Eczema is said to affect a staggering 20% of infants and children in the UK today. Compare this with 5% in the 1950s and it raises questions about what has changed. Dr Deepika Rodrigo (B.A.M.S), who has been successfully treating infant and child eczema using Ayurvedic Medicine from her London based clinic for many years explains that modern lifestyles, changes in the food industry and environmental factors such as pollution all have an effect on our children’s immunity and ability to handle allergens.
From newborn babies to adolescents, she has witnessed how eczema and its symptoms can have a profoundly detrimental impact on the life of the child and the whole family.
In her experience the ancient science of Ayurveda has a natural, effective and complete answer to the modern day triggers of eczema in infants and children, no matter how chronic the condition may be.
What is Ayurveda?
Thousands of years before modern medicine provided scientific evidence for the mind-body connection, Ayurveda was developed in the Indian subcontinent. It is the world’s oldest and most sophisticated and powerful health systems. More than merely a means of treating physical illness, Ayurveda literally means ‘the science of life’ (“Ayu” in Sanskrit meaning life and “Veda” meaning science or knowledge). It is an ancient and dynamic body of wisdom which can help people live at their optimum best, vibrant and happy.
What causes eczema?
According to this ancient knowledge the cause of eczema is impaired digestive fire (known as “Vishama Agni” in Sanskrit), which in turn is caused by unsuitable diet, lifestyle and environmental factors. When the digestive fire is imbalanced, either too high or too low, it causes some food to convert to toxins (known as “Ama” in Sanskrit). These toxins or Ama then circulate throughout the body, and are deposited on the superficial fascia, which can leave the skin feeling and looking dry, causing irritation, scaling or inflammation and infection. Like a blocked and overflowing drain, the body finds the point of least resistance to deposit toxins.
Even though eczema is influenced by genetics, according to Ayurveda, it can be eliminated or significantly reduced by using the right combination of topical preparations to help heal and repair the skin, diet (for both mother and infant) and lifestyle choices.
What causes eczema in infants and children?
In Ayurveda, infancy is a Kapha prominent age with Vata energy. Infants and children tend to consume a higher proportion of sweet, creamy and dairy products according to the needs of their bodies. Such foods can tend produce an excess of “ama” or toxins if the digestive fire (or digestive enzymes) is not strong enough. This ama is responsible for eczema in infants and children. It is preventable and easy to eliminate using Ayurvedic principles, especially when you tackle the problem early.
In fact the best tool available to mothers is nutrition. Nutrition from an Ayurvedic approach is radically different from modern nutritional evaluations of food. Ayurveda focuses on the taste, heating or cooling qualities of the food, the post digestive effect of foods in the body and its effect on an individual’s constitution or “dosha”. In this way, the imbalances causing excess toxins to be produced can be corrected.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, the earlier the mother can increase her awareness of the foods she is eating whilst pregnant, the better the chance she can both boost the immunity of her unborn child and protect against the development of eczema when the child is born.
Breastfeeding is of course the best possible immunity from eczema for your baby. A minimum of 6 months breast-feeding is recommended if possible to avoid any type of inflammatory disorder in babies.
Whilst breastfeeding, it is equally important that the mother makes conscious and suitable dietary choices in order to reduce inflammation inside her own body which in turn increases the baby’s immunity to cope with allergens and other outside environmental factors. Babies and infants often have inflammatory skin reactions to allergens such as domestic pet hair, air pollutants, damp climates, dust, pollens, additives and preservatives in food and other substances. By following a Kapha promoting diet and breastfeeding, a mother can boost her baby’s immunity to all such external allergens.
Kapha promoting foods include milk, butter, rice, potatoes, white fish, coconut milk, warm cooked foods, cooked green leafy vegetables, and fruits. It is important for breastfeeding mothers to learn to relax and manage stress so that their own bodies are strong and transmit loving energy to the baby. Taking the time to bond with the baby is very important as loving connection boosts immunity in all living beings. In short, love is the best immunity.
If breastfeeding is not possible for any reason, formulated milks containing a lower amount of lactose are recommended. This is because of the excess ama that can be produced from such foods if the baby’s digestive fire is too low.
To help prevent or reduce eczema it is recommended that their dairy intake is moderated or that they are fed dairy products with less lactose content. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables (especially sour and tropical fruits). Also avoid yeast containing foods such as leavened bread, artificial additives and preservatives, junk foods and sweets and fizzy drinks, at least while the digestive enzymes are being re-built.
Avoid excessive exposure to cold, damp weather and wrap up warm during the winter months. Children can eat warm, cooked foods such as soups, jacket potatoes and rice.
In the event that the child does experience eczema, using effective topical creams such as Dermaved will help to draw out the heat from the affected area, soothe and heal the inflamed skin. Dermaved is safe and gentle enough to use for nappy rash, red cheeks and cradle cap, which can also occur due to excess ama. It can also be used to soothe sore nipples provided it is washed off before breastfeeding. It can be safely used on baby skin to treat insect bites, burns, cuts and as after-sun care.
Dermaved is a unique preparation of 25 naturally active herbs with Acacia, Venivel and Coral Tree seed plant extracts blended with Shea Butter to instantly relieve itchiness, discomfort and inflammation and help heal and repair the skin. Dermaved is made from sustainably wildcrafted herbs according to a trusted Ayurvedic formula. Formulated with pure, natural ingredients, it is ideal for all skin types and even infants. It is prepared to the highest standard and each ingredient is laboratory tested for purity and potency. It is free from artificial colours, perfumes and parabens.
Visit www.dermaved.com for more information
Dr. Deepika Rodrigo (B.A.M.S.)
Dr Deepika Rodrigo (B.A.M.S) is the leading Ayurvedic skin specialist in Europe. She practises exclusively from her London based clinic, The Ayurvedic Clinic, established in 1997.
She is widely recognised as a principal driving force behind the growing awareness of Ayurveda in Europe and has trained many of today’s leading Ayurvedic specialists and many health care professionals.
For more information please visit www.theayurvedicclinic.com or call us on +44 208 405 4407. Consultations are offered in person or via Skype for both domestic and overseas patients.
 National Eczema Society: http://www.eczema.org/about-eczema