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Understanding natural healing with habit reversal for chronic atopic eczema
An analogy that has proved useful in our clinic when discussing how habit reversal "works", is to refer to how, if a farmer leaves a field uncultivated, or fallow, for long enough, it gives the soil an opportunity to regain its previous vitality.
Habitual scratching the skin can cause an irregular thickening of the outer layers. This can be seen as a protective reaction. The result however is a greater vulnerability to other hazards: thus now acute eczema is more easily provoked. With chronic eczema the skin is more unstable.
Successful habit reversal allows chronic eczema to be "left alone" for long enough, for natural healing to take place. Instead of scratching, or cultivating the skin, the skin is allowed to lie fallow. During this fallow period the skin is able to return to its previous healthy and resilient state.
Then acute eczema is less easily provoked, and acute flare-ups are easier to treat.
NB: Dr Peter Norén says "Have patience - scratching can be decreased within days - the skin takes many weeks to heal"
Melin L Frederiksen T Norén P & Swebilius BG (1986) Behavioural treatment of scratching in patients with atopic dermatitis B.J.Derm. 115, 467-474
p473 "The highly significant correlation between skin status and scratching means that 55% of the improvement in skin status could be accounted for by the reduction in scratching"