Dermatitis literally means the inflammation of the skin and it can be caused by several factors like infection or allergy. Several kinds of dermatitis are more popularly known as eczema. Other types include dysfunctions of the sebaceous gland (known as seborrheic dermatitis), skin inflammation associated with an irritant or allergy (contact dermatitis) and allergy caused dermatitis (atopic dermatitis).
Dermatitis Treatment Using Traditional Chinese Medicine
For skin conditions such as dermatitis, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) focuses its treatment in correcting imbalances in the organ systems of the body apart from the skin. Usually for acupuncturists and other TCM practitioners, the mode of treatment for dermatitis usually involves dietary changes, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
The acupuncturist customizes the therapy of his patient which means that not two people both suffering from dermatitis will necessarily be prescribed the same exercise program, take the same herbal remedy or be needled in the same acupoints.
A study done in the UK has revealed that Chinese herbal medicine is quite effective for both children and adults who developed atopic dermatitis. Some of the subjects in the study were served with a daily combination of ten herbs that had been boiled and mixed in water and some were given a placebo. The control group was given the same herbal formula which is contrary to the philosophy of TCM. Still, after a couple of months the group treated with herbal remedies manifested diminished scaling, redness and other symptoms compared to the subjects treated with placebo.
Some of the herbal remedies given to dermatitis patients are in tea form. The tea is served by boiling and simmering dried herbs for about 1.5 hours. The tea formula can be composed of Chinese herbs such as:
Tribulus terrestris – Ci ji li
Rehmannia glutinosa – Di huang
Paeonia lactiflora – Red peony
Lophatherum gracile – Dan zhu ye
Ledebouriella seseloides – Fang feng
Glycyrrhiza glabra – Licorice
Dictamnus dasycarpus – Bai xian pi
Since acupuncture and TCM treatment for each patient is unique, it is important to talk to a qualified acupuncture or TCM practitioner to get a correct diagnosis and a specific prescription for your illness.
Dermatitis Treatment Using Nutritional Therapy
According to nutritional therapy, certain foods can trigger dermatitis. Children are the most vulnerable in getting dermatitis symptoms from specific foods. Identifying and removing these food triggers from one’s diet can enable the body to tolerate better other triggers like animal dander, dust mites or stress. The usually food triggers are wheat, sea foods, eggs and dairy products.
Sometimes patients may not necessarily be allergic to the foods whose avoidance improves skin condition. In that case, acupuncturists may refer to these cases as food sensitivities or food intolerance rather than being called food allergies.
One very helpful type of food is one rich with essential fatty acids that help provide healthy skin. An Italian study observed 2 to 4 year old children with atopic eczema who were given daily amounts of evening primrose oil that is high in essential fatty acids. After a month or so, the dermatitis symptoms from the children had substantially decreased and the children’s condition dramatically improved. The benefits derived from the study lasted 20 weeks bolstering the claim of the long lasting efficacy Chinese herbal medicine can provide in treating dermatitis and with no side effects to boot. Since then other studies were performed that validated the Italian study.
Zinc and vitamin A and E supplementation can be also ideal in cases of atopic dermatitis. You can talk to a nutritional practitioner to give you an elimination diet program lasting two to three weeks to help identify the foods that cause you allergy and irritation. You can cut the following foods in your diet elimination program:
All fruits including tomatoes
Keep a journal to note the improvements or the worsening of your skin condition. If your skin gets better after two or three weeks your nutritional practitioner can recommend a food challenge. A food challenge is a kind of test where the foods are reintroduced one at time, beginning with those you used to eat most frequently. If after a day or two no symptoms arise, you can retain the food in your diet. However, if the inflammation and redness come back, you can remove it from your diet permanently. Keep on reintroducing other foods every two or three days and record the results in your journal.
Herbal Medicine for Dermatitis
Practitioners of herbal medicine believe that certain parts of the body (like the nervous system or liver) require tuning and strengthening to help prevent the development of dermatitis. Various kinds of herbs can help clean the body and wash away toxins. One herbal tonic especially good for the liver is Burdock; this herbal remedy helps filter out toxins from the blood and make the skin more healthy. Red clover is also a noted blood cleanser.
There are herbs that help relieve inflamed, painful and itchy skin. An herbal formula made from ginkgo, marigold flowers and licorice root, for example, is a potent anti-inflammatory skin remedy when applied topically.
For dermatitis that affects a large area of the body, you can apply a cream form of chamomile extract to the affected areas.
Acupuncture for dermatitis – Acupuncture can rectify the imbalances of vital energy (qi or chi) particularly in the liver, large intestine and lung system meridians. These systems are the ones usually deficient or have too much vital energy that can cause skin inflammation.
Fasting/detoxification of the colon for the treatment of dermatitis – The skin manifests impurities or upsets inside the body which thus require detoxification.
Homeopathy for dermatitis – Typical prescriptions involve sulphur, rhus toxicodendron and graphites.
Hypnotherapy – It has been shown that hypnotic trances can provide mind suggestions to the subconscious in relieving stress as well as skin inflammation.
Meditation – Daily meditation can help relieve stress and foster deep breathing which is essential to an effective dermatitis treatment program.
Acupuncture Health Center
1303 Astor St #101
Bellingham, WA 98225