Opinion

SPOTLIGHT ON NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE: Eczema and naturopathic medicine

By Dr. Andrea Hornyak, Spotlight on Naturopathic Medicine

Eczema does not discriminate between gender or age. 
FILE PHOTO

Eczema does not discriminate between gender or age. FILE PHOTO

Eczema is a common chronic inflammatory skin condition that is usually very itchy. It frequently occurs in babies on their cheeks, arms, legs or diaper area, where as adults often develop eczema on their eyelids, neck, elbows, and knees. However, eczema can occur anywhere on the body.

Typically children will develop eczema, but it can occur at any age. There is also a family history of sensitivity to allergens, such as asthma, seasonal allergies or eczema.

Dry eczema is typically red and inflamed with scaling or white flakes of skin. Wet eczema appears as small blisters that break open creating swelling and oozing of liquid, which further intensifies the itch until the skin crusts over.

The cycle of itching and scratching is repeated and, over time, leads to bleeding, scaling and the formation of thick patches of skin. Other symptoms include sleeplessness due to the intensity of the itch of eczema as well as self-esteem issues, depending on the location of the irritated skin.

If the underlying causes are left untreated, the locations of eczema can spread or the skin may become infected.

Eczema is made worse by consuming food sensitivities (most commonly dairy and wheat), hot weather, warm bathing, and emotional stressors.

Conventional medical treatments are often topical corticosteroids, which are only able to suppress the itch, not prevent it from occurring once treatment is stopped. To effectively heal eczema, naturopathic medicine seeks to identify and treat the underlying cause of the illness.

I have been successfully treating eczema for over 10 years. Naturopathic doctors utilize a wide range of therapies that are aimed at targeting the various causes of eczema. Depending on the individual case, I may use a combination of modalities such as clinical nutrition to identify food sensitivities, botanical medicine such as anti-inflammatory herbs, topical ointments to heal the skin, nutritional supplementation to replace mineral deficiencies, lifestyle counseling to help decrease stress, traditional Chinese medicine such as acupuncture and homeopathy to detoxify the body.

Dr. Hornyak has been in private practice as a licensed doctor of naturopathic medicine since 2006. For more information, phone the Norwich Medical Centre or visit www.vitalforcenaturopathic.ca.