Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that can affect people of all ages, but especially young children and infants. Eczema comes in many forms and most of these forms tend to cause red itchy skin rashes. Persistent flare-ups of eczema can cause the skin to become thickened and scaly, and sometimes blister-like bumps can appear which ooze fluid and become crusty scabs.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema and it can affect any area of the body. It is common to have itchy patches of eczema on your hands, feet, upper chest, around the neck and facial area, and even on the scalp. It can be especially sore and irritating when it occurs inside the bend of the elbows and knees as the skin there constantly moves and stretches. Infant eczema can affect the face and scalp.
The itching sensation on the inflamed skin can lead to intense scratching which can damage the skin even more and cause bacterial skin infections.
If you suffer from this uncomfortable skin condition, there are many natural cures to get rid of eczema quicker.
In this article I am going to cover 13 home remedies for eczema backed by research. These home remedies can help you find relief from its symptoms like dry skin, itchiness, and red rashes.
I am also going to look at the reasons why some people experience eczema and what causes the breakout of itchy red rashes. This information can help you to know how to prevent eczema flare-ups and cope with its symptoms. You will also find helpful natural remedies to treat atopic dermatitis.
The Symptoms of Eczema
Itchiness ranging from a mild tickle to a severe and intense itch is a symptom of nearly all types of eczema. In fact, the skin can become itchy before the appearance of any rash.
Respected dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman says that dry skin is usually associated with eczema. The affected skin often develops a rash and become thickened or scaly.1 These patches of reddened skin can turn a brownish-gray color and the skin can feel like leather.
The symptoms of eczema can be aggravated if a person scratches the itchy rash because this allows Staphylococcus aureus bacteria to infect broken skin. The end result is that the skin becomes raw, swollen and very sensitive. It may also ooze fluid which can leave the skin with crusty patches when the fluid dries.
Eczema in infants and children
It is very distressing for parents to see their toddlers and infants suffer from eczema. According to the National Eczema Association, around 10% of all infants in the U.S. suffer from some form of infant eczema.2
The appearance of infant eczema is different from eczema in older children and adults. Depending on the age of your infant, patches of eczema appear in different places. According to the National Eczema Association, the stages of infant eczema are as follows:2
- Babies under 6 months. Red patches of “weepy” skin around your baby’s face and on the scalp.
- Babies from 6 to 12 months. Patches of eczema develop around the elbows and knees. If these patches become infected, then “pus bumps” can occur which turn crusty when the pus dries.
- Toddlers from 2 to 5 years. Your toddler’s eczema thickens and have the appearance of dry, scaly, and inflamed skin. Outbreaks of eczema may be more common around the mouth and eyelids.
Causes of Eczema
According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, it is not known what exactly causes eczema. Because people with allergies and asthma often have atopic dermatitis, it is thought that atopic dermatitis is connected with an overactive immune system.3
Other causes of eczema could be dry skin, a problem with your skin’s barrier protection, or environmental conditions. Eczema often runs in families.
The Best Home Remedies to Get Rid of Eczema
Natural remedies are an excellent way to treat eczema and to prevent itching by keeping your skin moist and moisturized. This type of treatment method for inflamed skin helps to reduce the temptation to scratch the skin and stops the skin from becoming dry and scaly.
Let’s look at some of the best home remedies that are backed by research for treating the symptoms of eczema.
1. Coconut oil for treating eczema
Virgin coconut oil is a soothing natural home remedy to prevent and treat eczema. Coconut oil provides deep hydration to the skin, protecting it from drying out and becoming scaly. Coconut oil is an effective natural treatment for eczema because it contains antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory agents.7
Research on the healing properties of coconut oil for eczema shows that its antibacterial activities are effective against Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. In fact, a study published in the journal Dermatitis showed that coconut oil also acts as an emollient to moisturize dry skin and kill off bacteria that cause skin infections. It described coconut oil as “useful in the proactive treatment of atopic dermatitis colonization”.8
Coconut oil is also gentle enough to help treat mild to moderate eczema in infants. The International Journal of Dermatology found that virgin coconut oil effectively helps to reduce redness on the inflamed skin of infants, as well as helping to hydrate and soothe dry skin.9
Many eczema sufferers claim that organic unrefined virgin coconut oil helps to keep their outbreaks of eczema under control and gives them better results than much more expensive products.
