Do you often notice an itchy skin rash? Are you suffering from dandruff? Is your skin breaking out every time you use a new skincare product? You might be facing a chronic skin condition called eczema.
Dry, itchy skin with sudden flare-ups are common in eczema. It is caused by a combined response to a mutated gene and external trigger factors. Referred to as ‘Vicharchika’ in Ayurveda, eczema is best treated with natural Ayurvedic treatments that are devoid of harmful side effects.
Read on to know all about the 7 types of eczema, its causes and the best available treatments for a long lasting cure.
What Is Eczema?
Eczema  is a chronic, non-infectious skin condition characterised by inflamed patches of dry, itchy skin. A clear fluid discharge from these swollen patches may be noticed in more severe conditions.
Eczema damages the epidermal barrier leading to excessive transepidermal water loss. This loss of essential moisture from the skin’s surface causes the skin to crack. As there is a break in the epidermal layer, people with this condition often face fungal and bacterial skin infections.
Mostly common in children and adolescents, eczema can affect various parts of the body depending on the trigger factors.
Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix shares, “Ayurveda cures skin troubles intrepidly. The cavalcade of effective ayurvedic treatments including panchakarma therapies work to cure chronic and complicated skin troubles from its root cause.”
What Does Eczema Look Like?
Eczema can be easily diagnosed through visual identification from the following symptoms:
1. Reddish or dark brown patches of dry, cracked skin.
2. Scaly, hardened, severely itchy plaques on skin.
3. Blisters that easily rupture and leak fluid.
4. Possibility of scarring or hyperpigmentation after recovery.
What Causes Eczema?
Eczema for most people is not a constant skin condition. People suffering from eczema experience sudden flare-ups or inflammations, which can be triggered by certain internal or external causes.
A. Internal Factors That Can Cause Eczema
1. Weakened epidermal layer due to the lack of filaggrin (protein used to make the uppermost corneal layer of skin) owing to a genetic skin disorder.
2. Hyper-active immune system.
3. Hormonal imbalance, especially lower levels of estrogen, before the onset of the menstrual cycle, first stage of pregnancy or during menopause.
B. External Factors That Can Cause Eczema
1. Minerals and metals in hard water.
2. Harsh surfactants in skin cleansing products, detergents, laundry liquids.
3. Fragrances, colours and other chemicals in cosmetics and skincare products.
4. Formaldehyde, a skin irritant commonly present in disinfectants.
5. Tobacco smoke.
6. Fabrics  that cause more friction, such as wool, synthetic, polyester.
7. Certain topical medicines.
8. Dry weather, which can lead to skin dryness.
According to Ayurveda, Vicharchika (eczema) results from the vitiation of the tridoshas and the Rakta (blood tissue) and Rasa (plasma) dhatus. An imbalance in pitta dosha causes inflammation, a vitiated vata dosha causes dryness and itchiness and an aggravated kapha dosha results in the imbalance of fat and fluids in the skin.
What Are The Types Of Eczema?
Eczema is an umbrella term which includes 7 types of skin conditions that lead to itchy, dry, cracked skin with occasional inflammation and redness.
1. Atopic Dermatitis
The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, which affects children and adults alike. Being a chronic condition, one may continue to have this condition for years. Exposure to external irritants can suddenly trigger an immune response causing inflammation, redness and extremely itchy, dry skin.
Causes Of Atopic Dermatitis
- Mutated gene, which causes low production of filaggrin leading to epidermal layer impairment. This allows infections and irritants to easily penetrate the skin barrier.
- Skin irritants that can trigger atopic dermatitis are formaldehyde, chemicals in skincare products, pollen and certain fabrics.
Parts Of The Body Affected By Atopic Dermatitis
Eczema on the face (especially for children) is usually caused by atopic dermatitis. Other parts include folds of the arms and legs, back and neck.
2. Contact Dermatitis
Contact dermatitis occurs when skin cells are damaged through direct contact with skin irritants. It is less likely to be a chronic disorder if treated on time or if exposure to the irritant is discontinued. Symptoms include itchy, dry, damaged skin that is prone to inflammation and redness.
