Acupuncture and Eczema

A form of upper skin layer inflammation or dermatitis, eczema is a term that is loosely applied to a number of continually recurring skin rashes that is marked by dryness, itching, skin edema, and redness, with possible bleeding, oozing, cracking, blistering, flaking, or crusting. Scarring is rare although patches of skin discoloration may mark the healed lesions.

In skin disease, the cells of the immune system work in different ways. After an insect sting or bite, the rash that appears occurs within minutes of contact. This is caused by histamine and other chemicals released by the cells of the immune system residing in the skin layers. This reaction is termed as ‘immediate hypersensitivity’.

A slow response by the immune system happens because the cells that respond to the allergen needs to be formed from a few ‘memory’ cells that identify the allergen.

These cells help produce other cells after two to three days. The newly created cells turn on their defense mechanisms such as releasing certain chemicals that lure and spur the scavenger cells of the immune system into action. The time difference between first contact and the succeeding response is known as ‘delayed hypersensitivity.’ This is the type of skin reaction skin seen in allergic contact eczema.

There is still no scientific explanation as to why some substances are specifically susceptible in causing contact allergy, although suspected factors may include:

Plants – both through contact with airborne substances or by direct contact
Colophony – resin derived from spruce trees, which is utilized for sticking plaster adhesive
Epoxy resins – glues used in glass fiber construction, woodworking, and hobbies
Drugs – cetearyl alcohol (utilized in emollient creams), steroid creams, antibiotics such as fusidic acid and neomycin, and lanolin
Hairdressing chemicals – paraphenylenediamine
Potassium dichromate – matches, leather, and cement
Perfumes – balsam of Peru, a substance found in fragrances that can cause an allergic reaction. Used in rubber-related chemicals (clothing, tires, and shoes)
Nickel and other metals – used in bra fasteners, metal watch straps, jean studs, belt buckles, and in jewelry

Several kinds of food are suspected to cause contact eczema and other skin reactions. They include:

-Poultry and meat
-Seafood and fish
-Herbs, spices, and seasonings (garlic, mustard, horseradish, ec.)
-Certain vegetables and fruits
-Citrus fruits including their rind
-Dough and flour

Ironically, some of the common treatments for eczema are made of materials that are known to irritate the skin. These treatments may include hydrocortisone found in steroid creams and lanolin found in moisturizers. So if your condition does not respond to treatment or if it worsens the condition it may be because the treatment itself is causing or exacerbating the skin problem and, so needs to cease immediately.

The site where the skin came in contact with the allergen is usually the place where rashes first develop. After a while, the rashes spread out and can affect other parts of the body far away from the point of contact. This happens because the activated immune cells can enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body.

If you think you are suffering from allergic contact eczema, it is important that you remember where the reaction first occurred. This may help your Chinese medicine practitioner know the cause of your reaction which can aid him in developing a proper form of treatment.

Oftentimes, distinguishing between irritant eczema (a direct response to an irritating substance) from
allergic contact eczema (an immune response). But because the same types of treatment can be applied to both, knowing this difference is not really that important.

One of the most ancient forms of treatment in the world is acupuncture which has been used for about 5,000 years in China and other parts of East Asia. Acupuncture has been a very popular form of treatment in the West for centuries. This treatment uses extremely fine needles (occasionally used along with electrical stimulation) on the surface of the body to alter the physiological functioning of the body.

TCM or Traditional Chinese medicine believes that the body has over 2,000 acupuncture points which are associated with 20 energy pathways ( 14 primary, 6 secondary ) known as meridians. The meridians conduct qi or vital energy or qi to the internal organs and the body surface.
TCM practitioners believe that Qi helps restore, promote, or maintain balance in the body. This balance refers to the balance between yin and yang, the negative and positive force that exists in the human body and in the whole universe. It is thought that acupuncture helps keep the balance between these two forces which in turn enables qi to flow normally throughout the body that in turn leads to a health body and mind.

Eastern Healing Solutions, LLC
10875 Grandview St #2200
Overland Park, KS 66210
(913) 549-4322

Overland Park Acupuncturist