Castor oil can help soothe and moisturize your skin. But there’s little evidence to suggest it can help prevent eczema flares. Still, it may help relieve eczema symptoms and be an ingredient in other topical treatments.

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Castor oil is a naturally derived oil that can add moisture and cleanse the skin. But it’s not scientifically backed as a useful treatment for eczema.

Eczema is a chronic condition that can leave your skin irritated, inflamed, and itchy. Topical treatments that contain castor oil may be useful in calming and hydrating your skin. But they could also lead to an allergic reaction or do very little to tame your symptoms.

It’s best to talk with a doctor about the best eczema treatment for your condition.

What is castor oil?

Castor oil comes from the seeds of Ricinus communis plants, grown worldwide, particularly in India. When pressed in cold or heat, the seeds expel an oil made up of mostly unsaturated fatty acids.

Many industries use castor oil, including cosmetics, medications, and lubricants.

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No studies to date link using castor oil to a reduction in eczema symptoms. But there are characteristics of castor oil that may help with eczema symptoms. And some treatments marketed for eczema contain castor oil as an ingredient and may be effective in helping the condition.

A common treatment for eczema is topical therapy. This involves adding a barrier cream, oil, lotion, or medication to the flare to moisturize and protect the skin.

One review of studies from 2018 of several marketed creams included two that contained castor oil. Researchers found one of the creams prevented eczema flares and improved flares if they occurred. The other cream relieved symptoms in one study but not in another.

But in neither of the creams was castor oil listed as the active ingredient.

While there’s no evidence to suggest that castor oil on its own can prevent or reduce flares, it may still help in the following ways:

  • Moisturize your skin: Castor oil is a natural fatty emollient. That means it can increase the moisture level of your skin and help soothe it.
  • Relieve itching: Castor oil’s anti-inflammatory properties enable it to ease skin irritation.
  • Slow down skin cell growth: Castor oil also has antiproliferative properties. That means it may prevent the accelerated growth of certain skin cells in eczema.
  • Protect from infection: Cracked skin in eczema is more prone to infection. Castor oil has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that may prevent this.

Can castor oil remove eczema scars?

There’s no scientific evidence that castor oil treats scars caused by eczema. Often, scarring caused by eczema will disappear over time because the condition affects the outer layers of the skin.

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There’s not a lot of scientific guidance on how to use castor oil to relieve eczema symptoms. But anecdotal evidence offers the following suggestions:

Mix with other oils

Castor oil is very thick. Most people mix it with another oil before applying it to their skin. Options include:

  • coconut oil
  • almond oil
  • olive oil

A 1:1 mixture of castor oil with the other oil should work.

Ensure your skin is clean

Before applying the mixture, ensure that your skin is clean. You can wipe the area clean or apply the cloth after a bath or shower.

It’s best to apply any moisturizer to your skin right after it gets wet from bathing, showering, washing hands, or other water-based activities to help lock in hydration.

Use a cloth to apply

You can apply castor oil directly to your skin, but using a cloth may help lock in the moisture more effectively.

  1. Soak a small cloth in the oil mixture.
  2. Apply the cloth to the affected area.
  3. Use another cloth or plastic sheet to cover the area, locking in the moisture.

Since castor oil is thick, it may take some time for your skin to absorb it. Consider applying the lotion at night before bed to give it enough time.

Types of castor oil

There are two types of pure castor oil: yellow and black. The difference is in how they’re prepared.

Yellow castor oil is made with a cold-pressing method. That means that heat or chemicals aren’t involved in its production.

Black castor oil is made with roasted castor beans and heat.

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According to the National Eczema Association, natural oils that are cold-pressed (extracted from the seeds without chemicals or heat) are generally safe for your skin. Using heat or chemicals in the extraction process may produce irritating compounds.

Yellow castor oil is cold-pressed and purer than black castor oil. This means it’s safer for your skin.

Still, there’s a chance that you could experience an allergic reaction to castor oil.

At first, it may be useful to apply a small amount of topical cream for eczema treatment to a specific area of your skin to observe any potential reactions. You may feel more comfortable using it on the rest of your body if you don’t experience any negative effects from the patch test.

There are many products marketed to treat eczema. Talk with a doctor about the right treatment for you. You may need to sample many different products before finding the right one for your condition.

Look for products that don’t contain additives, dyes, or fragrances. These may worsen your eczema or cause a reaction.

Oils and creams may be better than lotions because they’re thicker and last longer on the skin.

Some ingredients that may be useful for treating eczema include:

Other over-the-counter (OTC) treatments contain medicines like steroids to relieve eczema flares. Severe eczema that doesn’t respond to home-based or OTC treatments may require topical, oral, or injectable medications.

Other uses for castor oil

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There’s a lack of research on the effectiveness of castor oil for eczema treatment. Still, it may help relieve symptoms and may be an ingredient in some topical treatments you try.

Castor oil has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiproliferative effects that could help tame an eczema flare.

Talk with a doctor about whether castor oil might be a useful addition to your eczema treatment plan.