Causes Of Contact Dermatitis
Direct contact with skin irritants such as chemicals, harsh surfactants in soaps and shampoos, cleansing agents, paints, metals, jewellery etc.
Parts Of The Body Affected By Contact Dermatitis
Can affect any part of the body that is exposed to the irritant.
3. Seborrheic Dermatitis
This is a chronic skin condition that causes dry patches of itchy, red skin and scaly white or yellow flakes. It is especially seen in areas that have more number of sebaceous glands. Seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp is also referred to as dandruff.
Causes Of Seborrheic Dermatitis
- An immune response triggered by the proliferation of Malassezia yeast on your skin, leading to inflammation and dry, flaky skin.
- Certain types of medication such as lithium.
- Hormonal imbalances
- Weather changes
- Exposure to certain cleansing products
Parts Of The Body Affected By Seborrheic Dermatitis
Body parts that are usually affected by seborrheic dermatitis are the scalp, eyebrows, eyelids, T-zone of the face and chest.
4. Stasis Dermatitis
This occurs when deoxygenated blood from your legs is unable to reach the heart owing to the failure of valves in the veins of your legs. This leads to gathering of fluid in the lower half of your legs. This condition is known as venous insufficiency and is the main cause for stasis dermatitis.
Brown spotted skin is one of the early symptoms which occur when capillaries rupture under excess pressure. Other symptoms include, swelling around the ankles, itchy, dry and hardened skin. Elderly people above the age of 50 or people with certain medical conditions are likely to develop this type of eczema.
Causes Of Stasis Dermatitis
- Venous insufficiency
- High blood pressure
- Hypertension in the veins leading to the formation of varices.
- Medical conditions such as kidney failure.
Parts Of The Body Affected By Stasis Dermatitis
This eczema usually affects the lower legs.
Areas affected by neurodermatitis tend to be extremely itchy. The constant urge to scratch, at times subconsciously, further irritates the affected skin and triggers nerve endings in that area. Neurodermatitis causes raised, dry, leathery patches of skin that are confined to a small area.
Causes Of Neurodermatitis
- Insect bite
- Nerve damage
- Contact dermatitis / Atopic dermatitis
- Friction from certain fabrics
Parts Of The Body Affected By Neurodermatitis
Neurodermatitis is a type of eczema that is not widespread. Parts that are often affected are the wrist, groin area, forearm and back of the neck.
6. Dyshidrotic Eczema
Dyshidrotic eczema causes the development of tiny, bubble-like, reddened blisters that are extremely itchy. Since this usually affects the skin on your hand and fingers, it is generally referred to as hand eczema or finger eczema. Though the exact cause is unknown, researchers have found that a genetic trend may influence this skin condition. Hand eczema is chronic in nature, resulting in sudden flare-ups when exposed to a trigger factor.
Causes Of Dyshidrotic Eczema
- Over-exposure to water
- Metals such as nickel
- Allergic reactions
- Weather changes
Parts Of The Body Affected By Dyshidrotic Eczema
Hand eczema or finger eczema usually affects parts of the hand, fingers and the feet.
7. Nummular Eczema
Nummular eczema causes oval or circular, itchy patches of skin that tend to bleed fluid. It is rarely chronic and can be completely recovered from.
Causes Of Nummular Eczema
- External injury/ damage to the skin.
- Triggered by preexisting forms of eczema.
- Exposure to skin irritants.
Parts Of The Body Affected By Nummular Eczema
Commonly affected parts include arms and legs. May affect other parts of the body as well.
What Are The Symptoms Of Eczema?
1. Impaired skin barrier leading to extreme dryness.
2. Itchy, erythematous lesions.
3. Red, brown or grayish scaly patches on the skin.
4. Peeling or flaking of the skin.
5. Sudden inflammations or flare ups.
6. Blisters that may bleed or weep fluid.
7. Skin prone to infections.
8. The plaques may harden eventually and lead to the formation of eczema scars.
Unlike popular belief, eczema is not contagious. It is usually hereditary and cannot be transferred to another person through contact.
What Parts Of The Body Does Eczema Affect?
Eczema can affect any part of the body. Children often experience eczema on their faces and hands. Adults with eczema may notice the symptoms in other parts of the body such as the back, chest, legs, arms, neck, groin area, folds of the arms and knees and scalp.
