What is Eczema?
Eczema is a non-contagious skin condition that causes the skin to become inflamed. According to WebMD, Eczema affects roughly around 10% to 20% of infants and 3% of adults in the U.S. Most infants who are diagnosed with eczema will lose it by their tenth birthday, however it’s entirely possible to have eczema outbreaks throughout one’s entire lifespan.
Eczema, as of right now, is incurable, but this does not mean that its victims have to suffer through the symptoms. The condition is entirely treatable with the right care.
Often the skin will feel itchy long before any visible signs of eczema appear. The most obvious sign of eczema is an itchy rash, and the affected skin will usually become dry, thickened, or scaly. In infants, it usually manifests as patches of oozing, crusting skin on the face and scalp.
In extreme cases, eczema will be both itchy and painful, and the affected skin may start to crack and bleed. Additionally, depending on the sufferer’s original skin tone, eczema may cause a change in skin pigmentation.
The affected areas may be lighter or darker than the normal skin around it. Eczema most often appears on the face, wrists, knees, or feet, though other areas may also be affected.
Eczema’s cause is currently not very well understood. One theory is that it may be the result of an overactive immune system. According to this theory, the body comes into contact with a particular substance that it perceives as a threat, and its unnecessary attempts to protect itself end up causing the patches of eczema that appear on the skin.
This is backed up by the fact that eczema is most common in families with histories of allergies or asthma–other conditions that are caused by an overactive immune response. This also suggests that certain people may be genetically predisposed to developing eczema.
Many times a particular trigger that causes an individual’s eczema to flare-up can be identified, but these tend to vary from person to person. Some common triggers are feeling too hot or too cold, household products such as soap or detergent, and animal dander. Stress has also been shown to make eczema worse.
Foods To Avoid
One of the best things that you can do to limit the flare ups is to avoid certain types of foods. Some of the more common foods according to Healthline are known to cause issues:
- Milk and other dairy products
- Anything with Gluten
31 Essential Oils That Can Help Treat Eczema
It is important to note that most essential oils on their own are very strong, and can be irritating to the skin for this reason. Most should be diluted with a carrier oil before being applied topically. Additionally, before using essential oils regularly, it is a good idea to do a skin patch test. This way you can avoid a strong negative reaction if it turns out you are allergic to one of the ingredients. In order to do this, apply a small drop of the diluted oil onto the inside of your forearm and wait a few hours. If any irritation occurs, wash it off immediately. If not, then feel free to use the essential oil as often as you please.
1. Almond Oil
Sweet almond oil is a popular carrier oil. Though its effectiveness can be improved by mixing it with a few drops from other essential oils, by itself sweet almond oil is still a good treatment for eczema. It can soothe the itching caused by eczema and also functions as an emollient, nourishing dry skin.
2. Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is another carrier oil. It is absorbed rapidly, since it bears a striking similarity to the oil naturally produced by human skin. This also means that jojoba oil won’t feel greasy. It is good for moisturizing dry skin and any locations affected by eczema.
3. Turmeric Oil
Turmeric has natural antibacterial properties, is an anti-inflammatory, and contains numerous antioxidants. This what makes its oil such an effective treatment for eczema and other skin disorders. In particular, Cucumin, a compound contained in turmeric, has been shown by numerous studies to function as a powerful anti-inflammatory when applied topically.
4. Apricot Kernel Oil
Apricot kernel oil is a great emollient. Used to nourish and soften the skin, apricot kernel oil is easily absorbed and can relieve the itchy symptoms of eczema.
5. Sandalwood Oil
Sandalwood essential oil is another oil with anti-inflammatory properties, according to research. Aside from eczema, Sandalwood oil has been shown to be useful for treating psoriasis.
6. Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil is a good source of various essential fatty acids and can be used to relieve the itching caused by eczema.
7. Borage Seed Oil
Borage seed oil is currently one of the best known sources of the essential fatty acid Gamma Linolenic Acid. It is non-irritating and can thus be used for both dry and sensitive skin.
8. Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is commonly found in various cosmetic products. High in unsaturated fatty acids, evening primrose oil is thought to good for both dry skin and eczema.
9. Chamomile Oil
Known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and fungicidal qualities, chamomile oil is a good oil for treating dry skin, dermatitis, and eczema. In bad cases of eczema where the skin is cracked and bleeding, chamomile oil can be used to help the wounds heal faster. Some studies have shown that chamomile oil is just as effective as hydrocortisone cream, a cream commonly prescribed to treat eczema, at reducing itching and redness of the skin.
10. Cumin Seed Oil
Cumin seed oil is commonly used for cosmetic purposes, and is thought to be useful for eczema and other skin conditions.
11. Calendula Oil
Calendula oil is famous for its use in skincare and is effective at treating bruises, cuts, eczema, and chapped or dry skin.
12. Kukui Nut Oil
Kukui nut oil heals and provides protection to skin exposed to the elements. It has been used by native Hawaiians for this purpose for hundreds of years. It is good for both eczema and dry skin.
13. Carrot Oil
Not to be confused with carrot seed oil, carrot oil is made by immersing chopped carrot into another vegetable oil. Carrot oil is thought to be helpful in treating eczema. Its soothing qualities can help ease the itching caused by this skin problem.
14. Perilla Seed Oil
Rich in unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and amino acids, Perilla seed oil is frequently used in cosmetics and is a good treatment for eczema.
