A number of complementary and alternative medicine treatments can help calm the symptoms of eczema. Alternative treatments can have a range of side effects but may be helpful if used in conjunction with standard treatments. Always check with your primary care physician and your dermatologist before trying complementary and alternative medicine.
There are some natural remedies that may help relieve eczema symptoms. Talk to your primary healthcare provider before taking any herbs or dietary supplements to make sure they don’t interfere with any over-the-counter or prescription medications you are currently taking. Some natural treatments that may help with the eczema include:
Studies show that green, black, or oolong tea can help quell the allergic reactions that bring on eczema. Japanese researchers had study participants drink one liter of oolong tea daily, dividing the amount of tea into thirds and drinking one-third of it after eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The researchers found that, of the 118 patients who completed the study, 63 percent of the tea drinkers started to notice an improvement in their skin after one to two weeks and showed marked to moderate improvement after one month, according to the American Academy of Dermatologists.
Some studies show that adults with moderately severe atopic dermatitis who took a 500-milligrams capsule of borage oil (extracted from the plant Borago officinalis) daily for six months noticed a slight improvement in their skin as compared to study participants who didn’t take the borage oil supplements. However, other studies show patients with eczema do not benefit from use of borage oil supplements. The studies haven’t shown side effects to taking borage oil, but it is not currently recommended by any leading medical society for the treatment of eczema.
Evening Primrose Oil
Primrose oil has the same active ingredient at borage oil (gamma linolenic acid or GLA); neither has been shown to unequivocally help reduce the symptoms of eczema. A study of 58 children with atopic dermatitis found that, whether the children received capsules containing evening primrose oil or a placebo, all children showed significant improvement after the 16-week study. Primrose oil is not currently recommended by any leading medical society for the treatment of eczema.
Stress and anxiety can make you more vulnerable to an outbreak of eczema symptoms. Techniques that lower stress may reduce the risk of the eczema. Ask your doctor about relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery.
Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on your body. The ancient treatment may help calm inflammation, reducing the symptoms of eczema. Ask your primary care physician whether acupuncture is safe for you.
Aromatherapy helps promote relaxation and reduces stress, which can put you at greater risk of an eczema occurrence. Put a drop of water infused with essential oil such as chamomile or lavender onto your pillow at night can help ease stress and anxiety.