There is no denying the fact that eczema is uncomfortable and irritating. It often stems from an unbalanced immune system, causing scaly, itchy, dry patches of skin. And to top it all, it itches like hell! It is a matter of great distress for those who suffer from it. But the good news is, you can easily control this often frustrating condition. In this article, I have shared 10 natural and homemade remedies to alleviate eczema. You will also develop a better understanding of the condition, identify the triggers, and learn to control them accordingly. Read on to learn everything you need to know about eczema treatment.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Eczema?
- What Are The Types Of Eczema?
- What Causes Eczema? What Are The Triggers And Risk Factors?
- What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Eczema? How To Diagnose It?
- What Are The Treatment Options For Eczema?
- What Are The Home Remedies For Eczema?
- Does Diet Affect Eczema? What To Eat And What To Avoid?
- Precautions For Eczema: How To Prevent It
- Eczema Facts
What Is Eczema?
Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a condition that makes your skin inflamed, rough, scaly, and itchy. In some cases, blisters may also appear. It also involves your immune system. This is a chronic condition and flares up occasionally.
There are several types of eczema. It is important to determine the type of eczema you are suffering from before developing a proper treatment plan.
What Are The Types Of Eczema?
- Atopic Dermatitis: This is a chronic and inflammatory condition. The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but it happens when your immune system reacts drastically in response to an irritant or trigger. This condition develops during childhood, but can be present in adulthood as well.
- Irritant Dermatitis: This is caused when your skin comes in contact with alkalis, detergents, or acids or due to overexposure to water and cold.
- Stasis Dermatitis: This is an inflammatory condition that occurs in your lower legs and is caused due to poor blood circulation in your legs.
- Allergic Contact Dermatitis: This is an allergic response triggered by exposure to an allergen that comes in contact with your skin (think poison ivy).
- Scabies: Itch mite infestation on your skin causes this. This is highly contagious and causes red and itchy bumps in the affected area.
- Lichen Simplex Chronicus: The thickening of the skin due to constant itching or rubbing characterizes this condition.
- Dyshidrotic Eczema (Pompholyx): This type of eczema causes blisters on your skin, especially in areas such as the fingers, feet, palms, and the hands.
- Seborrheic Dermatitis: In this condition, you get scaly red patches, mainly on your scalp, ears, brows, chest, and back.
- Nummular Eczema: In this condition, round and coin-shaped lesions develop on your skin, and they are itchy. These lesions may become crusty.
- Xerotic Eczema: This usually happens in winter and is marked by dry and itchy skin (due to lack of moisture), which worsens over time.
It is best to identify what triggers your condition and avoid that. Although you may not cure eczema, you can control it or prevent flare-ups and lead a quality life.
What Causes Eczema? What Are The Triggers And Risk Factors?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the two most significant risk factors for eczema are:
- Family history (does it run in your family?)
- Mutation in the filaggrin gene (FLG)
It is still not clear how the genetic components cause eczema, and how exactly you inherit it. But those who suffer from eczema are more likely to have children with the risk of the condition.
There are a number of factors that can trigger eczema or make it worse. These include:
- Skin irritants: It could be some sort of fabric, such as wool or synthetic clothes, or detergents, perfumes, soap, chlorine, or any other chemical solvent.
- Temperature: Often, extreme temperature might cause dryness of skin or worsen your condition.
- Lack of moisturizing: Do you often forget to moisturize your skin after a bath? If yes, it might make your skin dehydrated.
- Animal dander
- Dust mites
- Food items
It is important to remember that the signs and symptoms of eczema may differ from person to person. And that’s why identifying them is essential for proper diagnosis.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Eczema? How To Diagnose It?
You should look for:
- Intense itching
- Rashes or red bumps
- Itching and burning sensation on the rashes
- Crusting of the rashes
- Liquid oozing from the rashes
- Swelling in particular areas
- One or more round areas with lesions (this is often confused with fungal infection)
- Clear liquid filled bumps
- Cracked skin
[ Read: Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Itching Skin ]
Unfortunately, there are no laboratory tests for diagnosing eczema. However, a skin biopsy can be helpful to evaluate other causes that mimic eczema. Your doctor might conduct some allergy tests to determine if you have an allergy to something external or internal. While diagnosing eczema, the doctor will usually ask about your family’s medical history. He or she may ask the following questions:
- Do you have asthma or are you allergic to pets, pollen or anything else?
