Clinical Cases

A Case of Itching Skin and Knee Pain

Neha Breja
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Dr. Neha Breja presents a case of skin discoloration and itching in a woman of 72.

The patient is a 72 years lady with fair skin, thin grey hair, dark eyes with a low self confidence and self-conscious demeanor. She is short and stout of build. She presented with complaints of skin itching and pain in her knees.

Her case as given 27th February, 2016:

I have black patches that have spread all across the body, with intense itching that bothers me all the time. This skin complaint started in July 2015 and spread very fast from forehead to face to trunk and then arms and legs. I noticed that it first appeared on the right side and then spread to the left.  It started after my husband expired. Ever since, I don’t feel like going out and meeting other people because of my face. Everyone asks me what happened and I don’t like it. I look so bad. I don’t even color my hair because it increases itching on my scalp. These days I just stay in my room. I used to be a very active lady but now I just be in my room. I don’t want anyone to see me. I have also become irritable with my family, this is especially more during night and if I step out in open air I feel much relaxed. Also I feel less morose and sad when I am walking out in the open. There is increased restlessness internally, I feel I must do something and still don’t know what. My knees have also started hurting, especially when I get up and start walking, I can’t walk easily, for a while I limp. After a few steps it gets better. Right knee is more affected it seems, though left is also getting bad now.

At times my ear swell after itching a lot and then a fluid discharge comes out from the skin. My skin burns and then I wash it with warm water and it feels slightly better. At night it itches more, so can’t even sleep properly, I keep getting up. I don’t know if I am eating something that caused it or is increasing it, so I am eating only vegetarian and no spices. My appetite has gone very low because of this fear that it might aggravate. I love to eat rice, soups and sweets.  I have always been prone to allergies of the skin, which could never really be ascertained what caused them. I drink a lot of water easily 10-15 glasses a day, though little at a time.

I have been applying some mild topical steroids for the last 2 months, but though it gets better for a while wherever I apply it, it erupts somewhere else. I am also hypertensive and I take Amlodipine since 3 years.

Initial Assessment

This lady has come to get rid of her skin complaint and also to get relief from her knee pain. Her tongue was thickly coated with central furrow and red tip. She has aggravation from first motion while beginning to walk which settles after a few steps. The skin on inspection has silvery scales on the patches and there was intense itching, which was better by washing with warm water.  Her mind is extremely irritable which is aggravated at night and ameliorated by going out in open air. She is depressed and morose, which she feels is more when in the house and she feels better while walking in open air. There is also internal restlessness.

Repertorization using Synthesis Repertory:

Mind, Ailments from, grief

Mind, Irritability, night

Mind, Irritability, night, air in, open, amel

Mind, Sadness, Company, aversion to company, desire for solitude

Mind, Morose, house agg; in, open air amel.; on walking in

Mind, Restlessness, internal

Generals, Side, right

Skin, Itching, night

Skin, Itching, burning

Skin, Itching, bathing, warm, amel, hot

Extremities, Pain, Knee, motion, beginning to move

Extremities, Pain, Knee, motion, amel.

The remedies that were considered from the repertorial result were Rhus Toxicodendron, Lycopodium and Sepia.

Rhus Toxicodendron:  With all the other rubrics that were repertorised, it also has red triangular tip of tongue which was observed by me during the case taking. It covers the skin eruptions with silvery scales, itching and its modalities along with mind symptoms very appropriately. The extremities manifestations too are very aptly suited. The nightly aggravations and right side predominance too are characteristic keynotes of Rhus Tox. The thirst in addition to the repertorised symtoms is increased and she likes to have little at a time. These additional confirmations make Rhus tox the strongest choice.

Lycopodium was one of the remedies that came to my mind while I was taking her case due to the right side predominance, lack of self confidence, her desire for sweets (though not very well marked), her irritability towards her family and also her grief for her husband’s loss. But the particular symptoms did not seem to go too well with the drug picture. It did not cover the skin itching better by warm bathing nether did it cover the pain in knee aggravated during beginning to move. Also generals like desire for solitude and open air amelioration were not covered in Lycopodium.

Sepia was characteristic of her ailments from loss of her husband, desire for solitude and internal restlessness. It was also marked for the kind of skin lesions that were almost circular and intersecting with itching. Right sided predominance and nightly aggravation of complaints were some prominent keynotes that was leading me to consider this remedy while analysing the case. Also the irritability towards her family and grandchildren was depicting indifference towards her loved ones. But the absence of irritability at night and its amelioration in open air, which were characteristic symptoms in this case, made it a less likely candidate. Also modalities of particular symptoms were missing in its drug picture like knee pain aggravated on beginning to move & skin burning better by washing with warm water.

Based on my evaluation, Rhus Tox was selected, it was given in 0/1 potency. She was instructed to tap the bottle of medicine 6 times before she poured the medicine into the cap, then 1 capful of medicine to be to be mixed in 1/2 cup water and 1teaspoon to be taken from that, once daily, every morning for a month. LM potency is generally my preferred potency to dispense especially in chronic skin complaints and old patients, as most often I have seen aggravations from the centesimal scale in such cases. She was also advised to stop applying any medicinal topical applications.

Follow-up March 30th, 2016

She reports:

I feel its drying up, the skin is feeling stretched all over, especially on my face. Though all the patches are still there and the itching seems to have increased. At night, itching doesn’t let me sleep. My knees feel better too. The pain isn’t as much, I am able to stand up more easily. Though I am still limping. My energy levels are better too.  I am feeling better overall.

When questioned about her feeling towards her family and stepping out of home, she said she feels she has been more tolerable. She still doesn’t move out of her house as she doesn’t want people to see her with this skin complaint. Her daughter, who was accompanying her in this visit, said she continues to be irritable.

My assessment was that she was continuing to improve, her feeling of her skin drying up was an initial sign of improvement. Even temperamentally she feels she is calmer, though her daughter doesn’t agree. Her knees too are paining less. George Vithoulkas notes in The Science of Homeopathy, that emotional symptoms are the deepest. Because of partial physical and mild emotional improvement, I felt that the action of the remedy was in progress and it should be allowed to continue to do further good. The same dose and potency was repeated and a follow up was scheduled.

Follow-up April 28th, 2016

She reports:

I feel my feet are clearing up, also the itching is still a lot, but less than before say 15-20%. Face is still bad and all the dried skin is looking darker. I just can’t step out; what will people think I have. My sleep is better, the itch at night doesn’t bother my sleep as much now. My appetite is also now better, I feel that food is not affecting my skin as much. My knees are not troubling me as much now.

When questioned about her temperament, she mentioned she is less restless and doesn’t feel as depressed. She is also less irritable. Even her daughter seemed to agree this time.

My assessment was that she was definitely improving steadily. The mental symptoms too were better as pointed out both by the patient and her daughter. Since there is an improvement on all planes and there is no aggravation or appearance of any new symptoms, the medicine, dose and potency seem just right and therefore I continued the prescription as it was. Follow-up was then scheduled for next month.

About the author

Neha Breja

Neha Breja

Dr. Neha Dua Breja M.D (Hom), is an ardent Homoeopathic practitioner who has been consulting for the last 9 years in Delhi, India and is now spreading her wings in Seattle, USA. She has had a successful stint in showcasing the efficacy of Homoeopathy in maternal and child cases in the Phoenix Hospital, Delhi, a state of the art maternity hospital in South Delhi. She has treated myriad cases of chronic disorders including various skin, respiratory and digestives complaints. Her mission is to work towards and see Homoeopathy as a globally recognized and trusted mode of treatment.

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