Eczema is a skin condition that can cause itching, redness, and irritation. Fortunately, medical treatments are available to alleviate these symptoms and provide relief for those affected. In addition, some people like to use natural remedies. Let's explore these in this article.
Honey, poultice, oats... natural remedies against eczema.
- Remedy No.1: Aromatherapy to combat eczema
- Remedy No. 2: Clay or aloe vera poultices to alleviate eczema
- Remedy No. 3: Honey to alleviate eczema
- Remedy No. 4: Oats to soothe eczema
Remedy No.1: Aromatherapy to combat eczema.
Several studies have focused on alternative and complementary medicines (CAM) to alleviate the symptoms of eczema and, although further research is still required, some have shown that the use of aromatherapy can be beneficial. This method relies on the use of essential oils extracted from aromatic plants that possess therapeutic properties and provide benefits to physical and emotional health. They can be used through inhalation, ingestion, or applied to the skin, either in their pure form or diluted.
With regards to eczema, the most favoured essential oils and hydrosols for topical application to soothe itching are tea tree essential oil (INCI: Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil), true lavender essential oil (INCI: Lavendula Angustifolia Oil), and Roman chamomile hydrosol (INCI: Anthemis Nobilis Flower Water). These three ingredients are renowned for their soothing properties.
It should be noted that coconut vegetable oil (INCI: Cocos Nucifera Oil) has also been the subject of research which has shown that its daily application on eczema lesions can reduce the SCORAD, that is, the severity score of atopic dermatitis, taking into account various criteria such as the redness of the lesions, their extent, their appearance and the itching they cause.
Remedy No. 2: Clay or aloe vera poultices to alleviate eczema.
Among the natural ingredients used to alleviate eczema, we also find green clay and aloe vera gel. These two compounds have anti-inflammatory and healing properties, allowing them to act on the redness and itching caused by eczema. As for the clay, which comes in powder form, it is often mixed with mineral water to create a smooth paste. The paste is then left to rest before being gently applied to itchy areas for about thirty minutes. It should be noted that while the properties of green clay have been demonstrated in studies, the effect of this type of poultice on eczema has not been scientifically proven.
The aloe vera gel can also be used to soothe eczema and is indeed considered a natural dressing. Applying pure aloe vera gel to lesions can accelerate healing while moisturising the skin. Its healing properties are largely due to the acemannan it contains, a polysaccharide that stimulates angiogenesis as well as the production of collagen and glycosaminoglycans. Aloe vera gel is also capable of inhibiting the production of certain pro-inflammatory cytokines, thus reducing redness and itching.
Remedy No. 3: Honey to alleviate eczema.
Beyond its gustatory properties, honey is an excellent anti-inflammatory and healing agent. Studies have highlighted its benefits on eczema lesions and have shown that the application of honey helps to reduce them and alleviate itching sensations. Researchers have found that after two weeks of daily application, the SCORAD had decreased by 80%.
From a mechanistic perspective, honey stimulates the production of B and T lymphocytes, enabling the release of antibodies. Furthermore, the phenolic compounds and flavonoids contained in honey lead to the suppression of pro-inflammatory activities of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). These molecules are notably involved in the production of prostaglandins, neurotransmitters that contribute to the vasodilation of vessels and sensitivity to pain.
Remedy No. 4: Oats to soothe eczema.
Oats are another natural ingredient often used to soothe sensitive, irritated, or eczema-affected skin. Numerous studies have confirmed its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, largely attributed to beta-glucan, one of its key components. This molecule works by inhibiting the activity of several inflammation markers, such as interleukins 1, 6, 10 and 12 (IL-1, IL-6, IL-10 and IL-12), tumour necrosis factor (TNF-α) and cyclooxygenase (COX).
The effects of oats on eczema were investigated in a recent study where around thirty individuals applied a cream containing 1% oats for fourteen days, while another thirty individuals applied a standard cream without oats. At the end of the experiment, the scientists observed a 51% decrease in the severity score of atopic dermatitis in those who applied the oat-based cream. They also noted an improvement in the overall hydration of the skin as well as its barrier function.
AL-WAILI N. & al. Topical application of natural honey, beeswax and olive oil mixture for atopic dermatitis or psoriasis: partially controlled, single-blinded study. Complementary Therapies in medicine (2003).
BEASLEY R. & al. A randomised controlled trial of topical Kanuka honey for the treatment of eczema. JRSM Open (2014).
ASHACK K. & al. Complementary and alternative medicine treatments for common skin diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAAD International (2020).
TIERNEY N. & al. Effects of colloidal oatmeal topical atopic dermatitis cream on skin microbiome and skin barrier properties. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (2020).