- Does any substance (such as soaps or any cosmetic) irritate your skin?
- From when you are experiencing the symptoms?
- Did you undergo any particular treatment for treating eczema?
A dermatologist can often make the diagnosis by just looking at the types of lesions or rashes that you have on your skin. Sometimes, however, you may need multiple visits to determine what kind of eczema you have. Once your condition is diagnosed, the treatment will commence.
What Are The Treatment Options For Eczema?
Skin care is the key to treat eczema. Whether it is for adults and children or babies – this is what is required in case the eczema is mild. You have to be persistent in bringing about changes in your habits and lifestyle for treating your symptoms.
Lifestyle Changes For Eczema Treatment
- Use Mild Soaps And Moisturizers: Mild soaps do not dry out your skin. Applying a moisturizer after a shower keeps your skin hydrated and nourished. This is applicable for adults as well as kids.
- Take Short But Warm Showers: Avoid taking hot showers. Take warm showers instead, and that too, for a short period. Otherwise, it will dry your skin further.
- Manage Your Stress: Stress often triggers or worsens your condition. And that’s why it is crucial to align your mind, body, and soul to kick out stress. Try meditation, listening to soothing music, and getting a good night’s sleep.
- Install A Humidifier: If the air in your home is too dry, get a humidifier because dry air may worsen your condition.
- Wet Compress: It feels good on the skin and helps in controlling the irritation.
Along with lifestyle changes, the doctor might also recommend using certain skin ointments and medications for healing eczema.
Medications To Cure Eczema
The doctor might give you mild over-the-counter medicines for controlling your condition. However, if that doesn’t work, he/she might recommend:
- Corticosteroid ointments
- Non-steroid creams, such as Pimecrolimus and Tacrolimus
- Crisaborole (for children and adults with mild eczema)
- Cyclosporine (this immunosuppressive drug is often used for treating severe cases of eczema in adults)
The doctor might also suggest some alternative therapies for curing your condition.
Therapies To Get Rid Of Eczema
- Light Therapy/Phototherapy: This therapy is recommended if you have moderate to severe eczema. A narrowband UVB ray is used for treating the condition.
- Wet Wrap Therapy: This therapy is extremely effective for intense flare-ups or severe itching and pain. It calms and rehydrates the skin and boosts the effectiveness of the topical medicine.
You can also try some alternative treatment options on how to cure eczema fast.
Alternative Eczema Treatment Options
- Drink Green Or Oolong Tea: Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties that can fight eczema effectively (1). Oolong tea contains polyphenols, and that’s why drinking it regularly helps in relieving the itching and pain (2).
- Coconut, Borage, Sunflower, And Primrose Oils: Coconut oil has antibacterial properties and is excellent for healing eczema while borage is a non-irritant oil and suitable for dry skin. Evening primrose oil helps in reducing itchiness, redness, swelling, and crusting caused by eczema.
- Acupuncture: A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicines for treating eczema. The study involved 20 patients suffering from mild to severe eczema. Results suggested the combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs worked well in treating the condition (3).
- Essential Oils: A case study published in Grand Rounds studied the effectiveness of certain essential oils in treating chronic eczema. The study found that using lemon, bergamot, tea tree, niaouli, and lavender essential oils resulted in effective healing. The application of tea tree and lavender essential oils especially reduced itching immediately (4).
Other than these eczema treatment options, you can also try home remedies to control your condition. These ingredients might not cure eczema, but they will definitely help in reducing your misery.
What Are The Home Remedies For Eczema?
Want to know how to treat eczema naturally? Well, here are some effective natural remedies for eczema that may help prevent future flares and ease discomfort during an outbreak.
