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Another Childhood Eczema Case

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 70 - November 2001

Childhood eczema is such a miserable condition. For the lucky few, it might just be a bit of dry skin, but more often than not, it is a ghastly torture of itching, bleeding and scratching – often disfiguring, always aggravating and as horrible for the parents to witness as for the child to experience. Conventional treatment aims to ease, to moisturize, to clear infection with antibiotics and to reduce inflammation with steroids. Sadly, as soon as treatment is discontinued, the condition tends to flare up again – the eczema is controlled but not 'cured'.

Little wonder that homeopathy is a popular choice for those seeking an alternative or complementary approach for eczema, especially if you include into the equation the potential for prolonged use of steroid cream to damage the skin by causing thinning or for permanent thickening of the blood vessels.

Chloe was brought to me by her parents at the age of 18 months. She had suffered with eczema since the age of six months, starting in the usual places in the crease of the elbow and spreading down the limbs and onto the face and trunk. The skin was mostly dry but also wept with a clear weep that sometimes formed crusts. Chloe would scratch until she bled, mostly at night and when the skin was exposed to the air. Nights in warm weather were the worst: at times her skin was inflamed and hot to the touch.

Generally, Chloe was a healthy child with a normal birth and rate of development. She was developing into an active and busy child.

Totally lacking in shyness, she could be deliberately naughty and at times, would throw tantrums – kicking and screaming if crossed. She had been known to bite her older sister.

Sleeping was a problem – she had difficulty getting off to sleep and was very restless, moving around all the time. She used to sweat a lot as a baby but far less now. She was a thirsty child, liking cold juice. Her appetite was also excellent, loving pasta, fish and baked beans. Her mother thought that she probably felt the cold, as she rarely complained of being too hot, and indeed, often asked to be covered up with a blanket.

Chloe's high level of activity, tendency to tantrums, naughtiness and even biting, plus her chilliness and good appetite, made me think that she might respond to the nosode Tuberculinum bovinum. This was backed up by a family history of tuberculosis in her maternal great- grandmother. I therefore opted to give Chloe a single dose of Tuberculinum bovinum 30c.

At her review one month later, Chloe's parents reported that she had had a major flare up in her eczema within a week of taking the Tuberculinum bovinum. The trunk, which was only minimally affected previously, had become very raw indeed. It had then settled again and, in fact, there were some areas of skin which were now better than before treatment. Chloe's general well-being and behaviour were largely unaffected – neither better nor worse.

I felt that Chloe had definitely had a so-called 'aggravation' from the Tuberculinum bovinum. This term describes a general worsening of the condition caused by the administration of the homeopathic remedy. If it is a true aggravation, it will usually be followed by an improvement and represents, in fact, a sort of 'healing crisis' where the system reacts strongly to the remedy, initially in a negative and then in a positive way. The usual action in these circumstances is to wait until the picture stabilizes and this is what we did.

After a further six weeks, things were not a great deal better. The rash behind her ears had cleared up completely and the trunk was better. However, there was a lot of very aggravating eczema around Chloe's wrists and ankles. The skin was much drier than previously and seemed to have worsened significantly since the wintry weather had set in. The skin on her fingers was cracking and she was now worse after a bath, where previously bathing had not affected her.

I now felt that the picture of Chloe's eczema had changed. She was now displaying the characteristics of the remedy Petroleum – in particular, extreme dryness, worse in cold weather, and marked cracking of the skin. Her initial picture had also included clear weeping of the eczema, which is also a feature of Petroleum. So I decided to give her just one single dose of Petroleum in a 12c (a very gentle) potency.

The result of this treatment was excellent. Chloe's skin improved tremendously and the improvement lasted for several months. Her mother managed to stop all steroid creams for quite a long period, which was very gratifying. When the skin began to flare up again after four months, another single tablet of Petroleum did the trick. Chloe remains a busy child with a quick temper. We have not managed to clear her of her tantrums yet. However, perhaps after a period of freedom from the misery of eczema and without having to resort to the steroid creams, she may improve in this direction also.

In cases like this, I often wonder if the Petroleum would have worked if given initially. It is possible that it may have, and, of course, we will never know for sure. However, it is also possible that the Tuberculinum bovinum was needed initially to 'clear' any inherited influences and that it then allowed the Petroleum to act so effectively in such minimal doses. Certainly, after the Tuberculinum bovinum was given, the case was far more clearly indicating the need for Petroleum than before.

If, at some time in the future, the Petroleum stops working and no other remedy is clearly required, I might consider repeating the Tuberculinum bovinum again. However, this would have to be very carefully considered when taking into account the flare up which Chloe suffered after it was administered the first time. These kinds of aggravations do not inevitably recur on a second dose, but the possibility cannot be ruled out and, thus, this will need to be finely judged.

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About Dr Angela Jones

Dr Angela Jones works in NHS general practice and also privately, using homeopathy alongside conventional medicine. Dr Jones can be contacted via the Faculty of Homeopathy on Tel: 020-7566 7800.

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