Atopic dermatitis - also known as eczema and atopic eczema - is a frequent skin disease. In Germany about three million people are affected and annually the number rises around 7%. Among experts atopic dermatitis is considered as incurable. Actually, however, there is a way to a therapy. Based on our experiences the therapy with Chinese medicine offers high prospects of complete recovery or at least of a clear amelioration.
Within chronic inflammatory illnesses atopic dermatitis takes a special position: the inflamed organ is visible and accessible from outside. A temptation for the therapist. The dermatologist resorts to agents which contain cortisone and which can be exctrinsicly applicated. He then can just watch how the inflammation fades away. The patient for his part scratches until blood or lymph appears and feels how the itching diminishes. Both are common reactions which indeed do not offer a real therapeutic perspective, but nevertheless they can give hints on the inflammatory dynamic behind the eczema.
The fact that the illness appears visible on the skin surface is a chance for the diagnostician. With nothing else than his eyes he can observe the inflammation in its emergence and how it processes. This offers him the possibility to draw conclusions for the pathogenesis of the eczema by observing the morphology, the localization on the skin and the time elapses of its appearance. In each individual case he can easily follow the steps of the illness.
The eczema from the western and from the eastern point of view
There are few illnesses where the different concepts of western school medicine and Chinese medicine appear as clearly as in the case of atopic dermatitis. The western dermatology concentrates its attention almost completely on the skin. The inflammatory state of the skin serves as a direct origin for the use of immunosuppressive agents which usually are just locally adjusted.
In contrast, for the Chinese medicine the skin is not the delinquent of the immune disturbance atopic dermatitis but the victim. The eczema is regarded as a systemic disease. In this view the skin functions as a kind of pressure control valve used by the organism to get rid of inflammatory substances or processes which it is not able to cope with in any other kind of way. The skin inflammation is regarded as the tip of an iceberg which continously goes on to regenerate after it once has been carried off. And indeed: after the employment of topistic, i.e. locally applied corticosteroids, the eczema reveals again either at the same spot, or at other spots as well, if it had been chasted away from its former accustomed spots on the skin. Due to the rebound mechanism it happens that after the stop of the cortison ointment a comeback of the eczema often is experienced more harassingly than ever before. It leads to constantly and repeated lubricating with grease and finally can entail physical dependence.
Suppressing the symptom which soon emerges again and again at new spots resembles a game lost already from the beginning. It only comes to an end if the skin has become atropic through the continous ointment of cortison. Cadaverous from the treatment the skin lost together with its vitality the capability to represent eczematic processes as well. In many cases - particularly if patients have a predisposition for atopic diseases - the inflammation changes the target organ and typically switches from the skin to the mucous membranes of the respiratory system. Then chronic bronchial asthma or a pollinosis will be developed.