Eczema
20 Case Studies
3 Member Stories

Eczema causes & symptoms

Eczema is a condition in which sections or patches of skin become itchy, inflamed, rough, and cracked.[1,2] This fairly common skin condition is commonly observed in children but can affect adults as well. Eczema is medically also known as atopic dermatitis. Eczema can be of different types. People with eczema may also suffer from asthma or allergies, along with red, itchy skin.[3] The signs and symptoms that are generally seen across all types of eczema include:

·        Redness

·        Dry and scaly skin

·        Moderate to severe itching

People who have eczema know very well how challenging it is to live with this skin condition. You likely spend your time searching for ways to get relief from the itchiness of your skin. Most people try various products, but many products can leave the skin feeling dry and worsen the irritation.[4] 

See: Acne, eczema, anxiety, and PMS with Bisoma and Tetrasoma acupuncture, and Sasang herbs.

Natural home remedies for eczema

While there are prescription medications for treating eczema, there are several home remedies you can try to help alleviate your symptoms. Some effective home remedies for eczema are listed below:

1. Moisturize, moisturize, and moisturize some more

Hydrating your skin regularly with a heavy-duty cream or ointment helps prevent or ease dryness associated with eczema that can aggravate the itching. Applying a moisturizer also acts as a barrier to avoid potential irritants that can worsen your condition and increase infection risk. Moisturizers help protect the outermost layer of the skin. People with eczema tend to have a damaged outermost layer of their skin due to frequent itching. This makes their skin more sensitive to any invaders and irritants. A damaged outer skin layer makes it more difficult for the skin to retain moisture, further leading to dry and itchy skin.[5] 

It is best if you choose a heavy moisturizer or petroleum jelly. Doctors usually recommend that you avoid using that contains perfumes or dyes. For best results, apply the moisturizer within a minute or two after taking a bath, and then keep reapplying as you need it.[6] 

If you need to rejuvenate your hands and feet' skin, moisturize before going to bed and wear gloves or cotton socks. 

Here are some tips to consider while moisturizing:

·        If you have been prescribed topical medication for your eczema, you must apply that before applying any moisturizer.

·        Prevent contamination of your skin by ensuring you apply the moisturizer with clean hands. 

·        Soften the moisturizer before applying by rubbing it between your hands and then apply it with your palms. Use downward strokes to apply the moisturizer. 

·        Avoid applying the moisturizer in circles or up and down. 

·        If you feel your skin is 'sticky' and have applied too much moisturizer, don't wipe it off. It will get absorbed in no time and will benefit your skin. 

·        Make it a point to moisturize your hands every time you wash them. 

·        Use a moisturizer that has more oil than water. The more oil they contain, the better it will be at treating eczema. These moisturizers should ideally feel 'greasy' since they are rich in oil.[7,8] 

2. Colloidal Oatmeal Bath

Colloidal oatmeal is a type of oatmeal that helps soften, soothe, and enhance skin moisture in people with eczema. This type of oatmeal is ground into a fine powder and used for taking oatmeal baths. Taking an oatmeal bath is recommended for alleviating the symptoms of eczema. When you use colloidal oatmeal, the powdered oatmeal remains suspended in water and does not sink to the bottom. 

According to a study, colloidal oatmeal protects the skin and soothes the irritation and itching caused by eczema.[9] The study also found that colloidal oatmeal acts as a barrier and helps maintain your skin's surface pH. 

So how do you prepare an oatmeal bath? Here are the steps:

·        Fill a bathtub with lukewarm water. 

·        Add one cup of colloidal oatmeal under the running water to let it mix it with your bathwater. If you have a bigger bathtub, increase the measure of oatmeal accordingly. 

·        As the tub continues to fill, mix the oatmeal with your hand. Once the tub fills, the water should appear milky and feel silky against the skin. 

·        You should ideally soak in an oatmeal bath for 10 to 15 minutes, or you can also ask your doctor for a recommendation. Do not keep soaking in the bath for too long as it will dry out the skin and worsen the itching and eczema symptoms. 

·        After your bath, simply pat your skin dry and apply a thick layer of moisturizer.

3. Honey

Honey is a natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent that has been used for various medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Honey is a popular method of treating wounds, even in the military.[10,11]

A review of several studies concluded that honey could boost the immune system and help promote wound healing, meaning it can help the body fight against various infections.[12] Another review found that honey is useful in treating various skin conditions, including open wounds and burns, and that it has potent antibacterial properties. 

When honey is applied directly to skin affected by eczema, it helps prevent infections while also boosting the skin's healing and keeps the skin moisturized.[13] 

To use honey for eczema, you need to dab a little bit of honey onto the affected area. The best honey type to use for eczema is Manuka honey. It is readily available online and in many drug stores. 

4. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is used as a natural moisturizer in many countries for centuries now. According to the NEA (National Eczema Association), coconut oil has powerful antimicrobial capabilities that reduce staph bacteria's growth on the skin, thus preventing infection. This is considered necessary for people who have skin conditions like eczema. When the patches of inflamed skin cracks and begins to ooze, it allows potential bacteria to enter the body. 

If you choose to apply coconut oil to your skin, it is recommended that you use cold-pressed or virgin coconut oil as these qualities are processed without chemicals.[14,15]

5. Keep yourself cool

Sweating and heat can bring on a bad case of itching. This is why it is essential to regulate your body temperature. If you stay in a country that has warmer temperatures, opt for wearing breathable and loose clothing. Light cotton clothes are going to be best for your skin as these allow the skin to breathe. In cold weather, dress warm and wear layers that can be removed easily. Try not to become stuffy or too heated up as this will again worsen your eczema.

6. Apple cider vinegar (ACV)

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a good home remedy for several conditions, including skin ailments. The National Eczema Association (NEA) says that apple cider vinegar may help heal eczema. Caution is urged since the vinegar's acids may damage soft tissue. Reasons why ACV might help include:

- Balancing the skin's acidity levels: People with eczema have less acidic skin than others that can weaken the skin's defenses. Applying diluted apple cider vinegar might help balance the skin's acidity levels.

- As many soaps and cleansers are alkaline, they can neutralize the skin's acidity, which may leave the skin vulnerable to harm. This action may explain why washing certain soaps can lead to eczema flares. Studies have found that ACV can help fight germs, such as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Applying apple cider vinegar on the skin may help keep damaged skin from getting infected. Dilute ACV before using it on the skin. Undiluted vinegar may cause chemical burns or other injuries. People can utilize the vinegar in wet wraps or baths.

7. Aloe vera gel

An individual could use aloe vera gel directly from the plant.

Aloe vera gel comes from the aloe plant's leaves. Individuals have used aloe vera gel for centuries to treat a wide selection of ailments such as eczema. A systematic review from 2015 reported that the aloe vera gel has the following types of properties:

- antibacterial

- antimicrobial

- wound-healing

The antibacterial and antimicrobial effects can avoid skin infections, which are more likely to happen when a person has dry, cracked skin. Aloe's wound-healing properties can promote skin healing. Choose aloe vera products with as few added ingredients as possible. Many products may contain additives which can irritate sensitive skin. Alcohol and other drying components could make eczema worse.

8.  Dietary changes

Eczema is an inflammatory disease, meaning it causes inflamed, red, sore skin. Certain foods may cause or decrease inflammation in the body, and making a couple of key dietary changes might help reduce eczema flares. Examples of anti-inflammatory foods contain legumes, lentils, fruits,  fish, leafy greens, vegetables, turmeric, and cinnamon. Frequent inflammatory foods include milk, eggs, soy, and wheat. Consider eliminating some of them from the diet and keep a food diary to help identify which foods might be problematic.

9. Bleach in the bath

Even though it might sound dangerous, research suggests that bleach in the tub can improve eczema symptoms because of the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Bleach kills bacteria on the skin's surface, which causes bronchial diseases. This action may revive the microbiome of the skin's surface. Use warm water to stop the skin from drying out, and moisturize immediately after drying. If someone experiences any discomfort, irritation, or redness, they should stop using bleach in the tub. Individuals with asthma or respiratory problems should avoid taking bleach baths because of the strong fumes.

10. Baths

Bathing provides the skin with essential moisture.

Bathing is an important part of eczema treatment. When someone has a skin condition like eczema, their skin requires extra moisture since the outer coating isn't working as it should. For many, washing often can dry out the skin and make eczema worse. This result can happen with water that is too cold or hot, with the wrong soap, or not moisturizing afterward. Avoid bathing too often. Most babies and kids need bathing a couple of times per week. A long, hot shower may remove natural oils and moisture in the skin. Take shorter showers and maintain the water in a warm, not hot, temperature.

11. Tea tree oil

Makers derive tea tree oil in the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia shrub, a species of tree or tall shrub in the myrtle family. Individuals often use this oil to help with skin problems, including eczema. Research identifies antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing properties from the oil. It might help relieve skin dryness and itching and help prevent infections. Dilute essential oils before using them. Mix tea tree oil with olive oil before applying the mixed solution.

12. Gentle soaps and detergents

Laundry detergent may contain harsh chemicals that aggravate eczema. Many body washes and cleansers contain detergents that can dry out the skin, particularly in people with psoriasis. Bar soaps may also be harsh on the skin due to their alkalinity. Consider having a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser. Avoid products with rough particles for scrubbing or exfoliating because these can irritate the skin. Many people with eczema also realize that switching to a gentle, fragrance- or color-free laundry detergent can help improve symptoms. Consider skipping fabric softener, which lingers on clothing and frequently contains fragrances and chemicals that can lead to skin irritation.

