Home Remedies for Eczema

Woman with Eczema

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Home remedies for eczema can be an important component of your overall treatment routine. This includes good having a good daily skincare routine, a home environment that helps you prevent flareups and, possibly, holistic or natural therapies. In some cases, these home treatments will be all you need to protect yourself or your child against a flareup. In others, they can be used in conjunction with over-the-counter or prescription treatments as part of the daily maintenance of your skin.

Shower (or Bathe) Right

There is a lot of discussion as to whether frequent bathing will cause the skin to be drier or not. The general consensus among dermatologists is that bathing daily is OK and will help wash away any irritants, allergens, dirt, and germs.

However, it is very important that you keep the bathing or showering short, ideally less than 10 minutes. Bath or shower water must not be too hot. This helps preserve the skin's natural oil barrier.

Also, pay attention to the cleanser you are using. It is best to stick to non-drying, simple, or non-soap cleansers with no fragrance. Immediately after bathing, apply moisturizing treatments while the skin is still slightly damp in order to lock in the moisture.

Bath Additives

Whereas it may seem like a good idea to add oils, emollients, or other things to the bath, there is little statistical evidence that this is an effective technique to help get rid of eczema. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology do not support their use, and the American Academy of Dermatology recommend against them. However, their use is advised by some international guidelines such as in Europe.

The decision to use bath additives is up to you to determine if you think it is helpful or not. Unfortunately, it has not been studied enough to suggest one way or another strongly.

Do stay away from bubble baths, bath bombs, or other highly-fragranced bath products as these can further irritate eczema or trigger a flareup.

Oatmeal baths, however, may help soothe the skin and reduce itching. They can be bought premade at the drug store, or you can make a simple one at home.

Home Environment

It is important to optimize your home environment so that you do not inadvertently trigger eczema simply by being in your home. Eczema can be triggered by many things in your natural environment.

To avoid drying low humidity indoors, maintain a cool home where you are utilizing the heater as little as possible. A humidifier for the home, or even just the room you sleep in, can be helpful.

It is not clear yet if home dust mites and detergents are a factor in an eczema flare, but it can't hurt to try and reduce dust collection and use natural detergents with less fragrance and no dryer sheets.

Emollient Therapy

Regular use of emollients (i.e., topical creams and ointments) is the key to prevention of eczema and can be a large source of treatment during a flare. Essentially, emollients create a barrier to keep moisture in and prevent the drying out of the skin. When emollient use was studied in the first year of life of children, it was found that it is a simple, safe, and inexpensive intervention.

Creams and ointments are much more effective at keeping skin hydrated than water-based lotions. Apply them several times throughout the day, or as needed, and always immediately after bathing or showering.

Choose a simple, fragrance-free product such as Aquaphor, CeraVe, or Eucerin. No need to spend a lot of money, either. Even plain petrolatum (AKA Vaseline) is a very cost-effective emollient. Ask your doctor for recommendations if you need help.

DIY "Kitchen" Remedies

There are many all-natural remedies that are often suggested for the prevention and treatment of eczema flareups. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these have not been rigorously studied, so there's no solid evidence for their efficacy.

You should always consult your healthcare provider for guidance before trying any DIY or homemade preparation.

Coconut Oil

This is often a favorite suggestion for home eczema remedies because it is inexpensive and very readily available. Coconut oil smells good.

Coconut oil has emollient properties and has been shown to help seal in moisture and keep skin hydrated. Some studies show coconut oil is superior in this respect to mineral oil.

You can use coconut oil as you would any ointment and slather it on the skin as needed. Large amounts may stain clothes, but only a small amount is needed to cover a good portion of skin.

Chamomile

Chamomile is one of the oldest, widely used, and most well-documented medicinal plants in the world. In a study performed on people with a medium-degree of eczema, those who received a cream based on chamomile for two weeks showed a slightly greater degree of improvement than patients who received a 0.5% hydrocortisone cream.

Still, further research is needed to evaluate the usefulness of topical chamomile in managing eczema. Also, for some people, chamomile may cause allergic contact dermatitis. Don't use this herb topically if you are allergic to chamomile or any member of the daisy family.

An easy way to administer is to simply boil chamomile tea, dip a clean towel into it, let it cool, then apply it to the areas of the skin that are irritated. Allow it to dry and do not wash it off. Try this on just a small area of skin first and watch for irritation before using on a larger area.

Lanolin

Lanolin is a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals. Usually, the marketed ones are from sheep.

You can use lanolin straight-up, which is easy to find in drug stores or mix it with some other emollients. Lanolin is a common ingredient in many commercially available lotions and creams and is regularly used for skin healing.

Be aware, lanolin can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

Licorice

Licorice root has long been used in traditional herbal medicine to reduce inflammation and skin irritation. Modern research has shown that a specific compound, glycyrrhetinic acid, found in licorice may be helpful for treating eczema.

Some studies have found that topical products containing glycyrrhetinic acid were more effective at reducing eczema severity than those that did not contain the ingredient.

Wet Wraps

Wet dressings, also known as wet wraps, can help soothe the skin. They may reduce itchiness and redness, help crusty areas to heal, and prevent bacteria from getting into the open irritated areas.

You can combine emollient treatment with the wet wraps, too. First, apply the emollient, then the wet layer, then a dry layer. For kids, you can even put them to sleep this way to create a moist environment for eczema to heal under.

Probiotics

Probiotics are "good" bacteria that can be found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, naturally-fermented sauerkraut, and more. Probiotics are also naturally found in your digestive tract.

Some studies have found that babies with eczema or allergic disorders have different types of bacteria in their digestive tracts than those babies who do not have eczema. Because of this, other studies have taken a closer look at the role probiotic supplements may have in preventing and treating eczema.

A review published in a 2018 issue of PLoS Medicine, looked at the link between maternal diet during pregnancy and the risk of infants developing allergic and autoimmune diseases. Although more research is needed, the evidence suggests that taking probiotic supplements during pregnancy prevents the infant from developing eczema during childhood.

On the flip side, another study published in a 2017 issue of Pediatrics, found daily supplementation with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG for the first six months of life does not appear to prevent eczema or asthma at two years of age.

Interestingly, a separate study found that while taking probiotics during pregnancy decreased eczema during childhood, it increased the development of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis at ages 5 to 10 years old.

Because everyone's situation is different, always consult with your doctor before taking probiotic supplements or giving them to your child.

Rest and Relaxation

What better home remedy exists than sleep? Treat yourself to a massage or take a really good nap. Treatment of anxiety and stress may help to relieve eczema symptoms if they are exacerbated by daily stressors.

In reality, just one nap or massage won't heal you. You have to make it part of your daily routine and a real focus in your life. This may take an exploration of helpful ideas, and everyone's mental needs are different. The key is making them a priority.

A Word From Verywell

One of the biggest helps in treating eczema is prevention, prevention, prevention. Flareups can be minimized by good daily maintenance and home care.

Before embarking on any change to your eczema treatment routine, though, it's important to talk with your doctor. Even simple ingredients that you find in your kitchen have the propensity to irritate your skin, making eczema rashes worse. Always get your doctor's advice before trying any home remedies to treat your eczema.

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Article Sources

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