Simple Ways to Use Honey for Eczema

Honey isn't just a sweet addition to your tea. It can treat various ailments, including skin conditions such as eczema.

While research is limited, honey may help treat eczema symptoms. However, home remedies for eczema do not replace standard medical care.

This article explains what the research says about honey for eczema, the best type of honey to use, and how to apply it.

Woman holding honey in her palms

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What Does Research Say About Honey for Eczema?

In traditional medicine, honey has been used in the treatment of eczema. However, research on the subject is limited.

In one study, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of honey on atopic dermatitis (eczema). Based on clinical and cellular studies, manuka honey was potentially effective. However, researchers advise further clinical trials to confirm the findings.

Eczema is an immune-mediated skin disorder, which means the immune system is over-reactive or sensitive. Eczema often responds to treatments that modify the immune system's response, like corticosteroids. In vitro (test tube) and in vivo (living organism) studies have found that honey may promote wound healing and regulate the immune system.

In another study, researchers found that raw honey could be an effective and cheaper alternative to other anti-inflammatory products for people with eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. However, they recommend more clinical trials to confirm the benefits.

According to research, honey has the following properties, which may contribute to its skin healing ability:

  • Antioxidant
  • Antimicrobial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Immunomodulatory

Medicinal Use of Honey Throughout Time

Evidence of using honey as medicine goes back to Stone Age paintings. Some examples of how honey has been used medicinally through the ages include:

  • Ayurveda: Digestion, cough, oral health, insomnia, skin disorders, heart and lung conditions, anemia, and eye health
  • Ancient Egypt: Wound healing
  • Ancient Greece: Fever, baldness, contraception, wound healing, constipation, sore throat, eye disease, and scars
  • Islamic medicine: Diarrhea, tuberculosis

Medical-Grade vs. Regular Honey

Medical-grade honey is sterilized through gamma radiation. It is intended for medicinal use, mainly as a topical (on the skin) ointment for surface wounds and burns. Regular honey (or table honey) is the honey you buy at the grocery store and is most typically used for food.

Medical-grade honey is available throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. The most commonly used medical-grade honey comes from bees that get pollen from tea trees in Australia and New Zealand. This honey, also known as manuka honey, has the highest antibacterial activity of all honey.

The Best Kinds for Eczema

The following kinds of honey have been studied for their medicinal properties:

  • Manuka honey
  • Malaysian tualang honey
  • Kanuka honey
  • Manuka-kanuka honey

Application Instructions

Choose medical-grade honey, like manuka honey, for use on an eczema rash. This will ensure the product is sterile and less likely to introduce contaminants through damaged skin.

For adults, follow these application steps:

  • Clean the affected area and pat dry.
  • Apply a thin layer of honey over the rash.
  • Cover with a bandage.
  • After a few hours or in the morning, remove the bandage and clean the area.

Babies and Young Children

Babies and young children should not eat honey due to the risk of botulism, a potentially deadly bacterial infection. While rare, botulism can occur through an open wound. For that reason, you should not apply honey directly to an infant or small child's wound.

Proven Eczema Treatments

Some standard eczema treatments include:

Signs You're Allergic to Honey

Although rare, honey is a potential food allergen. It can carry other potential allergens, like pollen from plants. Therefore, you could experience a food allergy, pollen allergy symptoms, or anaphylaxis if you have a honey allergy.

Food allergy symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Hoarseness, trouble swallowing
  • Dizziness
  • Turning pale or blue
  • Tongue swelling

Pollen allergy symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose, watery eyes
  • Itchy throat
  • Wheezing

Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Constricted voice or hoarseness
  • Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness, unconsciousness
  • Feeling of impending doom

If you're experiencing symptoms of anaphylaxis shock, call 911 and seek immediate emergency medical care.


Honey has been used since ancient times for medicinal purposes. There is limited evidence that honey is helpful for eczema, but some research indicates it may be effective due to its immunomodulating properties.

Medical-grade honey is made explicitly for topical application. If you have a honey or pollen allergy, you should seek medical advice before applying honey to your skin. Avoid using honey on infants due to the risk of botulism.

A Word From Verywell

Eczema can be a stubborn chronic condition. Often, people seek out alternative or complementary therapies. It's possible that honey could be a valuable tool for managing eczema, but it doesn't replace standard medical treatment. If you're considering using honey to clear up eczema, talk to your healthcare provider or dermatologist to see if it may be a good option.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What makes manuka honey good for eczema?

    Manuka honey is medical-grade and has the highest antibacterial activity of all honey, making it a good topical option for eczema treatment.

  • Does honey do the same for psoriasis that it does for eczema?

    Psoriasis and eczema both present as rashes, but they are different conditions. Even so, the same properties in honey that help eczema—antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory—are beneficial for psoriasis.

  • How do you know if honey makes your eczema worse?

    If, after applying honey, your eczema seems worse, you should wash the honey off of your skin and discontinue using it.

14 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kathi Valeii
As a freelance writer, Kathi has experience writing both reported features and essays for national publications on the topics of healthcare, advocacy, and education. The bulk of her work centers on parenting, education, health, and social justice.