Definition of eczema
Eczema is a term used to describe a group of related skin conditions that cause skin inflammation and irritation. It is a chronic skin condition characterized by dry, scaly, itchy rashes that can appear anywhere on the body. Eczema is a very common skin condition that affects both adults and children and is more common among people of East Asian descent. In the Chinese language, eczema is called “liu yao” which can be loosely translated to mean “itchy inflammation”. The cause of eczema is unknown, but it is believed to be linked to an overactive immune system, allergies, and certain environmental factors. Treatment for eczema typically involves topical corticosteroids, immunomodulators, phototherapy and lifestyle modifications.
History of eczema in China
China has had a long and varied history with the skin condition known as eczema. People in China have been treating eczema with herbs and medicinal plants for centuries. In traditional Chinese medicine, eczema was believed to be caused by an imbalance of yin and yang, or the opposing forces that regulated the body’s energy. Acupuncture, herbal remedies, and avoiding certain foods were common treatments. In more recent times, Western pharmaceuticals have gained traction and are often used to treat eczema. However, the centuries-old approach of traditional Chinese medicine still has many believers among doctors and patients alike, who look to its ancient wisdom for some of the answers to treating this uncomfortable condition.
Prevalence of eczema in China
In China, eczema is unfortunately quite a common health issue. A study conducted in 2019 in China’s Xinjiang region revealed that the prevalence of eczema in the region was 25.1%, the highest rate in China since such an analysis was first made. The study found that rates of Eczema were higher among children than adults, and higher among women than men. Beyond this, it found that the prevalence of eczema was highest among children aged 4–6 years. Although the exact cause of eczema remains unknown, many believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors can lead to the development of the condition. Fortunately, many cases of eczema can be managed with simple lifestyle changes and by using creams and ointments prescribed by a medical professional.
Treatment of eczema in China
Eczema is a skin condition that affects people of all ages and is characterized by red, itchy, and scaly patches of skin. In China, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been used for centuries to treat eczema. TCM includes practices such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary therapy. Here are some of the most common treatments of eczema in China:
- Acupuncture – This ancient healing practice is believed to help stimulate the body’s natural healing process and reduce inflammation.
- Herbal Medicine – Herbal medicines are used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including eczema. Common herbs used for eczema include rehmannia, dandelion, and licorice root.
- Dietary Therapy – Dietary therapy includes avoiding certain foods (such as dairy and gluten) that are known to cause inflammation and eating foods that are high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Topical Applications – Common topical treatments for eczema include medicated creams and ointments, as well as natural oils such as coconut oil.
No matter which treatment option you choose, it is important to speak to a healthcare professional to ensure that the treatment is appropriate and safe for your condition.
Common misconceptions regarding eczema in China
In China, there are several common misconceptions regarding eczema. Despite the fact that eczema is not contagious, some people still believe it is. In addition, many people are not aware that eczema is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition and not an infection. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about eczema in China:
- Eczema is contagious and can be passed from person to person
- It is an infection
- It only affects children
- It is caused by poor hygiene or a dirty environment
- It can be cured with antibiotics
- It is caused by stress
Understanding the facts about eczema can help prevent misunderstanding and stigmatization of people with this condition. It is important to educate yourself, or be aware of the facts and speak out against these misconceptions.
Other considerations for eczema in China
In addition to medical treatments, traditional Chinese remedies may be beneficial for those living with eczema in China. Chinese herbal medicines have been used to treat skin diseases, such as eczema, for centuries, and research suggests that some of these herbal medicines may be effective in treating the underlying cause of eczema. Nutritional changes may also be beneficial for those with eczema in China, as certain foods may act as triggers for flare-ups. In Chinese culture, health is seen as a holistic concept, with the belief that the body is in harmony with the environment, so environmental factors such as air quality, pollen levels and climate may play a role in triggering eczema. For those living with eczema in China, it is important to be mindful of their environment and make lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise, reducing stress and limiting exposure to environmental triggers, to help manage the condition.