Specific types of eczema such as hand eczema or finger eczema as the name suggests, is often limited to the hands, fingers and legs. Dandruff caused by seborrheic dermatitis is mostly experienced on the scalp. Stasis dermatitis affects the lower legs and contact dermatitis occurs only in parts that are exposed to the skin irritants.
How Can Eczema Be Treated?
A. Natural Methods To Cure Eczema
1. Aloe Vera Gel
This is one of the simplest and most effective natural treatments of eczema. Directly extracted gel from the aloe vera plant can be applied to the affected areas for immediate relief. Its intense hydrating ability moisturizes dry skin and cooling nature soothes skin affected by inflammation, erythema and itchiness.
Aloe vera may also assist in repairing the skin barrier while its antibacterial properties help prevent chances of infection.
2. Cold Compress
A cold compress can provide relief from many eczema symptoms such as inflammation, itch and redness. Frequent cold compresses may also keep infection at bay.
3. Oatmeal Bath
Colloidal oatmeal baths are often recommended for their skin healing properties. Regular application of oatmeal paste on the affected areas or adding it to your bath can improve skin affected by eczema. Oatmeal can gently exfoliate dry skin and remove dead cell layers, helping in the skin renewal process.
4. Coconut Oil and Sunflower Seed Oil
Both coconut oil and sunflower seed oil  are excellent moisturizers for dry, damaged eczema-affected skin. While coconut oil exhibits amazing antibacterial properties, keeping infection away, sunflower oil helps build the damaged epidermal layer. Regular application of these oils can also benefit eczema symptoms such as itchiness, inflammation and hyperpigmentation.
People suffering from long standing conditions of eczema can benefit from practicing yoga regularly. According to Ayurveda, asanas such as Bhujangasana, Vakrasana, Trikonasana, Surya Namaskar, Uttanasana can improve blood circulation and lower stress levels in your body. A drop in stress levels can prevent stress-related inflammation which is common in eczema.
B. Ayurvedic Treatments For Eczema
Ayurvedic treatments for ‘Vicharchika’ or eczema have a holistic approach. While topical medication deals with the symptoms superficially, a complete purgation of the body systems or ‘Shodhana’ is advised to bring back the body’s equilibrium.
1. Essential Ayurvedic Oils
A. Nalpamaradi Oil
This  is a powerful herbal medication administered to cure eczema on hands, face and other body parts. It is formed from the amalgamation of ancient Ayurvedic herbs such as Vetiver, Manjistha, Triphala, Pipal, Vat, Sesame and others. Regular application of this oil is known to cure itchiness, dry skin, inflammation and most other symptoms of eczema.
How To Use Nalpamaradi Oil:
Directly apply the oil to affected areas 2 to 3 times a day. Wash off after 15 to 20 minutes of application.
B. Neem Oil
An ancient pitta-kapha balancing herb, neem is known for its antibacterial and skin-healing properties. Use of neem oil in eczema treatment relieves symptoms like inflammation, itchiness, dry skin, erythema and eczema scars.
How To Use Neem Oil:
Add a few drops of neem oil to a carrier oil, preferably coconut oil and apply. Leave it overnight or wash off with lukewarm water after 20 minutes.
C. Jojoba Oil
Jojoba is an excellent vata dosha pacifying oil. It heals dry skin conditions that result from eczema and helps in rebuilding the damaged skin barrier. Its anti-inflammatory properties reduce inflammation and soothe irritated dry skin.
How To Use Jojoba Oil:
Apply Jojoba oil on eczema affected parts and leave on for 20 minutes before washing off.
D. Badam Oil
Badam or almond oil is a rich source of Vitamin A and Vitamin E which prevent skin cell damage. Being an active emollient, badam oil prevents transepidermal water loss and protects skin affected by eczema.
How To Use Badam Oil:
Badam oil can be directly applied to affected areas as a moisturizer.
E. Triphala Oil
This is known for its tridosha balancing properties. The 3 herbs (amalaki, bibhitaki, haritaki) in triphala can cure eczema symptoms such as dryness, itch and redness. Rich in antioxidants, it gives your skin a rejuvenated natural glow.
