Eczema presents a variety of symptoms, but most agree allergies, diet and lifestyle factors are at the root of the irritating skin condition.
Many doctors believe eczema may be inherited or linked to allergic conditions, such as hay fever or asthma. Most people experience symptoms as a baby, leading many parents to search for natural remedies to avoid harsher medications and topical corticosteroids – the majority of which the FDA has approved only for adults.
Essential oils, herbal ointments and other natural alternatives can help soothe symptoms without the negative side effects of drug therapy.
Generally, symptoms and flare-ups lessen as children with eczema age, but they can reoccur when exposed to stress, allergies, changes in weather, or environmental irritants.
Food allergens are among the common culprits and it may be helpful to eliminate wheat, corn, vinegar, dairy, eggs, nuts and seeds, and soy products. Environmental factors such as temperature and humidity, dust mites, pet dander, pollen and mold, skin irritants including soaps, detergents, perfumes, cleaning products and cosmetics, and hormonal changes and stress also can trigger outbreaks.
An eczema rash can look different and affect different parts of your body, ranging from mild, moderate to severe. Most commonly, people with eczema experience dry, sensitive skin often accompanied by intense itching, red, inflamed skin and scaly areas. It can appear all over, but is most typically seen on arms, legs, knees, elbows, cheeks, and the forehead.
Excessive scratching can cause the skin to bleed, which can make the rash worse and lead to more inflammation and itching.
Useful essential oils for eczema include:
Cedarwood – High in sesquiterpenes, oxygen-delivering molecules capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, cedarwood been used for centuries to treat skin conditions. Steam-distilled from bark,
this essential oil is popular for skin disorders because of its antiseptic, astringent and antisborrhoeic properties. It helps with the inflammation and redness. Cedarwood has been shown to reduce inflamed skin caused by seborrheic eczema, helping to heal the infection and balance sebum production.
Clary sage – A short-lived perennial native to the Mediterranean and Northern Africa, clary sage oil has a wealth of benefits. It’s known to reduce inflammation, sooth eczema and smooth wrinkles, along with combating stress and regulating hormones – two factors that may contribute to eczema. Clary sage may reduce irritation when applied on eczema spots. Combined with a carrier oil, like jojoba, it can be used on larger areas of the skin to reduce wrinkles and improve tone and texture. ELANVEDA’s Skin Renue essential oil blend includes natural clary sage oil, carrot seed oil, and helichrysum splendidum oil due to their soothing effects on the skin.
Geranium – Used since Egyptians times for promoting beautiful, radiant skin, this essential oil works to kill bacteria and other skin germs. It’s one of the best skin care oils, promoting stability and healing, along with anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties and an uplifting scent.
Helichrysum – Although not as common as other essential oils, helichrysum is an effective essential oil to alleviate inflammation, itchiness and pain, and promotes skin renewal. It traditionally has been used for its soothing and regenerative effects and a wide variety of skin issues. Aromatically, it’s rich, a little earthy, but also sweet and a little fruity, and has a reputation for helping with stress, trauma or emotional pain and despair. Since stress can trigger eczema, it can be used to help maintain inner calm to keep a flare-up away.
Lavender – One of the most versatile essential oils, lavender is one of the best for skin issues because it promotes regeneration, circulation, and has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It helps speed up healing and may reduce scarring of the skin. Lavender has a nice smell and is safe to use undiluted on small areas. Apply a few times a day until healed.
German Chamomile – Chamomile has been a popular treatment for eczema and other ailments for thousands of years, especially in Europe. In studies of eczema patients, German chamomile cream showed similar efficacy to hydrocortisone, decreased inflammation and allowed for a reduction in the level of topical steroids used. Chamomile is antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. It’s is also considered to be hypoallergenic with the ability to neutralize skin irritants and soothe dry, itchy skin patches.
Tea Tree – Extracted from the melaluca alternifolia plant, which grows in the Australian wilderness, tea tree essential oil has antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties to help heal the skin. The terpenoids in the oil are believed to be the main reason behind its potent antimicrobial effects. It also works for dandruff, acne and Athlete’s foot and toenail fungal infections.
Some essential oils are safe to apply directly to affected areas or can be added to a bath or made into a blend or cream. Others are highly concentrated and should be diluted. Ideal carrier oils for eczema are omega-fatty acid rich evening primrose oil, avocado oil, almond oil, or jojoba oil, but vegetable or olive oil is fine. Some oils, such as sunflower seed oil, also can be used alone and have favorable properties to help reduce itch, inflammation, and improve the skin barrier function. Coconut oil has antibacterial effects, which may be beneficial for eczema.
This information is educational in nature and not intended to replace medical advice. The FDA has not evaluated the use of essential oils to treat, cure or prevent any disease, including eczema.