Eczema comes under the head of neurosis. It is a neurotic so-called disease. In other words, children develop this peculiar form of skin derangement when they are enervated, toxemic, and infected from decomposition of food in the bowels. A child might develop
petit mal, chorea, or some other so-called nervous disease, if the reflex irritation had not been sent to the surface of the body. When laymen get enough information so that they can think in the language of the unity of diseases, they will not be scanning almanacs and billboards, and going to all kinds of specialists, to find a cure or buy an operation for all so-called special or specific diseases.
At the start there is a little redness and roughness of a small spot on the skin. This gradually spreads larger. Where the constitutional derangement continues to increase in severity, other spots appear. These spots spread, and become somewhat thickened. By that I mean that the roughness is elevated above the surface of the skin. In pronounced types, the surface of the eczematous spots is moist; then it is called weeping eczema. This means that there is a little more irritation that nature is throwing out, or that she is eliminating toxin more rapidly than in what is known as the dry variety of eczema.
Conventional, orthodox treatment is with lotions and salves. Where salves of various description are used--salves that are prescribed for curing the disease--some will create more irritation than others. Not any are curative--with no apologies to the profession or to Cuticura. Where they produce quite a little irritation, the disease is spread more rapidly than it otherwise would be. But curing eczema in this way is very much on the order of rubbing salve on the end of a dog's tail for a sore ear. Local treatment is absurd, unless palliation is the sole ambition.
The child's diet must be corrected. Stop forever feeding starch and protein in the same meal. Where bathing is neglected, it should be properly attended. Bathing in eczema is not considered good from standpoint of scientific prescribing. A warm tub-bath three times a week should be given, using a very mild soap. Then follow with a thorough rinsing in warm water. This is to be followed with dry towel-rubbing. Where there are no eczematous spots, the rubbing should be brisk. The days that the child is not to have the tub-bath it should be given a warm sponge-bath, allowing it to stand in warm water and sponging it off quickly; then follow with dry towel-rubbing. After the bath and drying with a soft towel, use a little olive oil or Vaseline; then dust with talcum.
If the child's tongue is coated, its breath bad, its stomach distended with gas, and it grinds its teeth at night, or is restless and continually kicking the covers off, it should be put to bed for a week or two. A fast of two or three days' duration should be given. If that is impossible, give a glass of milk and water--half warm milk and half hot water. Have the child sip it slowly. A glassful should be given three times a day. After the third day begin the fourth by giving a little fruit in the morning. At noon, feed a slice of whole-wheat bread, stale or dried out or toasted. The bread is to be eaten with a very little butter. This is to be eaten dry. The child gets nothing else until it has finished eating the bread. Then follow the bread with a pear, or a few grapes, or orange juice half water. In the evening, give a dish of prunes and a glass of whole milk. This amount of feeding should not be increased until the eczema has disappeared. Just what kind of gastro-intestinal derangement has been set up to cause the eczema cannot be anticipated, and neither can the intensity of the constitutional derangement be taken into consideration in preparing an article like this. To get good results, the fast should be for three days or longer, if the breath is bad and there should be nausea. A fast often causes sick stomach in those who are very toxemic. A hot, wet pack over the stomach gives relief.
If, however, the tongue remains coated, the child at the end of the third day's fast has a bad breath, and nature has started up a decided elimination, it would be wise not to feed for three days more. Give nature an opportunity to eliminate the toxins in the system. Nature can be depended upon to do this, unless there is foolish fear on the part of the parents lest the child will starve to death. There is no danger of its starving so long as nature is cleaning house, evidenced by bad odor from the breath and body.
The bowels should be moved by an enema every night for three consecutive nights. After that, the bowels should be left alone, except for giving a small enema--a half-pint, or not to exceed a pint, of warm water every other day.