If your severe eczema isn’t responding to traditional treatments, you may be wondering what other options you have. In addition to the therapies your doctor prescribes, you may be looking to try alternative or complementary medicine.
One type of complementary therapy that you might be curious about is the use of essential oils. Essential oils are highly concentrated extracts distilled from various plants. They are used in aromatherapy or diluted with a carrier oil for topical use.
Eczema causes red, itchy, and dry rashes that range from mild to severe. Persistent scratching due to severe eczema can cause damage to your skin, putting you at risk for skin infection. Finding a way to successfully manage this condition can prevent complications.
Here are some essential oils that can potentially ease eczema symptoms. First, let’s take a look at some of the risks of using them.
Even though essential oils may provide relief for your severe eczema, use these oils with caution. Some people experience irritation due to allergic reactions or sensitivities after applying the oils.
Also, more research is needed to determine if these oils truly help relieve eczema symptoms.
If you’re using an essential oil for the first time, do a skin test. To perform a skin test:
- apply a small diluted dab to a patch of skin
- look for signs of a reaction, like stinging, burning, or redness
If you buy an essential oil, use it as directed. Essential oils are never to be ingested. You must also dilute them before using them. They’re diluted with a carrier oil. Once diluted, they can be:
- applied to the skin
- diffused into the air for aromatherapy
- added to a bath
If you’re curious about trying an essential oil, talk to your doctor first. They can help you determine if using essential oils poses any concerns such as making your condition worse.
In one study, researchers compared various herbs and minerals for treating contact dermatitis, and found tea tree oil to be the most effective. However, there’s limited research that says tea tree oil is helpful when applied topically to treat eczema.
One important safety precaution is you should never swallow the oil. If ingested, it can cause confusion and loss of muscle coordination.
Tea tree oil is strong. There’s a risk of skin irritation. Always dilute it with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or argan oil, before applying to your skin.
Peppermint oil is considered to have numerous health benefits, such as the ability to relieve indigestion and calm nausea. Some people claim it can also be applied topically to reduce itching.
This oil is highly concentrated. Mix it with a carrier oil before using it. Use a few drops at first to avoid any irritation. Never apply it to your face. Also, avoid using it on the chest of infants or young children as it can be harmful if they inhale it.
There’s very limited research on peppermint oil and its effects on eczema, so be cautious about using it. Talk with your doctor before trying it.
Calendula oil comes from the calendula, or marigold, flower.
Again, to be safe, talk to your doctor and do a skin patch test before use.
Some studies have investigated the use of borage oil for soothing eczema-prone skin. Borage oil contains a fatty acid that our bodies convert to a hormone-like substance with anti-inflammatory properties.
Some people claim to have seen improvements in skin inflammation. But study results are mixed. More research is needed to determine if borage oil is effective for reducing eczema symptoms.
In addition to the essential oils listed above, there are other plant-derived oils available that could help treat severe eczema. These can be applied to your skin or used as a carrier oil for an essential oil.
Jojoba oil comes from seeds of the jojoba plant. It’s used as an ingredient in many body care products like shampoos, lotions, and facial cleansers. Some
It’s also a powerful moisturizer. Jojoba oil closely resembles human sebum, an oily substance secreted by the skin and hair.
Some people claim that coconut oil has various benefits, whether you cook with it or apply it topically.
Coconut oil has some antimicrobial properties, which can reduce the chances of a skin infection. It’s also anti-inflammatory, so it may be able to provide relief from dry, cracked skin caused by inflammation.
In a 2013 study involving 117 children with eczema, applying virgin coconut oil topically for eight weeks resulted in excellent improvement in their skin.
Still, this single study doesn’t mean that coconut oil can improve your case of eczema. Some people may have an allergy to coconut oil. Always talk to your doctor before applying anything new to your skin.
Sunflower seed oil is another carrier oil that some people claim has anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it helpful for reducing dryness and boosting skin hydration.
Sunflower seed oil is also a source of the antioxidant vitamin E. Some studies have shown that vitamin E can reduce signs of skin inflammation. This may make it helpful for eczema, but more research is needed.
Some of these oils are linked to reducing inflammation and boosting moisture, making them potentially helpful for eczema-prone skin. But there isn’t enough research yet to support this.
Use essential oils with caution, as they can sometimes lead to irritation or an allergic reaction. Always talk to your doctor before applying anything new to your skin that they haven’t recommended.