Eczema is a condition that makes your skin red and itchy. It's common in children but can occur at any age. Atopic dermatitis is long lasting (chronic) and tends to flare periodically and then subside. It may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever.

Causes--The exact cause of atopic dermatitis (eczema) is unknown. Healthy skin helps retain moisture and protects you from bacteria, irritants and allergens. Eczema is likely related to a mix of factors:
·         Dry, irritable skin, which reduces the skin's ability to be an effective barrier
·         A gene variation that affects the skin's barrier function
·         Immune system dysfunction
·         Bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, on the skin that creates a film that blocks sweat glands
·         Environmental conditions

Symptoms--Eczema signs and symptoms vary widely from person to person and include:
·         Itching, which may be severe, especially at night
·         Red to brownish-gray patches, especially on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, inside the bend of the elbows and knees, and, in infants, the face and scalp
·         Small, raised bumps, which may leak fluid and crust over when scratched
·         Thickened, cracked, dry, scaly skin

·         Raw, sensitive, swollen skin from scratching

Risk factors--Factors that put people at increased risk of developing the condition include:
·         A personal or family history of eczema, allergies, hay fever or asthma
·         Being a health care worker, which is linked to hand dermatitis
Risk factors for children include:
·         Living in urban areas
·         Being African-American
·         Having parents with a high level of education
·         Attending child care
·         Having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Complications--Complications of atopic dermatitis (eczema) include:
Asthma and hayfever. Eczema sometimes precedes these conditions.
Chronic itchy, scaly skin. A skin condition called neurodermatitis (lichen simplex chronicus) starts with a patch of itchy skin. You scratch the area, which makes it even itchier. Eventually, you may scratch simply out of habit. This condition can cause the affected skin to become discolored, thick and leathery.
Skin infections. Repeated scratching that breaks the skin can cause open sores and cracks. These increase your risk of infection from bacteria and viruses, including the herpes simplex virus
Eye problems. Signs and symptoms of eye complications include severe itching around the eyelids, eye watering, inflammation of the eyelid (blepharitis) and inflammation of the eyelid (conjunctivitis).
Irritant hand dermatitis. This especially affects people whose work requires that their hands are often wet and exposed to harsh soaps, detergents and disinfectants.
Allergic contact dermatitis. This condition is common in patients with atopic dermatitis. Many substances can cause an allergic skin reaction, including corticosteroids, drugs often used to treat people with atopic dermatitis.
Sleep problems. The itch-scratch cycle can cause you to awaken repeatedly and decrease the quality of your sleep.
Behavioral problems. Studies show a link between atopic dermatitis and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, especially if a child is also losing sleep

Homoeopathic remedies are very effective for curing eczema, but it requires care selection and observation. Some of the important remedies are given below.

ANAGALLIS ARVENSIS 3x-Anagallis Arvensis is effective for   Eczema of fingers and palm.Palms especially affected.  The symptoms are  appearance of vesicles in groups with itching and a tingling sensation in it.

GRAPHITES  30—Graphites one of the excellent remedies for weeping type of eczema. This weeping eczema occurs on  palms and hands,  between toes and fingers , scalp, bends of joints,  behind ears and around the anus and genitals.Graphites is prescribed when  weeping eczema with a transparent  sticky fluid comes out on scratching coming out from the eruption of eruptions. Cracks are seen in the skin.It is also effective for eczema of eyelids where the eyelids appear red and there are crusty eruptions with glutinous discharges. It is also prescribed for moist scabby eruptions on the scalp.  Eczema of the eyelids, face, genitals, and anus. Moist scabby eruptions on the scalp, face, bends of joints, between fingers and behind ears.Constipation is usually accompanied with this eruptions.

HEPAR SULPHURIS 30—Hepar sulph. is another effective medicine for moist  eczema with itching in the folds of skin. After scratching , pimples form on the skin. Eczema is worse during cold dry winds and better in damp rainy weather and warmth.It is also effective for eczema of  genitals and scrotum.

