If you've resolved to avoid topical steroids in 2022, check these alternative treatment options to help manage your eczema.
Published On: May 25, 2017
Last Updated On: Nov 24, 2021
Elina’s eczema began when she was 2 months old. By the time she was 4, her itching intensified to the point that she would wake up every single night scratching and was unable to go back to sleep. For months her face was red and swollen. We forgot what she looked like without the eczema flares and inflammation.
We tried several treatments and diets, each with some amount of success in either reducing the problem or the symptoms. A couple of doses of antihistamine at night calmed her down, but we soon saw other symptoms, including tiredness, listlessness, and crankiness.
A three-month course of homeopathy was able to significantly reduce her eczema and restore her skin to normalcy, which lasted for a few days each time. We would sometimes get calls from her school to pick her up because she was helpless and unable to stop scratching.
Doctors insisted that there was nothing that could cure the problem, but that it could be managed (lifelong) through antihistamines at night, Zyrtec during the day, and steroidal creams throughout. However, we were still in search of a solution that we felt was not so harsh.
Ayurvedic Medicine, or Ayurveda, is an ancient healing system that originated in India. It focuses on improving overall health and balance based on one’s unique body constitution. Ayurveda treats diseases by fostering a balance in the underlying combination of elements of the universe believed to form our body (space, air, fire, water, and earth). Treatment is usually done via a combination of diet, herbal supplements, and massages with special oils. Trained Ayurvedic doctors can identify the body type and the type of imbalance and suggest corrective herbs. These usually work quite instantly for minor conditions, but take longer for chronic and systemic issues.
We grew up in a culture of home remedies, mostly derived from ancient Ayurvedic wisdom. Both of us were aware of — and familiar with — the treatment option. Given the challenges with a child being able to take bitter herbs and sit through massages, we did not try this option until she was 5 years old.
The Ayurvedic approach required us to be highly disciplined about the schedule of herbs, massages, and baths. Our biggest challenge was to follow the Ayurvedic protocol along with her usual schedule of school and other activities. As the Ayurvedic doctor had informed us, for a systemic condition like Elina’s eczema, the approach required tremendous patience and persistence with the treatment, especially for the first few weeks, before we could start seeing any major results. In the meantime, we continued to manage her condition mainly through topical steroids, antihistamines, and Pranic Healing.
We started to see that Elina was already feeling much better within two weeks of starting the treatment. The best way to measure progress for Elina was to monitor the frequency of antihistamine and topical steroid use. She went from using them at least twice every day to every other day to once a few days within the first month. After a month, her flare-ups started to become farther apart and fewer in number. Within two months, we were using antihistamines very sparingly — only upon any aggravating attack, perhaps once in a few weeks — and we were largely able to manage her flares with over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream once in awhile.
It is completely worth it! We had nothing to lose after having tried pretty much everything else. Elina’s eczema seemed to be getting worse and was affecting her socially, emotionally, and psychologically in addition to the physical trauma. We are so glad that we tried it and stuck to the plan. Elina is now able to attend summer camp where is she can swim again, and play outdoors in all kinds of dust, mulch and mud, and in the scorching summer sun, without constant discomfort and mostly without medication.