How To Use Triphala Oil:
Use it directly on the affected areas or combine it with coconut oil for best results. Apply and wash off after 20 mins.
F. Turmeric Oil
Turmeric oil has been used to treat various skin diseases, including eczema, for ages. Curcumin present in turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory compound that soothes eczema-affected skin. Turmeric's antiseptic qualities keep infection away and its skin brightening properties prevent the formation of eczema scars.
How To Use Turmeric Oil:
Direct turmeric oil can be too strong for your skin. Mix it with a carrier oil and apply. Wash off after 15 mins.
G. Bhringraj Oil
Bhringraj is an anti-inflammatory, vata- kapha pacifying herb with multiple skin benefits. As per recent research, people with eczema on hands, face and other body parts have benefitted from regular application of Bhringraj oil.
How To Use Bhringraj Oil:
Apply Bhringraj oil to treat eczema affected areas. Leave on for 20 minutes and wash off.
2. Ayurvedic Herbal Remedies
A. Herbs For Dry Eczema Skin
This is a magical herb, often used for treating major skin diseases, including eczema. A vata and pitta dosha balancer, Yashtimadhu can cure various eczema symptoms such as dry skin, skin irritations, itch and also prevent eczema scars.
Guduchi is a tridosha balancing herb that exhibits excellent skin renewal properties. Guduchi can also reduce mild inflammation caused by eczema.
A majority of Ayurvedic skin disease medicines contain manjistha for its skin benefitting properties. A pitta and kapha dosha balancer, Manjistha can provide relief from itchiness and inflammation in eczema affected skin. Its antibacterial properties help prevent bacterial infections.
Apart from topical application, consuming Manjistha can also benefit eczema conditions by purifying your blood and removing harmful ama toxins from your body.
Ashwagandha is known for its hydrating properties that prevent skin dryness. Being a vata- pitta dosha pacifier, it effectively soothes dry, flaky skin caused by eczema. It is also known for its antibacterial properties that can keep infection at bay.
B. Anti-Inflammatory Herbs For Eczema Treatment
1. Rakta Chandanam
Owing to its anti-inflammatory nature, applying Rakta Chandanam or red sandalwood paste on skin can prevent swelling and accumulation of fluids, especially common in Stasis eczema.
According to medical research, racemofuran, present in Shatavari, is an active anti-inflammatory agent. Thus Shatavari is frequently used to treat eczema conditions that lead to swelling and formation of blisters.
Triphala's anti-inflammatory properties make it a common ingredient in eczema medicines. Being rich in antioxidants, Triphala also helps skin to recover from damage caused by skin conditions like eczema.
C. Antibacterial Herbs
Neem is probably the first name that comes to mind when you think of antibacterial herbs. Applying a paste of neem leaves on skin affected by eczema can prevent skin infections and inflammation.
Another powerful antibacterial and antifungal herb, tulsi is often used with neem to treat skin infections. Using tulsi to treat eczema on the face is highly beneficial, as it can prevent the formation of eczema scars.
A known spice in your kitchen, turmeric is rich in antioxidants, and has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Turmeric paste can be applied for treating eczema on the face, hands and any other body part for a quick relief.
Essential oils present in ela or cardamom have medicinal properties that help prevent bacterial and fungal growth on skin. Applying ela in powdered form or as an oil can prevent further aggravation of eczema. Ela is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can prevent swellings caused by eczema.
Vedix Tip: Ghrita (ghee) and Madhu (honey) are natural moisturizers that help fight infections and enhance skin conditions. The above mentioned herbs can be combined with Ghrita or Madhu to safely treat eczema on the face and other sensitive areas.
3. Ayurvedic Treatments For Eczema
The Shodhana technique in the treatment of ‘Vicharchika’ (eczema) focuses on pacifying the vitiated doshas. The Panchakarma Shodhana therapy has 5 purgatory methods. It removes ama toxins from the body and restores balance. This therapy is often administered along with topical or oral Ayurvedic medicines for faster relief.