To use coconut oil to repair skin damaged by eczema all you have to do is apply coconut oil directly to the affected area several times a day and before you go to sleep. Apply the coconut oil daily until the reddish itchy patches of skin have gone completely.
2. Apple cider vinegar (ACV)
Raw unprocessed apple cider vinegar can reduce the inflammation and relieve the itching caused by eczema. Apple cider vinegar contains high amounts of acetic acid which can help kill off bacterial skin infections and reduce itchiness.
Skin affected by atopic eczema usually has a higher pH level than healthy skin and this is one reason for the itching and inflammation.4 The acid content in apple cider vinegar helps to lower the skin’s pH level, thus helping to reduce the urge to scratch itchy red patches of skin.
Clinical research also backs up the effectiveness of the acidic content of apple cider vinegar on damaged, inflamed skin. For example, a review of studies into acetic acid published on Medscape found that it can help to kill off Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in wounds.5
Other studies into using natural remedies for helping to treat eczema have found that bathing the affected skin in acidic water can help to reduce inflammation caused by atopic dermatitis.6
There are several ways in which you can use ACV to naturally relieve the symptoms of eczema.
Use the apple cider vinegar home remedy for eczema method by mixing equal amounts of raw unprocessed ACV and water. Using a cotton ball or a spray bottle, apply the ACV remedy directly to the area of skin affected by eczema. Repeat the ACV treatment twice a day – once in the morning and once in the night before going to bed to speed up the healing process of itchy, inflamed skin.
If you have sensitive skin, dilute the ACV more. Always remember to moisturize your skin after using the ACV eczema treatment. You can use coconut oil or jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is actually a liquid wax. It penetrates the skin deeply and is incredibly rich and moisturizing.
The second natural treatment for eczema is to add 2 cups of ACV to warm or tepid bath water. Soak in this bath for at least 30 minutes. Repeat this treatment for at least 3 times a week to soothe irritated skin. The acidic content of the ACV will help to relieve itching all over your body.
The third method is to take 1-2 tablespoons of ACV and mix it into a cup of water (you can add honey for a better taste). Drink once or twice every day to help get rid of the signs of eczema and prevent further flare-ups. You will also enjoy the many other health benefits of apple cider vinegar and honey.
3. Chamomile for eczema
Chamomile contains soothing properties for any type of inflamed skin and is an excellent therapeutic agent for getting rid of eczema faster. Chamomile is an excellent home remedy for eczema because it contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compounds to help soothe infected red patches of skin.
Research into the healing effects of chamomile on eczema found that extracts of the flowers can help to reduce skin inflammation. It is interesting to note, that chamomile extracts showed a similar anti-eczema effect as hydrocortisone ointments and other anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical ointments.10
There are many ways to use chamomile to soothe all types of eczema (including atopic dermatitis), minor burns and sunburn.
You can make an anti-inflammatory chamomile ointment to soothe the itchy skin and kill off bacterial infections on cracked, dry skin. You should add 2-3 drops of chamomile oil to a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil and gently massage into the scaly, red skin. Apply the natural ointment 2-3 times a day every day to speed up healing and prevent bacterial infection.
Chamomile oil is just one of the home remedies that I discuss in the article about the best essential oils for eczema. There you can find how to make a soothing eczema skin salve, a calming lavender spray, and how to use essential oils in the bath for eczema relief.
Chamomile is a common herb to treat various ailments. You can find more useful information about chamomile and other herbs in my e-book the . This guide will teach you how to treat common ailments using herbs.
4. Witch Hazel
The main benefit of witch hazel for helping to cure the symptoms of eczema is its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes witch hazel a helpful home remedy to treat acne, cuts, psoriasis and eczema.
Witch hazel contains tannins which help to contract skin cells and speed up the healing process. This astringent activity has shown to help alleviate inflammation caused by eczema and prevent skin cell damage. The powerful antioxidant and antibacterial effects of witch hazel will also help avoid damaged skin becoming infected.11
Use witch hazel directly on your affected skin to help dry out weeping sores of severe eczema. Soak a cotton ball in witch hazel and gently apply to areas of skin where you have eczema. Repeat as necessary every day to get relief from eczema symptoms.
