Everything to Know About Olive Oil for Eczema

And why it could make eczema worse

A number of oils are known to ease the symptoms of eczema, due to their therapeutic benefits. One of these is olive oil.

Olive oil offers anti-inflammatory and moisturizing effects, but research shows it could actually make your eczema worse.

This article discusses what you need to know about using olive oil for eczema.

What to Know About Olive Oil for Eczema

Verywell / Ellen Lindner

Is Olive Oil Good for Your Skin?

Olive oil is a popular option when it comes to beauty products. Some interesting facts about olive oil include:

  • It has a healthy amount of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants, and these properties can be beneficial to the skin.
  • It has vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • It is known to have moisturizing properties.

Although the skin is known to benefit from this oil, it is not a cure-all. If you have a skin condition like acne, eczema, or psoriasis, olive oil may not give the relief that you are looking for. In addition, it should not be used as a replacement product for effective treatments for skin conditions.

Medical Approach

Several treatment options are available for individuals with eczema. Depending on the severity of the condition, a person can use over-the-counter medication or ointments. If the case is more extreme, UV light treatment or ointments with steroids are other options.

Before you start any type of alternative treatment, it is important to contact your healthcare provider. They can help you make the right decision for your condition.

Olive Oil for Eczema 

Olive oil offers many moisturizing and soothing benefits for the skin. As an oil derived from the olive plant, it makes sense to try this natural alternative for eczema. But for people who have skin conditions such as eczema, applying the oil topically may make it worse.

One study followed participants with both no skin condition and with a history of atopic dermatitis (eczema) who used olive oil for four weeks. It concluded that for both the participants without and with a history of eczema, the oil reduced skin shedding and created a mild skin reaction and redness. This shows that olive oil could make eczema symptoms worse.

It is advised not to use olive oil on dry skin per this research. In addition, more research needs to be conducted to determine whether or not olive oil is effective in reducing and/or relieving symptoms of eczema.

Another study shows that the balance of linoleic acid and oleic acid in olive oil doesn’t relieve symptoms or a breakout of eczema. This is because olive oil has a higher oleic acid content. In order for the mixture of these acids to be effective, there needs to be a low-to-high ratio of oleic-to-linoleic acid.

Possible Side Effects

Although olive oil can be helpful in some instances, there are risks and side effects when it comes to using olive oil on your skin. These include:

  • Dries out the skin: Oleic acid on the skin can dry it out, and olive oil has a high content of this agent.
  • Clogs the pores: Too much olive oil on the skin is known to clog the pores and result in acne breakouts.

Using Olive Oil on Children’s Skin

When it comes to soothing your child’s skin, olive oil is not the top pick. In a study, it was recommended that olive oil should be avoided on the skin of a baby with eczema. It can cause irritation and break down the outer layer of the skin.

Better Home Remedies for Eczema

Although olive oil is not the recommended pick for eczema treatment and relief, there are some options that can help:

  • Coconut oil is known to improve the symptoms of eczema due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
  • Jojoba oil is known to naturally absorb into the skin, serving as a natural moisturizer. In addition, it helps to repair damaged skin barriers.
  • Sunflower oil is known to balance the skin’s natural barrier without irritation or discoloration. In addition, this oil improves the hydration of the skin.
  • A humidifier puts moisture into dry air and helps relieve some of the irritation due to dryness.
  • An oat bath can help, as oats act as a protective barrier against irritants on the skin. It also acts as an emollient and holds moisture to the skin. Properties in oats help to maintain the skin’s pH level and reduce the itchiness of dry skin.
  • Reducing stress can help, since stress will irritate the symptoms of eczema. Find activities to help you reduce stress, such as meditating, exercising, journaling, getting enough sleep, and eating a balanced diet.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you notice symptoms of eczema, contact your healthcare provider for an appointment. They can determine a plan that is right for you.

Eczema is something that doesn’t go away, but you can keep the symptoms under control with the right treatment plan. If you already have the skin condition and you have flare-ups or notice that your eczema is getting worse, contact your healthcare provider so they can help you with a new treatment plan or get to the bottom of why the flare-ups are happening.

Don’t stop using your prescribed medication unless your healthcare provider instructs you to do so. Some extreme cases of eczema will require medication for the symptoms to improve.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are the skin benefits of olive oil?

Olive oil is known to moisturize the skin, thanks to the vitamins A, D, E, and K. It is also known to have antioxidants and properties that reduce inflammation.

Are there any quick treatments for eczema?

Eczema is a lifelong condition. There are no quick cures, but there are lifestyle changes that you can make to help your condition. These include reducing stress.

Do natural remedies work better for eczema than creams?

It depends on the severity of your condition, the natural remedies, and the creams that are used. Before using any product on your skin to relieve symptoms of eczema, contact your healthcare provider.

A Word From Verywell 

Many people live with eczema. You are not alone.

Although eczema is a lifelong condition, options for relief are available. Many oils can help the condition, but olive oil is not necessarily a good choice.

Talk with your healthcare provider before beginning any alternative treatments, and don’t stop taking any prescribed medication.

5 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.
  1. Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and skin barrier repair effects of topical application of some plant oilsInt J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Eczema.

  3. Danby SG, AlEnezi T, Sultan A, et al. Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: implications for neonatal skincare. Pediatr Dermatol. 2013;30(1):42-50. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1470.2012.01865.x

  4. Chen CY, Lee YH, Chang SH, Tsai YF, Fang JY, Hwang TL. Oleic acid-loaded nanostructured lipid carrier inhibits neutrophil activities in the presence of albumin and alleviates skin inflammationInt J Nanomedicine. 2019;14:6539-6553. doi:10.2147/IJN.S208489

  5. National Eczema Association. Alternative eczema treatments from natural oils to elimination diets.

By Yvelette Stines
Yvelette Stines, MS, MEd, is an author, writer, and communications specialist specializing in health and wellness.