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June 25, 2010
By Katrina Devine, Contributing Columnist



Unbearable itching. That's the way most people who suffer
from eczema describe the condition. If you or your child has
suffered from eczema you will know it can be an especially
debilitating condition, interfering with your ability to
concentrate and get on with your daily life. Some people only
suffer from a mild
dermatitis while others have chronic
eczema, a life long problem. Its effects are not only physical
but psychological especially if it appears on your face or
hands.


A study completed at the Centre of Evidence-Based
Dermatology, University of Nottingham, Queens Medical
Centre NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK in 2000 listed the main
factors that affect suffers of eczema --- intractable itching,
skin damage, soreness, sleep loss and the social stigma of a
visible skin disease.


The U.S National Library of medicine describes eczema as
various forms of skin problems that cause red, swollen and
itchy skin. These can be caused by allergies, genetic makeup
or irritants.


The most common type of eczema is atopic eczema which is
normally due to an allergic reaction.


It is difficult to put an exact number on how many Americans
suffer from eczema as there are so many different forms of
the condition, making it difficult to report.


There is no known cure for eczema but below we have 10
remedies to help:




























1. Moisturizer: Moisturizing is a preventive step as well as a
remedy, as dryness is a common cause of a repeat
inflammation of eczema. A study from the Section of
Dermatology, Department of Medicine & Pharmacology, The
Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK, in 1997 discussed
the role of emollients (moisturizers) in the containment of
eczema. The emollients act as a way to trap moisture in the
skin. The study recommends using an oil rub and a specialized
soap. It is important to remember when choosing a
moisturizer that none of the ingredients will actually cause a
worse reaction.


2. Oatmeal bath: This is one of the oldest treatments of
eczema. It is thought that the oatmeal acts to soothe the
irritation and it also works as a moisturizer. A study led by L.F
Eichenfield at Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego, California,
in 2007 recommended oatmeal as a skin barrier. In particular,
the study found that those containing avenanthramides (type
of oat particle) were most effective. The method is to simply
add the oats to warm water and bathe as many times as you
feel you need to soothe irritation.


3. Licorice gel: This is a relatively new treatment for eczema.
It works to soothe the irritation and to treat the inflammation.
The concentration is made from licorice plant leaves.  A study
completed at the Department of Pharmaceutics, Mazandaran
University of Medical Sciences, Sari, Iran, in 2003 found that
applying licorice gel for 2 weeks saw an improvement in the
sores. They studied two groups of 30 patients, the first group
used a gel with a 1%concentration of licorice and the second
used a concentration of 2%. They found that the 1% was not
at all effective but saw results with the concentration of 2%.


4. Witch-Hazel: The Witch-Hazel plant is naturally occurring in
the United States and is said to have been used by Native
Americans to treat skin inflammation from the earliest times. A
study conducted by the Ludwig-Maximilians University,
Munich Germany in 1995 used a total of 72 patients with
eczema in a 14 day trail. One group of 36 patients were give
cream containing hamamelis (witch-hazel) and an active drug
ingredient. The other 36 were given a cream with witch-hazel
alone. Both groups found an improvement. The study
concluded that the witch hazel alone was as effective as the
one with the active drug agent.


5. Evening primrose oil: This is to be taken orally as a way to
treat the inflammation. A study led by Moa Schlalin-Karrila at
the Department of Physiology, University of Turku, Finland in
1986 examined two groups of people for 12 weeks. The first
group was given evening primrose oil and the second was
given a placebo. The study concluded that those who had
taken the evening primrose oil found a statistically significant
improvement in the surface area of the inflammation. They
also saw an improvement in itching and dryness.


6. Diet: It is thought that eczema is caused by allergies and in
particular food allergies. The National Institutes of Health list
peanuts, dairy, eggs and wheat as common causes of allergy
related eczema. A study conducted by the Department of
Dermatology and Allergy, Charité Clinic, Humboldt University,
Berlin, Germany in 200 examined the relationship between
food allergies and eczema. They studied 41 patients for a
period of 6 weeks. The patients followed a diet that avoided
the known allergens. More than half of the patients found a
57% improvement in their condition.

If you consult your medical professional they can advise you
on which foods you might want to avoid for your particular
genetic make-up.


7. Probiotics: Probiotics can greatly relieve eczema symptoms.
Probiotics are live micro-organisms that live inside your body
and are thought to be beneficial. Many foods are now being
fortified with probiotics as more is being discovered about
their benefits.  A study conducted at the University of Turku,
Finland in 2000 examined 27 patients with eczema. They
found that those who were give probiotic supplements there
was an improvement after 2 months. Researchers attributed
the results to probiotic’s ability to boost the immune system.
It was linked to eczema that was a result of allergy in
particular.  


8. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: A study led by Esther Boelsma from
the Department of Nutritional Physiology, Zeist, The
Netherlands, in 2001 found that the consumption of omega  
fatty acids, in particular fish oils, led to an improvement in
eczema and other skin disorders such as psoriasis. The study
concludes that the effectiveness of fatty acids on eczema was
due to their impact on your  immune system.


9. Avoid stress:  Stress not only makes eczema worse, it could
even be
the cause of eczema in some patients. A study
conducted by the New York University School of Medicine,
New York in 2001 looked at various case reports linking
stress and skin problems. They concluded that psychological
stress can cause a worsening of eczema.


10. Oolong tea: Oolong tea is one of the oldest remedies for
eczema. Oolong is a Japanese tea that is recommended by the
American Academy of Dermatology.  In 2001 the Department
of Dermatology, Shiga University of Medical Science, Otsu,
Japan studied the effect of oolong tea on eczema. In the
study 118 patients drank the tea made from a 10g bag placed
in 1000ml of boiling water and steeped for 5 minutes. This
was then split into 3 servings; the patients drank one serving
after each meal. The study found that 63% of the patients
found an improvement after one month.


































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