Itchy skin, elephant skin, dry patches, pinkish discolorations…
… what else can be more frustrating than living with this burden in your daily life?
Here’s the typical scenario. Most people who experience eczema for the first time will see a doctor. The medicine you get is the eczema combo, as a mix of:
- Steroid cream
- Generic nutrition advice (e.g. try not to scratch *yes seriously, people give this advice*)
Oh, and you may not always get the creams covered and have to pull out your wallet.
What’s more critical is… do they even work?
Today, let’s discover some amazing alternatives to conventional medicine, and what home remedies for eczema are available at everyone’s reach for saving up plus stronger and more effective eczema relief.
What is Eczema… Honestly?
I begin with this question because most people associate eczema with the following:
- A skin disease caused by bacterial infection, and need to be killed off using steroid creams.
- The weather is the main culprit.
- A genetic disorder and there’s nothing much you can do about it.
- Your immune system is weak, but usually you will grow out of it.
- Probably some hidden allergy you have.
Instead, eczema is more these:
- Autoimmune disease. Eczema is an accumulated and multi-factorial collection of specific nutritional and physiological internal imbalances, manifested through skin symptoms.
- Weather. Many people associate humidity, dryness, or an abrupt change in weather, to be the triggers of eczema. This is one minor factor, among many other factors, including dietary and exercise habits among which also vary by seasons.
- Genetics. They play a role but are not conclusive of your eczema fate. Even if your parent(s) had eczema, your genetic expressions can be deliberately changed by your lifestyle habits.
- “You will grow out of it.” A convenient expression not rooted on anything but hope that time will pass and you will recover, when instead, there are specific changes you can make to reverse autoimmunity.
- Not always about allergy. Eczema can be caused primarily by allergies (which is called contact dermatitis) but otherwise, allergies are uncommon acute triggers of flare-ups. Food sensitivities that take up to 72 hours for reactions may be the more likely answer. Plus, non-dietary reasons.
Of course the list is much longer. Read this article I wrote the other week if you’re interested to find out some of the commonly unresolved contradictions and misconceptions on treating eczema.
I wanted to provide this brief context on our understanding of eczema which brings me to to the next question…
Are you supposed to find temporary relief?
No and yes. No, the conventional eczema combo doesn’t work. But yes, you can still seek temporary relief from products that are based on natural ingredients, low in chemical load, low in potential in triggering your eczema flare-ups, instead of using steroid creams.
Steroid therapy and moisturizing ointments are designed to suppress your immune system for the time being that you use them, as the steroid content is absorbed and circulated in your bloodstream. It gets rid of your itches, patches, and other inflammation symptoms by manipulating your immune system and tricking it to think there is no immune overdrive, when in fact the internal imbalances are all contributing to an immune overdrive (i.e. an abnormally heightened sum of reactions by your immune system even during basic encounters like eating a fruit.)
Problem is… if we don’t suppress the itches using steroid creams, then you may think: “are you expecting me / my child, to scratch and dig into his/her own skin and until it gets all oozy and gory?”
No. This is why the natural home remedies for eczema in this post listed do not contain the active steroid compound called hydrocortisone. That’s exactly what we want to avoid and you’re not going to find them in these home remedies.
1. Papaya Extracts
Papaya and pawpaw (don’t ask me the difference) are both extremely low in chemical load, and are considered one of the safest food for eczema patients to eat at any age any time. (Of course, no binge eating.) Papayas also help with digestion, which is key to improving gut health for reversing autoimmunity.
Instructions: Apply it in the morning before you head, after shower, or when your skin feels dry. Rub a light coat even onto your open patches. Helps retain moisture and prevent bacteria infections.
Recommendation: Lucas’ Papaw Ointment. I’ve used this for several years, and loved it ever since. Today I still carry one in my backpack when needed (e.g. for dry lips or just a small cut).
2. Vaseline Jelly
Technically, it is not a natural product but because of its extremely small likelihood of contracting skin reactions, and ease of use from home to public, it deserves a huge mention.
If you read my story, you know that I restored completely eczema-free skin in 2013 using a three-month intensive dieting plan. But what about the 10 years before that when I had endure itchy, dry and broken skin? I used Vaseline Jelly.
