30-Year “Out of Control” Eczema

 In Dermatology, Homeopathy

Joseph Kellerstein, DC, ND

Lillian presented in June 2007. She was 83 years old at the time and like a number of my patients was dragged in “by the heels” owing to the well-meaning efforts of a very enthusiastic patient. This one happened to be a compassionate but exasperated daughter-in-law.

Her chief complaint was eczema, which had erupted out of control since May 2006. Lillian’s eczema had in fact started many years ago. She had successfully suppressed it with cortisone cream and antihistamines for about 30 years. Her body chose last year to fight back (a good sign).


The eruption began at the level of the waist and spread continuously from there. It was the itching, which was intolerable. The itch would go on all night and prevent or awaken from sleep. She was just miserable with the suffering.

The eruption had 3 basic forms: vesicular, blood-filled vesicles, and fine “bumps” under the skin. They were all present simultaneously and all were terribly itchy.

“I will wake about 12 to 1 am and it is as if ants are biting me all over. It is worse if I scratch and worse from the heat of the bed.” The itch seems to change location on scratching. That was it for my ability to extract a full chief complaint.

Past Medical History

In the year 2000 there was a first myocardial infarct. In 2001 her husband fell ill and while in the hospital passed away in 2002. In 2002 she had a second heart attack. Lillian reports her heart was 70% damaged.

There is a history of arthritis of the knees and the fingers. The finger joints have large nodosities.

Appendectomy in 1949. Hysterectomy due to heavy bleeding in1959. Gallbladder removal in 1999. Bowel resection in 2002.

Medications included amlodipine 5mg, irbesartan 150 mg, aspirin (one baby), lorazepam 1 mg.

When asked if there any other complaints she said “just old age.”

She was on the chilly side and wanted to be well covered until the itch drove her mad.

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I prescribed Calc carb 6 1pellet bid. I kept to a low potency because I was unsure both of my patient’s sensitivity to remedies and of my prescription which fit, but not with any strong characteristic value. I did not have confidence in my case as a result.

The follow-up was 2 weeks later. Lillian had been suffering and I wanted to know if I was making a dent.

The report was that her energy was certainly much better, but no real change in the eruption or the itch.

The family sat down with me and further described the situation. Lillian did better when in company but this could easily turn because she tended to be very critical and the itch could feed off social situations if they became a bit anxious for her.

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Remedy After Remedy …

This poor lady was tormented as I flung remedy after remedy at her without the slightest improvement whatsoever. The weeks went by. I considered job retraining.

She would call each week saying “The nights are sheer hell!” I would go into my routine of trying to assemble a genius until it hit me—-Worse At Night!!!!! Could it be Syphillinum?

Well the rep chart does not look promising as you can see from the above. However the repertory is our tool, not our master. The more I simply lingered on the expression of the patient’s suffering, the more the modality worse at night stood out in relief from the other features of the case. So I dared to do what homeopaths seem to do all too rarely. I opened a materia medica and there in Hering’s Guiding Symptoms I saw:

“Biting sensation in different parts of body, as if bitten by bugs, at night only.”

Wow—thank goodness for good accurate materia medica. Wait a minute, where could I have found a better rubric in the Repertory?

So I did a retrospective study.

SKIN; PAIN; biting; night, in bed (4) : coc-c., mag-c., sulph., syph.

So, a striking modality led me to study materia medica and confirm the possibility, and not only did one dose cause great relief, but this lady just sent her daughter-in-law into the office today to get a few more pellets for occasional use.

Kellerstein headshotJoseph Kellerstein, DC, ND graduated as a chiropractor in 1980 and as an ND 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. Dr. Kellerstein’s mission is the exploration of natural medicine in a holistic context, especially homeopathy and facilitating the experience of healing in clients. Dr. Kellerstein is presently teaching a post-grad course in Hahnemannian prescribing with Dr. Andre Saine. Its mission is to promote excellence in the basics of homeopathic prescribing; case taking; repertory; Organon as applied to real-life practice; and case analysis skills via modeling the masters.


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