Limited research suggests that topical and oral vitamin E may help minimize symptoms of eczema. So far, no evidence suggests whether topical or oral vitamin E is more beneficial.

Vitamin E is a naturally occurring antioxidant that can be consumed from foods like seeds, nuts, and some vegetables. It’s also available in topical and supplement form.

It’s known to provide benefits to heart health, liver health, and your immune system. It’s also used to treat a range of skin concerns, including acne, psoriasis, and wrinkles.

Due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it helps combat free radicals that can cause damage to the cells, including skin cells.

Through the same mechanism, it may also help treat eczema. Though there’s limited research on the link between vitamin E and the skin condition, it looks like a promising way to minimize flare-ups.

Although experts still don’t know what causes eczema, they think it may have something to do with an overactive immune system. Since vitamin E helps regulate the immune system, it may also help minimize outbreaks.

In a 2016 study, 96 patients with atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema, were treated with either oral vitamin E or a placebo every day for 8 months. Those who were treated with vitamin E saw significant improvement and near remission in symptoms by the end of the study.

They also found a 62% decrease in immunoglobulin E (IgE) serum levels among the vitamin E-treated group. Since high lgE antibody levels can indicate that the body overreacts to allergens, they may be a trigger for eczema outbreaks.

As a result, researchers concluded that vitamin E could indeed be a therapeutic remedy to treat atopic dermatitis.

In a 2021 review, researchers noted that oxidative stress and inflammation are some triggers believed to be involved in the onset of atopic dermatitis. Due to vitamin E’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, researchers concluded that the vitamin has serious potential as a complementary treatment for eczema.

Researchers also pointed to animal and human studies that employed oral, topical, and injected vitamin E. All four studies, which were conducted from 2012–2014, had positive outcomes on eczema symptoms.

Although more research is needed before drawing conclusions, so far, evidence suggests that vitamin E could be a promising treatment for eczema, especially alongside traditional treatments like corticosteroids.

Topical vitamin E can be found in many creams, serums, and oils. It’s easily absorbed into the skin and may boost the amount of vitamin E stored in your sebaceous glands.

Consider doing a patch test before trying any product containing vitamin E. Apply a tiny amount of the product on your skin and wait about 24 hours. If you don’t have any negative reaction, it’s safe to apply all over, including on your outbreaks.

Vitamin E oil tends to be very thick and sometimes challenging to spread. That said, it works well to moisturize eczema-prone skin, which tends to be very dry. Consider adding a carrier oil, such as coconut or sunflower oil, to the vitamin E oil for easier application.

Products containing vitamin E can be purchased over the counter.

At this time, there’s no evidence to suggest that any method of consuming or applying vitamin E is more advantageous than another. For that reason, consuming vitamin E-rich foods may be just as beneficial for the skin as applying it topically or taking a supplement.

According to 2020 research, several randomized, controlled trials have shown that vitamin E supplementation can improve atopic dermatitis symptoms as well as inflammatory allergic reactions.

Foods rich in vitamin E include:

  • seafood like salmon and abalone
  • green vegetables like spinach and broccoli
  • nuts and seeds like hazelnuts and sunflower seeds
  • vegetable oils like sunflower and safflower oil
  • processed foods fortified with vitamin E, including some cereals and juices

Since vitamin E tends to be absorbed in the body better when taken with vitamin C, you may also want to implement plenty of both vitamins in your diet.

Even in high quantities, eating foods rich in vitamin E isn’t a reason for concern. And as long as you do a patch test beforehand, vitamin E oil shouldn’t cause any topical issues.

But like with most supplements, taking beyond the recommended dosage can elevate your levels too high and cause potential health issues. The dosage recommendation can vary, but the typical recommendation can range from 15–1000 milligrams (mg) per day.

Consuming large quantities of vitamin E supplements can cause excess bleeding or intracranial hemorrhages, so always check the supplement dosage before taking it.

According to the National Institutes of Health, teenagers, adults, and pregnant people should take no more than 15 mg daily.

It’s also suggested that large doses of vitamin E supplementation could increase the risk of prostate cancer in otherwise healthy individuals.

Consider speaking with a medical professional to determine if taking vitamin E supplements would be helpful based on your care needs.

Evidence suggests vitamin E is a safe and effective way to minimize or significantly reduce eczema flare-ups. Both topical and oral vitamin E seem to have beneficial effects on symptoms.

You can also consume vitamin E naturally from foods, including seafood, seeds, nuts, and green vegetables. Most of the time, treating eczema requires a multifaceted approach. Using vitamin E alongside traditional treatments like corticosteroids may provide the best results.