Instructions: Easy way to coat the skin surface to retain moisture. Rub it on when you wake up (only for severe cases), after your shower, and before sleep.
Recommendation: Vaseline Jelly. Vaseline itself has many products, such as lotions and shampoos. Over here we are talking about the Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. The fresh aloe version is even better.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera itself contains enzymes and chemicals that are superb for inhibiting bacteria and accelerating skin burns. It’s been approved as an OTC (over the counter) drug since 1959.
Instructions: Apply to affected areas for antibacterial, cooling, and soothing effects.
Recommendation: Purchase pure gel forms, instead of highly diluted aloe vera branded lotions. Read the ingredient labels and composition. The aloe body butter from Body Shop features as little contaminants as possible.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Instructions: Useful as an antibacterial rub. Dilute with water at a 1:1 ratio. Do not apply to cracked or bleeding skin. Alternative use orally, can also dilute with water to drink it for clearing out some bacteria and antioxidant benefits.
(Side note: All of these little changes from different food items, with different benefits, when alone have no much significant impact, but when combined, will gradually reverse autoimmunity.)
Recommendation: Most pure ACV in supermarkets will do. Don’t buy “apple cider” beverages as they are either highly diluted or packed with sugar.
5. Oatmeal Baths
Oatmeal is superb for bath. A little troublesome to prepare in advance but it works.
Instructions: Use around a cup of ground oatmeal and add to a warm water bath until consistency is observed. Soak for 15-30 minutes. Optional but adding essential oils can be a bonus.
Recommendation: Find out where you can get oatmeal from your local grocery stores or supermarket. If not, order it online. Don’t confuse with eating oatmeal for health – oatmeal is considered a strong potential trigger of eczema flare-ups, not to be consumed until you’re near the reintroduction stage.
Some companies like Aveeno will prepackage these oatmeal flakes for you so you can save time preparing the oatmeal. Check this out.
6. Magnesium / Epsom Salt Baths
Similar to the idea of using oatmeal to smoothen the skin, but the actual evidence is considered controversial. Some say it actually works, some say it’s just psychological. At worst, you’re going to get a good scrub and bath. It’s easier to do this than to source oatmeal. Worth a try!
Instructions: Similar to oatmeal bath, but 1-2 cups of Epsom salts or magnesium flakes into your bath and soak yourself in the bathtub for around 20 minutes.
Recommendation: Get some Epsom salts at your local store. Should be fairly easy to find.
7. Tea Tree Oil
Known to have powerful antiseptic, wound healing, fungal killer effects. (And more.) In fact, it’s even known to be stronger than standard moisturizers and anti-itch creams designed for eczema. (Source) Amazing, right? See. This is the power of natural ingredients without a concern for side effects (unless you have a specific allergy).
Instructions: Recipe of creating your little concoction. (Source)
- Combine 10 drops of tea tree oil with one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and one tablespoon of melted coconut oil.
- Mix well, and store in a sealed container.
- Apply to the affected area up to twice a day until symptoms resolve.
Recommendation: Dilute with a low-salicylate oil, rub a few drops to affected areas. Soothes itches and softens skin. Make sure you know the potency. Most commercial products have 5-50% dilutions. Some even 100% and that is too strong to use directly.
8. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil, great for both dietary and topical use.
Instructions: Used alone, or as mixture with other essential oils and waxes for a multi-ingredient natural body skin cream.
Recommendation: Get a complete spread. Rub on affected areas. Mix with other oils to make your nice little potion.
9. Jojoba Oil (“Wax”)
Penetrates the skin greatly. Great moisturizer. There are many oils out there I know. Some I didn’t even mention, for example the use of menthol into your mixture can give a superb cooling effect that is almost instant for stopping itches naturally.
Best feature about jojoba oil is its a recommended base oil, for other oils to complement.
It’s also well-known for treating acne and other skin issues because it doesn’t clog pores and is non-greasy.
Instructions: Can use directly in diluted versions. Use as base oil for mixtures.
Recommendation: As above. Purchase online or at your health store. Check potencies.
10. Shea Butter
Rooted from thousands of years of history, shea butter was used by Egyptians for cosmetic purposes. The superb moisturizing effects until today remain as effective. Perfect as a lip balm, and for applying to dry skin patches.