1. Coconut Oil
It soothes skin irritation and reduces further risk of infection. Coconut oil helps in:
- Keeping your skin hydrated, which is helpful in controlling atopic dermatitis (5).
- Reducing bacteria, viruses, and fungi as it contains lauric acid (6).
- Reducing pain and discomfort experienced in eczema (7).
You can directly apply coconut oil to the affected area (unless you are allergic to it). Leave it on overnight for maximum benefits.
[ Read: Benefits Of Coconut Oil ]
2. Witch Hazel
- Has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Contains tannins that are highly effective in treating atopic eczema in children.
- Prevents redness and itching.
Witch hazel extract (leaf and bark) is easily available in the market. You can dilute it with water and apply to the affected area directly or use it in wet compresses.
3. Lavender Essential Oil
Apart from uplifting your mood, lavender essential oil is very useful in treating skin irritation and inflammation. As per a study, lavender essential oil reduces pain and discomfort caused by itching in the area affected by eczema (9).
Add a few drops of lavender oil to your bath water or pour a few drops on a cotton swab and dab it on the affected area.
4. Licorice Extracts
You will easily get licorice root extract. Mix it with water and apply the paste on the affected area.
5. Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is best suited to treat any skin condition – from sunburn to eczema. This is because it is the only oil that closely resembles the human sebum. Jojoba extracts:
- Have wax esters that get easily absorbed in the skin.
- Have anti-inflammatory effects and can soothe any skin condition.
- Improve the absorption rate of other topical creams and ointments (12).
You can directly apply jojoba oil to your skin. It is also an excellent carrier oil. You can mix essential oils in it and then apply the blend to the affected area.
6. Cod Liver Oil (Fish Oil)
Fish oil is considered beneficial for health because it contains omega-3 fatty acids. A study says that feeding fish or cod liver oil to kids during early childhood can prevent eczema (13). This is mainly because it contains n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that play a key role in preventing eczema.
Give your child a lot of fatty fish, such as herring and salmon. If they cannot eat fish, get cod liver oil or fish oil supplements from the medical store.
We all know how much gut health contributes to our overall wellness. Thanks to the healthy bacteria, a number of issues can be alleviated or prevented with the addition of probiotics (especially the consumption of fermented foods). However, in case of treating eczema, the role of probiotics is strain specific. This means that the healing of the condition depends on the specific strain of the bacteria contained in the probiotic. A study shows that kids (until the age of 2 years) who were fed probiotics containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus were able to prevent eczema. Its extended effects were present until the age of 4 (14). Another placebo-controlled trial showed that feeding Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium longum, and L. paracasei (probiotics with these strain of bacteria) helped in reducing the risk of eczema prenatally and postnatally in infants with mothers who had allergic skin conditions (15).
8. Aloe Vera
This herb is well known for its soothing effect on the skin. Aloe vera works well in soothing eczema as it rehydrates the skin and works wonders in controlling the dryness (16).
What you can do is scoop out aloe vera gel from the plant and apply it to the affected area.
[ Read: Aloe Vera For Psoriasis ]
This is extensively used in dermatology to soothe itchy and irritated skin. It has
- anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation.
- antioxidants and phenols, which work together to cleanse and nourish the skin (17).
10. Bleach Baths
Considering bleach bath for eczema treatment is one of the effective methods. Although they will not cure your condition, they will definitely provide relief and reduce the severity of eczema (18). They help in:
- Improving the skin barrier.
- Maintaining the skin pH levels.
- Reducing the severity of the condition (from mild to severe eczema) (19).
Prepare a bleach bath by mixing half a cup of bleach in a tub of warm water. Soak your entire body or affected area in this for at least 10 minutes.
While home-based treatments and medications will help in healing your condition, you also need to take care of your diet. Several foods help in diminishing the impact of eczema and promote healing.
Does Diet Affect Eczema? What To Eat And What To Avoid?
Here I have discussed about eczema cure diet and what foods to avoid to make it less worse. Read on to know what are they.
Include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet like:
- Foods Containing Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, albacore, and herring are best for preventing eczema and reducing its effects.