13. Avoid strong heat sources

Sitting beside a fireplace or near a furnace can make eczema symptoms worse. The dry, hot air can dehydrate the skin and aggravate the itchiness of psoriasis. Use a humidifier in the winter months and avoid getting too close to heaters and fireplaces.

See: Baby Suffering from Eczema Gets Better with Ayurveda Treatment

Home remedies for eczema in babies & kids

Many home remedies are acceptable for babies and kids but always talk to a physician prior to using them on children of any age. Some home remedies can help:

- Avoid bathing them too often. Most babies and kids only require bathing a couple of times a week unless they are visibly soiled. Bathing less often may help prevent dry skin.

- Use fragrance- and alcohol-free baby wipes. Many wipes contain irritating ingredients. Start looking for those without odor or alcohol and the ones that contain soothing ingredients, such as aloe vera. "Sensitive skin" wipes might be useful.

- Use mittens to prevent babies from scratching their skin.

- Colloidal oatmeal baths are usually safe for kids, but keep the bathwater from their eyes.

- Apply a gentle moisturizer often to the affected areas, taking care not to get it in the nose or eyes.

- Ask a doctor before attempting apple cider vinegar or bleach in the bathtub of a child or kid.

- Use baby shampoos meant for kids with eczema. Many eczema washes can sting the eyes, so search for psoriasis washes that are"tear-free" and carefully avoid the kid's eyes.

See: Home remedies for dry itchy skin

Summary

If you have already tried various remedies and found nothing that helps you manage eczema symptoms, know that you are not alone. People with eczema often find themselves struggling to manage their condition, especially the itchy and dry skin. Research has indicated that the best way to keep your symptoms under control is to prevent eczema from flaring up in the first place. The home remedies discussed here will help you keep your itchy eczema under control. Remember that it can take time. It does not happen overnight. But stick to the routine of moisturizing and following the other home remedies regularly, and you will soon find your symptoms coming under control.

See: Functional Medicine treatments for Skin Diseases

References

1. Leung, D.Y., Boguniewicz, M., Howell, M.D., Nomura, I. and Hamid, Q.A., 2004. New insights into atopic dermatitis. The Journal of clinical investigation, 113(5), pp.651-657.

2. Williams, H.C., 2005. Atopic dermatitis. New England Journal of Medicine, 352(22), pp.2314-2324.

3. Spergel, J.M. and Paller, A.S., 2003. Atopic dermatitis and the atopic march. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 112(6), pp.S118-S127.

4. Larsen, F.S. and Hanifin, J.M., 2002. Epidemiology of atopic dermatitis. Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America, 22(1), pp.1-24.

5. Loden, M., Andersson, A.C., and Lindberg, M., 1999. Improvement in skin barrier function in patients with atopic dermatitis after treatment with a moisturizing cream (Canoderm). The British journal of dermatology, 140(2), p.264.

6. Wiren, K., Nohlgård, C., Nyberg, F., Holm, L., Svensson, M., Johannesson, A., Wallberg, P., Berne, B., Edlund, F. and Lodén, M., 2009. Treatment with a barrier‐strengthening moisturizing cream delays relapse of atopic dermatitis: a prospective and randomized controlled clinical trial—Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 23(11), pp.1267-1272.

7. Varothai, S., Nitayavardhana, S. and Kulthanan, K., 2013. Moisturizers for patients with atopic dermatitis. Asian pacific journal of allergy and immunology, 31(2), p.91.

8. Lynde, C.W., 2001. Moisturizers: what they are and how they work: skin Therapy Lett, 6(13), pp.3-5.

9. Catherine Mack Correa, M., and Nebus, J., 2012. Management of patients with atopic dermatitis: the role of emollient therapy. Dermatology research and practice, 2012.

10. Sell, S.A., Wolfe, P.S., Spence, A.J., Rodriguez, I.A., McCool, J.M., Petrella, R.L., Garg, K., Ericksen, J.J. and Bowlin, G.L., 2012. A preliminary study on the potential of manuka honey and platelet-rich plasma in wound healing. International journal of biomaterials, 2012.

11. Krug, I., 2015. 8 The Wounded Soldier: Honey and Late Medieval Military Medicine. In Wounds and Wound Repair in Medieval Culture (pp. 194-214). Brill.

12. McLoone, P., Warnock, M. and Fyfe, L., 2016. Honey: an immunomodulatory agent for disorders of the skin. Food and Agricultural Immunology, 27(3), pp.338-349.

13. Samarghandian, S., Farkhondeh, T. and Samini, F., 2017. Honey and health: A review of recent clinical research. Pharmacognosy Research, 9(2), p.121.

14. Lio, P.A., Patel, T., Peters, N.T. and Kasprowicz, S., 2015. Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema). In Handbook of Integrative Dermatology (pp. 111-136). Springer, Cham.

15. Vala, G.S. and Kapadiya, P.K., 2014. Medicinal benefits of coconut oil. International Journal of Life Sciences Research, ISSN, pp.2348-3148.

See: Successful Case of Eczema with Acupuncture

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