Research suggests that shea butter may have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties that could help treat eczema symptoms.

Shea butter is made up of triglyceride fats taken from the nuts of the African shea tree.

It’s been used in the cosmetic industry for years because of its antioxidant, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory characteristics.

Keep reading to learn more about the possible benefits, risks, and applications of shea butter for eczema.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory condition. It may cause itchy, scaly skin patches or blisters that could sometimes be painful.

Shea butter is a fatty substance composed of several anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative components, such as:

  • triterpenes
  • tocopherol
  • phenols
  • sterols

Shea butter is a type of natural emollient. It works by creating a protective barrier over your skin to help retain moisture. This helps reduce transepidermal water loss, which is when water leaves your skin.

A 2015 study of 4 weeks in 34 people with eczema looked at the effects of using a moisturizing cream or cleanser containing shea butter extract. Researchers found that 74% of participants benefitted from the moisturizing cream, while 76% benefitted from the cleanser.

However, a 2020 review found that some studies found no benefits of using shea butter for eczema treatment. As such, more research is required to fully support the benefits of using shea butter for eczema.

To help treat eczema, use shea butter as you would any other moisturizer.

Take a short bath or shower with warm water twice a day. The National Eczema Association recommends not using hot water or scrubbing, as these may worsen your symptoms.

After, gently pat yourself dry with a soft, absorbent towel. Then, apply shea butter to the affected skin within 3 minutes of drying off.

It’s important not to use an emollient like shea butter on eczema that is open or oozing. This may increase your risk of infection, which could lead to complications.

Speak with a healthcare professional like a dermatologist before using shea butter to treat your symptoms. They could provide a proper diagnosis and may suggest a better moisturizer as part of your treatment plan.

The National Eczema Association lists shea butter as an ingredient in moisturizers that could help eczema.

Some of its properties that might make it useful as a moisturizer include:

  • melting at body temperature
  • acting as a refatting agent by retaining key fats in your skin
  • absorbing rapidly into the skin

Shea butter contains several anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative compounds.

In a 2009 study, a participant with a moderate case of eczema applied petroleum jelly to one arm and shea butter to the other, twice daily.

At the beginning of the study, the severity of the person’s eczema was rated as a 3, with 5 being a very severe case and 0 being clear. At the end, the arm using petroleum jelly had its rating downgraded to a 2, while the arm using shea butter was downgraded to a 1. The arm using shea butter was also notably smoother.

When applied topically, the fatty nature of shea butter can help:

  • increase moisture retention
  • provide a protective layer for your skin
  • prevent water loss
  • penetrate to enrich the deeper layers of skin

Shea butter may also be cheaper and easier to find than other remedies.

Allergic reactions or skin irritation from shea butter are extremely rare.

However, it’s important to do a skin patch test before trying it to make sure you’re not allergic. This involves applying a small sample to an area of skin that’s not affected by eczema, and then seeing if symptoms develop.

Stop using shea butter if you experience worsening eczema symptoms, such as increased inflammation or irritation.

Does shea butter help with eczema?

Research suggests that shea butter may be an effective natural remedy to help treat eczema.

Is coconut oil or shea butter better for eczema?

Coconut oil and shea butter can both help treat eczema. Studies have shown that coconut oil may help moisturize the skin and provide symptom relief. That said, few studies compare the effects of shea butter with coconut oil.

Which butter is good for eczema?

Shea butter may help treat eczema symptoms by creating a skin barrier that prevents transepidermal water loss.

When not to use shea butter?

You shouldn’t use shea butter if you’re allergic to it or if it’s making your symptoms worse. It’s also best to avoid applying shea butter to infants and children due to their sensitive skin.

Shea butter is a fatty substance that may help in the treatment of eczema. It’s available as an emollient or as an ingredient in moisturizing creams.

Before trying any new at-home remedy, speak with a healthcare professional. They can provide more specific guidance and recommendations for your current health situation.