While standard medical therapies are very effective, it is still possible for you to achieve many of these benefits through the use of natural remedies for eczema.
For example, there are many naturally occurring plant oils which can act as very effective moisturizers for your skin.
Some naturally occurring organic compounds have potent anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. These will also help to relieve the symptoms of eczema when you apply them on your skin.
Furthermore, some lifestyle modifications such as dietary adjustment will also have a very beneficial effect on your skin, by reducing the frequency and severity of eczema attacks and flares.
Many of these natural remedies are cheap and easily available in addition to being very effective, and this is why many people love to resort to them.
In this article, we will explore many different natural remedies and techniques which you can use in the treatment of attacks and flares of eczema.
Natural Remedies For Eczema In Adults
If you would rather prefer to manage your eczema through the use of natural therapies, there are many natural remedies and techniques that you can use for the management of eczema.
They can be arranged as follows:
- Use of Naturally occurring moisturizers
- Dietary therapy
- Balneotherapy ( use of special baths)
NATURALLY OCCURRING MOISTURIZERS
Moisturizers are substances which you can use to increase the humidity of your skin. By keeping the skin moist, the barrier function of your skin will be enhanced. This makes your skin better able to resist irritation by external agents, and the incidence and severity of eczema attacks are consequently reduced.
There are many naturally occurring moisturizers which are effective in hydrating the skin and keeping it moist. They are often used by many people instead of the commercially available brands of moisturizers.
Many of these naturally occurring moisturizers are naturally occurring oils that are extracted from different plants. They have a blend of lipids that help lock down the moisture in your skin and keep it from evaporation.
Many of them also contain substances like vitamins, various polysaccharides and monosaccharides which can also have antimicrobial effects, and increase the smoothness of your skin.
The following is a list of naturally occurring moisturizers:
This is naturally occurring oil, which is extracted from the meat (white part) of the coconut. There are several different ways of extracting coconut oil. One method involves first drying the coconut meat to form copra, which is then pressed to extract the coconut oil(dry processing).
Another method involves extracting coconut oil from fresh raw coconuts. The oil obtained through this method (wet processing) is known as virgin coconut oil. The virgin coconut oil is the best type of coconut oil for use on the skin because all the naturally occurring compounds with a beneficial effect are left intact.
When purchasing coconut oil, go for those which are tagged virgin, or raw, or cold processed.
Coconut oil has the fragrance of coconuts and is a colourless liquid at room temperature.
The oil has a high concentration of saturated fatty acids (94%), out of which 62% are medium chain fatty acids. Its composition is as follows:
Lauric acid: 45-52%
Myristic acid: 16-21%
Caprylic acid: 5-10%
Capric acid: 4-8%
Other fatty acids in coconut oil include palmitic acid, oleic acid, linolenic acid and stearic acid. It also contains vitamin E.
Coconut oil is widely used for a variety of purposes.
When used on your skin, it confers many benefits. It can act as a natural moisturizer, and keep your skin moist and smooth.
The saturated fats capric acid, caprylic acid and caproic acid can exert an antioxidant effect. This makes them mop up free radicals which are generated in your skin. Thus, coconut oil has an anti-ageing effect on your skin, and also reduces sagging.
Enzymatic action on capric acid and lauric acid results in the formation of monocaprin and monolaurin. These substances exert a natural antibiotic effect. Therefore, coconut oil can help reduce bacterial irritation of your skin and protect you from some forms of dermatitis.
The vitamin e content of coconut oil also exerts an antioxidant effect, thereby making your skin smooth, and reducing damage due to free radicals.
Therefore, coconut oil is a good natural moisturizer to be used if you are prone to having dry skin. Frequent use of coconut oil will keep your skin moist and smooth, and therefore reduce the incidence of eczema flares.
Cocoa butter is a naturally occurring fat which is extracted from the cocoa bean that is used to make chocolate.
Chocolate usually contains a high amount of cocoa butter, and it is this cocoa butter that gives chocolate its smooth texture and tendency to melt when you put it into your mouth.
