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21 Best Natural Remedies for Eczema

Home Remedies for Eczema

Best Natural Remedies for Eczema

Home remedies for eczema can be simple or complex. The easiest, most effective treatment is to make changes to avoid or remove whatever is causing the allergic reaction. But try not to expect a quick response. Eczema is easier to control than cure.

People can use creams, natural products, and dietary and lifestyle changes to manage or prevent eczema flares, especially in the winter, when symptoms tend to be at their worst. But with super-simple lifestyle changes and home remedies, you can ease your symptoms during an eczema flare-up—no doctor’s visit required. Here, dermatologists share some of their go-to skin soothers.

Natural substances, such as aloe vera gel and coconut oil, can moisturize dry, broken skin. They can also combat inflammation and harmful bacteria to reduce swelling and prevent infection.

Home Remedies for Eczema

Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera gel is derived from the leaves of the aloe plant. People have used aloe vera gel for centuries to treat a wide range of ailments. One common use is to soothe eczema.

A systematic review from 2015 looked at the effects of aloe vera on human health. The researchers reported that the gel has the following types of properties:

  • antibacterial
  • antimicrobial
  • immune system-boosting
  • wound-healing

The antibacterial and antimicrobial effects can prevent skin infections, which are more likely to occur when a person has dry, cracked skin. Aloe’s wound-healing properties may soothe broken skin and promote healing.

How to use it

People can buy aloe vera gel in health stores or online, or they can purchase an aloe vera plant and use the gel directly from its leaves.

Choose aloe gel products with few ingredients — others can contain preservatives, alcohol, fragrances, and colors, all of which can irritate sensitive skin. Alcohol and other drying ingredients could make eczema worse.

Start with a small amount of gel to check for skin sensitivity. Sometimes aloe vera can cause burning or stinging. Generally, however, it is safe and effective for adults and children.

Colloidal Oatmeal

Colloidal oatmeal is made from finely-ground oats. It helps calm and soften inflamed skin. Colloidal oatmeal is available in cream or powder form. Buy it here.

Here’s how to use it:

  • Add the powder to lukewarm bathwater and soak for 10 to 15 minutes to help soften rough skin and relieve itching.
  • After your bath, pat your skin dry and apply a thick layer of hypoallergenic moisturizer that has a high oil content.

Pull Out The Coconut Oil

Great for cooking, and…skincare? You bet. “The most common cause of an eczema flare is dry skin,” says Jeremy Fenton, MD, a board certified dermatologist and medical director at Schweiger Dermatology in New York City. “Coconut oil can be a great moisturizer, and may even have some antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. People with eczema tend to have a higher load of bacteria on their skin, and that bacteria can make eczema worse.”

Probiotics

Probiotics, or “good” bacteria, are live microbial organisms naturally found in the digestive tract. They are thought to control the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, influence immune function, and strengthen the digestive tract’s protective barrier.

Studies suggest that babies at high risk for allergic disorders, such as eczema, have different types and numbers of bacteria in their digestive tracts than other babies. It is thought that probiotic supplements taken by pregnant women and children may reduce the occurrence of eczema in children.

For a review published in PLoS Medicine in 2018, researchers analyzed previously published studies on diet during pregnancy and infancy and the risk of allergic or autoimmune disease. They found evidence from 19 studies suggesting that maternal probiotic supplementation during late pregnancy and lactation may reduce the risk of eczema. Further research is needed.

In addition to the maternal use of probiotics, probiotic use by infants and children has also been explored to prevent and treat eczema. A study published in Pediatrics in 2017 examined daily supplementation with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG for the first six months of life in infants at high risk of asthma and eczema and found that supplementation does not appear to prevent eczema or asthma at two years of age.

In addition to the probiotic strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Lactobacillus fermentum VRI-033 PCC, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Bifidobacterium species have also been used.

Consult a qualified health professional before using probiotics to discuss whether they are appropriate for you or your child. Children with immune deficiencies should not take probiotics unless under a healthcare provider’s supervision. Also, one study found increased allergic rhinoconjunctivitis at ages 5 to 10 years after perinatal probiotic use.

Get Serious About Moisturizing

Hydrating regularly with a heavy-duty ointment or cream achieves two important things. First, it eases (or prevents) dryness that can lead to itching. Second, it acts as a barrier to block out potential irritants that can make you more uncomfortable or up the risk for infection.

Reach for a dense moisturizer or petroleum jelly, and again, steer clear of anything containing dyes or perfumes. Slather the stuff on within a minute or two after bathing and reapply as often as you feel like you need it.

For serious rejuvenation for hands and feet, apply before bedtime and slip on some cotton socks or gloves. Get a solid 7–8 hours and wake up to refreshed skin.

Anti-inflammatory Diet

Reducing inflammation and reversing eczema starts with the food you eat, especially when it comes to atopic dermatitis, which is rooted in an overactive immune system.

