic inflammatory disease of the skin which causes the skin to become extremely dry and itchy. The itch in atopic dermatitis is so severe it can take over your life. And after you scratch, the skin becomes inflamed. Eventually this leads to an inflammatory reaction which creates a cycle where the itch causes inflammation and the inflammation leads to more itching.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine help eczema by reducing inflammation, itch, and restoring the body to its natural balance. Throughout my 15 years in acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice, I have helped many people with atopic eczema.
Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine treatment of Atopic Eczema
Chinese herbal medicine focuses on correcting the imbalance causing the eczema. If heat is the cause of the eczema, we will use herbs that traditionally are used to clear heat from the body. Many of the heat clearing herbs have been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties. Research has shown that Chinese herbal medicine is linked to a reduction in corticosteroid use in children.
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.
For many patients, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine leads to long term reduction of symptoms. This is because Chinese medicine focuses on correcting the root imbalance causing the condition, not just masking the symptoms. The long term benefit of the herbs may be due to immunoregulatory mechanisms of Chinese medicine.
Moisturizers and Emollients for Eczema
The use of external emollients for atopic eczema (moisturizers, creams and oils) to keep the skin nourished and moist is extremely important. Dryness of skin exacerbates the irritation and disrupts the healing process. The skin heals from the inside out and the outside in.