Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common condition and frequent complaint in primary care offices. It estimated to be prevalent in 1 percent of adults and 5 percent of children. The symptoms include dry, red, itchy and inflamed skin, most commonly on the face, hands, behind the knees and in the crook of the elbow.
Scratching from itching can lead to decreased barrier function of skin, which makes the skin more susceptible to inflammation — a vicious cycle. Patients with eczema often have a personal history of atopy, which can include allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma. Eczema can be exacerbated by allergens such as pets, dust mites and pollen, as well as certain foods and stress.
Conventional treatments for eczema include emollient creams to protect the skin’s barrier function and steroid cream to decrease inflammation and itching. While steroid creams can be effective and have an important role to play in the treatment of eczema, they can lead to thinning of the skin as a long-term side effect.
Some natural treatments for eczema include the following:
For more personalized recommendations, consult a naturopathic doctor at Bastyr Center for Natural Health.
— Danya Epstein, ND, a naturopathic physician and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University. Call 206-834-4100 to schedule an appointment.
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