Eczema affects millions of people around the world. Though the causes of this chronic skin condition are unclear, there are many ways to manage it. Standard treatments can come with unwanted side effects, which cause many to seek natural remedies for eczema. The most promising of these natural treatments is the use of pure essential oils, which we will cover here in detail! Strap in and stop scratching! Let’s get rid of that eczema once and for all.
What Is Eczema?
Eczema is a pretty broad term that refers to inflammation of the skin caused by chronic dermatitis. Dermatitis is an allergic reaction on the skin, which can be characterized by one or more symptoms.
Symptoms of eczema can include:
- Itching and dryness
Causes of Eczema
There is no known cause for eczema, but there are many contributing factors. Knowing how to eliminate these contributing factors as best you can may help reduce your symptoms.
People living in dry areas seem to be more likely to develop eczema. Other environmental factors may also come into play, like exposure to pollution, pollen, and smoke. Exposure to extreme temperatures or large fluctuations in humidity may also trigger eczema.
Allergens and Irritants
Everyone’s body reacts differently. In general, there are a few things which can trigger eczema symptoms. Pet allergens, exposure to mold or dust mites, and even exposure to dandruff, may all trigger eczema on the body.
Household irritants also make eczema symptoms worse in many people. Ingredients in various soaps, detergents, shampoos, or household cleaners can cause inflammation and redness to get worse, and make extend the length and intensity of an eczema outbreak.
Your diet may also play a large role in causing eczema. Foods which cause inflammation, such as gluten, soy, eggs, red meat, and dairy, may trigger or worsen eczema.
There are many little buggers which have been linked to dermatitis over the years. Various bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus have been linked to eczema problems. The infamous fungus Candida albicans can cause eczema outbreaks. In some studies, subjects with a Candida overgrowth were twice as likely to have problems with eczema.
Stress cannot be called a cause of eczema, but it does seem to make symptoms worse. If you live with eczema and lead a high-stress life, your symptoms likely get worse over time. There are many essential oils to reduce stress as well, which can help to reduce eczema outbreaks over time.
Standard Treatments for Eczema
As there is no direct cause for eczema, there is no one treatment to cure it. Western medicine focuses on treating symptoms in order to help people cope with eczema. Common practices include avoiding your known allergens and using hypo-allergenic products. Taking lukewarm showers using a non-abrasive soap and applying moisturizer immediately after may help keep the skin supple and avoid eczema outbreaks.
In addition to this, medical doctors may prescribe the use of steroid creams or immunomodulators. In extreme cases, oral medicines are prescribed. Prescription steroid creams can relieve the itch and inflammations associated with eczema, but often cause adverse side effects. They are not recommended for long term use, as they can cause skin thinning and other long term problems.
The use of immunomodulatory drugs for eczema is relatively new, and not well understood. They work to modulate the body’s response to allergens. Though they don’t cause the same side effects as steroid creams, the long term safety of the drugs is unknown.
Natural Treatments for Eczema
As there are unwanted or even unknown side effects associated with conventional eczema treatments, more and more patients turn to natural remedies for eczema. According to the National Eczema Asociation, over 50 percent of people with eczema use at least one alternative remedy. Natural eczema treatments focus on long term results by eliminating the triggers of eczema.
“You are what you eat”, we often hear. While we can be grateful that the saying isn’t meant literally, there is still truth in it. From a bacterial perspective, we can say, “you are that which eats the things that you eat.” Confusing? Let’s explain it.
Your body is covered with bacteria. Inside and out. Trillions of bacteria are constantly fighting to keep your body balanced. These bacteria make up as much as 75 percent of your immune system! And they all eat different things. Benevolent bacteria thrive on raw, unpasteurized, unprocessed foods. Naturally fermented foods also boost the amounts of beneficial bacteria in the body. These helpful bacteria boost your immune system, helping the body respond to toxins and other external pathogens.
Bacteria which cause the body to become unbalanced generally thrive on starches, processed foods, oils, sugars, and anything that has been refined or pasteurized. These bacteria generally cause inflammation, dysbiosis, leaky gut syndrome, and have been linked to a long list of ailments, including eczema.
Treating eczema naturally includes eating a diet that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria while starving the harmful ones.
If balancing the bacteria in your digestive system is seen as a preventative measure to avoiding eczema, probiotics can be seen as booster rockets to get to that balanced system. Probiotic foods are foods which have been allowed to ferment in a way which increases the amount of beneficial bacteria in the foods themselves. Beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria appear through lactic fermentation. Probiotic foods include things like yogurt, kefir, raw sauerkraut, kim chi, and kombucha (a fermented tea drink). Probiotics can also be found in various amounts as an isolated supplement.
By introducing more beneficial bacteria to the body through your diet, you can help to eliminate the bad bacteria. When taking probiotics, it is also important to help eliminate foods from your diet which feed the microbes linked to eczema. Avoid simple starches, processed foods, and white sugar, for starters.
There may be a link between levels of Vitamin D in the body and atopic dermatitis. Specifically, people with eczema are more likely to be vitamin D deficient. Supplementing your diet with vitamin D can help to recover from outbreaks faster, and to keep them from coming altogether.
