Itchy, red, and swollen patches of skin – if you live with eczema, you know that this condition can be frustrating and embarrassing. Not to mention that feeling itchy and uncomfortable all day long is unpleasant.
Flare-ups of eczema can occur at any time of the year and can be caused by different factors lurking in your daily environment, such as clothing, detergents, pollen and cigarette smoke. Luckily, there are a variety of possible natural remedies that can help to reduce the discomfort during an eczema outbreak, clear it up quickly and effectively and prevent flare-ups. Here are some ideas for soothing and natural eczema treatment.
Eczema can happen all over the body. But it is more common on the following body parts:
- Hands (especially fingers);
- The insides of the elbows;
- The backs of the knees;
- The face and scalp in children;
- Sweaty areas like armpits, groin, nape and where glasses sit on the face are the usual spots also.
- While adults can get eczema, it is most likely to happen in childhood. It is a long-term (chronic) condition that typically improves significantly as the child enters adulthood, sometimes clearing up completely.
- Atopic dermatitis occurs in infants quite commonly and presents with dry and scaly patches appearing on the skin in this new-born eczema. These patches are often intensely itchy, irritating the baby.
- Many children develop atopic dermatitis before they reach five years of age.
- Pregnancy eczema can occur due to hormonal changes and can linger for periods of gestation or the entire nine months.
Other conditions with similar symptoms are:
- Psoriasis – produces similar symptoms such as red, itchy, scaly skin patches primarily located around the elbows, trunk, scalp, and knees;
- Acne – symptoms vary according to severity, but red spots, lumps, pimples (papules), and painful pus-filled lumps are common acne traits;
- Hives – (Urticaria) is like eczema; it develops as swollen small red lumps on the skin causing itching;
- Fungal infection – has a similar type of rash, redness and itch can appear;
- Scabies – while scabies is a contagious condition, unlike eczema, it is similar in terms of the main symptoms being intense itching, a rash, and blisters;
- Ringworm – this fungal infection causes itchy, red, scaly skin, much like eczema.
Although the use of aloe vera will not clear eczema completely, it may provide temporary relief from the itching and pain. A 2015 systematic review examined the effects of aloe vera on human health and suggested that the gel has the following properties: anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimicrobial, immune system-boosting and wound-healing.
Its anti-inflammatory potential can help to calm inflammation in the area it is applied, and while the wound-healing properties may aid in soothing broken skin and promoting healing. At the same time, the antibacterial and antimicrobial effects of aloe can prevent skin infections that are more likely to appear in individuals with dry, cracked skin.
This thick, highly absorbent oil not only provides serious hydration, but the lauric acid in coconut oil also has antimicrobial properties, helping to prevent bacteria, fungi and viruses from entering the skin and causing infection.
Furthermore, coconut oil can protect the skin by helping fight inflammation and improving the skin’s barrier. A randomised clinical trial investigated the effects of virgin coconut oil on the skin in children and showed that using the oil for 8 weeks improved eczema symptoms better than mineral oil.
Our skin contains different receptors throughout the body as part of the cell-signalling endocannabinoid system deeply involved in the maintenance of homeostasis. CBD is able to indirectly interfere with this system to help in regulating vital bodily functions, which explains its therapeutic potential.
A 2019 study found that CBD infused ointment (without any THC) had therapeutic effects in inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, and cutaneous scars. In addition, CBD oil possesses various properties, such as antioxidant, anti-pain, antibacterial and moisturising effects, all of which can help to provide much-needed relief in people with eczema. You can receive its benefits by applying CBD cream or taking tinctures, edibles or capsules.
When it comes to honey, most people think about a sore throat or respiratory conditions like coughing, colds and asthma. But this natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent is also beneficial for skin conditions like wounds, burns and eczema. Therefore, applying honey directly to eczema could help prevent infections and reduce inflammation while moisturising the skin and aiding in healing.
Although many treatments for eczema require topical use, this natural remedy has more to do with what you are taking by mouth. Its pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and wound-healing properties make it useful as a complementary treatment for eczema.
While research on turmeric and eczema is limited, one company-sponsored study in 150 individuals with eczema found that after 4 weeks of using a cream formulated with turmeric and other herbs, people experienced a decrease in scaling and itchiness on the skin by almost 30% and 32%, respectively.
The key to staying well and healthy while living with eczema is to try and keep symptoms under control and well managed. For most types of eczema, controlling the condition involves:
- Knowing your triggers and avoiding them where possible;
- Implement a regular bathing and moisturising routine;
- Use over the counter (OTC) and prescription medication as prescribed – Aveeno, E45, Aloe Vera, Dermalex, Vaseline and Eucerin creams can be useful;
- Neosporin cream may reduce skin itching and dryness if used properly;
- For infantile eczema, a mild baby such as Aveeno or gentle gels can help prevent flare-ups and keep itching under control;
- Always look for the first signs of infection such as pus-filled bumps, pain, redness, heat on the skin.