Licensed Acupuncturist and National Board Certified & Certified Diplomate of Dermatology & Oriental Herbal Medicine, Carla Gervasio Discusses Natural Solutions for Eczema

With 25 years of experience in dermatology on the western side with an emphasis on ingredients on both the prescription and non-prescription side, Carla Gervasio has seen it all. When her son was born however, she turned to acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine and now bridges the two worlds to offer solace to kids with both skin and emotional issues. Gervasio is a NY State Licensed Acupuncturist and National Board Certified – and Certified Diplomate of Dermatology and Oriental Herbal Medicine.  She has confronted eczema and seb derm with patients (children) but also her 9 year old son and explains how in Traditional Oriental Medicine, they categorize the condition eczema within ‘patterns’ for which they then provide treatments. Read on as Gervasio describes what eczema is and what she sees as an expert, and as a mom. Main Questions
  • What is eczema? Inflammation of skin, may be ‘damp heat’ if weepy or can be dry in nature.
  • What are some of the main causes of eczema?  Inherited ‘damp heat’ from the mother – inherited ‘fetal heat’, diet in  nature or autoimmune.
  • How often do you see it in your practice? Approximately 5%
  • What do you recommend for kids with eczema? Specific protocol of acupuncture, topical herbal remedies – ointments if dry in nature; gel or liquid if weepy in nature, or internal herbal tinctures.
  • How do you deal with it? What are some of the things you do with your kids?  I always take a look at the child’s diet or if mother is nursing child then the mother’s diet.  Processed foods need to be eliminated, gluten, dairy, artifical colorants and flavors – may be contributing to the problem.  The child’s digestion has to be closely evaluated – the autoimmune aspect may be starting in the gut.
As an Expert Eczema is a chronic condition which usually starts in childhood and may continue into adolescence and adulthood, although many cases may resolve by adolescence.  The skin typically is itchy, red and may be dry or ‘weepy’ in nature.  Eczema affects males and females on an equal basis, approximately 15% of the global population is affected with this skin condition.  There is also a high correlation of co-existence  or comorbidity between eczema and allergies, and asthma. In my acupuncture practice, I see many children with attention issues and approximately 20% of those kids have had some kind of skin issues – mostly eczema, luckily nothing too severe.  I have had a lower number of adult patients with eczema – approximately 2-5% frequency.  Regarding treatments for children, I like to use the ‘Best of Both’ worlds “Western and Eastern” herbal medicine.  I use Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine like the following topical emollient Zi Cao Shui Gao which has cooling properties and hydrating properties, but I like to apply over it with Organic Shea Butter or Cocco Butter to provide occlusion or film to better deliver the herbal remedy and increase hydration.  The key ingredient in this topical herbal remedy is `Zi Cao’ or Groomwell Root in English.  It is excellent in cooling the skin and reducing itch.  I also recommend Colloidal Oatmeal bathes for children with eczema – this is also very soothing and calming for skin. There are many herbal remedies in western and chinese medicine that help heal the skin without the commonly seen side effects associated with long-term steroidal use, such as striae (red stretch marks) or thinning of skin.  Please note, that I do believe that topical steroidal medicine prescribed by a medical doctor is necessary for specific or severe cases, but there are complementary naturals that can also enhance results whereby shortening the period of prescription medications.  A child’s skin is so very delicate and a parent must be informed of the long-term effects from topical steroidal use. As a Mom I have dealt with skin conditions in my practice as a healthcare professional but also have dealt with the same condition with my son.  A few months after my son was born, he developed some patches of eczema on his leg s and arms and luckily it was mild.  I was able to treat it with the same remedies mentioned above – however, on his scalp he had ‘cradle cap’ which is an infantile form of seborrhoeic dermatitis.  The lesion has a yellowish patch of crusty skin and sebum which needs to be removed gently with a soft brush and oil.  It has been 9 years now and I still have to make sure that patch doesn’t come back – at least once every two weeks I check this one spot on his scalp to make sure the flakes are not stuck to his scalp and use tea tree oil to help remove the patch and later apply with lemongrass to help treat the area – both oils have anti-fungal properties and help with this condition.  So this is an example of how some of these infantile skin condtions can linger! As far as tricks and tips go, I find there are a lot of remedies in our ‘kitchen’ to help with skin healing.  Olive Oil and Sunflower Oil are both fabulous emollients.  Milk and Oatmeal are wonderful for red rashes and eczema.    And for those Moms that want an “Anti-aging” Skincare Mask…..that will have to be another blog post on how to make them in your kitchen with some local herbs. :)