Topical Oil Application
For healing eczema flare ups, some people turn to rubbing oils on their skin. Certain oils like sunflower, raw coconut oil, and cold pressed olive oil, have antibacterial properties and can help reduce the amount of bacteria on the skin. It may also help with the itching and irritation caused by eczema. By adding pure essential oils to these oil rubs, the effect is increased exponentially.
Essential Oils for Eczema
One of the most promising natural remedies for eczema comes through the use of pure essential oils. Essential oils can enter the body topically, or by inhalation via an aromatherapy diffuser. As eczema is a problem of the skin, most people find relief through topical application. Below are the most studied essential oils for eczema treatment.
1. Lavender Essential Oil
Truly one of the natural wonders of the essential oil world, pure lavender essential oil can provide some much needed relief to eczema symptoms. A recent case study examined the effect of lavender essential oil on the symptoms of eczema. The researcher found that Lavender essential oil showed a marked effect on the rough patches of skin in just six days’ time. Also noted was the oil’s ability to reduce itching quickly and effectively.
Helping to relieve eczema is just one of the many benefits of lavender essential oil. Lavender essential oil has also been shown to reduce stress. Since stress is a contributing factor to worsening eczema symptoms, lavender essential oil may be the perfect oil for treating eczema!
2. Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree is a must have essential oil in the medicine cabinet. The clear, thin liquid boosts the immune system, and is one of the most powerful anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal essential oils. There is not much that pure tea tree essential oil doesn’t do for the skin.
Studies have confirmed that tea tree essential oil is great for eczema. As fungi and bacteria have been linked to eczema, any natural antibacterial or antifungal is a welcome cure. Tea tree essential oil reduces the microbes which cause inflammation, and can provide immediate relief to itching.
3. Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil may bring to dinner to mind, but there is much more to this common household herb. A recent case study found rosemary essential oil can help treat eczema. The study focused on a child with widespread eczema. Over the course of two weeks, the eczema was treated by the topical application of an essential oil blend containing pure rosemary essential oil. After the two week period, the eczema cleared up and did not return.
4. Chamomile Essential Oil
The effects of chamomile are extracted perfectly into chamomile essential oil. The same calm a cup of chamomile tea offers you may provide relief to your eczema symptoms. A recent study focused on cases of eczema in children, finding that a handful of essential oils, including chamomile, were most effective in reducing eczema symptoms.
5. Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot essential oil is fresh, fragrant oil belonging to the citrus family; there are many benefits of bergamot essential oil. Bergamot oil is a known anti-inflammatory substance, and also helps to reduce stress in the body. Adding a few drops of bergamot essential oil to your aromatherapy diffusor is a great way to reduce stress, and it makes a great addition to topical creams and salves as well.
6. May Chang Essential Oil
May Chang is a stimulating essential oil made from the fruit of the Listea cubeba. The essential oil has a green citrusy scent, and makes a unique addition to any essential oil cabinet. It is also a very medically viable plant as well. One recent study took a look to may chang essential oil’s ability to reduce eczema. Participants were given massages with oils containing may chang essential oil over the course of 8 weeks. Researchers noted a significant difference in subjects treated with may chang essential oil vs a control oil, showing that may chang essential oil may help with eczema.
7. Yarrow Essential Oil
Yarrow Essential oil may also show promise for treating eczema symptoms. A recent study focused on beneficial herbs to treat skin conditions. Researchers found that due to its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties, yarrow may be of benefit in treating inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema. Adding yarrow essential oil to your topical moisturizers is a great way to lock in the healing benefits of this powerful plant.
Additional Essential Oils for Eczema
There are many additional essential oils which have not been heavily studied for eczema itself, but have beneficial compounds similar to those which have been. Essential oils which reduce inflammation and antimicrobial essential oils show promise for healing the symptoms of eczema.
Anti-inflammatory Essential Oils
As eczema is characterized by inflammation, any essential oil which reduces inflammation may help relieve the symptoms. Some common essential oils for inflammation include lemongrass, ginger, frankincense, myrrh, and eucalyptus.
Antimicrobial essential oils
People with eczema are prone to broken, open skin. This is the perfect breeding ground for microbes to enter and cause infection. According to the National Eczema Society, Staphylococcus aureus is present in virtually everyone who has atopic eczema. Because of this, antimicrobial essential oils are important for reducing the microbes which cause infection in people with eczema.
As the essential oils of plants include the compounds which keep the plants safe from intruders, there is a long list of antimicrobial essential oils. Some common antimicrobial essential oils are lemongrass, eucalyptus, patchouli, orange, peppermint, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and sage. Adding any of these oils to your moisturizers can help reduce the microbes on the skin which worsen eczema.
Pure essential oils are very powerful, and should be used with regard, especially when dealing with skin conditions like eczema. Any moisturizer which includes essential oil should be diluted well. Using undiluted oils directly on the skin can cause irritation and reactions-which can make your eczema symptoms worse.
Everyone’s body is different, and different oils work well for certain body types. If you are uncertain about an essential oil blend you’ve made, test it on a small area of skin first to avoid irritation. Many of the essential oils mentioned can be blended, attacking the symptoms of eczema from all different angles. Do you have a favorite skin care recipe using pure essential oils? Share it with us!