7 Home Remedies for Eczema

Relief could be hiding out in your home.

Eczema is the name for a group of inflammatory skin conditions with symptoms that tend to flare. Red, scaly, itchy patches invade the skin when the condition strikes. The most common type of eczema causing those symptoms is atopic dermatitis.

Although there's no cure for eczema, simple lifestyle changes and home remedies can help prevent flares and alleviate your symptoms. 

Here, dermatologists shared some of their go-to home remedies for people with eczema.

Can You Reduce Your Risk of Eczema?

Researchers don't know the exact cause of eczema. Still, some evidence suggests that people with eczema have an immune system that overreacts to skin irritants.

Eczema can happen to anyone at any age, and the condition tends to run in families. Even though climate doesn't cause eczema, living in a warm, humid environment decreases the risk.

While there is no cure for eczema, you can control the symptoms. Here are nine home remedies you can incorporate into your daily routine to prevent or treat flares of eczema symptoms.

Pull Out the Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is not only great for cooking. The ingredient can also help soothe dry patches by adding moisture to your skin.

"The most common cause of an eczema flare is dry skin," Jeremy Fenton, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and medical director at Schweiger Dermatology in New York, told Health. "Coconut oil can be a great moisturizer."

One study published in 2019 in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine found that virgin coconut oil reduces inflammation in the body and protects the skin barrier, both of which can help with eczema.

Additionally, virgin coconut oil has antibacterial effects. And some evidence suggests that people with eczema may have an altered skin microbiome, the balance of healthy and harmful bacteria that live on your skin.

An excess of harmful bacteria, like staph bacteria, can trigger flares of eczema symptoms. So, applying coconut oil to affected areas may help reduce the number of harmful bacteria.

Sleep With a Humidifier

If the air in your home is dry, your skin will be, too. Dry air is especially a problem during cold-weather months when running the heat sucks moisture away from your skin. Using a cool-mist humidifier to help your skin maintain moisture, recommended Dr. Fenton.

Try Meditating

Being zen doesn't exactly sound like an eczema fix, especially when the itching is driving you mad. But stress and anxiety can trigger eczema symptoms.

But "sometimes eczema flares up due to triggers, like stress," Lindsey Bordone, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center, told Health

So, getting your anxiety under control can keep those flaky, dry, uncomfortable patches at bay. One way to help calm stressful thoughts or feelings is by meditating. There are many meditation apps available to help you relax.

Hit the Gym

When it comes to stress, exercise can also help you relax, said Dr. Bordone. Whether you log in a few miles on the treadmill or take a weekly yoga class, your anxiety—and perhaps flares of eczema symptoms—will melt away.

In contrast, one study published in 2017 in the British Journal of Dermatology found that vigorous exercise can worsen symptoms of eczema. Sweating is one of the most common eczema triggers. So, physical activity may irritate the skin in some people. Therefore, it's important to shower immediately after exercising to eliminate sweat.

Consider Your Diet

There aren't any definitive studies to show that any specific diet impacts eczema, said Dr. Fenton. But research has found that inflammation triggers flares of eczema symptoms. Therefore, some healthcare providers may recommend an anti-inflammatory diet, like the Mediterranean diet, to help quell painful symptoms.

Additionally, excess belly fat links to inflammation in the body, and the Mediterranean diet helps maintain healthy body weight. So, using the diet to lose weight may also get rid of the inflammation that triggers eczema may help, as well. 

Skin Support

Additionally, there are several techniques that you can try to alleviate dry, red, or itchy patches, which support your skin, including:

  • Taking a lukewarm shower: Don't turn up the temperature while showering. Hot temperatures tend to dry the skin, which may worsen your symptoms. Also, you may want to keep any scented soaps that use harsh chemicals out of the affected areas.
  • Trying an oatmeal bath: Quieting the constant urge to scratch is important since itching worsens eczema. And if you have a painful flare of eczema symptoms, soaking in a tub of oatmeal can help soothe your skin. Just remember to keep the water at a lukewarm temperature.
  • Using a thick moisturizer: Since dry skin is one of the most common symptoms of eczema, regular moisturizing may be a powerful tool in your arsenal. Additionally, moisturizer helps protect your skin barrier from irritants, allergens, or harmful bacteria. But avoid anything fragrant, which can irritate the skin. 
  • Choosing a gentle laundry detergent: Fragrance-free soaps have fewer chemicals than others, reducing the number of irritants on your skin. Look for fragrance- and dye-free laundry detergents for sensitive skin. Those products often say "free and clear" on the label.

Control the Itching

As much as possible, resist the urge to itch your skin. 

You can apply an over-the-counter (OTC) corticosteroid cream, like hydrocortisone, to soothe itchiness. Or you can try an anti-itching lotion that contains menthol, camphor, or calamine. The downside to those remedies is that you have to apply them frequently. 

Avoid taking antihistamines. The medications may stop itching from blisters and allergies but don't alleviate eczema symptoms.

Additionally, rough fabrics, like wool, can make your skin itch, warned Dr. Bordone. The material rubs against the skin and irritates it. Instead, opt for more breathable options, like cotton.

When To See a Healthcare Provider

If those home remedies don't alleviate your symptoms, consulting a healthcare provider may help. They may prescribe a corticosteroid cream stronger than one you can buy over the counter. 

A healthcare provider may also recommend moisturizing creams that restore and protect the skin. Other topical creams contain medicines that calm your overactive immune response. For severe cases of eczema, a healthcare provider may prescribe oral medications. 

A Quick Review

Eczema is a skin condition that causes dry, red, and itchy patches of skin. Eczema symptoms often come and go with reoccurring flares. 

Even though there is no cure for the skin condition, there are many ways to prevent and treat flares of eczema symptoms. If these home remedies don't work, see a healthcare provider to discuss a more intensive treatment.

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Sources
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