The homeopathic treatment of childhood eczema

Patty Hemingway explains her alternative approaches

Eczema is an unpleasant and restricting condition for any child. It is also distressing for their parents who find there is very little they can do to take away the irritation and pain, except to use a prescription steroid cream. Such creams can seem like a miracle, as they can vastly improve the painful and unsightly eruptions. However, they suppress rather than cure.

If the body cannot express its discomfort on the skin, the problem moves deeper inside, often affecting the lungs. It is not uncommon to find that the child with eczema also has a weak chest or suffers from asthma.

I have noticed that sometimes even after a homeopathic prescription has cleared the skin beautifully, the child’s asthma will worsen. This tells me that although one problem has been dealt with, the original cause of the eczema has not. The skin is an organ of less importance to the body than the lungs, so the body is seeking to protect the lungs by expressing the “dis-ease” on the skin. It is necessary for the homeopath to discover and treat the cause of the problem, in order to clear the skin.

Some babies are born with eczema, others develop it soon after birth. In such cases we are looking at an inherited tendency or predisposition. Perhaps there is a family history of asthma, allergies or skin problems.

Triggers may include a change in diet, vaccination, the use of drugs such as antibiotics, a trauma or emotional upset.

I recently saw a little boy who had been given antibiotics as soon as he was born. He was seriously ill with respiratory problems and needed this treatment to save his life. However, after he recovered, his digestion was disturbed and he developed eczema. This was not too difficult to treat as the cause could be traced and the remedy Nux-Vomica was given to remove the effect of the antibiotics. This is a good remedy for digestive problem as well as a great cleanser after antibiotics. Sulphur is another remedy often used for irritated eczema and has a restorative effect, so it can be given after other drugs to cleanse and restore balance.

I routinely give remedies to clear out the side-effects of vaccination, which can include eczema. This method is described in Tina Head’s book “An Educated Decision: One Approach to the Vaccination problem Using Homeopathy.” The child is given a dose of the vaccination in homeopathic potency. This does not antidote the vaccination but helps the body to cleanse itself of the vaccine additives and helps the immune system to adjust to the shock of multiple vaccinations. It can resolve problems such as eczema that stem from vaccination and it is effective in clearing up the coughs, colds and catarrhal conditions that often develop in children after vaccination.

If a baby has eczema from birth, classical homeopathic prescribing based on the child’s constitution and inherited susceptibility becomes important. Where certain conditions tend to run in families we treat this inherited susceptibility with “miasmatic remedies”. A child with a family history of chest infections or asthma may be given Tuberculinum bovinum, a remedy which will strengthen the immune system and reduce susceptibility. Additional remedies based on the child’s constitution (general health and personality) will also help. How does this work? Once the remedy has restored the body’s natural balance and the susceptibility has been reduced, the body can heal itself, because it is no longer under stress.

Certain foods can also cause stress. Some children experience problems if they eat wheat or dairy, and for some babies formula milk can be a problem. An alternative to cows milk is goats milk formula. In some babies the change from breast to formula can cause digestive upsets and trigger eczema. Constipation with eczema can indicate a problem with diet.

Some children cannot digest certain other foods and develop symptoms of allergy or digestive problems alongside their eczema. It is worth noting that we often crave those foods which have the potential to harm us. It is not uncommon for a child who craves potatoes to need a remedy which will relieve the effect of this food on the skin. The homeopathic remedy Alumina can be helpful where the skin is dry and itchy and the child eats a diet high in refined carbohydrates, and is constipated. By relieving the constipation and increasing the efficiency of the organs of elimination, the skin problem will clear.

Typically, the use of steroids needs to be withdrawn gradually upon beginning homeopathic treatment. There are many excellent non-steroid creams and lotions that can bring relief (see below) to eczema sufferers and that will not interfere with the action of homeopathic remedies. I often advise parents to use these creams to relieve any temporary flare-ups which can occur during homeopathic treatment. These uncomfortable aggravations usually indicate that the remedy is working.

Most importantly, you will need to find out what works for your child. One mother I know did this with great success. She noticed that her daughter’s skin always flared up when she went near the sea. I prescribed Nat Mur 30C (Sea Salt) and one dose at the start of any trip to the seaside worked a treat.

Top ten topical treatments
Adding soothing Bach Flower Rescue Remedy, or Bush Flower Emergency Essence to bath water can relieve irritation and soothe emotional upsets. Bath oils or creams that contain calendula, nettle (urtica) or chickweed (stellaria) are soothing on the skin. A few drops of Lavender oil in the bath can relieve burning skin. Hypercal cream combines hypericum with calendula to help skin heal. For skin that is especially dry try adding oatmeal to the bath. It can be tied in muslin or even an old stocking. Finally, don’t forget that the individual’s own urine will soften and moisturise skin, so encourage your child to wee in the bath!

Patty Hemingway is a member of the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths (MARH) and practises in South West London.

First published 2009


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