When the cocoa beans are fermented, dried and then roasted, the cocoa butter can be extracted. To make chocolate, the raw cocoa butter is pressed hard to release the chocolate liquor which contains most of the chocolate taste and fragrance. The remaining cocoa butter is a solid fat with a slight smell of chocolate. It is an edible fat.
Cocoa butter is very widely used in the cosmetic industry to make many cosmetics and beauty products.
The components of cocoa butter include the following:
Stearic acid: 30%
Palmitic acid: 4%
Other components include naturally occurring polyphenols, flavonoid antioxidants, arachidic acid, lauric acid, etc.
You can apply cocoa butter directly on your skin as a natural moisturizer. Cocoa butter also has antioxidant effects due to its polyphenols and flavonoid antioxidants. It can, therefore, reduce ageing of your skin, remove wrinkles, and improve skin elasticity and skin tone.
It is a favourite therapy for the removal of stretch marks in women.
The frequent use of cocoa butter can help moisturize the skin of people who are prone to having attacks of eczema, thereby making them less prone to eczema flares.
Eucalyptus oil is derived from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus globulus). This oil has a very wide variety of uses.
It contains 1,8 cineole which is also called eucalyptol (60%). Other components include limonene 12%, terpineol, p-cymene, terpene-4-ol, sesquiterpene alcohol, a-pinene, etc.
Highly effective grades of eucalyptus oil usually have up to a 70% concentration of eucalyptol.
Eucalyptus oil is a colourless liquid with a nice fragrance. It is used as an antibacterial agent. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect and can act as a cough suppressant and nasal decongestant. It is also effective as an insect repellant and an insecticide.
Eucalyptus oil has a moisturizing effect when you apply it to your skin. It also helps prevent dermatitis through its antibacterial effects. Therefore, eucalyptus oil is a good natural moisturizer for the hydration of dry skins.
This is a naturally occurring oil which is derived from the seeds of the sunflower plant. It contains mostly unsaturated fats. Its components include the following:
Linoleic acid: 59%
Oleic acid: 30%
Palmitic acid: 5%
Stearic acid: 6%
The oil also contains vitamin E and vitamin K.
Sunflower oil is a good natural moisturizer for your skin. Its high content of vitamin E gives it a powerful antioxidant effect which makes it effective in caring for your skin by reducing skin damage due to free radicals thereby making your skin appear smoother with a firmer tone.
Lavender oil is produced from the flowers of some species of the lavender plant. It is composed of:
It is commonly used in the production of perfumes. It is also used as an organic solvent.
Lavender oil can act as an effective moisturizer when applied to your skin. It is, therefore, another good option to keep your skin moist and hydrated if you suffer from attacks of eczema.
Aloe vera is a plant which has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. The ancient Egyptians referred to it as the herb of immortality, while the Greeks regarded it as an all-purpose drug. The leaf of the Aloe Vera plant contains a gel which is very useful in healing a wide variety of ailments, and the plant has been used for medicinal purposes in many cultures.
The gel of the aloe vera leaf has the following components:
Monosaccharide and polysaccharide carbohydrates
Examples include aldopentose, arabinose, hexanoic acid, glucuronic acid, acemannan.
Some of these carbohydrates have antibacterial, antimycotic and immune stimulatory effects.
Enzymes like alkaline phosphatase, bradykinases, carboxypeptidase, catalase, cellulose, lipase, amylase peroxidases, etc. some of these enzymes are effective in mopping up free radicals and reducing oxidative stress, while others have important catabolic activities.
Salicylic acid: this compound soothes the pain.
Saponins: these are glycosides which have a cleansing and an antiseptic effect.
Anthraglycosides: these compounds have antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Tannic acid: these compounds have an anti-inflammatory and an anti-microbial effect.
Lignins: these are fine fibres which can penetrate the skin. They are useful as carriers, enabling moisturizers and surface nutrients to enter deeply into the skin and help nourish the skin and improve its barrier functions.
Essential amino acids.
Minerals and micronutrients: these include magnesium, copper, chromium, selenium and sodium. These can aid the metabolic functions of the cells of your skin.
Vitamins A, vitamin C and vitamin E. it also contains vitamin B12.
The gel of the aloe vera leaf can act as a good moisturizer. Some of the monosaccharides in the aloe vera gel help keep moisture bound to your skin.
