Name: Mala Nadkarni
Age: 6 years
City/Country: Pune/ India
Mala’s Mother Speaks
My daughter Mala celebrated her sixth birthday last week, and since she was a baby, she has suffered from eczema. I was told that some babies outgrow this condition by the time they are two or three years old, but that in certain cases, eczema may continue into their school years and sometimes into adulthood as well. Cortisones creams did provide short time relief, but I wanted to help her by going in for a more long lasting therapy. After some research on the internet, my husband and I decided to try Ayurveda, the 5000 year old holistic system of healing that relies completely on Nature for the prevention and cure of diseases. Though there are many excellent Ayurvedic physicians in Pune, our hometown, we decided to go to Kerala where the purest form of Ayurveda is practiced by traditional families of vaidyas or Ayurvedic physicians.
According to Ayurveda eczema is caused by the imbalance of the three vital energies or doshas. These are known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and they are delicately balanced in a unique proportion in every individual. Imbalance of the Vata dosha causes eczema that is manifested as dryness of the skin, with pain and severe itching of the affected region. If the balance of Pitta dosha is upset, the affected part may start oozing. There may also be pain and fever. An imbalance of Kapha dosha results in the skin becoming thick along with oozing and itching. The vaidya we consulted assured us that allergies are a common cause of imbalance, but that certain Ayurvedic products, procedures and herbs can help to restore the balance of the doshas. After a taking a detailed medical history and thorough physical examination of my daughter, he prescribed a course of treatment tailor-made for my child’s constitution and temperament.
One of the first steps was to try and identify the cause of the allergy. This can be a long-drawn out process, so in the meantime, we were advised to avoid the use of soaps, or, if that is not practical, to opt for special non-fragrant soaps. I add a little olive oil to her bath water, and make sure that the temperature of the water is just warm. I was told to use a very soft cotton towel always for drying her skin. I am careful to pat her skin dry, and not rub it at all, for I was warned that rubbing could aggravate the inflammation. It is also important that Mala should avoid artificial jewellery, cosmetics and synthetic fibres- a pity because she loves dressing up!
Common foods that can produce allergies are eggs, peanuts, broccoli, butter-milk and curds- so these have been cut out from Mala’s diet. I have reduced her salt intake, and I don’t let her have sour foods either, including pickles. Bitter vegetables like bitter gourd and flowers of the neem tree are good, but it is difficult to get her to eat these, so I give her plenty of drumsticks, which she loves. Turmeric has soothing effect on the skin, so our food is heavily flavoured with turmeric. We avoid mutton, chicken and fish as far as possible and I include lots of leafy green vegetables like spinach, cabbage and cauliflower in our daily menu.
Our vaidya also suggested some topical application for healing, in addition to the herbal medicines that he prescribed. One suggestion is to grind whole nutmeg into powder form, add water to make a paste, and then apply the paste to the rash. Another helpful suggestion is a linseed poultice, made by mixing equal parts water with lime juice in it, with linseed oil. Neem leaves can be applied to eczema, and neem oil can be applied directly onto the affected area too. By following the vaidya’s suggestions and treatment, there has been a marked decline in the redness, chapping, flaking and cracking of the skin that used to trouble Mala so much earlier. We are happy we opted for Ayurveda to treat our daughter’s eczema for eczema is a long term condition, and though the treatment maybe slow it is effective. Most important of all, there will be no harmful side effects in the long run.