It is a superficial inflammation of the skin primarily affecting the outer skin layer (epidermis) that causes itching and a red rash often accompanied by blisters that weep and then crust. This may be followed by scaling, thickening, or discoloration of the area.

Eczema is a non‑contagious skin rash with a number of possible causes such as a change in the weather, temperature, the intensity of light, foods, clothing fabric, chemicals, and cosmetics, etc.  There is a familial likelihood of developing the disease, and some people are apparently born with sensitized skin.  Any material which touches the skin, even a steering wheel, could cause eczema.  Study your environment to see what you frequently touch.  Then avoid those things that cause eczema. The appearance of skin lesions on the scalp may differ greatly from eczema on the face or groin. 

Eczema may occur from the age of infancy to old age.  Three types of eczema deserve special mention—allergic dermatitis, infantile eczema, and sensitivity eczema such as dishpan hands.

Infantile Eczema

Infantile eczema is a manifestation of allergy, either contact or internal.  Symptoms include redness of the skin with itching, cracking with weeping, oozing, crusting, scaling, thickening, dryness, and sometimes intense itching.  Small blister‑like bumps may occur at the edges or in the beginning stages.  Babies may develop a red, itching rash, which may involve only the cheeks, or it may spread to the entire body.  This disorder begins about the age of two months, and usually lasts until the child is about two years of age. These children are more likely to develop asthma or hay fever in the future.

Prevention of Infantile Eczema

  1. Avoidance of salt or sugar in the diet of infants is mandatory (This may help adults as well.).
  2. Breastfeeding is recommended.Infantile eczema is much more likely to occur in non‑breast fed babies, and in families having a history of allergy.
  3. Milk, eggs, chocolate, soybeans, citrus, wheat, seafood, pork, green beans, chicken, tartrazine, artificial flavorings and colorings, peanuts, benzoate, and preservatives in the diet, or in the mother’s diet of breast-fed infants have been found to cause the development of eczema. Calcium supplementation may, in some patients, worsen eczema (Pediatrics News, 25:18, March 1993). It may also be that mothers taking calcium supplements during pregnancy may make their newborns at risk of getting infantile eczema.
  4. Do not use soaps, bubble bath, or bath oil for infants, bearing in mind that nothing is on the baby’s skin that can not be removed by plain water.

Acrodermatitis Enteropathica

This rare kind of eczema‑like disorder has symptoms of dermatitis, diarrhea, and loss of hair.  The symptoms do not appear in breast-fed babies, but generally within the first four to ten weeks of life. Within a week or so after the introduction of cow’s milk, the disease begins. 

It has been discovered that impaired zinc absorption is probably the underlying problem in acrodermatitis enteropathica.  Aspirin, calcium supplements, soy milk protein, and cow’s milk interfere with the absorption of zinc, and should be avoided.  The mother should make a Herculean effort to re‑establish breastfeeding, even if it has been several weeks since the baby was weaned.  Herbs to encourage breastfeeding are blessed thistle, milk thistle, and red raspberry leaf.  They may be used singly or mixed.  Use one heaping teaspoon of each of the herbs to one cup of boiling water.  These should be used as teas rather than as capsules or tablets.  Take three to four cups per day for six weeks or more.  Exercise and sweating promote milk production.

A daily dose of zinc of around 15 milligrams can be given to infants.  The zinc supplements dramatically reverse the eczema symptoms.  A behavioral change is usually the first sign of improvement.  The infant is less irritable, less anxious to be held, and a better sleeper within one or two days.  The skin clears, the appetite returns, and diarrhea stops within a few days.  The dosage can be reduced to 5‑10 milligrams daily for about one month as soon as symptoms begin to improve.  Perhaps by that time the infant can get along without the zinc and it should be stopped.  You may be able to get zinc liquid from a drug store, but, if not, you can make up your own liquid using a 50 milligram tablet or capsule dissolved in one tablespoon of warm water.  Give the baby one teaspoon of the liquid each day, which will contain 15 milligrams per teaspoon.

The mother should use a diet high in legumes and whole grain products which are high in zinc.  Many types of greens have large quantities of zinc.  Dandelion tea and dandelion greens added to other greens, or to salads, can be very helpful in the mother’s diet.  Popcorn and pumpkin seeds are high in zinc.

Some Natural treatments and tips for All Types of Eczema (and Dermatitis)

  • Begin any treatment routine with an “Detoxification Diet.” Even breast-fed babies may become sensitive to the foods eaten by the mother.  It may be difficult to identify the particular food which is responsible for the eczema, but a very careful “Detoxification Diet” must be performed on the mother, watching for signs of clearing in the infant.  The top ten allergy producing foods are as follows: milk (responsible for 60% of food allergies), the chocolate/caffeine group (cocoa products, coffee, tea, and colas), citrus fruits, tomatoes, cinnamon, and artificial food colorings.
  • Reducing the salt or sugar intake can be of great help to individuals with allergic dermatitis or atopic dermatitis. Some improvement in itching usually occurs after three to four days of salt restriction, but the major improvement occurs after about three or four weeks ( 344:1516, 11-26-94).
  • Use a vegan diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, and a few nuts. Use no more than three simple dishes at a meal and follow the two meal a day plan.
  • Many drugs cause eczema, and even if they are not the cause, they may prolong or worsen eczema. Try to test all medications, nutrient supplements, and herbal remedies to see if any are involved in the eczema.
  • Common inhalant allergens such as house dust, pollens, animal dander, smoke fumes, etc., can all cause a problem with eczema. Carefully avoid exposure to grasses, pollens, and plant secretions in the garden, yard, and woods. Remove decaying leaves or rubbish from your premises.
  • Avoid the use of chlorinated water for bathing, drinking, or cooking. Use bottled water, distilled water, purified water, or slurry water which is made by adding a tablespoon of powdered activated charcoal to a gallon of water.  Shake or stir to mix and allow it to settle and use the water on top of the sediment.
  • The application of oils such as evening primrose oil, olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and lime water shaken together, may be used as lubricants or as healing agents. Plain castor oil has been used on eczematoid rashes (scaling, cracking, and reddening of skin) with good success by some patients.  Apply two or three times a day in covered areas, but after every hand washing for eczema on hands.  Evening primrose oil applied to the inflamed skin after the soothing baths can be very effective.  It may also be taken internally, as it is a rich source of gamma‑linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid, and is a precursor of certain prostaglandins. 
  • Strict regularity in mealtimes, bedtimes, elimination, and a daily bath will pay big dividends in the treatment of eczema.
  • Costume jewelry containing nickel sulfate is prominent in the cause of allergies.
  • Keep the skin temperature warm at all times, as chilled skin does not heal readily. The extremities must be scrupulously warm at all times, both winter and summer, to promote the best of health.  This is more important than it would seem to be.  The metabolism and the skin’s healing mechanisms are impaired by chilling.
  • If all else fails to control itching, a brief hot bath lasting two to four minutes will almost always control itching for several hours.
  • Sunlight will benefit some people with eczema, but in some it causes the condition to get worse.
  • Maintain excellent bowel habits by the use of much fiber and strict adherence to all dietary principles.
  • Vigorous exercise is important. For a healthy young person, the equivalent of walking three miles daily is minimal.

For more information contact: 

Silvia Rojas Reyes, 
N.D., M.M.P., Health & Life Coach
 (Lifestyle Medicine, Harvard)

Phone: 44- 756 24 25 749


“Healthy Lifestyle Matters in Prevention of Diseases”  SRR

Amazing Natural Medicine