The activity of fibroblasts in your skin is also stimulated by aloe vera, and this results in increased production of elastic fibres, resulting in a better skin elasticity and skin tone. Therefore aloe vera is another good option for you to help keep your skin moist and prevent flares of eczema.
Other naturally occurring oils that you may want to consider as natural moisturizers for your skin include:
Grape seed oil
Jojoba oil etc
Rosehip seed oil
Carrot seed oil
Your diet can have very significant effects on various aspects of your health.
One way in which diet can affect your health is by affecting the functions of your immune system.
Your gut is open to the outside world at both ends. The substance of your body is separated from the contents of your gut by a layer of cells, as well as a layer of bacteria (normal flora) which line the intestinal cells.
If there is any damage to the components of this natural barrier (leaky gut), substances from your gut may enter into your bloodstream without having been adequately processed by your gut. These substances may then elicit an immune response, and make your immune system hypersensitive.
The result will be a hypersensitive immune system, and the tendency to exerting an exaggerated immune response which may manifest in different parts of your body as different atopic diseases such as asthma, eczema and recurrent allergic rhinitis.
The cellular lining of your intestine may be weakened by some kinds of food which may cause inflammation of the cells of your gut. Such foods (inflammatory foods) include:
Some vegetable oils ( those high in omega-6-fatty acids)
Refined carbohydrates which are low in fibre
Excessive alcohol intake
Processed meat products like sausages
Hydrogenated oils (artificial Trans fats) e.g. as in margarine.
Some dairy products e.g. cheeses
The layer of beneficial bacteria lining your intestines may be distorted when you consume some foods which can promote excessive growth of non-functional bacteria in the gut (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth syndrome).
Such foods also include refined carbohydrates, low fibre foods, sugary diets etc.
Some food products may also contain antibiotics which directly kill off the bacteria lining your intestine, thereby further impairing the integrity of the intestinal barrier.
If you are prone to having recurrent attacks of eczema, you can improve your condition by making some adjustments to your diet.
Making the following dietary adjustments can result in the strengthening of your natural intestinal barrier. This will reduce the leakage of inflammatory substances from your gut into the rest of your body. When this happens, your immune system will be less sensitized. This will thereby lead to a reduced incidence of attacks of eczema.
AVOID INFLAMMATORY FOODS
This will mean that you should avoid a diet high in refined carbohydrates like white bread, white sugar, white rice, white flour, pastries etc. avoid excess alcohol intake and keep away from sugary confectioneries.
EAT ANTIOXIDANT FOODS
During some metabolic processes in your body, some molecules known as free radicals are produced.
These are molecules which are highly reactive, and which can, therefore, damage cells. Free radical damage is a component of some disease processes and is also partly responsible for the gradual degeneration and ageing of the body. These free radicals are inactivated by compounds known as antioxidants.
Eating foods which are high in naturally occurring antioxidants will, therefore, help reduce the incidence of many diseases.
Foods high in antioxidants include:
Carrots (b carotene)
Onion (sulfur compounds)
EAT ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS
These are foods which are high in organic compounds that can exert an anti-inflammatory effect. They can help protect your gut barrier from damage if you add them to your diet. They include the following food:
Berries e.g. strawberry, blueberry, blackberry
Fatty fish which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids e.g. sardines
EAT PREBIOTIC FOODS
Prebiotic foods are food materials which have dietary fibres that can be fermented in the intestine by intestinal bacteria and other microbes. The fermented products then promote the growth of these beneficial intestinal bacteria, which results in a strengthening of your intestinal barrier, and ultimately, a reduction of immune disorders like eczema. Therefore prebiotic foods increase the number of beneficial bacteria and other microbes in your gut.
These beneficial intestinal bacteria also produce short-chain fatty acids like propionate, butyrate, acetate etc which help further strengthen your intestinal barrier.
Prebiotic foods include the following:
EAT PROBIOTIC FOODS
Probiotic foods are food materials which contain live microbes within them.
These foods are usually prepared through a process that involves some fermentation. The microbes present in these foods are beneficial microbes which when you ingest them, help to strengthen your intestinal barrier, thereby reducing the incidence of a leaky gut.
