If you live with eczema, you’re always looking for relief from red, itchy skin. You’ve probably already tried everything from the drugstore, natural foods store, and Amazon promising to soothe your ails. Unfortunately, some of those “remedies” might have left your skin drier and more irritated than ever.

Don’t give up hope yet! In addition to your usual medication, there are options you can try at home to help with your symptoms. The following list of natural remedies may help replenish moisture and protect your skin’s natural barrier.

Note that food allergies are a common cause of eczema, especially in children. Your symptoms might improve by eliminating common foods linked to eczema such as:

  • milk
  • eggs
  • wheat
  • peanuts
  • soy

Note: Always check with your doctor before trying out any new home remedies and make a plan that will work with your prescription medications.

1. Colloidal oatmeal

Colloidal oatmeal is made from finely-ground oats. It helps calm and soften inflamed skin. Colloidal oatmeal is available in cream or powder form.

Here’s how to use it:

  1. Add the powder to tepid bathwater and soak for 10 to 15 minutes to help soften rough skin and relieve itching.
  2. After your bath, pat your skin dry, and apply a thick layer of a hypoallergenic moisturizer that has a high oil content.

2. Evening primrose oil

Evening primrose oil comes from the evening primrose plant. It’s used topically to soothe irritated skin. Taken orally, it’s used to treat systemic inflammatory conditions such as eczema. Evening primrose oil contains omega-6 fatty acids and gamma-linolenic acid, which may play a role in the preventing inflammation in the body.

Study results on evening primrose oil for eczema are mixed. Even so, many people claim it helps reduce their eczema symptoms without negative side effects.

3. Coconut oil

Coconut oil is extracted from coconut meat. It may be used as a natural moisturizer. According to the National Eczema Association, studies have shown the antibacterial abilities of coconut oil reduce the number of staph bacteria on the skin, which helps prevent infection. This is important for people with eczema because patches of inflamed skin may crack and ooze, allowing bacteria to enter.

Note: Only use virgin or cold-pressed coconut oil that’s processed without chemicals.

4. Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is extracted from sunflower seeds. Research has shown it protects the skin’s outer layer, which helps keep moisture in and bacteria out. Sunflower oil also hydrates skin and may relieve itching and inflammation.

Sunflower oil may be applied, undiluted, directly to the skin, preferably after bathing while skin is still damp.

5. Witch hazel

Witch hazel is an astringent made from the bark and leaves of the witch hazel shrub. It has been used for centuries as a topical remedy for skin inflammation. Research on witch hazel for eczema is scarce. Still, the remedy is often applied to calm inflamed skin, dry-up oozing areas, and relieve itching.

6. Calendula cream

Calendula cream is an herbal remedy. Calendula has been used for centuries as a folk remedy to heal skin inflammation, burns, and cuts. It’s thought to improve blood flow to areas of injury or inflammation, help hydrate skin, and help fight infection.

Research is lacking on the effectiveness of calendula for eczema. Still, many people claim it helps. Calendula cream is available over the counter at many pharmacies and natural health stores.

7. Acupuncture and acupressure

The practice of acupuncture uses fine needles inserted at specific points in the body to alter the flow of energy. Although more study is needed, research is encouraging that acupuncture may bring eczema relief. The results of one small study suggest adding acupuncture to an eczema treatment plan may improve itchy skin and other eczema symptoms.

Acupressure is like acupuncture, except it uses the fingers and hands to apply pressure instead of needles. Preliminary research has shown acupressure relieves eczema-related itchy skin.

8. Relaxation techniques

Stress is a common eczema trigger. Although it’s unclear exactly why, it’s thought stress plays a role in developing inflammation. Learning to cope with stressful situations using relaxation techniques may help reduce eczema flare-ups. Relaxation techniques that may help include:

  • meditation
  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • deep breathing
  • visualization
  • music therapy
  • hypnosis
  • biofeedback
  • tai chi
  • yoga

The takeaway

There’s no cure for eczema. If you live with the condition, it’s important to avoid anything that may irritate or dry your skin and cause a flare, including:

  • perfumed soap or body wash
  • soaps with dyes
  • wool clothing
  • tight clothing
  • pollen
  • animal dander
  • perfumed detergents

A combination of self-care and the above natural remedies may be all you need to manage mild-to-moderate cases of eczema. Severe eczema, however, may require prescription topical steroids or antihistamines. Work with your doctor to create a treatment plan that will work for you.