As an eczema family, we’re all too familiar with the frustration and misery that this itchy, dry skin condition can bring. From 2 generations dealing with eczema, we’ve compiled these 5 tips and natural remedies for eczema to make your experience of it as short as possible!
Tip 1: Keep The Skin Clean
Natural eczema remedy Number One is super simple. – Just keep the skin reasonably clean. Bacteria, particularly Staphylococcus aureus, are one of the most important triggers of eczema (they are found on over 90% of eczema prone skin and 5% of normal skin). This overgrowth of Staphylococcus aureus can activate the immune system around them, causing skin irritation.
Don’t over-wash, but keeping the skin clean will help reduce the likelihood of bacteria build-up. As sensitive skin is already irritated by the eczema, it is important to use a natural hand wash which contains no harsh chemicals (see Tip 4, below, for examples). This will help to avoid any further irritation from the aggressive ingredients in conventional hand washes.
When washing hands, don’t forget your fingernails. You might not see it, but finger nails harbour bacteria brilliantly. So, another one of the simple natural remedies for eczema is to keep your nails short (or well-kept and dirt-free!). We also recommend you use cool or warm water (not hot) and pat your skin dry rather than rubbing to reduce unnecessary irritation.
TIP: Wash your skin regularly with gentle hand washes, cleansers and soaps
Aloe Vera Body Wash: For creamy bubbles in the shower or bath this really mild formula will leave your (and your little ones) skin feeling moisturised and super-soft. No sulphates, fragrance or artificial preservatives. (Note that for babies, washing in water might be sufficient.)
Pure Olive Cleansing Bar: Natural soap hand-made from pure olive oil does not have the skin-drying effect of conventional soaps. Although it is additive and preservative free, it is still very long-lasting.
Tip 2: Use Herbs as Natural Eczema Remedies To Alleviate Itching And Promote Healing
Scratching itchy skin causes the release of chemical trigger substances. This then activates the immune system in the affected area. Hence the ‘itch-scratch cycle’. The conventional answer to this problem is steroid creams which suppress the immune system.
But steroid creams can have undesirable side effects, such as thinning of the skin. And they can be hard to stop using. It’s common to experience a rebound reaction and intense itching when removing the immune suppressant effect of the cream.
Instead, there are natural remedies in the plant kingdom that can reduce eczema itching and inflammation. To be sure, there is no miracle cure, but herbs such as chickweed and chamomile (our Repair Lotion includes both of these ingredients!) are kinder to the body and may offer a more long term solution. In fact, the concentrated chamomile extract we use in our preparations has been shown to be at least as effective at reducing inflammation as mild hydrocortisone (steroid), but without the negative side effects.
Other herbs such as calendula have proven powerful skin-healing capabilities. Many studies also point to the benefits of Aloe vera for eczema which is why is it a key ingredient in all our natural washes and Repair Lotion.
TIP: Try using the natural healing powers of plants rather than reaching straight for the steroid cream
Another of the simplest natural remedies for eczema is to keep applying moisturisers. By penetrating between the skin cells, a good moisturiser, or ’emollient’, helps to substitute for the lack of the skin’s own lipids, reducing dryness, moisture loss, and access by infection-causing organisms.
Commonly prescribed emollients, including aqueous cream, usually contain petroleum derivatives like paraffin wax, mineral oil, petroleum jelly or silicone which tends to clog the skin pores because the molecules are too large to be absorbed.
Whilst this petroleum barrier reduces moisture loss, it also prevents the skin from breathing and releasing the heat generated by inflammation. Generally described as ‘inert’ with no active skin benefits, petroleum oils tend to absorb the vitamins A and E from the skin, so vital for its maintenance and repair. Products such as our Ultra Rich Balm (amongst others), are based on virgin cold-pressed plant oils, with all their health- promoting vitamins and minerals intact, they are readily absorbed by the skin, provide excellent moisturisation and actively encourage the natural healing process.
As an added bonus, these oil-soluble vitamins protect the skin from premature ageing by combating ‘free radical’ damage caused by exposure to the elements and pollution! Shea butter, olive and coconut oils are particularly effective. Little and often is the key, keeping the skin moisturised at all times. Applying emollient before bathing or showering can also protect the skin from damaging effects of hard water.
Tip: Apply a little Ultra Rich to affected areas before bathing and showering – it is more efficient (and economical!) for moisturising than adding to the bathwater
Tip 4: A Crucial Natural Eczema Remedy – Avoid Potential Irritants
Using products which contain natural ingredients is important. But avoiding products with irritants is one of the most crucial natural remedies for eczema. Synthetic fragrances, irritant preservatives and harsh detergents are believed to be a key eczema and dermatitis trigger. – Witness the number of nurses, hairdressers and beauticians with contact dermatitis from years of using a cocktail of synthetic cosmetic ingredients.
