By Auromira Parks
Eczema is such a common ailment among today’s children that nation wide between 10-20% of all children experience some degree of atopic eczema. It is one of the most common complaints I see in my naturopathic practice. 30 years ago eczema was a relatively rare complaint, so why are our children increasingly suffering from this irritating and frustrating ailment?
The answer most medical doctors will give is that we don’t know. Not only is there no obvious cause for eczema but also there is also no obvious cure. As most parents who have children with eczema will know, the conventional treatment for eczema is at best palliative. Understanding more about what eczema is and why it occurs is the key to understanding how to treat it and how to prevent it.
So what is eczema?
It is a skin disorder where the skin becomes dry, red and itchy. With persistent scratching, the skin can become broken and inflamed, leading to secondary infection of fungus or bacteria. In children, the classic eczema presentation is usually behind the knees, in the creases of arms and on the cheeks. However, in practicality, it can be anywhere on the body.
When conventional medicine doesn’t have the answers, people look for alternatives. In many systems of alternative medicine, eczema is clearly understood and can be managed quite effectively. Naturopathy, homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine are three medical systems in which eczema not only has a known cause but also a cure.
To understand eczema, we have to go beyond conventional Western thought. Our bodies are magnificent systems that are capable of sustaining health throughout the many ups and downs of life. Our immune systems are beautifully complex and effective armies that are able to combat foreign invaders both from within our bodies and from our environment. This system has been with us for thousands of years and has worked quite effectively for us. However, in the last 100 years there has been a surge of ailments such as eczema, asthma, chronic allergies, autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, which are linked to an imbalanced immune system. Our bodies are simply responding in the best way they know how, to combat all of the increased toxins, pollutants and chemicals in our food, home and environment. Our bodies have not evolved as quickly as our world has changed.
Therefore our bodies see relatively harmless items as dangerous. Children are especially susceptible to developing immune reactions such as eczema, asthma, and allergies. In naturopathic medicine, eczema is often linked to an allergy to dairy products and a poorly functioning digestive system. This is because children’s digestive systems are more sensitive to the type of foods and food additives that we eat in today’s world. Understanding why eczema is occurring is already half of the problem solved.
What can we do to treat eczema? Well, the first step is to follow a healthy lifestyle. If we can minimize the amount of toxins in our body and environment, our body’s overactive immune system can relax a little bit more. Eating healthy and varied food choices and having an active lifestyle will encourage our bodies to become more balanced. However, in today’s world, no matter how careful we are, we will undoubtedly encounter allergens, pollutants and chemicals in our life. If you or your child is susceptible to an overzealous immune system, there are ways to re educate the way the body functions. Two ways that can be very effective are homeopathy and acupuncture or acupressure. These methods of healing work on the body’s energetic blue print and re set it. It is a simple matter of teaching the body that it can relax when it encounters low levels of allergens whilst still keeping an active lookout for harmful invaders such as viruses and bacteria. In my naturopathic practice, I gently guide patients towards a healthier lifestyle and use homeopathy and acupressure to balance the body. Children are especially responsive to these gentle treatment techniques and enjoy getting involved in their own healing process by massaging their own acupressure points at home. It is important to seek a qualified practitioner who will be able to guide you through the process. Eczema need not be an itchy nuisance; it can be the key to a healthier immune response. Learning how to manage and correct this imbalance early on can help prevent you or your child from developing other immune related illnesses in the future.
About the Author: Dr Auromira Parks BA (Hons), ND, MRN, BTAA Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and Bowen Therapist Supervisor in Naturopathy, University of Westminster, London, England. http://www.auromira.co.uk Member of http://www.WomenWorking4Women.co.uk