Although it’s not a cure-all, coconut oil may effectively reduce eczema symptoms by soothing skin, easing irritation, and reducing the risk of infection.
Eczema, often referred to as contact dermatitis, is a skin condition marked by redness, itching, and scaly patches that sometimes weep. It’s a chronic condition that may come and go over the course of many years. Its symptoms often start to occur in children under age 5, continuing to flare up and recede throughout adolescence and adulthood. There is no cure for eczema, but its symptoms can often be alleviated or controlled.
Coconut oil is extracted from harvested, mature coconuts. Around half of the fat content in coconut oil comes from lauric acid, a healthy form of saturated fat that’s also found in breast milk. Coconut oil has a myriad of health benefits when taken internally or used topically on the skin.
Benefits of coconut oil for eczema
Eczema reduces the skin’s ability to become and remain hydrated. A study, reported in the International Journal of Dermatology, found that the topical application of virgin coconut oil improved hydration in the skin of children with eczema.
The lauric acid in coconut oil helps reduce the presence of bacteria, fungi, and viruses on the skin. This helps to eliminate the risk of infection caused by scratching itchy skin. According to an abstract reported in the Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, lauric acid has antimicrobial properties, making it effective at reducing bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Lauric acid also makes coconut oil highly absorbable, increasing its moisturizing benefits.
Reduces inflammation and pain
Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties, and it may also help to reduce the discomfort associated with eczema. An animal study, reported in Pharmaceutical Biology, indicated that virgin coconut oil reduced fever, inflammation, and pain in rats with ear edema.
Reduces oxidative stress
A study reported in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research indicated that antioxidants may be beneficial in the treatment of atopic dermatitis. A separate study, reported in Food and Function, found that the antioxidant properties of virgin coconut oil helped reduce oxidative stress in rats.
How to use coconut oil for eczema
There are a few do’s and don’ts you should note before you begin using coconut oil for eczema.
First off, do not stop your current medical treatment when you begin using it. Let your doctor know you wish to add coconut oil to your protocol, and ask for their opinion on how you should proceed.
If you’re allergic to coconuts, do not use coconut oil on your skin. Some people who are allergic to walnuts or hazelnuts are also allergic to coconuts. This is known as cross-reactivity.
Once you’re ready to give it a go, choose a high-quality, organic coconut oil that’s labeled as either cold pressed or virgin. This ensures that the coconut oil you put on your face was extracted without the use of chemicals that could irritate your skin. Most of the scientific studies that have examined coconut oil and its potential benefits used this type of oil in their analyses. Coconut oil is widely available and can be found in most grocery stores. You can also find it in organic food stores and online.
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature. To make it easier to apply, put a little bit on your hands and rub them together. This will liquefy the oil, allowing you to spread it liberally onto your skin.
Apply coconut oil to your skin when it’s slightly damp at least twice daily. You can use coconut oil on skin that is currently exhibiting eczema symptoms, and also between outbreaks. This will help keep it moisturized and reduce the likelihood of inflammation.
If you’re applying coconut oil to eczema on your eyelids, use it very sparingly so it doesn’t get into your eyes. Try using a Q-tip for application. Coconut oil is not harmful to eyes. In fact, it may be beneficial. However, it does coat your eyes, which blurs vision. So only use it at night before sleep.
Always put coconut oil on your skin overnight, for maximum absorption.
Risks and complications
The use of coconut oil is generally considered to be safe. However, you should talk to your doctor before using this or any other at-home treatment for your condition.
Coconut oil is a safe and effective natural treatment for eczema. It has antimicrobial properties, which make it effective at killing bacteria on skin. It’s also highly moisturizing and may reduce inflammation as well as discomfort.