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Eczema

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 17 - January 1997

This month's case is a success story where conventional treatment had failed to help the patient in any long term way. In fact Rona was quite disturbed at the way that the long term applications of steroid cream to her eczema had led to thinning and weakness of the skin. It was this observation that led her to seek alternative treatment.

Rona's story begins seven years ago when, out of the blue, an itchy rash began to appear on her fingertips around her nails. She went to the doctor who suggested hydrocortisone cream. The rash left her hands but reappeared almost immediately on her face. Suspicious at this turn of events, she consulted a herbalist and was helped for over a year. However, the rash began to creep back again and by the year before Rona came to me, it had spread to her neck, then her hands and then all over the body. The eczema then became infected and she developed a dangerous condition known as erythroderma, where the whole skin surface becomes inflamed and the patient's life is at risk, due to heat and fluid loss through the damaged skin.

Rona had to be admitted twice to hospital in this state and was each time treated with large amounts of emollient creams and steroids both on the skin and by mouth. She recovered slowly each time but her skin never went back to normal. When I first saw her, she had a blistery weeping rash on the fingers, her nails were ridged and distorted and her face and neck were red and scaly as were various patches on her body including behind and in the ears.

Further enquiry revealed that Rona's rash was made worse by heat and very much better by cold. She naturally disliked the sun and quite liked rain and damp! She liked tidiness and order but was not fastidious. Her hobbies were reading, knitting and listening to music which could easily move her to tears. Foodwise, she liked fresh vegetables and savoury foods. She disliked eggs and was not especially thirsty.

On reviewing Rona's case, she seemed to be a clear case for Graphites which is known to treat eruptions around the fingers and behind the ears as well as generalised eczemas. Skin conditions responding to Graphites are usually worse for heat and better for cold. The nails are commonly distorted or ridged. The main thing against Graphites was that the weeping in Rona's case was clear whereas in Graphites it is usually yellowish and sticky.

Rona took three doses of the thirtieth potency of Graphites and experienced a worsening of her rash over the next week or so. After this the arms, wrists hands and face all improved substantially and the weeping dried up. The situation relapsed however about ten weeks later, especially over the hands and wrists with quite a lot of clear weeping. We repeated the Graphites as before which again resulted in a good clearance from the face. However, the hands and wrists remained stubbornly affected.

I was puzzled as to how to proceed. Rona was a good Graphites case but she was not responding fully to the treatment. I had a choice of increasing the potency of the treatment or trying an alternative technique to move the case along.

One of the options when a well-indicated medicine fails to act as well as one hopes, is to use a medicine known as a nosode. These medicines are derived from actual diseased tissue and in the case of eczema, the Morgan nosodes, Morgan Pure or Morgan Compound can be helpful. These were developed originally by Dr Edward Bach (of the Flower Remedies) and further developed by a Doctor Paterson from Glasgow. I decided to use Morgan Pure in Rona's case and she took a single dose of the thirtieth potency.

After that, I heard no more for seven months and feared that she had given up on homoeopathy altogether. Imagine my surprise when she returned looking very well but with a flare up on her face caused by using a caustic oven cleaner. She had been entirely eczema free for the first time in several years and the remission had lasted some seven months. The present attack was not in the classical areas for her. Indeed, the areas behind the ears and on the fingers were clear. Her fingernails were now growing normally and were free of ridges. I prescribed Morgan Pure again with confidence followed by a dose of Graphites if the clearance was not complete.

Rona's case contains several important principles for the treatment of eczema with homoeopathy. Firstly, I personally feel that all eczema patients should continue to avoid soap of all kinds and to use emollients as long as their skin trouble persists. The use of steroids is a more knotty problem. I advise my patients to continue to use their steroid cream during the initial phase of the treatment.

This is because, if one instituted a total and sudden steroid ban, the eczema would almost certainly flare up in an uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous way. It would then be very difficult to judge the efficacy of the remedy.

It is my experience that, if the correct remedy is chosen, the eczema gradually improves and the steroids can then be naturally weaned off without distress or relapse. Likewise, in an acute infective relapse of eczema, it is very important to use antibiotics to prevent the patient becoming very unwell. This does not, in my experience, stop the remedies from working on the underlying condition.

A lot of harm can be done by the ill-judged and too rapid withdrawal of conventional therapy just as harm can be done by the over prolonged or haphazard use of steroids and antibiotics. The most important thing, perhaps is to obtain expert help when treating a chronic and potentially serious condition like eczema and to always seek medical help if the rash is spreading over large areas of the body. Having said all that, treating eczema with homoeopathy is at times frustrating but generally very rewarding and satisfying and always worth a try!

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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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