Home Remedies for Eczema

Woman with Eczema

BSIP / UIG / Getty Images 

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

While some are concerned that frequent bathing when you have eczema will cause the skin to be drier, the general consensus among dermatologists is that daily bathing is OK and can be helpful, as it will 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. Water must not be too hot so as to help 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 eczema. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology does not support their use, and the American Academy of Dermatology recommends against them. However, their use is advised in some international guidelines, such as those in Europe.

If you want to use a bath additive, try a small amount first to gauge your response. Even better, consider colloidal oatmeal, which may help soothe the skin and reduce itching. It can be bought pre-made at the drugstore, or you can make a simple one at home.

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

Home Environment

It is important to optimize your home environment so that you do not inadvertently trigger eczema.

Low humidity can be drying. To combat this, maintain a cool home and utilize heat 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 helpful during a flare. Essentially, emollients create a barrier to keep moisture in and prevent the drying out of the skin.

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 (a.k.a. Vaseline) is a very cost-effective emollient. Ask your doctor for recommendations if you need help.

Natural Ingredient 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 homemade preparations.

Coconut Oil

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

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 to mineral oil in this respect.

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 used a chamomile-based cream 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.

To prepare chamomile for application, boil chamomile tea, dip a clean towel into it, and let it cool. Then, apply it to the areas of the skin that are irritated and allow it to dry. (Do not wash off afterward.) 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. It is easy to find in drugstores, and most products you'll find have lanolin that comes from sheep.

You can use lanolin as is 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.

Lanolin can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Test it on a small area before applying it liberally.

Licorice

Licorice root has long been used in traditional herbal medicine to reduce inflammation and skin irritation. Research has shown that a specific compound found in licorice, glycyrrhetinic acid, 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 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. You can even sleep with the wraps on to create a moist environment for eczema to heal under overnight.

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 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 that daily supplementation with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG for the first six months of life does not appear to prevent eczema (or asthma) at 2 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 from ages 5 to 10.

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

Rest and Relaxation

Stress can exacerbate eczema symptoms, so make it a point to get the rest you need and find ways to decompress. Commit to a bedtime that allows you adequate sleep each night and invest time in activities that give you a release from daily pressures, such as a hobby or even some moments of deep breathing.

If you are having a hard time reducing stress or anxiety on your own, consider seeking the advice of a therapist.

A Word From Verywell

Prevention is one of the biggest aspects of eczema treatment. 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 ability to irritate your skin, making eczema rashes worse.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

  1. van Zuuren EJ, Fedorowicz Z, Christensen R, Lavrijsen A, Arents BWM. Emollients and moisturisers for eczema. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Feb 6;2:CD012119. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD012119.pub2


  2. Evangelista MT, Abad-Casintahan F, Lopez-Villafuerte L. The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial. Int J Dermatol. 2014 Jan;53(1):100-8. doi:10.1111/ijd.12339


  3. Lee SH, Heo Y, Kim YC. Effect of German chamomile oil application on alleviating atopic dermatitis-like immune alterations in miceJ Vet Sci. 2010 Mar; 11(1): 35–41. doi:10.4142/jvs.2010.11.1.35


  4. Jacob SE, Hsu JW. Reactions to Aquaphor: is bisabolol the culprit? Pediatr Dermatol. 2010 Jan-Feb;27(1):103-4. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1470.2009.01064.x


  5. Wang Y, Zhang Y, Peng G, Han X. Glycyrrhizin ameliorates atopic dermatitis-like symptoms through inhibition of HMGB1. Int Immunopharmacol. 2018 Jul;60:9-17. doi:10.1016/j.intimp.2018.04.029


  6. Saeedi M, Morteza-Semnani K, Ghoreishi MR. The treatment of atopic dermatitis with licorice gel. J Dermatolog Treat. 2003 Sep;14(3):153-7.


Additional Reading