Eat more anti-inflammatory foods like:

  • Omega-3 foods: the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that can reduce inflammation in the gut, joints, brain, and skin. The best natural sources of omega-3s are wild-caught salmon, sardines, and fish oil.
  • High-fiber vegetables: produce like artichokes, raw garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, and dense leafy greens feed healthy gut bacteria and reduce intestinal inflammation.
  • Probiotics: probiotics are living bacterial cultures that reinforce the gut lining and protect the bloodstream from inflammatory agents.
  • Collagen: collagen supplements and bone broth can strengthen the skin matrix and rejuvenate damaged skin cells. It’s also a powerful nutrient for healing the gut lining.
  • Vitamin A-rich foods: yellow and orange vegetables like carrots are high in vitamin A and are great for skin health.

Avoid inflammatory foods like:

  • Fried foods: canola and safflower oil from deep-fried foods promotes inflammation.
  • Sugar: processed sugar feeds unhealthy gut bacteria and promotes inflammation throughout the body.
  • Additives: additives in processed foods are known to exacerbate eczema.
  • Dairy: products like cheese and milk are difficult to process and tend to promote inflammation, especially in people with autoimmune conditions.
  • Gluten: removing gluten can improve autoimmune conditions like eczema.

Moisturize

Keeping the skin as moisturized as possible is the most important thing you can do for your child’s eczema. Most parents only moisturize their child’s skin 1-2 times per day. By increasing that to 5-6 times per day, the skin can improve significantly. After trying almost every moisturizer and eczema cream on the market for my daughter with no improvement, I ended up making my own moisturizer with a recipe like this:

  • 1 part coconut oil
  • 1 part avocado oil
  • 1-2 parts shea butter (depending on the thickness you desire).

Blend them together in a high speed blender, or melt on the stove and whisk with an immersion blender. Allow to cool in the fridge or room temperature in a glass jar.

One word of caution: while I love essential oils for so many other things, I do find that they can be irritating to skin that’s inflamed with eczema. I had to throw out several batches of my homemade eczema cream because I had added oils to them, so just be careful when considering adding essential oils to your child’s irritated skin.

Baking Soda

Like colloidal oatmeal, baking soda can quickly relieve eczema symptoms. Add a quarter cup to your bath and soak for 15 minutes max, or apply it to your skin as a paste.

Apple cider vinegar has a similar effect. Simply pour 2 cups into your tub and bathe for 15 minutes. Vinegar will help kill off the bacteria causing your eczema, according to the National Eczema Foundation.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for many conditions, including skin disorders.

The National Eczema Association (NEA) report that apple cider vinegar may help with the condition. However, they recommend using caution, as the vinegar’s acids can damage soft tissue.

No research has confirmed that apple cider vinegar reduces eczema symptoms, but there are several reasons why it could help:

Balancing the skin’s acidity levels

Vinegar is highly acidic. The skin is naturally acidic, but people with eczema may have less acidic skin than others. This can weaken the skin’s defenses.

Applying diluted apple cider vinegar could help balance the skin’s acidity levels, but vinegar can cause burns if it is not diluted.

In contrast, many soaps, detergents, and cleansers are alkaline. They can disrupt the acidity of the skin, which can leave the skin vulnerable to damage. This may explain why washing with certain soaps can cause eczema flares.

Fighting bacteria

Studies have found that apple cider vinegar may fight bacteria, includingTrusted Source Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Using apple cider vinegar on the skin could help keep broken skin from becoming infected.

How to use it

Always dilute apple cider vinegar before applying it to the skin. Undiluted vinegar can cause chemical burns or other injuries.

People can use the vinegar in wet wraps or baths, and it is available in most supermarkets and health stores.

To use apple cider vinegar in a wet wrap:

  • Mix 1 cup of warm water and 1 tablespoon of the vinegar.
  • Apply the solution to cotton or gauze.
  • Cover the dressing in clean cotton fabric.
  • Leave it on the area for 3 hours.

To try an apple cider vinegar bath soak:

  • Add 2 cups of apple cider vinegar to a warm bath.
  • Soak for 15–20 minutes.
  • Rinse the body thoroughly.
  • Moisturize within several minutes of leaving the bath.

Calendula Cream

Calendula cream is an herbal remedy. Calendula has been used for centuries as a folk remedy to heal skin inflammation, burns, and cuts.

It’s thought to improve blood flow to areas of injury or inflammation, help hydrate skin, and help fight infection.

Try Meditating

Being Zen doesn’t exactly sound like an eczema fix—especially when the itching is driving you mad—but “sometimes eczema flares up due to triggers, like stress,” says Lindsey Bordone, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center. So getting your anxiety under control is keeping for those flaky, dry, uncomfortable patches at bay. It might sound woo-woo, but try meditation—there are all sorts of ways to do it right from your phone. Try this 5-minute guided meditation to bring on calm fast.

Resist The Urge To Scratch

Scratching takes dry, irritated skin from bad to worse. If mentally willing the itch away doesn’t work, try an over-the-counter (OTC) anti-itch spray like TriCalm Extra Strength Spray. It’s recommended by the National Eczema Association and doesn’t require touching (and therefore aggravating) your itchy skin.

