Try these calming complementary therapies to soothe troubled skin
Eczema is one of the most common skin conditions in the UK, affecting a whopping 20 percent of children and 10 percent of adults. According to National Eczema Society, diagnosed cases of eczema have trebled in the last 30 years and those figures look set to rise. So what can we do to heal this pesky skin problem? While conventional remedies can treat the symptoms, complementary therapies really come in to their own with chronic diseases like eczema, as they work holistically to treat it on all levels. Here are some of our favourite natural treatments.
This gentle therapy uses extracts of essential oils from fruits, herbs and plants to heal troubled skin. An aromatherapist might prescribe a calming blend such as chamomile, sage, lavender and geranium blended in a carrier oil to massage on to affected areas. Essential oils can also be used to treat some of the underlying issues at play during eczema flare-ups by combating anxiety and treating hormone imbalances.
Traditional chinese medicine
Chinese medicine views any skin disorder as the result of an imbalance within the body – with eczema this is associated with poor functioning of the lungs, stomach, heart and the blood. If the skin is weeping and hot, the cause is likely to be damp heat – dryness and redness indicate heat in the blood and itchiness is usually attributed to invasive wind. A TCM practitioner will use various diagnostic tools to pinpoint the issues, and may prescribe a course of acupuncture or herbs such as wormwood, peony root, Chinese gentian and dittany bark.
Because eczema can often be triggered by stress, hypnosis can help by addressing the negative emotions that arise, explains Monica Black of Hampstead Hypnotherapy (hampsteadhynotherapy.com). “It allows the sufferer to take control of any itching, discomfort and pain and everything else that goes with these conditions, such as stress, self confidence, low self-esteem, anxiety and any fears or phobias that arise as a ‘by-product’ of the illness.”
Homeopathy is a form of vibrational medicine that works on the principle of ‘like cures like’. It uses a highly diluted form of medicine to treat disease on an individual basis and every prescription will be uniquely tailored to your needs. However, some of the remedies often used are sulphur when the skin is burning, red, hot and itchy; graphites when the skin appears infected; and petroleum when there are deep cracks.
This ancient tradition from India uses herbs, plants and medicinal foods to gently heal the body and can work wonders with eczema. Ayurvedic practitioner Sebastian Pole of Pukka Herbs (pukkaherbs.com) recommends turmeric and gotu kola to reduce inflammation and encourage natural wound healing, along with shatavari and aloe vera to reduce the irritation caused by hot and dry skin conditions. “Neem and chlorella support liver health, which is important to reduce inflammation,” says Sebastian. “If stress triggers irritable skin conditions, it’s also worth considering the value of calming herbs such as ashwagandha.”
There are many herbs that help eczema although it may take time to find the best one for each individual person. Making a remedy specifically for them is one of the basic principles of herbal medicine, explains medical herbalist Dee Atkinson of Napiers (napiers.net). She likes to use a cream made out of borage oil, which is rich in essential fatty acids, to calm and soothe irritated skin. “Chickweed cream is also a great help for simply cooling and reducing the itch,” says Dee. “Other herbs that are good for eczema include plantain. I use it to cool and reduce inflammation and also to help heal broken and weeping skin. I also use heartsease, or wild pansy as it’s also known, for its antiinflammatory properties, and chamomile, which is a great tonic as it calms allergic reactions and soothes inflammation.”
Exclusive prizes from our Heaven Skincare, Senspa, Green People and more...