MEZEREUM  200- Eczema on the hairy parts, with intolerable itching. Head covered with thick, leathery crusts with thick pus underneath. Hair becomes glued together. Bad smell from crusts and pus

SUPHUR 200—Sulphur is an important remedy for eczema of dry, rough skin with much itching. Sulphur is effective for eczema of the folds of skin and hairy parts.  Pruritis, worse washing. Bad odor from the body. Eczema caused by the use of hair dyes. The patient  complain of excessive itching which usually gets worse at night, from the heat of the bed. Scratching brings relief from itching, but a burning sensation follows scratching. The skin of Sulphur patient  is very unhealthy and always looks dirty. Sulphur patients dislike  bathing . There  is excessive heat in palms and soles. There’s an unusual craving for sweets in excess.

NATRUM MURIATICUM 200-Natrum Muriaticum is prescribed when eczema  is present at the edges of hairy scalp or in bends of joints like elbow or knee joint. The affected area appears red and inflamed. Eczema getting worse due to eating too much salt.   Natrum Muriaticum is also very effective for treatment of  Eczema which gets aggravated at the seashore. The patient cannot bear the heat of sun and craves for excess  salt in diet.

LYCOPODIUM CLAVATUM 200-Lycopodium clavatum is an effective remedy foe eczema of those patients who have gastric or urinary troubles. There is violent itching  and bleeding is present in eczematous eruptions. The itching is mainly worse from around 4pm to 8pm. Sulphur is effective where deep fissures with hardened skin are present in longstanding cases of Eczema. An unusual craving for warm drinks and sweets are present in Lycopodium clavatum.

SEPIA OFFICINALIS 200- Sepia Officinalis is an effective  remedy for eczema in circular sopts in isolated places. Sepia is useful  for dry Eczema in bends of joints of elbow and knees. There   is a violent itching in eruptions, but there is no relief from scratching. The itching gets worse from cold air exposure. The skin is dry with cracks in it.  Sepia Officinalis is also effective   for women of menopausal age suffering from Eczema.

RHUS TOXICODENDRON 200-Rhus Toxicodendron is an effective remedy for eczema of blister like eruptions with a lot of itching. When the blister disappears the skin becomes red in colour. The patient is restless.   .The secretion is offensive . Burning eczematous eruptions in winter and damp weather .

KALI SULPHURICUM 30-Kalium Sulphuricum is prescribed when there are  are itching and burning on the affected part with excessive peeling of epithelium occurs . After the epithelium peel,a moist, yellow-coloured base remains on the skin.

MEZEREUM 30-Mezereum is prescribed when eczema is present on the hairy parts with intolerable itching with thick scabs.  Head covered with thick , leathery crusts with pus underneath. Hair becomes  glued together, and bad smell from crusts and pus.  Chilliness always accompanies itching.

VINCA MINOR 30-  Vinca Minor is effective  for treating  Eczema of scalp where itching is accompanied by an irresistible desire to scratch. After scratching, moisture exudes from the scalp, resulting in matting up of the hair.

PETROLEUM 200-Petroleum is an effective  remedy when eruptions appear on palms and feet with excessive and offensive perspiration. Itching and burning are always felt. Petroleum  has yellowish green thick crusts on the face and neck. On scratching a liquid comes out which often bleeding. Petroleum is effective for eczema disappears in summer and reappearing in winter. Eczema with fissure on hands and behind ears. The discharge is thin and watery.

STREPTOCOCCINUM 1000- Streptococcinum is affective for reappearance of eczema after cure. Scratching gives pleasure.

STAPHYSAGRIA  30-Staphysagria is prescribed for eczema when scratching location of itching. Staphysagria is effective of head, ears, face and body. Thick dry scales which itch violently.

For more details refer my book--Diseases of skin with homoeopathic management

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