Should You Use Shea Butter on Your Eczema?

Though there is no cure for eczema, a variety of over-the-counter, prescription, and natural remedies can help soothe irritated skin. One of the most popular natural remedies is shea butter.

This article examines whether shea butter is effective for eczema, its possible risks, and how to use it.

How Eczema Is Treated

Treatment for eczema varies. What you may need will depend on the severity of your condition. In addition, some people choose to use natural remedies for eczema.

Some of the following items can help treat and relieve symptoms of eczema:

  • OTC ointments and creams that contain hydrocortisone to help decrease discoloration and redness   
  • Medication prescribed by a healthcare provider, including steroid injections, steroid creams, and pills
  • Mild soaps and products that are labeled "fragrance-free" and do not contain alcohol and dyes
  • A humidifier if the air in your home or office is often dry and dries out your skin
  • Ointments or creams to moisturize the skin
  • Lukewarm baths
  • Stress-relieving exercises to avoid flare-ups
  • Phototherapy, a treatment that uses ultraviolet (UV) rays (usually UVB rays) that are found in sunlight

Shea Butter for Eczema

Shea butter is a natural fat that comes from the kernels of the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). Both historically and today, shea butter is used in cooking and for the skin and hair.

Shea butter is a common ingredient in many personal care products, such as lotions, face creams, moisturizers, shampoos, and conditioners.

You can purchase shea butter at health-food stores, farmers markets, or specialty stores that have a variety of natural products.

Shea Butter for Eczema

Verywell / Joules Garcia

In some regions, shea butter is a staple when it comes to healing the skin. The pulp of the shea is known to be rich in vitamin C. The fat that is extracted and used in cosmetics and some medicines has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Due to the skin benefits that shea butter offers, it may ease some symptoms and serve as an eczema treatment because it heavily moisturizes and contains properties that reduce inflammation.

Potential Risks

Shea butter is a common ingredient. Allergic reactions are rare, but they are still possible.

Before you use generous amounts of shea butter, check to see if you have an allergy. One way to do this is by conducting a spot test. To do a spot test:

  • Clean the area of skin where you will test the product.
  • Put shea butter on that area with a bandage or patch.
  • After a day, take it off to see if there is a reaction.

A reaction may develop sooner than a day and may even be instantaneous. Before you use shea butter or any additional treatments for eczema, contact your healthcare provider. A doctor can give you guidance regarding treatment options, as well as conduct an allergy test on you.

How to Use Shea Butter for Eczema

Shea butter can be a wonderful option as a natural remedy for eczema. When it is applied to the skin, shea butter is known to absorb quickly while keeping the area moisturized. This is because it acts as a protective layer on the surface of the skin as it absorbs into and moisturizes the deeper layers.

Shea butter is also known to reduce swelling, which is something that some people with eczema experience. You can use shea butter as a moisturizer throughout the day or after your bath or shower. Pat the area dry and gently apply the shea butter to the affected area.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make shea butter cream for eczema?

You can make shea butter cream by melting shea butter. Some people also add other oils and ingredients to the melted substance. Once everything is mixed, let it cool down and become solid.

What is the best type of shea butter for eczema?

The best type of shea butter for eczema is unrefined shea butter. It is natural, without any added scents or ingredients.

How do you use shea butter for eczema?

You can use it as a cream to put on your entire body, adding more to the areas affected by eczema. You can also apply shea butter after your bath or shower.

4 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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  2. Honfo FG, Akissoe N, Linnemann AR, Soumanou M, Van Boekel MA. Nutritional composition of shea products and chemical properties of shea butter: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(5):673-86. doi:10.1080/10408398.2011.604142

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Allergy testing.

  4. Diluvio L, Dattola A, Cannizzaro MV, Franceschini C, Bianchi L. Clinicaland confocal evaluation of avenanthramides-based daily cleansing and emollientcream in pediatric population affected by atopic dermatitis and xerosis. GItal Dermatol Venereol. 2019 Feb;154(1):32-36. doi:10.23736/S0392-0488.18.06002-9

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