Can Chinese Herbs Relieve Eczema?
Chinese Herbal Medicine May Offer Relief for Dry, Itchy Skin of Eczema, Studies Say
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
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
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.
Although the association between egg allergy and eczema is fairly well
known, doctors don’t always think to test young children with eczema for pollen
or cat allergies, says researcher Tolly Epstein, MD, a fellow in the division
If a child has unexplained symptoms, it might be prudent to consider elm and
cat testing, she tells WebMD.
Interestingly, having a dog as an infant or toddler appeared to
protect against eczema, Epstein says. “We don’t know why.”