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Home > Health & Disease in Naturopathy > Skin Disorders > Dermatitis
Dermatitis refers to an inflammation of the skin, both external and internal. It is characterised by redness, swelling, heat and pain or itching. This disease may affect any part of the body. The genital areas and exposed areas such as the eyelids, forearms, face and neck are more prone to it.

The cells of the epidermis (the surface layer of the skin) are normally protected from damage by the tightly packed squamae of keratin of the horny layer. The elasticity of keratin varies with its water content. This water content can be reduced by evaporation or by removal of the lipid with which it retains moisture. Substances, which produce inflammation of the epidermis or dermatitis by mechanical or chemical disruption of the horny layer, are called irritants. Degreasing agents like soaps, if used toe frequently over a short time, will cause dryness, redness, fissuring and irritation of the skin in almost everyone.

Symptoms of Dermatitis are:
The appearance of dermatitis varies according to its severity and the stage of its evolution. The first symptom is erythema or redness. Swelling of the skin due to oedema (excessive fluid retention) usually follows this. Thereafter, Vesicles may appear. Their bases exude serum in case of rupture. This condition is known as weeping dermatitis. The serum, later dries up to form crusts. In some people, the disease seems to come and go without making any great change in the skin itself.

Causes of Dermatitis:
Chemical substances usually give rise to dermatitis. They may reach the skin from outside or from inside through the blood-stream. About 100 different plants are known to be capable of causing dermatitis in susceptible persons. The onset is usually acute and begins an hour or two after contact. External contacts with irritating chemicals cause dermatitis. This includes most cases of industrial dermatitis, which arise on the hands or forearms, which actually come in contact with the irritant.

Certain drugs applied externally such as atropine, belladona, carbolic acid, iodine, mercury, penicillin, sulphonamides, sulphurs, tars and turpentine sometimes cause dermatitis. Other substances causing this disease include hair dyes, bleaches, skin tonics, nail polish, perfume, wool, silk, nylon, floor-wax, and various detergents. Other causes of this disease are indiscretion in diet, deficiency of v`rtamine A, pantothenic acid, nervous and emotional strains.

Treatment of Dermatitis: As dermatitis may appear due. to varied causes, treatment also varies accordingly. If, however, the trouble is constitutional arising from internal causes, the patient should commence the treatment by adopting an all-fruit diet for at least a week. In this regimen, he should take three meals a day of juicy fruits such as orange, grapes, apple, pineapple and papaya at five hourly intervals.

After an exclusive fruit diet, the patient may adopt a restricted diet, for 10 days. In this regimen, breakfast may consist of orangs juice or grapefruit. Raw salad, consisting of vegetables available in season, with raisins, figs or dates may be taken for lunch and dinner may consist of steamed vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, carrots, turnips, cauliflower, along with a few nuts or fresh fruit. Milk puddings and desserts such as jellies, jams and past rjes, all condiments, spices, white sugar, white flour products, tea, coffee and other stimulating drinks should all be avoided.

After the restricted diet, the patient should gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet, consisting of seeds, nuts and grains, vegetables and fruits. The emphasis should be on fresh fruits and raw vegetables. In case of a severe condition, the patient should undertake a fast on fruit or vegetable juices for three to five days. This may be followed by a restricted diet for 10 to 15 days. Further fasts and a period on restricted diet at intervals may be adopted after the resumption of a normal diet.

The warm water enema should be used daily to cleanse the bowels during the first week of the treatment and thereafter as necessary. Epsom-salts baths may be taken two or three times a week. The affected areas may also be bathed twice daily in hot water with Epsom salts. About 100 grams of Epsom salts should be added to a bowlful of hot water for this purpose. A little olive oil should be applied after Epsom salt bathing.

The patient should avoid white sugar, refined carbohydrates, tea, coffee and other denatured foods. He should make liberal use of fruits and vegetable juices. The combined juice from apple, carrot and celery is especially beneficial in the treatment of dermatitis. About 175 ml. each of these juices should be mixed to prepare 525 ml. of combined juice.

No medicines of any kind should be used. In case of trouble due to external causes, the most effective treatment consists of Applying a mixture of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and olive oil. The alkaline sodium neutralises the poisonous acids formed in the sores and oil keeps the flesh in a softened condition.

The patient should undertake moderate physical exercise, preferably simple yoga asanas after the fast is completed and the start of the restricted diet. Exercise is one of the most valuable means for purifying the blood and for preventing toxaemia. The patient should also have adequate physical and mental rest and fresh air. He should avoid exposure to cold, and adopt regular hoursof eating and sleeping.
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