An introduction to the treatment of eczema
Eczema is such a prominent and commonplace skin condition that a number of different treatments have arisen over the years.In most cases, home and herbal medicines are more focused on supporting your immune system and easing any internal stimulants that may worsen your external symptoms.
In contrast, conventional medicines are almost always concentrated on the physical lesions that can appear on your skin, ignoring the underlying causes that may be causing your symptoms to manifest in the first place.
There are a number of different home remedies available to treat eczema. The solution you find most suitable might depend on the type of eczema that you are suffering from but listed below are a few treatments that generally work well for all forms of the skin disease.
- Relax: It might seem almost impossible, but it is important that you try to relax during an episode of eczema. Stress can be extremely detrimental for your immune system so you should try and minimise any sources of anxiety in your day to day life. Make time for yourself, either to indulge in a good book or enjoy a nice walk. You could even try practicing yoga or meditation as both are extremely beneficial for your stress levels and can teach you proper breathing techniques
- Good nutrition: Your diet is very important when it comes to supporting your immune system so you should be considering what you eat very carefully. Try to increase your consumption of anti-inflammatory foods such as ginger, or foods that are rich in vitamins like vitamin C or minerals like magnesium. These essential nutrients can be found in most brightly coloured fruits and green leafy vegetables. You could try to up your intake of these foodstuffs by blitzing up one of our anti-oxidant-packed smoothies or incorporating more fruit and vegetables into your everyday meals. Dairy products should be avoided as well as these can promote fungal growth in your digestive system, leading to a secondary infection. Instead, to support your gut, try consuming a small portion of bitter herbs before each meal as these can help to improve your digestion. Drinking plenty of water is imperative – at least 8-10 glasses a day as this will help to diminish the risk of dehydration and keep your immune system ticking over. If you are interested in learning more about diet and eczema, please check out our article on the subject
- Avoid irritants: When we are suffering from eczema, our skin can become dry, brittle and very sensitive, often lacking essential oils and enough moisture. This can make it easier for irritants to damage and permeate your skin, causing itching and irritation. It’s important therefore, that you are aware of any potential triggers and that you take steps to minimise your contact with them, whether that means switching your detergents, or choosing natural, fragrance-free cosmetic products
- Turmeric: Turmeric might be the spice that gives curry its yellowish pallor, but it is also an essential nutrient when it comes to supporting your skin cells and immune system. The spice is chockfull of anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and can be taken either topically or internally to ease itching and inflammation. If you decide to try the remedy topically, remember to dilute the spice first with milk or water. On the other hand, if you want to take a turmeric supplement to support your circulation and digestion during this time, you may find this at your local health food store
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil is rich in anti-oxidants and is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory agent. It is enormously beneficial for soothing dry, sensitive skin and can hydrate skin cells, enabling them to retain moisture and essential oils. You should apply this remedy directly to the affected are and leave on for a considerable amount of time before washing it off
- Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is an excellent source of anti-oxidants and essential mineral, acting as an anti-fungal and an anti-sceptic. When applied to your skin, it can remove dead skin cells and attack any harmful pathogens like yeast or bacteria. Apply this solution topically to the affected area and make sure to wash off thoroughly
- Oatmeal: Oatmeal isn’t just useful for your digestion; it can also be used to exfoliate for your skin. A great source of essential fatty acids, oatmeal is brilliant at soothing irritated and itchy skin, making it a good treatment to consider for eczema. You can blend oatmeal with some lukewarm water until it forms a paste and then apply it topically to the affected area
- Magnesium baths: Often eczema sufferers find that taking a bath can aggravate their symptoms; however, magnesium baths are known to have a soothing effect on inflamed and irritated skin. Avoid using conventional bubble baths and simply add a cup of magnesium flakes to your bath. Magnesium can also have a positive impact on gut problems, so this remedy may also be quite good at relieving this issue as well
- Honey: Sticky and sweet, honey might not be the first food product you want to smear on your skin, but it is certainly one of the better options. Unprocessed, raw honey is renowned for its beneficial skin properties and is a natural anti-bacterial agent, attacking the unfriendly bacteria in our gut and on our skin. It can also be used to hydrate dry skin, helping the skin cells to retain water and adding a protective layer over the epidermis, preventing pathogens from permeating the skin.