Another idea? Don a pair of cotton gloves at night so you don’t accidentally scratch yourself while you’re snoozing. Sounds weird, but it works.

Sun Exposure (Phototherapy)

Sun exposure and phototherapy are proven to calm inflammation and reduce itching. UVB spectrum light helps the skin fight bacteria, boosts vitamin D production, and may help prevent eczema flares.

Just 10-15 minutes of sunlight a day may be all it takes to mitigate symptoms and speed healing. One recent study found that 74.4% of patients had complete resolution of eczema symptoms during the sunny summer months.

Topical B12

Several studies have found that applying Vitamin B12 topically can help improve eczema symptoms. At CentreSpringMD, we can prescribe vitamin B12 in combination with evening primrose oil (GLA) as a topical cream to help decrease itching and redness in patients with eczema.

Having suffered through many “itchy” nights with my own children, I can truly empathize with every parent whose child has eczema. At CentreSpringMD, we pride ourselves in working hard to get to the root cause of eczema while providing holistic treatments and support to help children feel better as quickly as possible!

Evening Primrose Oil

Research is mixed on this one, but some studies show a modest reduction in itching among people who take an evening primrose oil supplement.

The oil, which comes from the plant’s seeds, contains omega-6 fatty acids and gamma-linolenic acid. Both may help prevent inflammation linked to eczema.

Bleach In The Bath

Although it may sound dangerous, research indicates that bleach in the bath can improve eczema symptoms due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.

Bleach can kill the bacteria on the surface of the skin, including S. aureus, which causes staph infections. This may restore the microbiome of the skin’s surface.

Conclusions of a 2015 review indicate that bleach baths could reduce the need for topical corticosteroid or antibiotic treatments. However, other research found no benefits of bleach baths, compared to regular baths.

How to use it

To make a bleach bath for eczema, use regular-strength (6 percent) plain bleach and try the following:

  • Add half a cup of bleach to a full bathtub of water or 1 teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water.
  • Pour in the bleach while the bath is filling.
  • Soak for 5–10 minutes.
  • Rinse the body thoroughly with warm water.
  • Gently pat the skin dry.

Use lukewarm water to prevent the skin from drying out, and moisturize immediately after drying.

If a person experiences any discomfort, irritation, or redness, they should stop using bleach in the bath. People with asthma or breathing problems should refrain from taking bleach baths, due to the strong fumes.

Swap Out Alcohol

There aren’t any definitive studies to show that a specific diet will have an impact on eczema, Dr. Fenton says. But inflammation has been proven to trigger eczema, he adds, so anything that creates inflammation the body—like booze—can cause the condition to make an unwanted cameo.

Gamma-Linolenic Acid (Evening Primrose Oil and Borage Oil)

Gamma-linolenic acids (GLA), such as evening primrose oil and borage oil, are a type of essential fatty acid. GLA is thought to correct deficiencies in skin lipids that can trigger inflammation, which is why it is used for eczema. However, clinical studies of GLA have generally found that it does not help with eczema.

For a review of previously published studies investigating the effectiveness of evening primrose oil or borage oil oral supplements, researchers examined 27 previously published studies and found that evening primrose oil or borage oil did not significantly improve eczema symptoms compared to placebo treatment. The researchers also noted potential risks associated with evening primrose supplements such as inflammation, thrombosis, immunosuppression, and increased risk of bleeding.

Drizzle On Some ACV

The research on using apple cider vinegar for eczema is pretty limited, but some experts theorize that adding 2 cups of apple cider vinegar to a lukewarm bath could help ease your discomfort.

The thinking? Eczema occurs when the skin’s acidic barrier doesn’t function the way it’s supposed to, which can make it prone to dryness and irritation.

Because ACV is mildly acidic, adding it to a bath could temporarily help restore healthier acid levels in skin. Still, since there’s not much science behind ACV as an eczema remedy, it’s worth getting the green light from your healthcare provider before giving it a try.

Vitamin D

During winter in the Northern hemisphere, you might not have access to sunlight or phototherapy. That’s unfortunate, because vitamin D3 deficiency can compromise the immune system and increase the risk of eczema. (5)

Luckily, you can still reduce the risk of eczema by supplementing with vitamin D.

Taking 2,000-5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily can support the skin’s natural ability to fight inflammation. Another option is to eat foods that contain vitamin D, like sardines, salmon, and cod liver oil, all of which are high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

Acupuncture or Acupressure

Inserting acupuncture needles into already irritated skin sounds like a bad idea, but research suggests otherwise. Same with acupressure, a related treatment where hands and fingers replace needles.

Want to try a quick acupressure trick at home? One study found that pressing the “LI11” spot—an area on the outside of the left arm at the end of the elbow crease—with a BB-sized metal ball for three minutes, four times a week, can reduce itching.

Researchers speculate that these therapies may alter signals to nerve cells that transmit both pain and itchiness.

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