Conventional medicines are not always effective they may sting and, if steroids, may have long term consequences. Many cases of eczema can be effectively treated by simpler methods.
Explore desensitisation. Conventional vaccines are a long way off and some may feel uneasy about the concept. However, you may wish to explore homoeopathic desensitisation, which uses minute amounts of common allergens, such as house dust, to becalm the immune responseGood fats. High intake of trans fatty acids, found in milk, meats and margarine, may worsen atopic symptoms (Lancet, 1999; 353: 2040-1). Supplementing with essential fatty acids (i.e. evening primrose oil or borage oil) may help modify immune responses. There is evidence to show that EFA consumption can help reduce symptoms of eczema (Eur Resp J, 1997; 10: 6-12; Clin Invest, 1992; 70: 167-71; J Am Coll Nutr, 1986; 5: 213-28). A diet high in oily fish is another good way to boost good fats (Med J Aust, 1996; 164: 137-40)
Oolong tea. Evidence continues to mount that tea has many benefits. Japanese researchers recently found that oolong can help reduce symptoms of eczema. Participants in a study drank three cups of oolong tea daily. Two thirds showed improvement in symptoms after just one month, and some noted improvement in just one to two weeks. Six months later, patients were still responding to the tea (Arch Dermatol, 2001; 137: 42-3). Oolong tea is partially fermented and, thus, has less caffeine and a milder flavour than black tea. It contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols and unique flavonoids, which may account for its efficacy
Use probiotrics. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis were found to substantially reduce the severity of atopic eczema in infants weaned from breastmilk to formula (Skin Allergy News, 2000; 31: 5). There is thought to be an important interaction between intestinal microbes and immune function, and gastrointestinal problems are common in asthmatic children (Arch Dis Child, 2000; 82: 131-5). This may be why probiotics can counteract immune responses beyond the GI tract
Softer water. Eczema can be made worse in hard water areas, say researchers (Lancet, 1998; 352: 527-31). In severe cases, you might consider installing a water softener in your home
Light therapy. Light therapy with UVB can reduce symptoms of eczema by as much as 70 per cent (Br J Dermatol, 1993; 128: 49-56). UVAB light, which requires lower doses of radiation, appears to be even more effective for mild to moderate eczema and has less risk of skin cancer (Photodermatol Photoimmunol Phytomed, 1996; 12: 91-4). For severe cases, therapy with UVA1 has shown significant improvement (Acta Dermatol Venereol, 1995; 75: 43-5)
New herbals. Oregon grape root, or Mahonia aquifolium, is a member of the barberry family (Berberidaceae), and researchers believe it to be one of the most promising non drug treatments for skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema to date. Mahonia contains the strong antimicrobial and antifungal agents berberine and protoberberine, berbamine and oxycanthine. Studies conducted on psoriasis sufferers have found substantial effects (J Dermatol Treat, 1995; 6: 31-4; J Ethnopharmacol, 1994; 44: 157-69)
Massage. Stress can make eczema worse and, although poorly researched, one study suggested that childhood eczema could be helped by regular massage (Phytother Res, 2000; 14: 452-6) with and without essential oils. However, a further study of the essential oil group found a deterioration in the children's condition, possibly due to allergic reactions to plant oils. Tactile contact between parent and child, and not plant oils, appeared to be the key to healing.