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Home Remedies for Eczema - 7 Practical Tips

23rd Feb 2022

Home Remedies for Eczema - 7 Practical Tips

As an eczema family, we’re all too familiar with the frustration and misery that this itchy, dry skin condition can bring. From 3 generations dealing with eczema and dermatitis over the space of 40 years, we’ve compiled these 7 tips and natural remedies for eczema to make your experience of it as short as possible!


Tip 1: Keep the Skin Clean

chemical-free-body-wash can be a natural eczema remedy

Eczema home remedy Number One is super simple. – Just keep the skin reasonably clean, but with a skin-friendly cleanser. This is one of the particularly important home remedies for eczema on hands and fingers:

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. This will help to avoid any further irritation from the aggressive ingredients (see Tip 4 below for a list) 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

We recommend:

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.

Gentle Herb Shampoo: The famous sensitive skin shampoo which is suitable for distressed skin conditions and contains an abundance of skin-soothing herbs and oils that leave hair shining with natural vitality.


Tip 2: Use Herbs to Alleviate Itching and Promote Healing

eczema-cream without steroids can be part of a natural eczema remedy

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-based eczema 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 eczema cure, but herbs such as chickweed and chamomile are kinder to the body and may offer a more long term solution for itchy skin relief.

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.

You can make your own simple eczema cream or itchy skin treatment:

1. Just infuse dried or fresh herbs in olive oil and melt gently together with shea butter then pour into a pot and allow to cool. Alongside chamomile we'd suggest chickweed for itch relief and calendula (marigold) which has proven skin-healing capabilities. The longer you can infuse the herbs in the oils first, the better.

2. Even simpler, put a dampened chamomile tea bag in the fridge and put this on the affected area to soothe.

3. Chamomile flowers in a bath along with oatmeal is a traditional favourite for eczema relief. It's one of the home remedies for itchy skin that really gets you to relax too.

4. Many studies point to the benefits of Aloe vera for eczema treatment. - Grow your own aloe vera plant and squeeze the juice (gel) from a snapped off leaf onto eczema patches. Aloe has a wealth of nutrients that promote healing.

Aloe is a key ingredient in all our natural washes and Repair Lotion - the cream that Odylique's founder first made for her family's eczema which also contains powerful extracts of chamomile, calendula and chickweed.

TIP: Try using the natural healing powers of plants rather than reaching straight for the steroid cream


Tip 3: Moisturise Naturally, Little & Ofteneczema-prone-skin

Perhaps the most commonly recommended eczema treatment is to keep applying moisturisers. By penetrating between the skin cells, a 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.

But commonly prescribed emollient creams for eczema, including aqueous cream, usually contain petroleum derivatives like paraffin wax, mineral oil, petroleum jelly or silicone. These ingredients tend 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, are based on virgin cold-pressed plant oils. The virgin status of the oils is important because it means all their health- promoting vitamins and minerals are intact. Plant oils are readily absorbed by the skin, provide excellent moisturisation and actively encourage the natural healing process.

As an added bonus, virgin plant oils' 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, to keep the skin moisturised at all times, and is better than applying a huge amount of cream once a day. Applying emollient before bathing or showering can also protect the skin from damaging effects of hard water.

Tip: Apply a little Ultra Rich Balm to affected areas before bathing and showering to protect from hard water – it is more efficient (and economical!) for moisturising than adding to the bathwater


Tip 4: Avoid & Protect Against Potential Irritants

natural-treatment-to-eczema

Using products which contain natural ingredients is important. But avoiding products with irritants is one of the most crucial tactics. 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 exposure to a cocktail of artificial additives.

It is not easy to avoid cosmetic 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.

soil-association-certified

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 emollient, like 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.


Tip 5: Start Food Diaries & Supplements

organic-food

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.

Keep a food diary to help identify the cause of sudden ‘flare-ups’. It's a bit tedious, but can be very rewarding once you identify a pattern.

'Trial and error' of eliminating particular allergens from the diet – and lots of patience – may also be well rewarded!

Studies show that a common factor among atopic eczema sufferers 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, but check with a doctor, pharmacist or nutritionist if you are unsure. For the little ones, a pierced capsule squeezed into food is easily disguised.


Tip 6: Look at Your Clothes & How You Wear Them

organic-clothing

Cotton (organic if possible for environmental reasons) or silk are the gentlest fabrics. Opt for light layers that can be peeled off as necessary.

After applying Repair Lotion (or your eczema cream) to inflamed skin, leave uncovered to allow air to circulate and cool it.

If you have a flare-up, cover up affected areas before you out in strong sunshine.

    


Tip 7: Choose a Skin-Friendly Washing Powder

One all important eczema home remedy is to re-evaluate how you wash your clothes. The fragrance allergens and harsh detergents present in cosmetics are in washing powder and laundry products too.

Fortunately, there are more skin-friendly options available these days. Choose non-bio laundry wash, avoiding fragrances and fabric softeners. We've put together a guide here of the best washing powders for eczema.


MORE ADVICE or A SAMPLE?

If you’d like any more advice on natural remedies for eczema please do email us – [email protected], or call 01638 491022 – we’re here to help!

Sign up to our newsletter for more tips on caring for your skin:

Or take advantage of our amazing Distressed Skin Bundle which is a complete care package for irritated skin of all the moisturisers, cleansers and shampoo recommended in this article - just £29 but worth £59. 

Products for Dry Itchy Skin

It contains:

Repair Lotion

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 its 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.”

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.

Gentle Herb Shampoo: The famous sensitive skin shampoo used successfully by people with distressed skin conditions for over 30 years. It will ensure that washing your hair doesn't irritate the rest of your body. Contains an abundance of skin-soothing herbs and oils that leave hair shining with natural vitality.

Shop the complete Distressed Skin Kit for just £29 (worth £59).


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.