What is Eczema?
Atopic eczema (or atopic dermatitis) is a chronic skin inflammation condition that flares up and ebbs away, only to start up again.
In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 10.7% of children under the age of 18 have AD and that 17.8 million Americans have AD.
While there is no cure for eczema, your suffering does not have to be endless. Some basic lifestyle changes, such as the use of probiotics or applying coconut oil to your skin, are simple tricks that can help ease an eczema flare-up in the comfort of your home.
While eczema tends to flare-up more frequently during cooler weather, you can experience a flare-up year around. Though home remedies cannot cure the condition, they can help minimize eczema symptoms and alleviate your discomfort. From topically applied gels and creams to changes in your diet and lifestyle, here are 8 simple tricks to take care of yourself and ease an eczema episode.
8 At Home Remedies for Eczema
1. Coconut oil is your friend.
As per the National Eczema Association (NEA), coconut oil has antibacterial properties that make it a preferred salve for inflamed skin. During an eczema episode, certain areas of your skin become inflamed and may crack. This leaves an opening for harmful bacteria to enter your body. Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer that works hard to reduce the number of staph bacteria on your skin which, in turn, helps keep infections at bay. Cold-pressed virgin coconut oil works best.
Research shows that the application of virgin coconut oil over a period of two months improves the condition of your skin and helps combat inflammation much better than other oils. Virgin coconut oil is easily available at most health stores and can even be purchased online. Ensure that the oil is cold-pressed and authentic. After a soothing warm bath, apply the oil directly to your skin. (2)
2. Soak and seal.
Recommended by the NEA, “soak and seal” refers to taking a bath in the right way and then sealing in the moisture. Instead of hot or cold water, soak your body in lukewarm water for 10-15 minutes. Avoid scrubbing your skin or using harsh soaps. After a gentle cleansing, pat your skin down lightly. Apply whichever topical ointment you have been prescribed. Wait no more than three minutes before you apply a good moisturizer all over your body. If you wait longer, your skin is likely to get drier. Once the moisturizer is absorbed, your soak and seal routine is complete. If your eczema is acting up too much, skip the use of any cleanser, lukewarm water will do just fine. (3)
3. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
If you are allergic to coconut oil, there are other moisturizers with high oil content that you can use. Sunflower oil is even a good option as it is anti-inflammatory and helps skin retain moisture, but olive oil should be avoided as a moisturizer as it can actually have damaging side effects on the skin and make eczema worse. (1)(4) Ointments or creams with high-oil content should be used at least twice a day to ensure that your skin stays hydrated and protected. Products with the name “lotion” in them have the lowest oil content and should be the last choice (with ointments being preferred). (5) Additionally, ensure that you moisturize your hands after washing them. You can use a moisturizer as many times as needed during the day, and once before going to bed so your skin retains moisture well through the night.
4. Add a daily probiotic supplement to your diet.
In recent years, there have been a wealth of studies that indicate the health benefits of using a daily probiotic supplementation to ease skin conditions like eczema. (6) Certain strains of probiotics—particularly the Lactobacilli strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and L. acidophilus—have been shown to offer many anti-inflammatory skin benefits to regular users and be effective at lessening the severity of eczema. A meta-analysis of several studies also supports the effectiveness of Bifidobacterium including B. breve and B. longum at decreasing the incidence of atopic dermatitis in infants when administered prenatally and post-birth. (6)
If your gut microbiome is off kilt, it is likely to cause skin inflammations. Maintaining an optimal balance between good bacteria and other types in your gut is easy with the right probiotic supplement by your side. Other than providing effective antioxidants to your skin, probiotic bacteria also help detoxify and rehydrate your skin from within. Healthier skin leads to a lowered risk of eczema flare-ups.
LoveBug Probiotics’ Here’s the Skinny daily supplement is made of a proprietary blend of specific probiotic strains including Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, L. fermentum, L. plantarum, L. gasseri, and L. reuteri, to name a few. This supplement supports your overall health by repopulating the microbiome, works to improve digestive system processes, and these strains have been found to support the immune system and metabolism. Armed with LoveBug’s trademark BIO-tract technology, each tablet is equipped to cross the barrier created by your stomach acids so you can get the most out of these probiotic strains.
