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is such a common condition that it affects every one of five children during their school-going age. It is also a very common disease found in infants. Eczema in adults could be a recurring chronic condition, which the person may have to live with throughout life. Hence, it can be said that eczema is one of the most prevalent skin problems in the world today.

Eczema is dermatitis, i.e. an inflammation of the upper layers of the skin known as the epidermis.Eczema is an itchy condition, which leads to red rashes when scratched.
In modern medical science eczema is described of different types according to their causes and the symptoms.

  • Atopic Eczema : commonest type of eczema. This eczema is caused due to allergic reactions. Allergic Contact Dermatitis : due to constant physical contact of allergen.
  • Infantile & Adult Seborrhoetic Eczema
  • Xerotic Eczema :due to constant dryness of the skin.
  • Gravitational Eczema: due to circulation problems such as varicose veins.

In Ayurveda eczema is termed as ' Vicharchika'.It is caused due to the vitiation of all the three doshas - vata, pitta and kapha. The pitta vitiated vicharchika is the most common. Vitiation of the skin occurs through imbalance between the pitta and the blood to produce eczema.

Types and Symptoms of Eczema (Vicharchika)

There are several types of eczemas. In Ayurveda , all the three doshas can lead to eczema. The symptoms of the different eczemas are:-
Vata dosha type: When the vitiation of the vata dosha produces the eczema, it is felt in the dryness of the skin. There is pain and severe itching of the affected region.
Pitta dosha type: Pitta dosha vitiation can cause oozing from the affected part. There are other symptoms shown such as burning and fever.
Kapha dosha type: When there is an imbalance of the kapha, it is more observable on the skin. The skin becomes thick and is accompanied by oozing and itching

Prevention and Basic Care during Eczema (Vicharchika)

There are several basic guidelines to be followed when a person has eczema. The following are some of them:-

  • Identify the allergic factor that is causing the eczema and remove it completely from the environment.
  • If the eczema is due to an ingredient in the diet, then abstain from that particular food completely.
  • Soaps and detergents must not be used on inflamed skin. Special non-fragrant soaps are available in the market made from herbal ingredients. These must be used.
  • After bath, the skin must not be allowed to remain wet. It is water drying up from the skin that aggravates the eczema.
  • During bathing, olive oil added to the water helps. Similarly, an oil or a ghee massage can be had about an hour after the bath.
  • Baths should not be too prolonged or too frequent. Use warm water for the bath, but not hot or cold water.
  • Towels used for drying the skin must not be rough. Use a soft fiber towel and only pat dry. Rubbing on the skin will aggravate the inflammation drastically.
  • Woolens must be strictly avoided. The same applies to blankets.
  • Avoid sweating as much as you can.
  • Be wary of using objects on the skin such as spectacles, artificial jewelry, footwear, furs and synthetic fibers. Identify and isolate the allergenic materials.
  • People with eczema problems must not visit places where there is cold and dry climate.
  • Stress is also related with eczema flare-ups. Extreme emotions like anger and shock must be avoided.
Diet for People with Eczema (Vicharchika)

Since food is one of the causes of eczema, it is important to be cautious about the diet. Generally a person with eczema can have a normal diet, but without the specific allergic factor. Depending on the constitution of the person, he or she can be allergic to just about any kind of food. Hence, one of the steps of diagnosing eczema is to identify if any foodstuff is the cause of the eczema. If so, then that food must be eliminated from the diet.

Furthermore, people with eczema must keep away from the following foods:-

  • Salad vegetables like cucumbers and radish must not be used.
  • Fruits like oranges, watermelons and papayas must be avoided as they are contra-indications to eczema.
  • Ice-creams and cold drinks must be strictly avoided.
  • Several spices and oils can aggravate eczema. Hence they must be taken with moderation.
  • Nuts are harmful to eczema, especially cashew nuts.
  • Foods with a high mineral content such as ginger, onion and ladies finger (okra) must be curtailed in the diet.
  • Salt must be reduced in the diet.
  • Sour foods must be avoided. This includes all pickles, curds, etc.
  • Mustard is a strict no-no.
  • Bitter tastes are useful. These are obtained from vegetables such as bitter gourd, bitter drumstick and flowers of the neem tree.
  • Turmeric has a soothing effect on the skin. It must be used liberally in flavoring the food. Turmeric is also useful if it is applied locally over the affected parts.
Ayurvedic Treatments for Eczema

Several Indian indigenous herbs are found to be very effective in the treatment of this problem.

Alsi (Linum usitatissimum) Linseed
The oil of the linseed is mixed with an equal amount of lime juice and applied on the inflamed region. This is effective in the treatment of many skin ailments including eczema.

Arka (Calotropics gigantica) Dead Sea Apple, Swallow Wort
The juice of the arka is mixed with sesame oil and turmeric. This is applied externally over the affected skin.

Babul (Acacia arabica)
The bark of the babul tree is potent in the treatment of eczema. It is boiled in water and the fumes are used to foment the affected areas.

Butea (Butea monosperma)
In the treatment of skin diseases such as eczema, its the seeds of the butea tree that are useful. The seeds of the butea are mixed with lime water and are applied on the affected regions to get the required benefits.

Mahua (Madhuca indica) Madhuca
The leaves of the madhuca are ground into a paste and applied as bandages on the affected regions. This provides immense relief to the itchy pains. However, the bandage must be changed regularly, i.e. after every three to four hours.

Karanja (Pongamia pinnata) Indian Beech
The oil of the karanda made into an emulsion with lemon juice has very good soothing properties for the inflammations of eczema.

Palasha (Butea monosperma) Butea
The seeds of the palasha are ground, mixed with lemon juice and applied on the affected region. This is especially beneficial on dhobi’s itch, a type of allergic contact dermatitis with tight clothes.

Eczema is a constitutional disease. Its cause is deep-seated within the body. Hence external medications are not effective in eczema. With such medications, the outer symptoms may disappear, but the underlying cause remains. Ayurveda attempts at curing eczema from its roots. The method used is an elaborate process to purify the blood of the individual.

The different steps involved are:-
a) Snehana - This method oleates the skin, i.e. makes it smooth using oily preparations.
b) Swedana - This method induces sweating which removes the toxins from the blood.
c) Panchkarma - These are the five steps to improve the blood. They include vamana (emesis), virechana (purgation), vasti (enema), siro-virechana (errhines) and rakta mokshana (blood-letting).

The following Ayurvedic preparations are used in the treatment of eczema:-

  • For all types of eczema, cleanse the liver. Take 250 mg. of tab. Arogyavardhini 3 to 4 times daily followed by hot water for 2 months.
  • One teaspoonful of Mahatikt ghritam twice a day is prescribed to all patients of eczema.
  • In addition, a dosage of 50 milligrams of Chaturmukha rasa with gold is prescribed to be taken twice a day along with 15 ML of Khadirarishta or Saarivadyasava thrice a day. All treatments must be continued for one month.
  • Physicians would suggest massaging the area with Mahamarichyadi taila or Guduchyadi taila. After meals, take one teaspoonful of Panchanimbadi choorna,
Home Remedies for Eczema
Applying the juice of the wild almond (Terminalia catapa) on the affected parts provides relief.
An emulsion can be made with the seeds of the karanja (Pongamia pinnata) and lemon juice. This is very beneficial if applied externally.
An ointment is prepared using one part of sesame oil, sixteen parts of arka (Calatropics gigantica) and one part of turmeric. It should be applied externally.
Prepare a brew of the peel of the banyan tree. Both drinking this brew and applying it externally over the affected parts gives good results.
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