5. Colloidal oatmeal bath
To help get fast relief from flaky, dry, itchy skin caused by eczema, you can use the healing properties of oatmeal.
Dermatologist, Dr. David Lim recommends using oatmeal for various skin disorders.12 This is because colloidal oatmeal moisturizes the skin and contains antioxidants which are effective in getting rid of the symptoms of eczema like itchiness, dry skin, and skin inflammation. In fact, oatmeal is so gentle and effective that it can be used on babies and infants with eczema. These facts were confirmed in an extensive report on using oatmeal to treat atopic dermatitis. The report said that colloidal oatmeal improved the symptoms of atopic dermatitis and is well tolerated in babies, children, and adults with eczema.13
You can make your own colloidal oatmeal treatment for curing eczema and other itchy skin conditions. To make a soothing oatmeal bath, please do the following:
- Take 2 cups of ground oatmeal and put them into an old pair of clean pantyhose and tie loosely.
- Draw a bath with warm water making sure that the oatmeal sock is under the faucet and the water flows through it.
- Squeeze the sock occasionally to get more of the oat liquid out.
- Soak in the tub for 15 minutes. During this time dab the oat sock onto patches of skin where you have eczema to soothe the inflammation itching.
Take the oatmeal bath before going to bed at night to help you sleep better because very often the itchiness caused by eczema is worse during the night.
6. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is a great home remedy to help relieve the painful symptoms of eczema and repair damaged skin. Aloe vera is well-known for having healing properties that help treat burned and itchy skin. This is because it contains anti-inflammatory properties and vitamins which nourish and protect the skin. The antibacterial activities of aloe vera also help to reduce or completely eliminate bacterial skin infections.
A study published in 2014 found that itchy, inflammatory skin conditions are greatly improved when aloe vera is applied directly to the affected area. It reported that the anti-inflammatory effect of aloe vera can help to successfully treat long-term eczema.14
An article entitled “Plants Used to Treat Skin Diseases” published in Pharmacognosy Review explained why aloe vera is effective in speeding up the healing process of eczema. It said that aloe vera increases blood circulation to the affected areas and prevents cell death.15
To quickly relieve itching and scaly skin caused by eczema and at the same time nourish your damaged skin, apply pure aloe vera gel to the affected area. Gently massage the aloe vera gel 2-3 times a day every day until your itchy eczema rash is cured.
7. Baking soda
The National Eczema Association recommends taking a baking soda bath as an effective home remedy for treating eczema. This is an excellent way to help reduce the discomfort caused by eczema if you have large patches of eczema all over your body.17
Prepare a baking soda bath by adding half a cup of baking soda to a full warm bath. Soak for 20 minutes to relieve the itchy symptoms of eczema. After the bath, don’t forget to apply a mild moisturizer on the affected area.
You can also use baking soda in a paste form if you have small patches of eczema on your hands, arms, face, or behind your elbows or knees. To make natural baking soda remedy for eczema, take one or two tablespoons of baking soda and add enough water to form a thick paste. Apply the remedy to the affected area to relieve itching fast. Leave for few minutes, then rinse off with warm water and apply moisturizer.
8. Licorice cream
Licorice is known to help skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis because of its ability to soothe inflamed skin.
According to information published in The Journal of Dermatological Treatment, lab studies have shown that licorice has anti-inflammatory activity, and researchers have tested it for skin conditions that involve inflammation. The study showed that when licorice gel is applied to the skin, it relieves symptoms of itching, swelling, and redness. A gel with 2% licorice worked better than one with 1%.18
Licorice cream can be bought at many online stores.
9. Turmeric for eczema
Turmeric has numerous therapeutic health benefits to relieve many inflammatory conditions, including eczema. The active ingredient of turmeric that has anti-inflammatory properties is curcumin which gives it the bright yellow color and distinct taste.
Many studies have shown that curcumin helps to keep skin healthy and free from itchy red patches. The journal Phytotherapy Research examined many studies into curcumin for skin health and found that it can help to alleviate the symptoms of atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and acne. It commented that both oral and topical curcumin supplements offer therapeutic benefits for skin health.19
10. Evening primrose oil for atopic dermatitis
Evening primrose oil can also be taken as a supplement or applied topically as an effective natural treatment for eczema. Oil extracts from evening primrose contain essential fatty acids that have a beneficial effect on the skin.
