Mike had such bad eczema that he was hospitalised; it was so bad he had to be bathed daily and bandaged each night, but nothing worked. He couldn’t work, he couldn’t play sport, he couldn’t really see an end to his pain. He got a bit better in hospital but was still left with sore, red, itchy skin all over his body. Eventually his wife Jude discovered evening primrose oil.
Me and my eczema…
This is Mike’s story, told by Jude, who remembers it all much better than Mike.
His eczema was bad, we regularly went to the GP and had all sorts of creams, Betnovate,
Betnovate C, Betnovate RD, Hydrocortazone (sp) and Oilatum. This was all before the internet,
So I joined the eczema society and the only info was for babies and small children. I travelled all over London to buy ‘soothing’ creams which may help. I established that he was allergic to lanolin which was in E45 – you can now get it without.After a week off work and antibiotics from the doctor Mike’s eczema had really got bad. Eventually he ended up in St Thomas’s with infected eczema, he was scarlet all over and his face was covered in coldsores, not just his lips, but around his nose and ears, in his hair, he was in a really bad way, the condition is called Eczema Herpeticum. It’s quite a rare condition, it is when the herpes virus infects the eczema… Luckily he got treatment before his eyesight was damaged, the doctors were more worried about his eyesight than his skin, I guess they knew they could treat the skin… He had said his eyes felt gritty.
In hospital he had baths twice a day in a purple liquid, an antibiotic we think, then covered in 50/50 and Betnavate and wrapped in tubinet. I took him fresh fruit & veg and milk etc and after two weeks in hospital he was better. But still very red all over, he used to call himself lobster face.
After about a week I had to start the whole treatment again, including sewing socks to the end of his sleeves on the tops he wore in bed, to stop him scratching in the night – a tip from the eczema society!!
Then I discovered a book called Evening Primrose Oil by Judy Graham in (yet another) health food shop. There was a chapter about eczema and research that had been done on dogs(!) in Sweden.
As far as I could find out there are no side effects and you can’t overdose, so I decided to try it on him!! At first I just gave him regular 1000mg capsules, I can’t remember if it was 6 or 8 twice a day.
Then I read something about fishoil and skin so I started Efamol which is/was Evening Primrose (EP) and fish oil. I told him it would be at least 12 weeks before he would see any improvement and after 8 weeks he was in the bath and noticed that his inner elbow had not gone red. He continued for about six months on the high dosage and then I heard EP was available on the NHS (for children) but our doctor was quite “alternative’ and gave him a prescription.
And so he gradually got better, we reduced the dose until he gave it up completely. Apart from the odd itch he’s now fine.
• My theory on water is simple. If your skin is trying to produce natural oil and you keep washing it off and replacing it with Oilatum it’s not going to work. Yes the relief is good – but it doesn’t last long. So if you take oil capsules with water, which is good for the skin and try to reduce the bathing it should work. Not very scientific I know!
Sorry we don’t have any pics (I was banned) but we have given the book to at least three other people and EP worked for them too.
If you need anything else please let me know. And, GOOD LUCK! I really hope it works for you.
Special thanks to Mike and Jude for letting me tell their story and I may be imagining this but perhaps my skin is already a little less dry… who knows. Time will tell. This really was a miracle cure for Mike but the doses most of us might be taking, a few capsules a day, may not be enough to really make a difference.
I’ve been taking EP or fish oil for years, but only ever one or two capsules a day, and then long periods with nothing when life gets in the way or I can’t afford or remember to buy them.
I still have the book that Mike leant me (Mike sorry, I’ve still got it, but it came in handy for writing this blog post.
I will get it back to you soon I promise) called ‘Evening Primrose Oil – its remarkable properties and its use in the treatment of a wide range of conditions’ by Judy Graham.
It’s a really handy, pocket sized book. Not too long to be daunting and not too complicated as to confuse the reader. The chapter that’s important here is ‘Eczema, asthma, allergies and cystic fibrosis’.
We all know that eczema, asthma and allergies can be linked but I was intrigued to find out why cystic fibrosis, a condition I know very little about, is included in the same chapter.
These four conditions do have one thing in common, they can be caused by the body’s abnormal immune defence reactions and are also all classed as atopic conditions. Atopic eczema is a chronic condition which causes inflammation of the skin and can be mild or very serious. Atopy is a generalised allergic response and can also cause hay fever and migraines as well as the eczema, asthma and allergies. Atopy is also common in people with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, ear problems and nasal polyps.
The following problems may be present in those with eczema, allergies, asthma etc.
- Immune system problems – where your body reacts to foods and substances incorrectly, treating food protein as if it were bacteria or a foreign invader to be fought, when in fact it’s harmless. This causes all sorts of problems such as eczema and rashes, asthma and allergies.
- Poor enzyme production and digestive problems – a number of scientific research studies have discovered that atopic people may have a defect in the enzyme delta-6-desaturase which is responsible for converting linoleic acid to gammalinolenic acid meaning they are very low in essential gammalinolenic acid and arachidonic acid. This basically means digestion is poor and some food proteins cannot be digested and so they make their way through a leaky gut membrane and cause problems elsewhere.
How can evening primrose help?
Evening primrose oil can’t correct the problem with the faulty enzyme, but it can replace the missing fatty acids that are so important for healthy digestion and immune systems. Studies at Bristol Royal Infirmary proved that patients needed to be taking at least eight to twelve capsules for twelve weeks to make up for the lifetime of living with faulty enzyme production so this isn’t a quick fix.
If you think you’re atopic and have problems with your immune system and digestion causing allergies, eczema, asthma etc. the following may make things worse:
- Trans fatty acids – almost all the trans fats now in our diets come from an industrial process that partially hydrogenates (adds hydrogen to) unsaturated fatty acids. Trans fats, then, are a form of processed vegetable oils and many health professionals and scientists believe and have proven that they can be very bad for our health. They are found in margerines and high fat baked goods. Stick to unsaturated vegetable oils from canola, peanuts, olive, flax, corn, safflower and sunflower
- Stress, which can cause the adrenal glands to excrete harmful hormones
- Simple carbs like bread and cakes which can cause a rapid rise in blood glucose
As well as evening primrose oil other oils can help to do the same job including borage, flax and fish oils. I tend to alternate between them and rotate which supplement I’m taking. I’ll take a look at the differences between the Omega 3 and 6 oils on the market soon as some may be better and faster acting than others.
I found this article on the Foods Matter website. It’s quite old and dates back to 2007 but I think the information is still very relevant. Read “Fatty Acids in Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and ADHD – Dr. Alex Richardson – 2007” which goes into many other conditions which can be greatly alleviated with omega 3 and 6 fatty acid supplementation.
Just google ‘evening primrose oil for eczema’ you’ll get hundreds of links to websites with success stories.
There can be side effects in very rare cases. If you are thinking of trying it please do check with your doctor that there is no reason that you shouldn’t. There have also been more than 30 human studies reporting the benefits of EPO for eczema and dermatitis. A study of 1,207 patients found that EPO helped relieve symptoms from skin conditions, including itching, crusting, edema (fluid, swelling), and redness. EPO can be used in children and adults with skin conditions.
It’s important to remember that we are all different. What worked for Mike may not work for others, but I think I’m going to give this a go. It can’t do any harm. I take a few capsules every day anyway but I think I’ll up my dose. Anyone else tried this?
Please speak to your doctor before taking any supplements and always read the label. If you would like to speak to a professional there are many private hospitals with great allergy facilities. Find out about allergies and how to detect symptoms. Find out more about allergy treatment and medicine at a private hospital nearest to you in Kent.