Eczema Alternative Treatments

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on July 15, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Kenneth R. Hirsch, MD on July 15, 2014

Alternative Treatments for Eczema

Eczema is usually treated with topical creams and lifestyle changes, such as learning to avoid substances that trigger symptoms. However, some people find relief from a variety of alternative treatments. Some people like the idea of alternative medicine because they perceive it to be less invasive.

A number of complementary and alternative treatments may help calm the symptoms of eczema. Alternative treatments can have a range of side effects but may be helpful if used with standard treatments and under a doctor’s care. Always check with your doctor before trying alternative treatments.

Natural Treatments

Some natural remedies may help relieve eczema symptoms. However, many of those found online are not backed by science. Talk to your doctor before you take any herbs or supplements to make sure they don’t interfere with your medications.

Tea

Studies show that green, black, or oolong tea can help calm the allergic reactions that bring on flare-ups. One study asked subjects to drink one liter of oolong tea daily, drinking one-third of it after each meal. According to the American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD), they found that 63 percent of the tea drinkers started to notice improvement after one to two weeks and showed moderate to marked improvement after one month.

Adding tea to your diet could be a simple way to reduce flare-ups at little cost or inconvenience.

Borage Oil

In another study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, adults with moderately severe eczema who took a 500 mg capsule of borage oil daily for six months noticed a slight improvement in their skin. However, other studies have failed to show benefit from use of borage oil supplements in patients with eczema.

The studies haven’t shown side effects of taking borage oil, but no leading medical society currently recommends it for the treatment of eczema.

Evening Primrose Oil

Primrose oil has the same active ingredient as 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 eczema, published in Archives of Disease in Childhood, found that whether they received evening primrose oil or a placebo, all children showed significant improvement after the 16-week study.

No leading medical society recommends primrose oil for the treatment of eczema. However, some alternative health websites mention it as a treatment option.

Mind & Body Approaches

Stress and anxiety can trigger eczema flare-ups. Techniques that lower stress may reduce the symptoms of eczema.  Ask your doctor about techniques like meditation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery. Other treatments may include acupuncture or aromatherapy.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on your body. It is an ancient Chinese practice that is now popular around the world. This treatment may help calm inflammation and reduce the symptoms of eczema. In addition, acupuncture may reduce stress levels and prevent flare-ups.

A trained practitioner can provide acupuncture treatments. They believe that illness (like eczema) occurs when there is a blockage in your energies, or chi. By placing small needles at points throughout the body, they free up this energy and quell illness.

A recent study found that the use of acupuncture as a sole source of treatment may reduce itch intensity in eczema patients.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy helps promote relaxation and can reduce stress, which could reduce eczema flare-ups. By inhaling air infused with essential oils from plants, advocates say you can soothe everything from stress to nausea. They recommend putting a drop of water infused with chamomile or lavender oil onto your pillow at night to help ease stress and anxiety.

Alternative therapies allow you to treat eczema at home without prescription medication. However, not all of these options are supported by research. Talking to your doctor about all of your options will help you get the best treatment for your eczema. You may find that combining traditional with alternative treatments provides the best outcome for your specific symptoms.

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