Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is the condition of dry skin and is characterized by itchy, inflamed, red, and rough patches of skin. Scratching of skin may result in bleeding and exposing skin to further infections.
Atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema is the commonly used term for eczema, as it’s the most common type. Dermatitis means the inflammation of the skin. While atopic refers to the collection of many conditions that involve the human immune system, including asthma, hay fever, etc.
It can occur at any stage of life, but children are highly susceptible to it. Those who get eczema in their childhood are more prone to getting it back again later in their lives.
Moreover, it has different types depending on person to person and is not contagious (transferable), so it’s safe to socialize with those suffering from it. Certain foods tend to trigger its symptoms, like nuts, dairy, and chocolate. Some environmental factors stimulate the symptoms, for example, dust, smoke, pollen, fragrances, etc.
Home Remedies for Eczema
If you are suffering from eczema, you know how difficult and irritating it can be at times. You must be searching for ways to relieve the symptoms of dry, itchy skin. You have probably tried several products but ended up drying and irritating your skin more.
Don’t stress out! Along with prescription medications, you can try many home remedies to minimize the discomfort. Cure at home for eczema can be simple or complex. The foremost and the most effective medication is to avoid the allergens as much as possible. Don’t expect a speedy recovery because home remedies may work slowly.
Controlling eczema is easier than treating it. Here are some treatments you can try by yourself to minimize the irritation of the skin:
It is a key element in eczema treatment. When someone is suffering from eczema, his skin needs extra moisture as the outermost layer (epidermis) is not healthy. Washing can dry out the skin of some individuals and can worsen eczema symptoms. This usually occurs if:
- Too cold or too hot water is used for bathing
- Lack of moisturization after bathing
- Use of inappropriate soap
Recommendations for Bathing
For most babies and children, bathing once or twice a week is enough. While for adults, NEA recommends that:
- Using lukewarm water to shower at least once a day is needed
- The minimum period of a shower has to be 10-15 minutes
- Gentle cleansers instead of harsh soaps are to be used
- Regular scrubbing must be avoided
- If one has sensitive skin, medicinal baths are prescribed, such as baking soda, oatmeal, apple cider vinegar, etc.
Short showers are quite effective in reducing eczema flares. The water needs to be warm but not hot. Moisturize for 3 minutes after washing. Gently pat your skin with a clean, soft towel. Before the skin dries completely, apply oil-based lotion. This will help in sealing some of the water before its evaporation.
2. Relaxation Techniques
Stress is a common cause of activating eczema. It’s because stress leads to the development of inflammation. Use relaxation techniques to manage the stressful environment. This, in turn, will lessen the breakdown of skin.
Some of the relaxation techniques include:
- Deep breaths
- Stress-relieving therapy
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Researchers have found that apple cider vinegar may fight against bacteria like Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus (Source). Also, the use of apple cider vinegar will keep the broken skin protected against infections.
How to Use It
Before its application on the skin, always dilute apple cider vinegar. Otherwise, it will cause chemical burns or other majors. ACV can be used in wet wraps or baths.
If using in a wet wrap, then the procedure is:
- Mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar into 1 cup of warm water
- Rub the solution with cotton or gauge
- Apply it on the infected area for 3 hours at least
If ACV is used in a bath soak, then the method is:
- In warm water, add 2 cups of vinegar
- Let it soak for 5-20 minutes
- Wash the body from top to bottom
- Moisturize after bathing
Soaps are alkaline. Therefore, some soaps, cleansers, and detergents tend to intensify eczema symptoms. If they are too foamy, they may disturb the skin’s natural pH, leading to skin damage.
Naturally, honey possesses antibacterial plus anti-inflammatory properties; thus, it helps control atopic dermatitis and eczema. The review concluded that honey is an effective agent that helps regulate the body’s defense mechanisms. It helps in wound repairing by boosting the immune system of the body.
According to research, because of honey’s antibacterial activity, it can help cure various medical skin disorders, including burns and wounds.
How to Use
- Spread honey onto the affected area of the skin
- To get better results of moisturization and speedy recovery, let it rest for a while.
5. Aloe Vera Gel
The leaves of aloe vera plants have been used to treat a wide range of ailments, of which eczema is most common. A systematic review from 2015 did deep research related to the effects of aloe vera on human health and concluded that the gel consists of multiple functions. Some of which are:
- Wound recovery
The wound healing property of Aloe vera is the reason for its use in the soothing of damaged skin.
How to Use
- First, try a small quantity of gel to check for skin sensitivity (stinging or burning sensation).
- Always look for a gel with minimum ingredients. As alcohol and other drying constituents may result in skin dryness.
6. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil makes an excellent natural moisturizer. As per the National Eczema Association, coconut oil has antibacterial activity, which reduces the growth of staph bacteria, thus preventing infection.
Note: Always choose virgin oil or cold-processed oil (which is free from chemicals).
According to a study, coconut oil is better than mineral oil, and its 8-week use can improve eczema flare-up.
How to Use
- After taking a bath, apply onto your skin directly several times a day
- To keep your skin moisturized overnight, again apply it before going to bed
7. Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil acts as a barrier to the evaporation of moisture from the skin surface. Plus, it has an anti-inflammatory action that helps in reducing eczema stimulants. One must not use sunflower oil in case of hypersensitivity. If no allergic reaction is observed, apply on skin after showering (before the skin fully dries). This will help in preventing further breakdown.
8. Dietary Changes
Certain food items can be a cause of eczema flare-ups in some individuals. Therefore, keep a good check on your diet and identify if any food triggers your symptoms.
Following is a list of anti-inflammatory foods that can be a part of your daily diet to help to prevent breakdown:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Colorful fruits
Calendula is an herbal drug and has been used as a folk medicine to treat skin inflammations, burns, and abrasions. It is thought to enhance blood flow to the affected surface and thus helps in restoring skin hydration.
The best thing about calendula cream is that it is an OTC (over-the-counter medicine), which means you won’t face difficulty finding it in your nearby pharmacy.
There is no absolute treatment for eczema, but the intensity of symptoms can be managed with the help of the home remedies mentioned above, including apple cider vinegar, bathing, relaxation techniques, honey, and coconut oil.
In the case of mild to moderate cases of eczema, simultaneous use of home meditation along with prescribed drugs can help reduce the inflammation. However, if eczema is severe and does not respond to home cure, it is advised to see the physician as early as possible. Because for chronic development, you need topical steroids or antihistamines.
Last but not least, make sure to consult with your doctor to develop a plan that is best suitable according to your skin condition.