[ Read: Foods Rich In Omega 3 Fatty Acids ]
Gut-friendly bacteria not only keep you healthy but help your body fight inflammation and conditions like eczema. Consume a lot of yogurt that contains active cultures, tempeh, and miso soup. Also, include fermented food items and drinks in your diet, such as kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha. These also contain probiotics.
- Food Containing Flavonoids
Flavonoids fight inflammation and keep your skin healthy. So, consume colorful fruits and vegetables. Do not make faces at broccoli as it is rich in flavonoids. Also, try to incorporate green leafy veggies, such as kale, spinach, and fruits like cherries and apples.
Although foods might not directly cause eczema, they might trigger the symptoms or cause allergies and allergic reactions. So, it is better to avoid them. They include:
- Dairy products
- Nuts (both tree and ground nuts)
- Gluten (consume gluten-free substitutes, such as whole grains)
- Acidic foods (such as pineapple, tomatoes, and citrus fruits)
People who have dyshidrotic eczema (a condition that affects the feet and hands) may need to limit foods that contain nickel. Nickel is often found in soil and can thus be present in foods. such as:
- Black tea
Certain factors increase your chances of getting eczema. Hence, you need to take precautions to prevent it.
Precautions For Eczema: How To Prevent It
- Keep Your Skin Moisturized
When your skin becomes too dry, it becomes scaly and itchy. To prevent that, use a good quality moisturizer. Do not let your skin feel dry. Use oils, creams, and moisturizers religiously. Follow this especially during winter when the air gets dry. If possible, install a humidifier in your home.
[ Read: Ways To Moisturize Your Skin Naturally ]
- Ditch All The Products That Irritate Your Skin
Observe how your skin reacts to certain products. Be careful in choosing your perfumes and soaps. Choose detergents and soaps that do not contain any dyes or added perfumes. In most of the cases, these trigger eczema.
- Check Your Clothing
Avoid any fabric that is too tight or rough or makes you feel itchy. These often trigger eczema. Go for soft fabrics that are gentle on your skin.
- Protect Yourself From Dust And Pet Dander
Dust particles in the air often cause rashes. You might be allergic to cigarette smoke or pet dander. The best way is to keep your home clean. Stay away from the smoking zone or avoid being in areas where people are smoking.
Now, here’s the reality check. If you think that you are suffering alone, it’s not true. Here are a few facts.
- The word eczema comes from a Greek word “ezkein,” meaning a “bubble” or “boil.”
- Currently, there is no cure for eczema. Medications can only control it, but it is prone to flares.
- Scratching worsens your condition. I know it itches like hell, but resist the urge to scratch.
- About 66% of the adults are of the opinion that eczema restricts their dietary habits.
- About a third of the sufferers reported that they spend 1-3 hours every day in treating their condition.
- Compared to men, eczema is more common in women.
- About 18 million adults in the USA suffer from atopic dermatitis, and approximately 31.6 million people suffer from some form of eczema.
- About two-thirds of the sufferers admitted that the condition interferes with their daily life.
- Adults suffering from atopic dermatitis have higher rates of anxiety and depression.
- More than 20% of adults who suffer from atopic ermatitis also have asthma (20), (21).
Most importantly, do not freak out if your eczema flares up. Try to relax, as stress and anxiety will make it worse. I hope these natural eczema treatment options and tips will help you manage your condition. If you know any other effective strategy for managing eczema, do share it in the comments section below.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Is eczema contagious?
No, it is not.
Which are the areas that are usually affected?get rid of eczema
For infants: the chin, the forehead, and the cheeks.
For children: behind the knees, the upper side of the neck, torso, and the feet, and elbows.
For adults: the neck, the face, and the hands.
Can stress affect eczema?
Yes. You will experience flare-ups when you are under stress.
How can I understand if my kid is suffering from eczema or not?
Look for the signs. Check for red patches, dry skin, and itchiness.
Is eczema the same as seborrheic dermatitis?
No. Seborrheic dermatitis is just a different form of dermatitis, caused by Pityrosporum yeast.
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