Herbal remedies are an effective alternative to conventional medicines, particularly if you are wishing to avoid some of the associated side effects of prescribed medication. However, if you feel that your symptoms are persisting, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible.
- Neem Cream: Neem is a very valuable plant when it comes to treating skin conditions. The properties of the plant make it wonderful at relieving any discomfort or itchiness associated with dry, sensitive skin and it works quickly and effectively to ease any inflammation or pain. Neem Cream is harvested from fresh extracts of neem leaves and can be applied directly to the affected area. It may not be suitable though, for those with nut allergies or pregnant women
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an essential nutrient when it comes to supporting the immune system and the health of your skin. It can encourage the synthesis of the protein collagen, keeping your skin looking smooth and firm, whilst also acting as an anti-inflammatory, reducing swelling and redness. Nature-C is a natural vitamin C supplement made from fruit extracts and can be taken daily to strengthen the immune system
- Molkosan®: It is estimated that over 70% of your immune cells are found in your digestive tract. This means that supporting your gut essentially strengthens your immune system as the two are intrinsically connected. Molkosan® is a lactose-free pre-biotic, high in L+ lactic acid specifically engineered to create a positive gut environment for your friendly bacteria, reducing the risk of digestive complaints and bacterial infections
- Viola tricolour: Viola tricolour is made from extracts of wild pansy and has been known to help relieve agitated skin conditions like eczema. It is able to act as a depurative, or blood cleanser, which means that the tincture can focus on the removal of impurities from the bloodstream, cleansing the skin and easing any irritable symptoms. This remedy can be taken by children over the age of 2 but may not be suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers
- Stress Relief Daytime: It’s normally to feel stressed and anxious when you are suffering from a skin condition like eczema. Made from extracts of Valerian, Stress Relief Daytime is a gentle stress relief remedy that works to support your mood during this difficult time, helping you take control of your physical and psychological symptoms
- Dormeasan®: When psychological and physical symptoms are interrupting your sleep pattern, it might be worthwhile considering a natural sleep solution like, Dormeasan®. Dormeasan is made from extracts of Valerian and Hops but unlike most conventional formulas, is non-drowsy, meaning that you won’t be paying for your night of sleep the next morning. This remedy may not be suitable for pregnant women or those whose medication is affected by the consumption of alcohol.
Conventional medicines are often the most common choice when it comes to eczema treatment.
However, it is worth noting that orthodox medicines often come with a range of side-effects, some of which can greatly alter your moods or worsen your eczema symptoms.
If you feel as though your medication is affecting you negatively in any way then you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible to discuss other options.
- Emollients: If you are suffering from eczema, then your doctor is likely to advise you to try applying emollients to your skin. These powerful moisturisers can be bought over the counter at most pharmacies, with different ranges for different skin conditions. You should be aware though, that emollients can sometimes stimulate an allergic if they are unsuitable for your skin type, so it might be worthwhile asking your pharmacist for advice before purchasing
- Topical steroids: Steroid creams are normally prescribed by your doctor and are considered to be a stronger alternative to emollients. These creams work to reduce swelling and relieve itchiness but, as with most steroid based medicines, they should not be taken persistently as they can inspire an unpleasant range of symptoms of their own
- Anti-histamines: Readily available over the counter, anti-histamines work to diminish inflammation and counteract the effects of the chemical histamine. However, this medication can also cause drowsiness and might be unsuitable to take if you are required to drive or operate heavy machinery as part of your job or day to day lifestyle.
Originally written 14 February 2019 (updated 13 May 2020).