B. Sthanika Abhyanga
Here specific areas of the body that are affected by eczema are gently massaged with medicated herbal oils to cure the symptoms. Sthanika abhyanga improves blood circulation, reduces inflammation, improves the skin condition and restores balance of your doshas.
C. Home Remedies For Eczema
1. Tea Tree Oil Massage
One of the most recommended oils for treating eczema, tea tree oil provides hydration for dry skin. Its antibacterial properties help prevent infection. Further, its application on eczema affected skin can control certain inflammatory triggers, due to the presence of flavonoids.
How To Use Tea Tree Oil:
Simply massage tea tree oil on hands and fingers for curing hand eczema. It is also safe to apply for treating eczema on the face, around the mouth and around the eyes. Wash off after 20 minutes of application.
2. Green or Black Tea Cleansing
Cleaning the affected areas with tea is considered a great home remedy for eczema. For the face, using green or black tea as a face cleanser can unclog pores and reduce chances of swelling. It is also a great skin rejuvenator and might help in preventing skin hyperpigmentation.
How To Use Green or Black Tea:
Apart from treating face eczema, washing your scalp with tea can help reduce flaking, a common symptom of scalp eczema. Leave it on for 20 minutes and wash off with lukewarm water.
3. Vitamin E Oil Spot Treatment
Use of Vitamin E oil has shown positive results in curing various symptoms such as dry skin, flaking and itching. It is advisable to do a patch test before direct application. Vitamin E oil is best combined with a carrier oil such as almond or coconut oil and applied to eczema affected areas.
How To Use Vitamin E Oil:
Do a patch test to make sure you are not allergic to it. Apply on eczema affected skin and wash off with tepid water after 15 minutes.
4. Shea Butter
This non-irritating, skin friendly ingredient can provide optimum moisturization for skin eczema. Its anti-inflammatory properties further soothe irritated skin and help repair the skin barrier.
How To Use Shea Butter:
Shea butter can be used daily as a moisturizer for skin eczema.
5. Marigold And Honey Face Pack
Marigold flowers and leaves are ancient medicines used for their wound healing, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Using it in combination with honey further enhances the treatment of eczema.
How To Use Marigold And Honey:
Make a face pack by grinding 4 to 5 marigold flowers and leaves. Add honey to the mixture and apply on the affected areas. Wash off after 15 to 20 minutes for curing mild eczema.
6. Avocado, Banana And Yogurt Face Pack
This pack is an amazing home remedy for eczema. Avocado and banana’s super hydrating abilities soothe eczema affected skin and prevent the loss of essential moisture. Avocado is also known for its anti-inflammatory abilities and can suppress eczema triggered inflammatory mediators. Adding yogurt to this pack reduces skin flaking and prevents dandruff in scalp eczema.
How To Use:
Blend a fully ripe avocado and a banana and add yogurt to it. Whisk it up nicely and apply to treat skin eczema. Wash off after 10 to 15 minutes.
7. Fenugreek, Curry Leaves And Hibiscus Hair Pack
These powerful herbs have the ability to treat scalp eczema or seborrheic dermatitis. Mild saponins in fenugreek and hibiscus help remove dandruff from the scalp. Both curry leaves and hibiscus promote hair growth and prevent hair loss from scalp eczema. All three nourish the scalp and prevent symptoms like dryness, itchiness and infection.
How To Use:
Soak fenugreek seeds overnight and make a paste by adding 7 to 8 hibiscus flowers, 4-5 hibiscus leaves and a handful of curry leaves. Apply this on the scalp and wash off after 20 minutes.
D. Ayurvedic Diet For Eczema
Ayurveda recommends a complete change of lifestyle when dealing with eczema or Vicharchika.
- Consumption of wholesome foods that are high in vitamins and minerals such as zinc and magnesium are advised for faster skin healing.
- Fruits and vegetables that have a high water content help your body flush out harmful toxins.
- Foods rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin B3, Vitamin C and Vitamin E help in skin renewal. Include carrots, sweet potatoes, eggs, seafoods, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, amla, tuna, almonds, soy, beans, pumpkin seeds, cashews in your diet.
- Omega-3 and Alpha-Lipoic Fatty Acids  help in case of inflammations. Include fish oils, flax seeds, salmon, mackerel, soybean oil, yams, broccoli.