They include several species of Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces.
Probiotic foods include:
Some soymilk brands
Local African probiotic foods include
Cassava products (fufu, akpu, abacha)
Probiotics can also be taken as supplement medications.
Balneotherapy is a term that refers to the curing of diseases through the use of special baths. This form of therapy has been practised for millennia. In the past, it was customary for sick people to visit certain rivers, springs, streams or pools for the purpose of immersing themselves in the water to receive healing. Various water bodies achieved fame in the ancient world for their supposed healing powers, and some modern cities actually originated from settlements made around such healing streams.
Balneotherapy has been claimed to be effective in some types of eczema. Special baths which are often used in the relief or treatment of eczema include the following:
Sea salt baths
Epsom salt (magnesium) baths
SEA SALT BATHS
Many people have reported relief from the symptoms of eczema following a swim in seawater. This has resulted in the practice of immersion in a sea salt bath as a form of therapy for eczema.
Salt water has a mild antiseptic effect and may reduce bacterial concentrations in cases of superinfected eczema lesions.
The salt water can also draw out water from weeping blisters of superinfected eczema lesions, reducing the blistering, and giving relief to the person involved.
Salt water may also assist in the healing of minor abrasions and scratches that occur as a result of the itch involved in eczema.
EPSOM SALT (MAGNESIUM) BATHS
Magnesium baths have been employed in the treatment of eczema for many centuries. There have been many streams and springs, high in minerals like magnesium, which have been achieved wide fame for their healing properties, and which have been pilgrimage sites in antiquity.
Home prepared Magnesium baths have been reported by many people to be effective in relieving the symptoms of eczema. Soaking in a magnesium bath relieves the itching in eczema, and also has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin.
Magnesium baths are prepared by adding Epsom salt to bathing water.
Bleach baths are prepared by adding small quantities of household bleach ( hypochlorite) to bathing water and soaking in the bath for fifteen to thirty minutes. The bleach in the water is believed to kill off any bacteria that may be infecting the skin and contributing to the symptoms of dermatitis.
Recipe for bleach bath:
To about 10 litres of lukewarm bathing water, add about 12mls of household bleach. Stir, and then soak in the water. This should be done once a day for 1 month. Depending on the response, the frequency may be reduced to once a week.
100 grams of Epsom salts or table salt or sea salt may be added to the recipe above, to make a salt bath.
Oatmeal baths are prepared by adding oatmeal to the bath water. It has a soothing effect on the skin. Oatmeal can moisturize, as well as relieve the itching and redness of eczema. Oatmeal has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Recipe for an oath bath
Take two cups of very finely ground oats
Add the oats to the water in your bathtub
Stir very well
Soak in the water for about 15-20 minutes
Dab yourself dry with a clean towel
Some forms of physiotherapy have been reported by some people to be effective in relieving the symptoms of eczema.
Acupuncture is a technique that involves using fine needles to stimulate designated points on the body which is then supposed to have a therapeutic effect in curing diseases in different areas of the body. Some people claim that acupuncture is effective in the relief of the redness and itching that are present in people who are suffering from eczema.
Acupressure is a technique that is very similar to acupuncture, but in this case, pressure by the fingers is used to stimulate the pressure points, instead of fine needles. The use of acupressure has also been reported to relieve the redness, rashes and itching of eczema.
Different techniques of skin massages have also been reported by some people to be effective in managing the symptoms of their eczema.
Many people with atopic dermatitis report an improvement in their condition when they spend some time out in the sun. On the other hand, it has been noticed that the symptoms of eczema appear to worsen during the wet rainy season, and the incidence of eczema flares also rises at that time.
It is believed that when you expose your skin to sunlight, vitamin D production is increased. This vitamin D can then exert a beneficial effect, and help in the relief of the symptoms of eczema.
Exposure to ultraviolet light is used in medical practice in the treatment of forms of eczema which do not respond to other forms of therapy. A special device is used to irradiate the skin with ultraviolet light while protecting other sensitive parts of the body. Phototherapy is done under the supervision of trained dermatologists, and it is usually reserved as a second line treatment for eczema.