It is not easy to avoid ingredients that trigger skin sensitivity. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, the following substances are some of the most common culprits:
- Fragrance or ‘parfum’: Synthetic fragrance (often listed on the ingredient label as ‘parfum’) is widely recognised by dermatologists as being the number one cause of adverse skin reactions to cosmetics, toiletries and laundry products. Note that ‘fragrance free’ or ‘unscented’ on a product label indicates the lack of perceptible smell, but the product may still contain fragrance chemicals.
- Parabens (butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben): These preservatives are well-known skin sensitisers, particularly to those with eczema and have also been linked to cancer. Widely used in skincare – and foods!
- Methylisothiazolinone (MI): This harsh preservative is increasingly used as an alternative to parabens in many skin care products. Data show a rising incidence of contact allergy to this preservative.
- Sodium lauryl(eth) sulphate (SLS): An industrial engine-degreaser found in most shampoos and bath products. It may strip out the skin’s natural oils leaving it dry and irritated. Eczema skin is particularly sensitive to SLS. Similar forms include sodium coco sulphate. Read more about gentler washing options in our blog about eczema shampoo.
To avoid these sorts of chemical irritants, buy certified organic skincare products instead. Certifying bodies like the Soil Association have strict safety and ingredient guidelines and independently assess other company’s products and whether they’re truly organic or not. Looking for their stamp of approval (below) on a product label can hopefully put your mind and skin at ease.
But harsh chemicals aren’t just present in non-organic skincare. There are many other ways that they can make their way onto your skin. As much as we love to all go for a swim in the hotter months, those of us with eczema should be conscious about the amount of chemicals that are put in swimming pools as they can be a key irritant of the skin. But there are ways that the damaging effects can be reduced…
TIP: Apply a light layer of Ultra Rich before swimming in a chlorinated pool or the sea. Shower off and re-apply Repair Lotion and/or Ultra Rich to clean, dry skin.
Step 5: Take The Holistic Approach
Whilst topical (skin) applications can alleviate eczema a great deal, it is worth looking our for possible allergy triggers in the diet. Cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, gluten and food additives (like flavourings, colours and sweeteners) are common culprits, particularly in children.
Breastfeeding infants is widely recommended whenever possible. Keeping a food diary may also identify the cause of sudden ‘flare-ups’. Trial and error – and lots of patience – may be well rewarded!
Studies show that a common factor among atopic (hereditary) eczema is a lack of fatty acids and in particular gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Taking a high GLA food supplement like Evening Primrose may thus be a good idea. For the little ones, a pierced capsule squeezed into food is easily disguised.
Cotton or silk are the best and kindest fabrics. Opt for light layers that can be peeled off as necessary and protect affected areas from exposure to strong sunshine. Choose skin-friendly non-bio laundry wash, avoiding fragrances and fabric softeners.
TIP: After applying Repair Lotion to inflamed skin, leave uncovered to allow air to circulate and cool it. Avoid sun and heat exposure during a ‘flare-up’.
MORE ADVICE or A SAMPLE?
If you’d like any more advice on natural remedies for eczema please do email us – firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01638 491022 – we’re here to help!
Browse our range of eczema moisturisers now.
Both our Repair Lotion and Ultra Rich Balm have already helped a number of our customers take back control of their skin’s health. You can try out sample sizes here or…
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Margaret developed Repair Lotion during 20 years of research using her own family experience of eczema to find the most effective natural power-pack for irritated, dry and broken skin. It contains a synergistic blend of 10 skin-friendly, yet powerfully healing and soothing organic herbs in a base of vitamin-rich organic plant oils which calm, soothe and promote healing. Whilst relief can be immediate, do bear in mind that skin can take around 28 days to repair and regenerate. Smooth gently over the affected areas at least twice daily as needed.
“I have used this amazing lotion on dry patches,eczema, sun burn, nettle stings, insect bites……. Is there no end to it’s amazing powers to deal with what ever it is applied too. I introduced it to my friend who can’t believe how quickly it dealt with her recurring dry patches. Hurrah for Repair Lotion.”
Ultra Rich Balm
Ultra Rich is a luxurious organic blend of pure plant oils, raw shea butter and Sea buckthorn for the relief of very dry or distressed skin. Completely safe for use on babies and on broken skin, it is rich in texture, rapidly absorbed and doesn’t block the pores, thus allowing the skin to breathe. Apply little and often to clean skin, either alone or on top of Repair Lotion for added moisture retention and protection. It is also suitable for applying under wet-wraps.
“I use have used this product for several years and have found it excellent for my sensitive skin with persistent dry patches. The moisturising effect helps keep eczema at bay. Good value too as a little goes along way.”
*Disclaimer: No medical claim is implied or intended in relation to the products or information above. This article is intended as a helpful guide and contains suggestions based on many years of personal experience, current knowledge and research. At the moment the law requires that unless a substance or product has a medical license, no claim can be made as to its efficiency for a medical condition.
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