Dermatitis, or eczema, is a dermatological disorder of the superficial layers of the skin. Eczema is a subtype of dermatitis, but the two terms are often used interchangeably. Symptoms include dryness and rashes with at least one of the following: swelling/edema, redness, itching, crusting, flaking, blisters, oozing or bleeding. Areas where the rash has healed may discolor for a time. Other types of dermatitis are contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis (typically referred to as eczema), Lichen Simplex Chronicus (or neurodermatitis), seborrheic dermatitis, and pompholyx eczema.
Hard data on eczema prevalence is not available, but research has shown a substantial increase in cases in the latter half of the 20th Century. Research in the United Kingdom has shown that 1 in 9 have been diagnosed with eczema at some point during their lifetime. Western medical treatments often include immunomodulators or immunosupressants with the use of anti-itch drugs. These therapies have serious potential side effects and complications. Topical steroids may also be used, but have risks associated with them.
Recent research has shown significant reductions in both itch and lesions following treatment with Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. Research presented at the the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) in New York analyzed 14 patients with persistent atopic dermatitis who received Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. The study found a drastic reduction in symptoms within 2.5 to 3.5 months depending on the patient. The course of treatment differs for each individual, but results are often seen within a few months, even in cases of severe eczema.
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Psoriasis is an auto-immune disorder of the skin. Psoriasis is also known as a scaling disorder. Faulty signaling by the body’s immune system causes rapid turn-over of skin cells, which in turn causes the skin to appear silvery-white and form psoriasis plaques. There are five types of psoriasis: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular and erythrodermic. Plaques most commonly occur around the elbows and knees, but can affect any area of the body, including arm pits, back, buttocks and scalp. Unlike eczema, psoriasis is more likely to occur on the outer-side of the joint. Psoriasis plaques can occur in different size patches, from small areas to patches covering the entire body. The nails and joints may be affected, as in psoriatic nail distrophy and psoriatic arthritis, respectively. Psoriatic arthritis occurs in approximately 3-10% of people with psoriasis.
Psoriasis is one of the most common skin diseases in the United States, affecting as many as 2% of the population. It is also one of the most stubbornly resistant to treatment. Western medical treatments typically will involve immune-suppression medications and/or steroids. This puts patients at risk for a whole host of other diseases and side effects, some of which are very dangerous. On the other hand, Chinese herbal medicine has been shown to be safe over its more than 2000 years of use, and constant monitoring and modern-day research in China. Studies have shown up to 65% of psoriasis cases have significant resolution of symptoms with proper herbal medicine and acupuncture treatments. Dietary modifications will also play an important role in creating substantial changes. In addition to the most common variant, plaque psoriasis, other forms of psoriasis such as guttate, pustular and erythrodermic psoriasis will benefit from treatment.
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