Itchy Skin? 7 Natural Treatments For Eczema

Eczema is a common inflammatory skin disease characterized by rough and inflamed areas of skin that cause itching and bleeding.

It normally has no obvious external trigger, but appears to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Of course we cannot change our genes, but we can control what goes into our bodies and onto our skin.

Here are 7 natural treatments for eczema that have scientific basis:

1. Salt Water or Sea Spray

For treating eczema that is weeping/wet, drying the skin with salt appears to be very effective.

Salt water is perfect for this, so either heading to the beach or using a sea spray can help.

Many people with eczema in the Middle East actually visit the Dead Sea in Israel, which is 29 percent salt as opposed to 4 percent in the ocean. One study following over 1,500 people found that 95 percent of skin was cleared in those who had stayed at the Dead Sea longer than 4 weeks (1).

2. Fish Oil

Many experts believe fish oil can help with inflammatory skin conditions. This is because they are rich in omega-3 fats, which have strong anti-inflammatory properties.

One study found those taking fish oil (a dose of 1.8 g of EPA per day) experienced a dramatic improvement in eczema symptoms after 12 weeks. Studies looking at other conditions, such as acne, found no improvements though (2).

For fish oil to be effective, supplements are required, because whole food sources of fish oil would not provide the necessary dosage.

3. Avoid Pro-Inflammatory Foods

Contrary to fish oil (an anti-inflammatory), pro-inflammatory foods actually accelerate inflammation.

This means they could (theoretically) drive flare-ups of eczema and related skin conditions, and should definitely be avoided where possible.

Pro-inflammatory foods include products with added sugar and refined starch, as well as omega-6 cooking oils.

4. Several Topical Creams and Salves

Certain natural creams and salves may help relieve itching and burning when applied applied directly to the skin (topically).

Varieties that contain one or more of the following herbs have the best supporting evidence:

  • St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
  • Chamomile(Matricaria recutita)
  • Chickweed (Stellaria media)
  • Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra).

5. Avoid Known Food Allergens

People with eczema typically have food allergies too. It goes without saying that known food allergens should be strictly avoided.

Common foods that cause allergic reactions are:

  • dairy
  • soy
  • citrus
  • peanuts
  • wheat (sometimes all gluten-containing grains)
  • fish
  • eggs
  • corn
  • tomatoes

Some people only experience subtle reactions, so a particular allergen may be triggering your eczema without you making the connection. Aside from allergy testing at the doctor, keeping a food diary can help you to identify the trigger food.

6. Essential Oils

While the effectiveness of essential oils for treating health conditions is extremely overrated, there is preliminary and anecdotal evidence some types may help with skin conditions like eczema.

Both borage oil and evening primrose oil (EPO) have been shown to help reduce itching within 8 weeks in several small trial studies. But the overall evidence is actually quite mixed, with some studies finding no beneficial effects (3).

5 percent tea tree oil has been shown to help with acne, so in theory it may also help with eczema (4).

7. Probiotics

Probiotics are basically bacteria that promote health. They are linked to a variety of health benefits, even weight loss.

Certain probiotic strains (namely bifidobacteria and lactobacillus strains) may help restore the balance of your gut bacteria, in turn boosting your immune system and minimizing the severity of allergic reactions.

They can be taken in supplement form or you can make probiotic foods at home yourself.

As always you should speak with your doctor before trying any new treatments.

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73 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

Janice J.
Janice J.4 months ago

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Muff-Anne York-Haley

I don't have many food allergies!

Jennifer Manzi
Jennifer Manzi5 months ago

Ocean spray, fish oil, in other words if I were a mermaid I wouldn't have this prob. I have to use steroid cream. My leg itches right now thinking about it

Junaina Haji Abdul Jalil

Carol P. Are you a clinical dietitian to make those statements? I believe the author is.

Junaina Haji Abdul Jalil

Great write up Joe. Thanks.

Carol P.
Carol P.5 months ago

This post if awful. First off, eczema is not just an inflammation. It is an autoimmune reaction. Second, the first thing I'd consider if I had eczema wouldn't be how to treat it, but to figure out what was causing the autoimmune reactions so that I could eliminate it.

Food is going to be a major suspect, but food allergies aren't the issue, rather food intolerances, and they are two different things. And of all the culprits, gluten would be at the top of my list. But, wheat is not the only grain that contains gluten, so cutting it alone is just stupid advice, just like advising readers to be wary of tomatoes is silly if you don't make mention of the entire night-shade family.

I'd also keep an eye out for exposure to toxins, in your home, your workplace, your food, every product you use. If you aren't already eating organic food, start. Stop buying things made out of plastics that will outgas in your home. Start reading labels for ingredients. Basically, stop exposing your body to things that it will see as an invader to be attacked.

And get tested for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. They can hinder the immune system's ability to function properly, and identification of deficiencies may help diagnose other problems. Certain deficiencies often go hand in hand with specific health problems.

But most importantly, don't rely on this post for advice. Do your own research, and a lot more of it than this author did.

Debbie S.
DebbieSiteIssue S.5 months ago

Extreme/chronic stress will also trigger eczema and make it worse. Diet and stress control both help equally.

Marie W.
Marie W.5 months ago

Salt water has been a treatment for conditions.

M. M.
M. M.5 months ago

TYFS