Science-backed, natural treatments to soothe insanely itchy eczema.
It’s called “the itch that rashes,” and for those suffering from eczema, it’s a maddening itch indeed. Eczema can significantly affect quality of life: distracting people at work or school, causing sleepless nights when the itch is flaring up, and creating feelings of shame or embarrassment over the skin’s red, peeling, damaged appearance.
There is no cure for eczema, and there are many prescription ways to deal with it, but as anyone who has eczema knows, finding the exact right treatment for your body can be tricky. To add to the arsenal of treatments, we went in search of some natural alternatives. Here are five ways to deal with eczema naturally.
It has been known that emotional stress can lead to flare-ups of eczema. But there is more to it than that. Dr. Mamta Javari, MD, and Suephy Chen, MD, said in an interview published by the National Eczema Association that “Additionally, scratching alters local hormones in the skin, as well as changing the way our mind feels. Eczema and chronic itch have been shown to activate areas of the brain similar to chronic stress and pain. In patients with eczema, these areas of the brain remain overactive, leading to the release of stress hormones and markers of inflammation.”
The duo researched the use of meditation and found that regular practice led to a significant improvement in quality of life for people with eczema. Patients felt they had more of a sense of control over the condition, were better able to sleep, and felt less need to scratch.
Apple Cider Vinegar
It has been considered an old wives’ tale, but according to the National Eczema Association, applying apple cider vinegar may actually help eczema by restoring the skin’s natural pH level. Try adding two cups of apple cider vinegar to a lukewarm bath and soaking for 15 to 20 minutes. Be sure to rinse it off after with cool, clean water, follow up with a gentle and fragrance-free moisturizer.
A wet wrap of apple cider vinegar on gauze or clean cotton, left on for three hours or overnight, is another option.
Virgin Coconut Oil
Skin that is irritated is prone to infection from bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Coconut oil, which has natural antibacterial properties, may help protect skin from these invaders, and also reduces chronic inflammation. Coconut oil seems to work better in children with eczema than with adults, but it's worth a try.
Similar to coconut oil, manuka honey may help protect against infection and inflammation. A 2017 study found that topical application of honey also seems to affect the mast cells in skin, which play a role in allergic inflammation by releasing histamine. Honey may inhibit the release of histamine from these mast cells, reducing the itching, redness, and swelling in the skin.
The role of vitamin D in skin health is still being explored, but multiple studies suggest that supplementing with vitamin D may improve eczema (and other skin problems, like psoriasis), especially in the winter months.
Over the past few decades, the rates of people who are vitamin D-deficient has risen, due to increased use of sunscreens and higher rates of obesity. Your doctor can test for this common nutrient deficiency via a blood test, so you can find out if you need to supplement.
Want more? Comfrey is another herb that can be used to treat damaged skin. Discover three ways to tap into the natural healing powers of comfrey.