Eczema can refer to a number of skin irritations resulting in inflammation, dry skin and a rash on various parts of the body. Eczema does not discriminate and can affect everyone from little ones to the elderly. Babies tend to get the red, itchy bumps on their arms, legs, chest or back, cheeks and chin, while adults often find it on elbows, wrists, knees, ankles or their neck. Anyone who has ever experienced it can agree: It’s uncomfortable, irritating and unsightly—and it has a tendency to come back at the worst possible times.
Sometimes eczema can be severe and should be treated by a medical professional; other times flare-ups are minor and can be treated at home by soothing ingredients, and minimized by lifestyle changes. There isn’t a cure for eczema, so it’s all about managing symptoms and triggers. (Half the battle is to avoid scratching your skin, which only makes the inflammation worse.) Here I’ve put together some effective home remedies for eczema outbreaks.
1. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is wonderful at treating the dryness and inflammation often associated with eczema. You can apply witch hazel using a cotton swab to the affected area twice daily for relief. Use witch hazel only for a few weeks at a time before giving your body a break.
2. Soothing Baths
Add oatmeal, chamomile or baking soda to your bath to relieve itching. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to warm water and bathe for 15 minutes three times a week. Baking soda soothes acidic eczematic skin and helps regulate the skin’s pH level, according to Prevention magazine.
3. Avoid Fragranced Products
Swear off personal care products like lotions that include perfumes or coloring, and use natural, unscented products (or make your own, like the whipped coconut oil cooling lotion with aloe) instead. If essential oils bother your skin, omit them from homemade lotions. Switch to fragrance-free and dye-free detergents, and avoid using bleach, fabric softeners and dryer sheets in your laundry routine.
The gut health-skin connection is very real, and high-quality probiotics (taken via capsules, or by eating cultured foods, plain yogurt or drinking kombucha) are known to help increase skin health. This kefir-cucumber smoothie is soothing to your stomach and helps regulate your gut bacteria. Try these 10 natural probiotic food sources.
5. Use oils to avoid dryness
Letting eczema dry out can make it itchier. Moisturizing with coconut oil or jojoba oil right after bathing will help keep it moisturized and will promote healing. Bathe and moisturize at night to let your skin soak in the moisture overnight. If your eczema is on your hands or feet, try wearing cotton gloves or socks with an overnight hand mask to retain even more moisture.
6. Organic Raw Honey
Organic raw honey is an antibacterial humectant (meaning it locks moisture in). Apply to small areas for 20-30 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.
7. Avoid Stress
Easier said than done, right? Since stress is a trigger for many eczema sufferers, try to prevent the outbreaks before they occur by consistently partaking in stress-releasing activities like yoga, light exercise and walking—and make sure to get ample sleep, too.
This ancient practice is also known to relieve stress and improve overall health, including eczema outbreaks.
9. Eat Omega-3s + Avoid Inflammatory Foods
You don’t necessarily have to do a detox (but if you do, we have tips!), but eliminating inflammatory food and drinks with refined sugar, gluten, dairy, alcohol and caffeine can help you get to the root of your skin issues. Try giving them all up for two weeks, then reintroduce one at a time to find out which one is your trigger. Introduce lots of anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, such as salmon, avocado, sardines, nuts, dark leafy greens and beets, as well as ginger and turmeric (in the form of tea, smoothies or supplements). Foods rich in essential fatty acids like omega-3s (walnuts, avocados, salmon, tuna and flaxseed oil) can help reduce inflammation and allergic reactions.
Salty air is another ancient remedy that has been proven to treat eczema. If you have a salt cave nearby, book an appointment to relieve itchiness and restore your skin’s moisture balance. Otherwise, head to the ocean and take in some salty air—one more excuse to spend a day at the beach!
Do you have any go-to remedies for eczema that work for you?