- You can apply shea butter directly to the affected skin patches.
- Whip some into your bath tub mixture to add an extra layer of oil to moisten your skin.
When purchasing, please take note of different scales of quality. Obviously, the higher the better. Look for organically made, unscented, unrefined (not bleached into white), pure A-grade versions.
- A (raw or unrefined, extracted using water)
- B (refined)
- C (highly refined and extracted with solvents such as hexane)
- D (lowest uncontaminated grade)
- E (with contaminants)
Commercial grades are A, B, and C. The color of raw (grade A) butter ranges from cream (like whipped butter) to grayish yellow. It has a nutty aroma which is removed in the other grades. Grade C is pure white. While the level of vitamin content can be affected by refining, up to 95% of vitamin content can be removed from refined grades (i.e., grade C) of shea butter while reducing contamination levels to undetectable levels. (Source)
FAQ #1: Are home remedies for eczema less effective than my doctor’s prescriptions?
As mentioned earlier, it’s the eczema combo which includes the basic moisturizer (e.g. aqueous cream), tube of steroid cream (e.g. hydrocortisone), and some other non-steroidal drugs.
In terms of getting rid of all your itches and reddish inflamed eczema patches as fast as possible, no doubt the eczema combo wins almost all natural based solutions.
But once you stop using them… your eczema will return even worse than before. Call them “rebound effects” or other similar names. But yes, your eczema will likely be stronger than before. This will then lead to a vicious cycle of gradually stronger dosages of steroids. Not good.
Natural home remedies for eczema are also effective in:
- Reducing eczema blemishes.
- Moisturizing dry skin patches.
- Reliving and stopping itches.
Main benefits are still there if not better. The difference is that they may be not as quick and complete as steroids and OTC medications. The greatest benefit is there is no dependence or rebound once you stop them.
FAQ #2: When will my eczema disappear?
Please read four stages of eczema recovery.
FAQ #3: Will these natural eczema remedies ultimately reverse my eczema?
These natural home remedies for eczema are for temporary relief. ANYTHING topical (i.e. applied directly) used on eczema is temporary. They only help give you a better quality of life. Give your infant and child less itches, smaller patches, and smoother skin, close up more open wounds, and reduce bacterial infections.
What will ultimately reverse your eczema?
If we revisit our understanding of eczema as “an accumulated and multi-factorial collection of specific nutritional and physiological internal imbalances, manifested through skin symptoms,” then the solution is to address those imbalances.
The first step begins with dieting for eczema.
“This diet works. That diet works better. Yours doesnt work.”
Here’s an explanation of how 11 diets that claim to reverse eczema actually work. (So you can find out which works best.)
If I were to gather some actions for you after getting through this article is to:
- Stop eczema combo. The earlier you stop, the less you have to struggle through the withdrawal period. The less dependent you or your child will become accustomed to steroids.
- Natural. Use topical treatments for eczema based on natural ingredients. The best one I’ve used over 5 years is the red-colored packaging called Lucas’ Papaw Ointment.
- Baths. Try skin-soothing baths: oatmeal or Epsom salts bath, plus shea butter.
- Oils. Get an essential oil, or make a mixture of: tea tree oil, coconut oil, and jojoba oil.
- Complementary. Realize these home remedies for eczema are for temporary relief and should be used as complements to your overall recovery plan.
If you have used something as effective I have not listed here, please share in the comments with other readers and I will update the list accordingly!
Update: Book Release (September 1st 2017)
So… I have finally sat my arse down the seat and combined all the essential knowledge together into a book. It’s a project I’ve created since 3 years ago which I have been working really slow at.
I know how frustrating it is to have eczema because I am a patient advocate myself. I just want to give back to people who need it and not overcharge people for a medical condition.
On September 1st 2017, my book will be released to everyone in the world. In the following weeks, I will also be publishing more content and useful tips and advice for parents, teenagers, students, adults, and everyone who need it. Hope I will gather your support. Stay tuned 🙂
Disclaimer: If you find a product that you see fit for treating your eczema and end up buying through my links, you tip me a small commission from Amazon. It helps support me through me testing new things for improving the lives of eczema patients all over the world.