Q. I have been plagued with nummular eczema for years. It does not respond to Benadryl, prednisone or any kind of topical cortisone ointment.
I read in your column about some doctors in Japan who had people with eczema drink oolong tea to help their symptoms. So the last time I had an outbreak, I tried oolong tea and the results were amazing. Within twenty-four hours, the itching and inflammation were gone. It took a couple of days, but the lesions disappeared and didn't leave scars.
Why does oolong tea work so well? It is the best treatment for this awful skin condition I've ever seen!
A. Nummular eczema consists of coin-shaped itchy red patches on the skin. Nobody knows what causes it, but the condition is aggravated by dry skin, stress, detergent and cold weather.
A study (Arch. Dermatol. Jan. 2001) of more than 100 patients with a different kind of eczema (atopic dermatitis) showed that drinking a liter of oolong tea daily could markedly improve inflammation and itching. The researchers speculated that antioxidant polyphenols in tea have anti-allergic properties and calm the overactive immune response. Some people have reported that their eczema improved when they took borage or flax seed oil orally. These dietary supplements are high in omega-3 fatty acids which also have anti-inflammatory activity.