The University of Maryland reports that the most scientifically proven medical use for evening primrose oil is to treat the painful symptoms of eczema. A study into the effectiveness of evening primrose oil in reducing scaling and redness found that over 1,000 people found relief from eczema. Evening primrose oil also helped to reduce itching, swelling, and crusting in both adults and children with atopic dermatitis.20
Although some reports say that evening primrose doesn’t help with eczema symptoms, many people have found it to be effective in completely relieving their itchy skin.
You can make a topical application to nourish dry and flaky skin by adding a few drops of chamomile oil to a tablespoon of evening primrose oil. Apply the remedy to the affected area 2-3 times a day to get relief from red, itchy skin caused by eczema.
You may find that taking evening primrose oil as a supplement could help alleviate the irritation caused by eczema.
11. Urea cream
Although urea cream is not entirely natural, it is extremely effective for curing and preventing outbreaks of eczema. It is a very effective method of soothing irritated, itchy skin and it’s very cheap as well. Of course, urea is a natural ingredient, but the cream containing urea contains some other ingredients that are not natural, but since it is so effective in treating eczema I decided to include it in this article.
Urea cream is a very effective way to quickly moisturize dry, cracked and thickened skin. It can also help to get rid of dead skin cells and remove scaly skin.
You can buy urea cream on drugstores or online. For eczema relief, follow the instructions on the urea cream.
Other Ways to Get Rid of Eczema Naturally
Certain supplements have also shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of eczema. Some of these other ways to naturally get rid of eczema may work for you.
12. GLA supplement
GLA supplements have been shown to be very beneficial in treating eczema.
Some studies suggest that eczema may be caused by the lack of an important enzyme that creates omega 6 fatty acid called GLA. Lack of the enzyme means lack of GLA thus resulting in aggravating eczema. This was outlined in a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It found that that modest doses of GLA acid showed improvement in itching as a result of atopic dermatitis.21
Therefore the solution might be to take GLA as a supplement. It is recommended to use the GLA supplement for at least 4 weeks. Then symptoms should improve gradually.
Our gut needs a proper balance of “good” bacteria for proper digestive system function. If the digestion system doesn’t work properly, our body is more sensitive to allergies and skin irritations.
How to Prevent Eczema Flare-ups
Eczema is a chronic skin condition which can only be cured until the next flare-up. Therefore, one of the best ways in managing outbreaks of eczema is to take steps to prevent the frequency of eczema flare-ups.
Dermatologist, Dr. Debra Jaliman recommends a few simple tips which can reduce the frequency of eczema outbreaks on your skin:
- Moisturize your skin regularly throughout the day to keep a protective barrier on your skin and prevent itchiness.
- Try to avoid sudden changes in temperature.
- Stress can trigger an eczema flare-up, so try to find ways to manage stress better.
- Avoid clothing and other fabrics that can irritate sensitive areas of skin that are prone to eczema flare-ups.
- Avoid soaps and detergents that strip the skin of its protective oils.
Dr. Jaliman also said that certain foods can trigger an outbreak.
Avoid trigger foods the cause eczema
It’s important to keep a food diary to try to identify any foods that aggravate your eczema symptoms and then eliminate them from your diet. You may also want to try the raw food diet as it was used to successfully get rid of eczema.
According to Dr. Tim Kenny on Patient.info, some of the most common trigger foods that make your eczema worse are cow’s milk, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, cheese, fish, chocolate, artificial food colors and tomatoes.
It might seem a long process if you go through every food, but the fact is that most people eat certain foods all the time. Start with those foods that you eat on a regular basis and by a process of elimination, try to find out which food triggers your itchy breakouts.
Eczema vs Psoriasis – What’s the Difference?
Both eczema and psoriasis are chronic skin diseases that are difficult to manage and cause great discomfort.
Both skin conditions show symptoms of itchy patches of dry skin and thickened skin that is inflamed. Both are connected to the immune system and are triggered by similar conditions. But psoriasis doesn’t affect as many people as eczema and it usually starts showing symptoms after the age of 16. The patches of skin are usually much thicker with psoriasis and are covered with silvery scales.
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