Eczema is a term for a group of afflictions that cause the skin to become inflamed, the most common type being atopic dermatitis. In Ayurveda, eczema is termed as “Vicharchika”. This disease is described as a dark-coloured, raised rash, with profuse discharge, and accompanied by itching. It is believed to be mostly caused by disturbed “Vata” and “Kapha” doshas. The skin, stomach and blood tissue are believed to be closely associated with this disease.
Eczema of recent origin usually responds well to standard treatment like antihistaminics and steroids. Chronic eczema is usually of much longer duration or is recurrent, and in most cases, the offending cause is not known. Standard modern medicine may not be very helpful here. It is in such patients that Ayurvedic herbal treatment may be very useful and effective. One major advantage of Ayurvedic herbal medicines in such an affliction is that medicines may be taken for long periods without any serious side-effects.
For the sake of treatment, many Ayurvedic physicians divide this affliction into wet and dry types, depending upon the presentation of the patient. A detailed history for the symptoms, and a detailed study of the constitutional framework of the patient is essential in deciding the ideal combination of medicines for each patient, so as to get maximum results. Treatment for the impurities caused in the “Rakta” Dhatu, and treatment for stress, are two important principles of treatment which contribute significantly to the success of treatment. Known offending or aggravating causes should be avoided. Excessive salty and sour food products should be avoided.
For treatment of the “Rakta” impurities in chronic eczema, blood letting, by syringe or leech, is considered most useful and effective. An area of skin or a vein near the affected part is chosen for this purpose. Even patients with very chronic eczema respond well to this therapy. Blood letting is effective in all types and stages of eczema, however, sometimes it is preferable to first treat the wet patches with medicines and local applications to relieve the oozing and itching. Some physicians advocate rubbing of dry patches with a soft, silk cloth.
Induced vomiting and induced purgation are beneficial, where symptoms are severe and very chronic, however, these procedures should be carried out by qualified and experienced physicians. Selection of patients is important, and these are best done as inpatient procedures (after admitting patients to a hospital).
Local application medications include Shatadhout Ghruta, Dashang lep, Saariva (Hemidesmus indicus), Chandan (Santalum album), Honey-Ghee mixture and Karanj- Kapur (Pongamia pinnata – Cinnamum camphora) oil. Oral medications include Arogya-vardhini, Triphala Guggul, Manjishthadi qadha, Kamdudha, Gandhak Rasayan and Mahatikta Ghruta. Several single herbs like Saariva ( Hemidesmus indicus), Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia), Neem (Azadirachta indica), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) , Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi) and herbal combinations are available which are very effective, and can be given long-term. The overall aim is to normalize the skin and blood tissue, and also optimize the immune system of the body.