Can You Scratch That? Skin Eruption Case Studies

Joseph Kellerstein, DC, ND

Case Study 1

David first visited my office in June 1989. The presenting complaint was a severe eczema of the fingers. He had had it “forever.”

It was between the digits and on the dorsum. The evolution of each cycle was typical: It began as clear, fluid-filled vesicles that appeared with severe pruritus. He would scratch to bleeding during sleep. The vesicles then proceeded to the drying phase. This was most uncomfortable. The skin would flake, then crack and bleed.

Other factors:

  • David was warm, thirsty and impatient
  • There was a low energy period between two and three p.m.
  • He slept on the left side and enjoyed the room being colder
  • There was a long history of cancer on the mother’s side of the family, which imbued a rather strong anxiety about this possibility.

The repertory is interesting on this location of eruption. To find eruption between the fingers, you must consult the rubric “eruption hands-between fingers.” Sulphur (the indicated remedy here) has especially the characteristic “eruption between the middle and ring fingers” – not applicable here, but a point worth noting.

Rx: Sulphur 30c once per day. I instructed David to stop taking the remedy at any sign of aggravation.

At the one-month mark, David reported much improvement initially. While on vacation, the skin was great, which was not typical for him. However, upon returning to work, there was a quick relapse.

While most of us cringe at the news of relapse, it actually offers us a window into the crucial sensitivities of this person regarding this illness.

Some questioning readily revealed that David’s work as a tool and dye maker also involved the extensive exposure of his hands to many chemicals on a daily basis. This was unavoidable.

After laying bare this issue and discussing the timeline of skin irritation vs. his long-time job, David gained insight into the relationship between certain chemicals and his eczema. He had developed hypersensitivity over time, and it now was obvious.

I increased the posology to twice a day, hoping to match the aggression of sensitivity and exposure with the aggression of posology.

It didn’t work. The problem raged on. I gave him Sulphur 200c – no response. It was not until I ascended to the heights of a 10m that we got a response, and a good one: no aggravation after the single dose, and a nice, stable, virtually complete improvement for several months before any redose was needed.

David began to sail smoothly. The years went by; his hands went into solvent and the doses stayed stable at one to three times annually.

By 2002, we had increased potency to 1mm, which was repeated in 2004 and 2006.

I believe that without the hygienic impediment, curing this sensitivity would have proceeded far more quickly. However, this case has teaching value in that David was able to move toward a cure despite the daily obstacle.

Case Study 2

This is a more recent case. In fact, I just learned of the outcome prior to writing this column.

It was the end of January. I was heavily invested in the post-holiday blues. I had just a few more days until heading for the blue healing waters of an all-inclusive resort by the Caribbean when an emergency call came from India. This was not the time (yet this is always the time).

The call was from a lovely, intuitive patient who teaches meditation and had led a retreat to a resort by the ocean in India. She had slept in a not-so-great place, and woke in the morning with what seemed to her to be massive bug bites on her palms – horribly itchy, blister-like eruptions. Pam slept with her hands under the pillow, and figured that’s how the bugs got her. She called me on her way to visit a dermatologist to see what might be done in the form of first aid. I was totally at a loss, and asked that she call back after seeing the dermatologist.

Not very long after, we spoke again. The blisters were now very red and very itchy, in fact driving her quite wild. The MD had diagnosed erythema multiforme and had piled on the antihistamines and steroids. Pam got the prescriptions but did not want to use them.

Meanwhile, the eruptions were proceeding upward onto her arms, and now she was scared. Pam said there was just no relief. I decided to challenge the statement: ”No relief – none at all – not all day or night?” I asked. Then she dropped the cookies: ”Well, that’s not quite true. I was so desperate I ran into the ocean and did get some good relief while I was in there. But it came right back after.”

Now, in the repertory the only remedy listed for sea bathing ameliorates is Medorrhinum. Generally I also include remedies ameliorated by sea air.

I asked if there were any cravings and she said yes, salt. Now, don’t get ahead of me. My next question was, “How bright is the sun?” Her answer: “Painfully strong.” I gave Pam a single dose of Nat mur 200c and told her to call me in the morning.

Hope always burns bright. Yes, I wanted a slam-dunk before going on vacation. I got a slam.

The next morning, Pam said the problem was worse – more itching, and further up the arm. (Why me? – quite Homer Simpson). But for some reason, I didn’t mind it. Thank you, Hahnemann: The Organon tells us this might be a good sign. I passed along this message but said that if improvement did not set in within two days, to use the whole pharmacy.

Pam called again and said it wasn’t even one day when the eruptions just vanished. I think I deserve lunch.


Kellerstein headshotJoe Kellerstein, DC, ND graduated as a chiropractor in 1980 and as a naturopathic physician in 1984. He graduated with a specialty in homeopathy from the Canadian Academy for Homeopathy, and subsequently lectured there for two years. He also lectured in homeopathy for several years at CCNM; for eight years at the Toronto School of Homeopathic Medicine; and for two years at the British Institute for Homeopathy. Kellerstein’s mission is the exploration of natural medicine in a holistic context, especially homeopathy and facilitating the experience of healing in clients.

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