According to a survey published in 2007, a substantial proportion of the U.S. population has symptoms of eczema—31.6 million to be more specific. Most of these cases are not diagnosed by a physician, which shows these conditions are often undertreated.
Eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) affects both kids and adults, and is more common in cities and polluted areas. It’s also linked with asthma and allergies, and causes symptoms like itching, redness, and rashes.
Those with the condition can help reduce flare-ups by avoiding triggers like dust, fragrances, detergents, sulfates, irritating fabrics, and even dust. Meanwhile, there are natural herbs that can help calm and moisturize the skin. Try these, as they may help improve the condition of your skin and reduce your reliance on other treatment methods.
- Evening primrose oil. This herb is a rich source of gamma linolenic acid, which can help your skin retain moisture and may protect it from environmental oxidative damage.
- Borage oil. This oil contains gamma-linolenic acids as well, which can help reduce inflammation and eczema flare-ups.
- Sea buckthorn oil. Studies have found this oil to speed wound healing and regenerate skin tissues. A test specifically on humans with eczema showed that those who took sea buckthorn internally (as a supplement) experienced a significant improvement in their eczema.
- Aloe vera. It naturally counteracts inflammation, which can help reduce rashes. It also has been shown in studies to speed up wound healing, which can promote the formation of new, healthy skin cells. It’s moisturizing, as well.
- Fenugreek. This herb is recommended by the German Commission E, the leading authority on herbal solutions, to treat eczema-related inflammation. You can make your own poultice by mixing the powdered seed with hot water to form a thin paste. Apply to the affected area, leave for 10 minutes, and rinse.
- Calendula. Research on this herb shows that is antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral. No bugs will stay on your skin when you’re using this herb! According to the NYU Langone Medical Center, calendula has wound-healing effects as well. CV Skinlabs Body Repair Lotion uses this restorative ingredient.
- Tea tree oil. This powerful antimicrobial oil is being studied for its potential in treating eczema. Be sure you’re not allergic before using it, but then it’s worth a try.
- White cnidium. A species of the parsley family, this herb has been used for thousands of years to help with skin conditions. Also called “white willow,” it’s currently being studied for its effectiveness in allergy management, and for its anti-itch properties. Try this one if you’re scratching too much.
- Licorice gel. A study comparing this gel to placebo found that licorice gel was more effective at reducing redness, swelling, and itching.
- Chamomile. Studies are mixed on this one, but some have found it effective in reducing itching and irritation. Chamomile is a calming herb, and also provides moisturizing properties.
- Neem seed oil. This oil is super moisturizing and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can prevent your skin from drying out, and reduce redness and irritation. It’s also a powerful painkiller, and can help relieve itching.
- Chickweed. Studies are still preliminary on this one, but it’s used by traditional herbalists to soothe skin conditions, and one report by the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that it may be helpful as an herbal treatment for eczema.
Do you know of other natural remedies for eczema? Please share your tips.
Jon M. Hanifin, et al., “A Population-Based Survey of Eczema Prevalence in the United States,” Dermatitis 2007; 18(2):82-91, http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/559989.