Q. Dear Natalie, my six-month-old baby has terrible eczema. The doctor has given me cortisone cream to use externally. I do not want to use such strong chemicals on her skin. Can you recommend any natural alternatives to reduce the itching and redness of eczema?
A. There are many natural alternatives which soothe and treat the condition so that healing can begin. There are some wonderful Indian herbs such as neem, haridra, and patola which you can find in many good natural medicine stores or online. Ayurvedic medicine suggests that these herbs should be mixed into the baby's bath water.
Another excellent alternative symptom reliever is to make a simple poultice with a combination of any or all of the following; chickweed, calendula, redmond clay, red clover and comfrey. You can buy these poultice from most herb shops or you can make it yourself at home using olive oil and beeswax as a base. Apply the poultice on your baby’s skin directly on affected areas three times a day or as many times as needed.
Chickweed cream can be applied directly if you do not have access to a poultice. I highly recommend bathing your baby in an oatmeal bath. This is an excellent soothing method of treatment for eczema. You may either use oatmeal that is ground into a fine powder and sprinkle into the bath water or you can place a large spoonful of oatmeal in a washcloth to clean your baby's body.
Olive oil contains vitamins A and E and provides relief and moisture to areas affected by eczema. Olive oil will prevent your baby’s skin from drying out.
Q. Dear Natalie, following her last bout of vaccinations, my toddler has been suffering from terrible eczema. Is there anything I should be feeding her; either herbs or specific foods?
A. When treating eczema, I usually always begin with prescribing herbs to purify the blood. This allows me to get the full effects of eliminating any potential food allergies from the diet. For this I recommend dandelion root tea. You can place the tea bags in boiling water and let them steep for two to three minutes.
Since your toddler is no longer a baby, she may be old enough to reject the taste of the tea, if this is so, put the same amount in 4 oz. of distilled water and mix with apple juice. Your child’s diet is of course essential to encourage a healthy balance of her immune system. Make sure to feed her essential fatty acids every day. If you are still breastfeeding, I suggest you eat foods rich in fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, herring and a spoonful of flaxseed oil daily. I have seen the best results so far with flaxseed oil. Flaxseed (and its oil) is very rich in essential fatty acids (omega-3, -6 and -9). When taken internally these omega fatty acids work amazingly on skin inflammation and dryness.
For baby eczema patients, I usually introduce flax oil into their diets at around seven months old. You can mix flaxseed oil to your child's food by blending it into cereals, soups and baked goods. Do not cook flaxseed and do not give more that 1 tablespoon daily.
Make sure her diet is packed full of foods that contain Vitamin A and the mineral, zinc. You will find these in green leafy vegetables, carrots, butternut squash, beans, whole grains and fresh fruit. I also suggest finding some good probiotics for children; some dairy free yogurt excellent for their digestive enzymes.
Q. Dear Natalie, as a Homeopathic Doctor, can you suggest any good homeopathic remedies which can help cure eczema in babies.
A. Since Homeopathy is based on the premise that "like treats like," it is important to match the eczema symptoms to the correct remedy. I have selected five very common homeopathic eczema remedies each defined by their own confirmatory symptoms.
The homeopathic remedy Arsenicum helps the kind of eczema that is unbearably itchy that the sufferer scratches the area until it is red and even burning. The person feels physically weak and despite the affected skin being warm, usually feels cold. Our Arsenicum patient usually has many fears and anxieties and is restless. Symptoms are often worse after midnight, when cold or while having a shower or getting wet. Symptoms are relieved in warm rooms.
The homeopathic remedy Graphites treats the kind of eczema that has pronounced itchy red pimples that produce a yellowish pus. Usually the hands, genitalia, scalp and the area behind the ears are most affected. Our Graphites patients tend to have course and cracked skin, especially on the heels. The eczema is worse with heat and at night. Cold compresses relieve and improve the eczema.
The homeopathic remedy Natrum Muriaticum is indicated when the eczema has small blisters that produce a pungent pus. The skin behind the ears, in the bend of the joints and along the hairline are all most commonly affected. Our Natrum Mur patient person craves salt and is very thirsty. This eczema may come after a large emotional upset or where there is pent-up grief. They do not like to be consoled when feeling sad and will try to hide their feelings. Symptoms are worse around warmth and when eating salt. The eczema is relieved during baths and in cool weather.
The homeopathic remedy Sulphur is best prescribed to those whose eczema has eruptions that ooze foul-smelling pus. The intense itching may cause the patient to scratch until the point of burning and bleeding. The areas most commonly affected include the feet, the bend of the elbows, the face, the knees and areas that typically sweat. The personality of our Sulphur patient is intellectual and idealistic and maybe be lazy. The eczema worsens with heat (in a warm bed, while in the bath) and at night. The condition is relieved with cold water.
Lastly, the homeopathic remedy Petroleum is prescribed when the eczema is dry and deeply cracked (you will often see bleeding). The skin will be raw and the patient will experience a cold sensation after the scratching. The symptoms are worse during the winter, at night and from the heat of the bed. The symptoms usually improve during the summer.
This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.
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