The term eczema refers to an inflammation of the skin which results in the formation of vesicles or pustules. It is a common and troublesome condition of the skin. The disease has a wide variety of forms, the majority of them being of chronic variety.
Causes and Symptoms
Eczema in its acute form presents redness and swelling of the skin, and the formation of minute vesicles. If the vesicles rupture, a raw, moist surface is formed, from which a colourless discharge oozes, forming crusts on the skin where it accumulates. The symptoms are usually worse at night The skin itches at all stages.
Eczema is essentially a constitutional disease, resulting from a toxic condition of the system, and failure of the human system to excrete the poisons from the various orifices of the body. Other causes include faulty metabolism, constipation, nutritional deficiencies, menstrual stress, jealousy, frustration, and a host of other emotions. Suppressive drug treatment of another disease is also a potent, subsidiary causative factor in many cases.
Musk Melon: Musk melon is regarded as one of the most effective remedies for eczema. In fact, ‘melon cure’ can be successfully employed in the treatment of this disease. In this mode of treatment, only musk melons should be taken three times during the day for forty days or more. In the beginning, only 3 kg of melons are taken daily for three days. Then the quantity is increased by 1 kg daily till it is sufficient to appease the hunger. Only the sweet and fresh fruits of the best variety are used. As the water content of the fruit is above 90 per cent, no water should be taken during this Period. The juice of the fruit is also beneficial for local application in chronic and acute cases of eczema.
Mango: Mangoes are considered another effective remedy for eczema. The pulp and the skin of the fruit should be simmered in a cup of water for half an hour. This should then be strained and applied as a lotion liberally to all affected areas several times daily.
Vegetable Juices: Raw vegetable juices, especially carrot juice in combination with spinach juice, have proved beneficial in the treatment of eczema. The formula proportions considered helpful in this combination are 300 ml of carrot juice and 200 ml of spinach juice to make 500 ml or 1/2 litre of the juice.
Finger Millet Leaves: The green leaves of finger millet are valuable in chronic eczema. The fresh juice of these leaves should be applied over the affected area in the treatment of this condition.
Safflower Oil: It has been established in laboratory animal tests that eczema can result from lack of linoleic acid. Safflower oil, being rich in this acid, can be beneficially used in the treatment of eczema. Two tablespoons of this oil should be taken daily in treating this disease. The quantity can be reduced to one tablespoon daily after the condition improves.
Blackstrap Molasses: Blackstrap molasses have been found beneficial in the treatment of this disease. This is presumably due to their high nutritive properties. Two tablespoons of molasses should be taken twice daily in a glass of milk. Improvements will be noticeable within two weeks’ time.
The treatment should start with a fast of orange juice and water for five to ten days, depending on the severity and duration of the trouble. This will help eliminate toxic waste from the body and lead to substantial improvement. Fruits, salt-free raw or steamed vegetables with wholemeal bread or chapatis may be taken after the juice fast. Coconut oil may be used instead of ghee. After a few days, curd and milk may be added to the diet. The patient may, thereafter, gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet, consisting of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits. He should avoid tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages, all condiments, sugar, white flour products, denatured cereals, and highly flavoured dishes.
Sunbathing is beneficial as it kills the harmful bacteria and should be resorted to early in the morning, at the first light of dawn. A light mudpack applied over the sites of the eczema is also helpful. The pack should be applied for an hour at a time and should be repeated twice or thrice a day. In cases of acute eczema, cold compress, or cold wet fomentations are beneficial. The affected part should be wrapped with thick soft cloth. The treatment for chronic eczema is just the opposite of the one for the acute problem. A hot compress or hot fomentation should be applied for twenty minutes and should be followed with a cold water bath.
Certain liquids have been found useful as washing lotions for cleaning the affected parts. These include water in which neem Jeaves have been boiled, rice starch water obtained by decanting cooked rice, and turmeric water prepared by boiling water to which turmeric powder has been added.
The patient should get as much fresh air as possible. Restrictive clothing should not be worn. Two or three litres of water should be drunk daily, and the patient must bathe twice or thrice a day. The skin, with the exception of the parts affected with eczema, should be vigorously rubbed with the palms of the hands before taking a bath.