Can Chinese Herbs Relieve Eczema?

Chinese Herbal Medicine May Offer Relief for Dry, Itchy Skin of Eczema, Studies Say

From the WebMD Archives


Chinese Herbal Medicine Also Helps Adults With Eczema

Adults with eczema also can benefit from traditional Chinese medicine, Japanese researchers report.

They studied 274 men and women who had suffered from eczema for an average of 12 years. Nearly one-third had severe or very severe symptoms, with patches of chronically itchy, dry, inflamed skin over at least 10% of their body.

“Medicinal Chinese herbal remedies were selected and administered in accordance with the sufferer’s symptoms -- an approach known as Sho in oriental medicine,” says Yoshiteru Shimoide, MD, head of the Yoshiteru Shimoide Clinic of Internal Medicine in Kagoshima City.

After 3-4 months of treatment, 87% of the patients were symptom-free. An additional 12% markedly improved, he tells WebMD.

One patient showed mild abnormalities in liver function, which were alleviated by stopping the herbal therapy.

Experts say more study is needed.

“While the findings are promising, I wouldn’t recommend [traditional Chinese medicine] at this point,” says Mitchell Grayson, MD, associate professor of pediatric allergy and immunology at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

Grayson tells WebMD that larger, longer studies comparing herbal treatments to standard therapy or placebo are needed.

If you do decide to seek out complementary or alternative medicines, speak with your doctor first, he advises.

Eggs, Cat Allergies Are Risk Factors for Childhood Eczema

To find out risk factors for developing childhood eczema, University of Cincinnati researchers followed 636 infants of parents with allergies.

By age 4, babies whose parents had eczema had more than double the risk of having eczema than other children. Those who tested positive for egg allergies on skin tests at age 1 were four times more likely to have eczema at age 4. And children who had a cat at age 1 and tested positive for cat allergies at age 1, 2, or 3 were at more than 13 times the risk of having eczema at age 4 than other youngsters.

Pollen from elm trees was also a risk factor: Children who tested positive for elm allergies at age 1, 2, or 3 had nearly three times the chance of having eczema at age 4 than other children.