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.

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 add moisture to your skin and 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 and apply a small 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. Some oils can be safely ingested, while others can’t. Other oils are best used in a diffuser for aromatherapy, while others can be applied to the skin.

Depending on the potency of an oil, you may need to dilute it in a carrier oil or apply a few drops to bathwater to prevent it from irritating your skin.

If you’re curious about trying an essential oil, get your doctor’s opinion first so you don’t end up making your condition worse.

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 one 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.

Tea tree oil comes from leaves of the tea tree plant. It’s often used for a variety of skin conditions, such as athlete’s foot, head lice, nail fungus, and insect bites.

In one study, researchers compared various herbs and minerals for treating contact dermatitis, and found tea tree oil to be the most effective. There’s limited research, though, that says tea tree oil is helpful when applied topically for eczema.

One important safety precaution to note is that you should never swallow the oil. If ingested, it can cause confusion and loss of muscle coordination.

Tea tree oil is strong, so 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.

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 studies suggest that jojoba oil is also anti-inflammatory and can be used to soothe the skin and calm irritation.

It’s also a powerful moisturizer. Jojoba oil closely resembles human sebum, an oily substance secreted by the skin and hair.

The oil is generally safe to use, but as with all essential oils, use it with caution to avoid irritation.

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, so mix it with a carrier oil before using it. Use a few drops at first to avoid any irritation, and 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 use. Talk with your doctor before trying it.

Calendula oil comes from the calendula, or marigold, flower.

Some small studies have shown that calendula has anti-inflammatory properties when applied to the skin, and can reduce swelling and pain. There isn’t any research on calendula oil specifically for eczema, though, so it’s not certain that it can ease your symptoms.

Again, to be safe, talk to your doctor and do a patch test before use.

Sunflower seed oil is another essential 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 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 have seen improvements in skin inflammation. But the results from studies are mixed. More research is needed to determine if borage oil is effective for reducing eczema symptoms.

Some of these essential 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. Also, talk to your doctor before applying anything new to your skin that they haven’t recommended.