5. Calm your skin with colloidal oatmeal.
Itchy skin can seriously hamper your day-to-day life. Remember to keep some colloidal oatmeal handy so you can ease a flare-up of eczema at home. Available in most health and beauty stores, colloidal oatmeal or Avena sativa is simply finely ground or powdered oats sans any fragrance, preservatives, or additives. Research shows that lotions made of colloidal oatmeal have proven anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects which help by soothing dry, scaly, rough, and itchy skin. (7) Draw a lukewarm bath with about a cup of powdered colloidal oatmeal, soak for 10-15 minutes, and seal in the moisture within three minutes. (8)
6. Honey is more than a sweetener
A natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent, honey has been used to soothe skin and heal wounds for hundreds of years now. Clinical evidence shows that honey can be incredibly useful for managing skin conditions and infections. (9) In case of an eczema flare-up, dab some honey onto the affected areas. Not only does honey help moisturize your skin and prevent infections, but it can also speed up the process of healing after an eczema episode.
7. Change your diet
Eczema is a condition that results in sore and reddened inflamed skin. Pay close attention to your diet if you have eczema as certain foods can aggravate or alleviate inflammation in your body. Steer clear of inflammatory items such as eggs, wheat, soy, and other dairy products. Add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet in their place—good options include fish, colorful fruits and vegetables, beans, leafy greens, lentils, and spices like cinnamon and turmeric. (10)
8. Get a humidifier
As the temperature drops during winter months, it is only human for you to seek warmth by sitting close to heaters or the fireplace. However, this can actually can adverse effects when it comes to your eczema. Hot and dry air tends to suck all the moisture out of your skin, and makes the itchiness even worse. Consider getting a humidifier which is a small device you can plug in to raise the humidity or moisture content in the room.
With today’s fast-paced lifestyles, relaxing is easier said than done. But relax you must, if you want to keep eczema flare-ups at bay. A common trigger for eczema, stress increases the chances and severity of inflammations in your body. Certain relaxation techniques can help you reduce stress and just generally, go easy on yourself. Start your day with some meditation or deep breathing exercises, do simple yoga or tai chi routines, or try music therapy and positive visualization. Choose your flavor of de-stressing technique, and prevent inflammations as much as possible.
Find Relief from Eczema Today
Living with eczema is difficult, but adding these simple tricks to your healthcare regimen can help you reduce flare-ups and ease most mild to moderate episodes without spending time in your doctor’s waiting room. Avoid harsh chemicals and triggers, consider environmental factors such as heat and cold and plan appropriates, eliminate high-risk foods, add a quality probiotic supplement to your daily diet, and find eczema relief techniques that work for you.
- “How Common Is Atopic Dermatitis?” AtopicDermatitis.net. Last modified June 2017. https://atopicdermatitis.net/eczema-statistics/.
- “Complementary and Alternative Treatments.” National Eczema Association. Accessed June 2019. https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/treatment/complementary-and-alternative/.
- “Eczema and Bathing.” National Eczema Association. Accessed June 2019. https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/treatment/bathing/.
- Danby, Simon G., Tareq AlEnezi, Amani Sultan, Tina Lavender, John Chittock, Kirsty Brown, and Michael J. Cork. “Effect of Olive and Sunflower Seed Oil on the Adult Skin Barrier: Implications for Neonatal Skin Care.” Pediatric Dermatology 30, no. 1 (2013): 42-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2012.01865.x.
- “Controlling Eczema by Moisturizing.” National Eczema Foundation. Accessed June 2019. https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/treatment/moisturizing/
- Rather, Irfan A., Vivek K. Bajpai, Sanjay Kumar, Jeongheui Lim, Woon K. Paek, and Yong-Ha Park. “Probiotics and Atopic Dermatitis: An Overview.” Front Microbiol 7, no. 507 (2016). doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00507.
- Mack Correa, Catherine M. and Judith Nebus. “Management of Patients with Atopic Dermatitis: The Role of Emollient Therapy.” Dermatol Res Pract 2012, no. 836931 (2012). doi: 10.1155/2012/836931.
- “Home remedies: What can relieve itchy eczema?” American Academy of Dermatology. Accessed June 2019. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema/eczema-resource-center/skin-care/home-remedies
- Samarghandian, Saeed, Tahereh Farkhondeh, and Fariborz Samini. “Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research.” Pharmacognosy Res 9, no. 2 (2017): 121–127. doi: 10.4103/0974-8490.204647.
- Fletcher, Jenna. “Anti-inflammatory diet: What You Need to Know.” Medical News Today. Last modified December 2017. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320233.php.