- Including Ayurveda suggested spices in your meals can further help reduce eczema symptoms such as inflammation, dryness and itchiness. Include spices like turmeric, ginger, clove, cardamom, fenugreek, cinnamon, nigella seeds (black jeera).
E. Homeopathic Treatment For Eczema
In order to treat chronic diseases such as eczema, homeopathy uses the constitutional remedy approach. Your doctor gathers detailed information about your disease and the symptoms before prescribing medicines. Chronic diseases take time to heal and homeopathy is considered one of the best methods to cure them. Medicines that are often prescribed in the constitutional therapy are:
1. Arsenicum Album
3. Hepar Sulphuris Calcareum
5. Arum Triphyllum
F. Other Medical Treatments
Allopathic medicines prescribed for eczema treatment focus on improving the skin condition, suppression of inflammatory mediators and prevention of infection. However, unlike natural treatments, conventional medicine may have some long-lasting side effects. Thus, it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking any of the below mentioned drugs.
Medicine Type/ Name
Possible Side Effects
Prevent skin dryness, irritations, prevents inflammation.
Loss of skin thickness, spread of infection, scarring.
Provides relief from itch.
Fatigue, nausea, increased heart rate, difficulty in breathing.
Prevents and heals infection.
Skin discolouration, atrophy, skin rash.
Immune regulators, treats eczema.
Immune response regulator, reduces inflammation.
How To Prevent Eczema?
People with eczema are likely to experience sudden flare-ups. To avoid the occurrence of eczema, the following preventive measures can be taken:
1. Keep your skin hydrated at all times to prevent eczema induced dryness and itch. Moisturize with natural moisturizers such as aloe vera, coconut oil, tea tree oil, honey and ghee for better results.
2. For hand eczema, avoid excessive water-based activities. Keep your hands clean and dry at all times.
3. Protect your skin from extremities of weather. Eczema on the face and around the mouth are often triggered by sudden changes in weather.
4. Avoid skin irritants that have previously triggered the condition.
5. Stay away from sugary or high fat foods or foods that can cause an allergic reaction.
6. Protect your skin from direct exposure to the sun. Use natural sunscreens such as aloe vera and coconut oil when you step out. Wear protective clothing that covers your face, arms and other areas where you are most likely to experience an eczema flare-up.
7. Keep your skin clean to prevent chances of infection.
8. Avoid harsh detergents or skincare products that can irritate your skin. Switch to a herbal skincare routine.
9. Wear soft fabrics such as cotton or silk. Avoid fabrics such as wool or polyester that can irritate eczema-affected areas.
10. Practice yoga and exercise regularly to keep your stress levels in control. Yoga and exercise also improve blood circulation and prevent accumulation of fluids as in the case of stasis dermatitis.
How Long Does Eczema Last?
Most children with chronic eczema may face sudden flare-ups even in their adulthood. Depending on the type of eczema one has and the treatment prescribed, it can last for around 2 to 3 weeks. But if caused by certain medical conditions, eczema can last longer till the primary cause subsides.
What Is The Difference Between Eczema & Psoriasis?
Due to similarities in appearance, eczema may be confused with another skin disorder, psoriasis. The under-mentioned differences in appearance and symptoms can help you distinguish one from the other.
1. Eczema is extremely itchy, while psoriasis usually has a burning sensation .
2. By appearance, the patchy skin caused by psoriasis is often thicker compared to eczema.
3. Inflammation tends to be more in psoriasis.
4. Eczema is common amongst babies and adults. However, psoriasis rarely shows up in children and can manifest itself after the age of 15.
5. Unlike psoriasis, eczema commonly occurs in the folds of your body.
6. Psoriasis is mainly caused by a dysfunctional immune system. Exact causes of eczema are still under research. Experts believe both genetics and external trigger factors have a role to play.
The Last Word
To cure eczema permanently, the underlying causes must be diagnosed. Chronic conditions of eczema can be kept under control by avoiding the skin irritants responsible for it. After determining the doshas and dhatus vitiated by eczema, a proper Ayurvedic skin care, diet and herbal eczema treatment can be prescribed to heal the condition holistically.Know Your Dosha Now
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