Eczema is an inflammatory but non-contagious condition of the skin, characterized by itching, burning, and redness. Some medical authorities consider eczema a group of related disease. Other includes in the group any inflammatory skin eruption of unknown cause, and thee are many cases of skin disease in this category. The eruption tends to appear chiefly on the face, neck, upper trunk, and in the bends of the elbows and knees. It is common at age up to twenty five. Typical eczema begins with the “erythematous” stage, with itching, burning, and redness of the skin. Then, in the “vesicular” stage, blisters form on the reddened skin areas, some or all of which may become filled with pus bursting early and allowing clear or pussy fluid to ooze out. During such oozing the disease is often called, “weeping” eczema. Usually the blisters or pustules tend to dry down into scales or crusts. The dry-scaly stage is likely to persist a long time. In any stage, the affected skin areas usually have ill-defined borders. Considerable itching and burning are unpleasant symptoms present throughout the course of the disease.
Among the local courses of eczema are such things as the following: chemical irritants, including dyes, antiseptics, strong soaps, and contact with plants; thermal irritants, including cold, strong wind, and the sun’s rays; mechanical irritants, such as scratching, friction, pressure; and the action of parasite. Some conditional conditions that may prepare the way for eczema are these: emotional or mental strain, insufficient rest, errors in diet, indigestion, faulty elimination, lower body resistance, inflammation of the kidneys, and diabetes.
In many afflicted people there seems to be peculiar individual skin sensitivity, often hereditary in nature. It can sometimes be detected by a series of skin sensitivity tests; but these fail to fail more often than not. A careful study of the patient’s personal and family history is more likely to disclose the cause or causes. Food sensitivity is an occasional cause of eczema in infants, but this sensitivity tends to become much less marked in later years.
Eczema may be checked or cured in any of its stages, but any of its stages may also prove chronic and persistent.
For these reasons the disease appears in many forms. There are three aims in treatment:
(1) to correct the causes as far as they can be detected and corrected,
(2) to soothe the skin in the acute or inflamed stages or forms, and
(3) to stimulate the skin to heal in the chronic stage or forms. This stimulation, however, should always be mild. The use of harsh or irritating remedies does more harm than good. Hundreds of remedies for eczema have been recommended, but no single remedy has proved really effective in more than a small fraction of cases. This most common of all skin diseases remains, to date, a persistent nuisance to its victims and knotty problem for their physicians.
WHAT TO DO
1. Regulate the bowels, preferably by eating plenty of vegetables and fruits and drinking plenty of water rather than by the use of cathartics. It is best however to avoid eating citrus fruits, strawberries, and tomatoes, because many people are more are more or less sensitive to one or more of these items.
2. Eliminate any food from the diet which experience has proved hard to digest. Make a careful search-with the aid of a physician if possible- for foods or other substances to which the afflicted person may be internally or externally sensitive.
3. It is advisable to eliminate from the diet candy, pastries, sweets, chocolate and cocoa, fried foods, sea foods, pork, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, and all or nearly all salts. But one should remember that, except in infancy, food is probably no more a minor factor either in causing or in curing eczema.
4. Do not use tea, coffee, or alcoholic beverages.
5. Use a little water and soap or detergents on the affected skin areas as possible. It is better to cleanse them with olive oil, especially when it is desirable to soften the crusts.
6. If the hands are affected, it is wise to wear rubber gloves when they must be put into water or soap suds.
7. As far as possible, avoid over work, worry or loss of sleep, lack of exercise or any other practice that will lower physical, mental, or emotional vigor.
8. In the acute stage of eczema, either the erythematous (itching) or the vesicular (weeping) type, try wt dressings or lotion in the day time and a powder at night. For wet dressings, use Burow’s solution diluted with 15 to 20 volumes of water. For the lotion, mix equal parts of olive oil and the standard calamine lotion. For the powder, use the following:
Boric acid powder 2
Zinc Oxide 10
Talcum powder 18
Make every reasonable effort to consult a skin specialist, especially in the case of a baby with eczema.
This disease is frequently so resistant to treatment that special remedies may be needed, some of which cannot be secured without a physician’s prescription.