The Five Best Natural Home Remedies for Eczema
Red, itchy skin often with small fluid-filled bumps is one of the easily visible signs of eczema. Also known as 'atopic dermatitis', this irritating skin condition at its worst can make it difficult for individuals to sleep or perform their daily routine work. A doctor can prescribe the right medication for relieving the itching. However, there are quite a few natural home remedies for eczema that you may want to give a try as well.
Before we go on to take a look at some home treatments for eczema, let's find out what are the signs and symptoms of this skin condition and what its causes are.
What are the signs and symptoms of eczema?
Individuals with atopic dermatitis often have red to brownish-gray colored patches that itch, especially at night. There may be small, raised bumps. When scratched, these bumps may leak fluid and crust over. The skin may be thickened, scaly or cracked. Constant scratching can make the skin raw and painful.
Eczema can occur anywhere on the skin. However, it is most likely to appear on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, face, neck and the upper chest. It is also most likely to appear in the bend of the elbows or behind the knees. It may also appear on your eyelids.
The condition usually begins in childhood. In most people, eczema flares up from time to time and then subsides. Symptoms may disappear completely for many months or even years before these flare up again.
Severe itching results in scratching, which in turn increases the irritation of the skin. If the barrier of the skin gets broken due to constant scratching, the skin may also get infected with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. In fact, most people with atopic dermatitis have these bacteria on their skin. These can further worsen the symptoms.
Some people think that eczema is contagious and they keep the child away from other siblings. However, the condition is not contagious so you don't have to worry about other family members getting this condition.
Before we go on to take a look at the best natural home remedies for eczema, it is important to understand the causes of this skin condition and the factors that may worsen its symptoms.
What are the causes of eczema?
Although not much is known about the causes of eczema, it is considered that people with this skin condition may lack certain proteins in the skin. The lack of these proteins makes the skin hypersensitive, which in turn causes swelling and redness.
People with a history of asthma or seasonal allergies have been found to be prone to this skin condition. Children with family members with hay fever, asthma, or other allergies are likely to inherit genes that predispose them to atopic dermatitis.
Keep in mind that eczema may get worse when the person is exposed to certain triggers that cause allergies. However, allergies do not cause eczema.
Symptoms of eczema may get worse if an individual is exposed to pollen, mold, pet dander, or dust mites. Cold and dry air or contact with chemicals, rough fabrics and other irritants may worsen the symptoms. Colds or flu, dry skin, too much swimming, bathing or showering, and skin lotions or soaps may also worsen the symptoms. Certain foods such as eggs, milk, or wheat, stress, rapid changes in temperature, and pollution are also likely causes that can worsen this skin condition.
Now that we have an idea about the symptoms and causes of eczema, let's find out if there is any way to prevent this condition. We will go on to look at the best natural home remedies for eczema after a brief look at prevention.
How to prevent eczema?
Eczema is inherited, so it isn't really possible to prevent this condition. However, a few studies have shown that breastfeeding until the infant is 4 months old may prevent this condition from occurring.
Since dry skin is one of the major causes of an eczema flare-up, it may be worthwhile to keep the skin moisturized. Dry skin can be prevented by spending less than 15 minutes while bathing and using lukewarm water instead of hot water. Using bath oil may help in reducing the drying effect of bathing. Deodorant and antibacterial soaps cause dryness. Avoid these and use mild soaps instead. Use a thick moisturizer or baby oil immediately after taking a bath to lock the moisture in.
Since eczema may get worse when exposed to certain allergens, it may be useful to avoid things that can worsen your symptoms. This includes avoiding exposure to pollen and dander, dry winter air, harsh fabrics, foods that may cause allergies, skin care products containing strong fragrances, harsh soaps, excessive stress or heat and sweating.
Using a humidifier may prevent dry air from worsening your eczema symptoms. Avoid scratching as much as possible. Use cold compresses to reduce the irritation so that you don't scratch too much and damage your skin. Cool, smooth clothing is the best option to avoid a flare up of dermatitis or prevent the symptoms from worsening. Drink lots of water since this also adds moisture to the skin.
Now let's take a look at the five best natural home remedies for eczema.
The Top Five Natural Home Remedies for Eczema
Virgin coconut oil
Coconut oil is considered to be one of the best natural remedy for eczema. This oil provides enough moisture to the skin to prevent it from drying. It also contains vitamin E which also helps promote healing of the skin.
Buy virgin coconut oil and apply it on the skin immediately after taking a bath. It will not only reduce itching but also prevent flare-ups of eczema.
Another "delicious" home remedy for eczema is oatmeal. Yes, not only can you eat this one but also use it on your skin to soothe dry and irritated skin. The best way to use it is by taking an oatmeal bath. Oatmeal baths will soften your skin, prevent drying, and reduce the itchiness.
Take whole oats and grind it in a food processor to turn it into powdered form. Add the oatmeal to tepid water and allow yourself to soak in the bath for about 10 to 15 minutes. Some people find that adding full fat milk or honey is further beneficial to leave the skin moisturized for a long time. Pat dry with a soft towel and do not rub your skin. You can take this bath three times a day to reduce itchy and irritated skin.
Tea Tree Oil
An essential oil known for its benefits to dry and itchy skin is tea tree oil. You can add 10 drops of tea tree essential oil to your lukewarm bath water and soak the affected areas for about 20 minutes. Tea tree oil has antiseptic and soothing effects on the skin. It will relieve the itchiness and dryness on the skin. Add a few drops of virgin coconut oil to the water and your skin will end up being moisturized as well.
Tea tree oil can also be combined with olive oil or almond oil and applied directly to the skin. Make sure to test this preparation before the actual application to assess any possible allergies to tea tree oil.
Another wonderful natural home remedy for eczema is shea butter You will find shea butter in many skin care products. However, what you should look for is raw shea butter since it is the best possible moisturizer for your dry, itchy skin.
Shea butter can either be added to your bath water or applied directly to the affected areas. Test this natural home remedy before the actual application to make sure that you are not allergic to this product.
Neem, or Azadirachta indica, is a popular Indian natural home remedy for eczema. The leaves, oils, and flowers taken from this tree are used to treat a range of health conditions including urinary disorders and diabetes. It is especially useful for skin conditions.
Neem oil can also be purchased and applied directly on the affected area. However, since the smell of this oil is quite strong, some people may not like applying it on their skin.
You can take a neem bath as well. Allow neem leaves to soak in warm water for about 30 minutes. Take a bath using this water. Do not use a towel. Allow the water to dry on its own. Taking this neem bath will relieve the itching and also cure the rashes.
Other tips for eczema relief
Now that you know about the five best natural home remedies for eczema, let's take a look at a few other tips for eczema relief:
- To prevent yourself from scratching at night, try wearing gloves.
- Since sweating can cause your eczema symptoms to worsen, avoid rigorous exercising during a flare-up.
- If you just can't stop yourself from itching, try using calamine lotion to soothe the irritated skin.
- Take omega-3 three fatty acid supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory and soothing properties and may relieve itchy and irritated skin. You can get your daily dose of this essential fatty acid by consuming fish oil, replacing your regular cooking oil with flaxseed oil, or by consuming a mackerel or tuna at lunch.
What to do if these natural home remedies for eczema do not work?
While these home remedies for atopic dermatitis are usually quite useful, you may want to see a doctor if your symptoms are getting worse and making you lose sleep. A painful or infected skin is another reason why you may want to consult a doctor for treatment of your eczema symptoms.
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© Copyright Roohi Khan, 2012