The word eczema comes from the Greek word ekzein, meaning “to boil over.” To early doctors it may have appeared that the skin was boiling over. Today, the word eczema is commonly (and improperly) used to describe any kind of dermatitis or inflammatory skin condition.
Eczema is a long-term recurring inflammation of the skin. While everyone’s eczema can be different, affecting different parts of the body, the common symptoms include dry skin, sore patches of skin and intense itch. Some common forms of eczema include:
Atopic Dermatitis: This is the most common form of eczema. The term “atopic” means there is a hereditary tendency to develop eczema, asthma, and often hay fever. Atopic dermatitis usually starts during childhood, in the first 6 months of life. Its symptoms include dry, scaly skin, redness, itching and a rash on any part of the body.
Contact dermatitis: This type of eczema occurs when the skin comes into contact with an irritant or allergen. These can include any foods, chemicals or substances that the person is sensitive to.
Seborrheic dermatitis: Characterized by flakes on hair, scalp, eyebrows, mustache or beard, this type of dermatitis is more commonly known as dandruff. Infant cradle cap also falls in this category.
Numular dermatitis: Also known as discoid eczema, this form of eczema appears differently from the common types. It is characterized by distinctive circular or oval patches. You may get dry, scaly skin as well as wet, open sores.
Homeopathy and Eczema
For a homeopath, solving a person’s case and selecting a suitable remedy, whether it is eczema, asthma, or something else, is like completing a jigsaw puzzle. Having eczema represents only a few pieces of the puzzle. To get to the right remedy, the homeopath needs to discover the rest of the pieces and see the whole picture.
When people fall ill, in most cases they suffer not only from the basic diagnostic symptoms of that disease, but also from other symptoms which are unique to them.
In conventional medical treatment, the person will get different medicines for each of their ailments; one prescription for the eczema, another for their anxiety and a third one for high blood pressure, as an example. In homeopathic prescribing, all of these ailments will require one prescription at any given time. Hence the reason different people will receive different homeopathic remedies for the same condition. Eczema is no different, as demonstrated in the next three cases.
Case of Childhood Eczema
Andrew was only two months old when he first developed eczema on his chest. His parents had tried different natural ointments, topical creams, and herbs which gave some temporary relief. However, over time Andrew’s eczema spread to his arms and face and a few patches appeared on his legs.
During the homeopathic interview with his parents, Andrew was unable to sit still. He walked around my office examining his surroundings. He took out books from the book shelf and handled every object he could reach. My observations of Andrew’s restlessness and demeanor were considered before selecting a remedy. While collecting data about Andrew I learned that his eczema was worse on cold rainy days. He also coughed when exposed to cold, damp environments. Andrew’s palms perspired and feet were icy cold. One personality trait that stood out was Andrew would reject things he had asked for in the first place.
As I put together the jigsaw puzzle that was uniquely Andrew, the remedy Dulcamara revealed itself. With a few doses of this remedy, over a six month period, Andrew’s eczema went away completely and his cough disappeared. It is important to note here that the remedy Dulcamara is not a “childhood eczema” remedy and is unlikely to heal other cases of eczema. The remedy choice for each person suffering with eczema will be as unique as their characteristic symptoms, personality and general nature.
Case of Eczema After a Relationship Break-up
Gretchen developed eczema on her eyelids shortly after ending a two year relationship with her boyfriend. Aside from the itchy eczema, her eyes were painful when indoors and in stuffy rooms and relieved in fresh air. Gretchen had a history of asthma, bronchitis, and dry cough that shook her whole body. She had restless sleep, often interrupted by dreams of fire and other disasters. Gretchen also reported having belching that smelled like radishes and perspiration smelling of garlic. She described herself as impatient, and a weak person who gave up easily.
The remedy Osmium metallicum matched Gretchen’s unique set of physical symptoms and personality. While taking this remedy, Gretchen reported feeling happier, more energetic, and less likely to give up. She was sleeping deeper, while her nightmares, body odour, and eczema disappeared.
Case of Burning, Itching Eczema
Sean, a 47-year-old realtor, suffered with eczema throughout most of his life. He would go through periods of amelioration, where his skin would be relatively clear, then periods where the eczema was chronic and bothersome. The patches on his arms and legs were itchy, burning and oozed deep yellow coloured discharge.
Sean also reported having dandruff with the same yellow coloured flakes. He also had wandering joint pains, a history of sinus infections, and generally felt worse in warm weather.
Sean described himself as impatient, always in a hurry, social but timid. He had a history of peeling skin and peeling eruptions.
The jigsaw puzzle in this case revealed the remedy Kali sulphuricum. This remedy successfully cleared up Sean’s eczema and helped him feel calmer overall.