By Steven Q. Wang, MD

Eczema is a chronic skin disease affecting more than 35 million Americans1.  People with eczema commonly have an itchy rash on the face, neck, arms, wrists and back of the legs.  Current understanding from the medical community shows that eczema is caused by disruption of the skin barrier and dysregulation of the immune system. At this moment there is no cure for this inflammatory skin disease, and most medications only provide relief for the symptoms.

Eczema commonly affects kids, and the good news is that many kids with eczema eventually outgrow the disease in late childhood to have normal skin. However, many people never outgrow this skin disease fully, and have to deal with the symptoms and frequent flare of rashes for their entire life.

For a long time, eczema was viewed only as a skin condition with an unsightly and itchy rash. In the past few years, new research2 has shed light on the overall impact on quality of life and the general health of eczema patients. For example, many clinical studies3 have shown that people with eczema have sleep disturbances and functional impairment that can contribute to overall higher risks for developing anxiety and depression. Many of these eczema patients are conscious and embarrassed by their rash, and report that their skin conditions negatively impact their work, study and social and leisure activities.

Data from clinical studies4 also suggests that itch is one of the most important factors that contribute to some emotional and functional impairment. Some of the studies showed that more than 90% of surveyed patients with eczema have sleep disturbance more than five nights a week. Oftentimes, they report itch as the main reason for their sleep disturbance. Adequate and good quality sleep is crucial for the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of individuals.

To combat itch and restore skin health, there is a systematic approach prescribed by medical professionals. In general, the goals are (1) to shut down the inflammation and (2) restore the skin barrier. To achieve the first goal, people with eczema are often given topical steroids and even antibiotics to apply on the affected skin. This treatment combination is often enough for most people to stop the underlying inflammation that can contribute to bleeding, oozing and cracking of the skin. At the same time, it is very important to apply adequate moisturizers to help rebuild the outer layer of skin. This outer skin layer creates a functional barrier that prevents allergens or other harmful molecules from interacting with the skin.

Topical formulations with natural herbs and essential oils have also been used to help people with eczema relieve symptoms of dry, cracked and itchy skin.  Recently, a team of dermatologists and herbalists discovered a set of 8 herbs that have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties5. These herbs were extracted and incorporated into a natural base with beeswax, shea butter and castor and olive oils to control and diminish itch in a short amount of time (i.e. 5-10 minutes after application). The good news is that there are many other natural products that are being studied and created to help people with eczema. It is important for users to understand the mechanism of actions (MOA) of these products and better still to read about clinical data associated with these products.

In summary, eczema is a chronic skin condition that affects millions of Americans. It not only causes bleeding, rashes, cracking and flaking of the skin but also contributes to underlying psychological and emotional suffering in this group of people. Natural supplements and skin care products have a role in improving the skin condition and quality of life of people suffering from eczema.

References:

  1. https://nationaleczema.org/research/eczema-prevalence/
  2. Holm EA, Wulf HC, Stegmann H, et al. Life quality assessment among patients with atopic eczema. Br. J Dermatol. 2006:154(4) 719-725.
  3. Boehm D, Schmid-Ott G, Finkeldey F et al. Anxiety, depression and impaired health related quality of life in patients with occupational hand eczema. 2012: 67(4):184-192.
  4. Yosipovitch G & Papoiu ADP. What cause itch in atopic dermatitis? Current Allergy and asthma Reports. 2008: 8(4) 306-311.
  5. http://www.drwangskincare.com/blogs/news/71907717-anti-itch-effect-of-a-topical-herbal-ointment-a-pilot-clinical-study

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.