You can expose your skin to sunlight for the relief of eczema; however, exposure to sunlight can increase your risk of getting skin cancer. Therefore you should limit your skin exposure to early morning sunlight.
It has been noted that stress and emotional disturbance can trigger or worsen attacks of eczema on the skin. When you are exposed to chronic stress, your likelihood of developing some skin diseases is increased.
Therefore proper stress management and psychotherapy can play a very important role in helping you relieve the symptoms of eczema. If you can learn how to defuse tension, relax as well as increase your emotional intelligence, this will go a long way to reducing the incidence and severity of your eczema attacks.
A form of psychotherapy known as cognitive behaviour therapy, as well as relaxation techniques and forms of meditation, are ways in which you can use psychotherapy in an attempt to relieve the symptoms of eczema.
B NATURAL REMEDIES FOR ECZEMA ON THE HANDS
Many of the remedies listed above are also effective in managing eczema on the hands. There are some other remedies that you will also find helpful in the treatment of eczema on your hands:
Tea made from the leaves of the nettle plant can be applied to your hands for relief from the symptoms of eczema. Nettle leaves contain substances which have an antihistaminic effect and also act as natural antimicrobials. They can also give some level of relief from pain.
You can also drink the nettle tea as nettle leaves are edible.
How to make nettle tea:
Gather fresh nettle leaves (use gloves to avoid being stung by the leaf barbs)
Leave the nettle leaves to dry ( this step is optional)
Wash the nettle leaves
Put them into a pot, and pour boiling water into the pot
Leave the leaves in the boiling water for about 10-15 minutes.
Strain the tea from the pot
You can apply the tea to the areas of your hand affected by eczema.
You can also choose to drink the nettle tea either raw or sweetened with a sweetener.
C NATURAL REMEDIES FOR ECZEMA ON THE FACE
The skin of the face is somewhat more sensitive than in many other parts of the body, and in some places (eg the eyelids) it can be quite thin. Some natural home remedies that will be suitable to be used on the face include:
Chamomile is a plant that resembles the daisy flower. Its flowers contain many organic compounds which can exert beneficial health effects.
A tea which is brewed from the flowers of the chamomile plant contains compounds such as levomenol, apigenin, azulene, fornesene, quercetin, coumarins, spiroethers, patuletin and luteolin.
The chamomile tea can be used to relax muscles. It also has anti-inflammatory effects, sedative effects, antioxidant effects and can be used in wound healing.
You can drink tea brewed from the flower of the chamomile plant to assist in the management of some health conditions or as a sedative to help you sleep at night. You can also apply it to parts of your body such as your face, which are affected by eczema.
How to prepare chamomile tea
Add dried chamomile to a pot
Pour boiling water over the chamomile
Allow to stand for 5 minutes
You can then drink the tea with milk, or sweeten with berries, honey or citrus
You can also allow the tea to cool, and apply it to your face.
Other natural remedies which will be helpful in eczema of the face include:
D NATURAL REMEDIES FOR ECZEMA IN BABIES
Babies have very sensitive skins, therefore some caution must be exercised when applying natural remedies to their skins. Some natural remedies that can be applied to the skins of babies for the management of eczema include:
Using an oatmeal bath for your baby can have a beneficial effect on your baby’s eczema. The oatmeal bath can relieve the itching and the redness associated with eczema. Oatmeal also has anti-inflammatory effects as well as antioxidants.
How to prepare an oatmeal bath for your baby
Use finely ground oats. If not available, you can take oat preparations like Quaker oats and attempt to grind them into a finer powder.
Add one cup of finely ground oats to a bathtub with warm water, and stir very well
Soak in the bathwater for about 15 minutes
Rinse the baby’s skin with clean water
Use a clean towel to pat the baby’s skin dry
Other natural remedies that can be used for your baby include the following:
All these oils can be used as natural moisturizers for the skin of your baby.
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Uche Udeariry is a doctor, medical writer, author and tech entrepreneur.
Following graduation, he practised clinical medicine for six years, before moving into medical writing.
He currently runs a string of businesses and is the proprietor of a tech startup committed to mobile app development and web development.
He has authored six books which are available on the Amazon store in Kindle and print formats. He is also working on his seventh and eighth books.