15. Safflower Oil
Resembling sunflower oil, safflower oil makes the skin soft. It is used to treat rough skin and to fight eczema.
16. Peach Kernel Oil
Peach kernel oil can be used on dry and sensitive skin, and soothes the itching caused by eczema. It is a mild oil and not likely to cause irritation. It is absorbed easily but slowly by the skin.
17. Sea Buckthorn Oil
Sea buckthorn oil contains high levels of various essential fatty acids. It can be used for eczema as well as other skin injuries.
18. Rosehip Oil
Rosehip oil is a popular addition to various commercial cosmetic products. A natural source of retinoic acid, rosehip oil is used to heal scarring, burns, and eczema.
19. Tamanu Oil
Though on the pricier range for an essential oil, tamanu oil is renown for its anti-inflammatory capacity. Because of this, tamanu oil is frequently used to treat eczema as well as various other issues relating to the hair, scalp, and skin.
20. Sesame Oil
Sesame seed oil can be frequently found in grocery stores, since it is often used as an ingredient in various recipes. This oil is high in calcium, magnesium and phosphorus as well as vitamins A, B and E. It is used to soften the skin and for this reason is an effective treatment for eczema.
21. Wheatgerm Oil
Wheatgerm oil contains high levels of vitamin E, a natural antioxidant. Its high levels of vitamin E makes this oil great for softening the skin and encouraging cell regeneration. It is also frequently used for its anti-ageing properties, and can be used to treat eczema.
22. Walnut Oil
Like sesame seed oil, walnut oil is also frequently used in cooking. Aside from tasting good, walnut oil is a great emollient and can be used to moisturize skin damaged by eczema.
23. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is famous for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Used to treat a variety of skin conditions, tea tree oil may also be effective for treating eczema. A study found that tea tree oil could reduce inflammation during allergic reactions of the skin. The tea tree oil was applied to the skin and found to reduce its redness and swelling. Since similar reactions occur during an eczema outbreak, it is thought that tea tree oil may be able to ease some of the symptoms.
24. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil helps deal with both the physical and psychological causes of various skin ailments. Its potent antibacterial and anti-fungal properties can help eliminate skin infections, while its fragrant scent has been known to have a calming effect on the mind. Since stress has been shown to trigger eczema in many cases, lavender oil may be helpful also in preventing future outbreaks. In addition to these properties, studies have also found that lavender oil has anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce the swelling of irritated skin. Its antimicrobial properties can also prevent infections caused by eczema from getting worse.
With powerful anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, thyme oil can be used to reduce the redness and swelling caused by eczema. It can also prevent any infections from occurring as a result of the damage done to the skin. Additionally, thyme oil also been found to suppress both inflammation and pain, and can thus be used to soothe the discomfort caused by eczema.
26. Rose Geranium
Rose geranium helps reduce the patches of dry skin that eczema causes. Studies have shown that rose geranium oil has anti-inflammatory properties and can relieve itchiness. It can also soothe dermatitis and prevent infections. Combine rose geranium oil with a carrier oil, since on its own the oil is very strong and can irritate the skin.
Helichrysum oil can help relieve the pain caused by particularly bad cases of eczema, especially those that have developed blisters. Helichrysum oil is both anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic, making it a great choice for treating eczema. Its antibacterial properties also prevent any infections from arising.
28. Basil Oil
Studies have found that oil extracted from holy basil can help reduce skin inflammation and pain. It is very soothing, and when combined with a carrier oil can help relieve the itching and redness caused by eczema.
Eucalyptus oil is used to treat eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions. Eucalyptus both treats the dry skin that results from eczema and improves its appearance. According to studies, it also reduces roughness and scaliness of skin when used as a moisturizer.
Bergamot oil soothes inflammation and prevents skin infections. It can be used on itchy, dry, and thickened skin such as that caused by eczema. This is another oil that should definitely be mixed with a carrier, since on its own bergamot oil can irritate the skin.
Frankincense oil has properties that reduce inflammation and can help treat infections. Research has found that it can reduce irritation and redness, and improve skin tone. It also has the ability to repair damaged skin, and has been compared to topical steroids for this reason. Frankincense oil is also possibly the best essential oil for allergies.
Other Natural Remedies
Improve Gut Health
Scientist are learning just how much a healthy gut filled with all the right bacteria contributes to a more healthy body. Studies have shown that by maintaining a healthy gut you are less likely to experience unwanted skin conditions. Try taking a probiotic or drinking some Kombucha which contains the good kind of yeast to keep those flares at bay.
Eat More Eczema Fighting Foods
Pack your daily meals with anti-inflammatory foods such as Green Onions, Apples, Bananas, Buckwheat, Oatmeal etc.
Sea Salt Spray
Salt water itself is very healthy for the the skin and the magnesium properties in the water can improve the skins moisture and overall strength. If you’re like most of us though and don’t happen to live next to the ocean, try just using some regular sea salt. Dissolve about a teaspoon of sea salt into some warm water in a spray bottle and lightly spray the affected area.
Take a Bath in Oatmeal
Oatmeal is wonderfully healthy for the skin. It’s acts like a sponge to suck up the bad oils and helps to moisturize the skin with its antimicrobial properties. It’s commonly used for all sorts of skin conditions. Finely grind about 1 cup of oatmeal and pour it into your bath water. Soak in the water for about 15-20 minutes.
Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Not only can Apple Cider Vinegar be incredibly healthy for you to drink it can also help ease the itch.