Essential Oils for Eczema
For the often dry, cracked and shedding skin of the eczema or topical steroid withdrawal sufferer, keeping the skin moisturized is the critical difference between feeling comfortable, and wearing clothes covered in skin flakes or blood.
This unfortunate cocktail of inadequate hydration and chronic itch means the skin seems to scream out for instant relief, and speaking from experience, you will try anything!
For many in the main-stream medical system, the first and often ‘only’ method of treating eczema is through the use of topical steroid creams, which are repeatedly prescribed for the duration of their condition, sometimes a lifetime. This unfortunately for many of us leads to worse eczema and health issues in the future.
We are bombarded by increasing levels of toxins and allergens in our food, in our water and in our air; so it is no surprise that the movement towards healthy and more natural alternatives for our skin care is becoming not only better researched, but more widely utilized.
A healthier alternative
You might have heard by now about essential oils for eczema and their positive role in helping treat these symptoms. This is due to the many benefits essential oils provide the skin - helping hydrate, lock in moisture, cleanse and sooth the dry and itchy symptoms.
Any benefit to be gained from using essential oils of course depends greatly upon the type of eczema you have, any underlying sensitivities and whether or not you can tolerate anything external without causing irritation - as is the case with many topical steroid withdrawal sufferers.
Because this search can often be confusing, I will explain in this article the difference between the various types of oils commonly confused with essential oils, how to shop for them, and a list of some of the best types of oils for treating eczema.
What are essential oils?
Pure essential oils are derived from naturally occurring substances found in various parts of plants including the stem, bark, wood, leaf, resin, blossom or fruit.
The complicated manufacturing process typically involves steam distillation, leaving the oil with up to 500 naturally occurring chemicals, as well as the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which it was extracted.
They offer many positive benefits for use for the health industry – management of pain, inflammation, fatigue, psychological health as well as antiseptic qualities, to name a few.
Due to the highly concentrated aromatics of an essential oil, direct application to an individual can cause irritation or other unwanted reactions. For this reason, the negative effects being harbored by many essential oils can be reduced / negated through using carrier oil for diluting.
Carrier oils, also referred to as base oils, fixed oils or vegetable oils, are aptly named because they help dilute and gently ‘carry’ the essential oil to the skin.
Generally low in scent, carrier oils are derived from the pressed, fatty portions of the plant (seeds, nuts, and kernels) as opposed to the more aromatic parts of the botanical, and are found in many natural moisturizers, creams, cosmetics, balms, bath oils and body oils.
It doesn’t take long to find an abundance of anecdotal stories attesting to the soothing and anti-pruritic properties of carrier oils, solidifying their own place in this itchy, dry and inflamed world of eczema.
I thought it would be worth mentioning, in case you want to start shopping for an essential oil for your eczema, what Absolute oils are.
Much like essential oils, absolutes are made from the same ingredients in order to achieve a rich, concentrated product. However, it is the preparation method which separates the two.
‘Absolute oil’ is prepared using the extraction process of chemical solvents, rather than steam distillation like its pure essential oils counterpart. This method allows for a better representation of the original source fragrance of specific plant parts (flower petals, for example) and is found predominantly in the perfume, aromatherapy and cosmetics industries.
Although considered a cousin of the essential oil, due to the solvent chemicals used, it seems that people with sensitive skin or those with inflammatory skin conditions are warned against using absolute oils topically, and rather sticking to the steam distilled products.
Fragrance oils are made using synthetic materials to mimic a scent, usually to add fragrance to perfume or cosmetics.
Fragrance oils are devoid of the naturally occurring and beneficial chemicals offered by essential oils, so for this reason, ensure you are only using a high grade essential oil when you are treating your eczema.
How to use essential oils for eczema
Essential oils can be a mix of one or more highly complex aromatic compounds, which means the reaction to the skin can vary greatly.
You do not want to exacerbate your eczema, so for this reason, thoroughly research the best essential oil for your eczema, use caution and always patch test the diluted product first before using for its desired purpose.
Application of an essential oil can be done in many ways:
Undiluted applied directly to the skin
Diluted with a carrier oil, and applied directly to the skin
Used as a massage oil
Put into a spray bottle for use as an anti-itch spray
Added to bathwater
Mixed with another lotion
Used in an eczema cream recipe of your choice
Applied to bandages for wet wrapping
Carrier oils for eczema
When shopping for your carrier oils, aim for products which are cold-pressed. This means that the substance has been processed without the use of added heat, as heat can destroy the fragile nutrients in the product.
Sweet Almond Oil: Widely used, Sweet Almond Oil is a light oil which is thought to provide anti-inflammatory, immune boosting and detoxing properties.
Apricot Kernel Oil: Packed with Vitamin E and essential fatty acids, Apricot Kernel Oil helps to clean, reduce inflammation and restore eczema skin.
Avocado Oil: Avocado Oil is wonderfully abundant in beneficial omega-3s.
Baobab Oil: A lesser known oil, Baobab Oil has been found to help relieve the dryness and itch associated with eczema.
Borage Seed Oil: Originating from the star flower plant,Borage Seed Oil contains a rich fatty acid called GLA which is a powerful antioxidant, as well as anti-inflammatory and adrenal aiding properties.
Camellia Seed Oil: Containing Vitamins A, B and E, Camellia Seed Oil is nutrient packed and even offers UV protection.
Coconut Oil: Antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and nutrient packed, it’s no wonder Coconut Oil is the new miracle-oil.
Cranberry Seed Oil: High in Vitamins E, A, essential fatty acids, and phytosterols, Cranberry Seed Oil absorbs quickly and can help protect dry and irritated skin.
Evening Primrose Oil: Rich in GLA, Organic Evening Primrose Oil has been said to help nourish the skin of the eczema sufferer.
Grapeseed Oil: Grapeseed Oil is a by-product of wine making is full of eczema-relieving nutrients such as Vitamin E, antioxidants, linoleic acid, and tocopherols.
Hazelnut Oil: Hazelnut Oil contains astringent and antibacterial qualities as well as Vitamin E, phytosterols, magnesium, calcium, and other nutrients to help assist eczema.
Hemp Seed Oil: With its high concentrations of perfectly-balanced essential fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals and phytosterols, Hemp Seed Oil can help the skin and immune system greatly.
Jojoba Oil: Full of beneficial nutrients such as Vitamins B and E, minerals, and essential fatty acids, Jojoba Oil can help speed up healing of the skin.
Kukui Nut Oil: Kukui Nut Oil can help repair eczema and damaged skin with its essential fatty acids and rich vitamin content.
Macadamia Nut Oil: Regenerative and soothing, Macadamia Nut Oil resembles the sebum of the skin so absorbs quickly to deliver its fatty acid pay-load to the damaged skin.
Meadowfoam Oil: Used as a carrier oil in many eczema cream recipes, Meadowfoam Seed Oil contains superior anti-oxidant properties.
Olive Oil: Perhaps one of the easiest oils to acquire at a low price, Olive Oil is used often in skin care products due to its vitamin and antioxidant dense quality.
Pecan Oil: Pecan Oil contains antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals which work together to reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system.
Pomegranate Seed Oil: Helps regenerate and repair cells, Pomegranate Seed Oil is anti-inflammatory and contains antioxidants.
Rose Hip Oil: Beneficial Vitamin C and lycopene helps decrease damage to the skin and restore elasticity. Rosehip Oil's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can go a long way for eczema skin.
Sea Buckthorn Berry Oil: Sea Buckthorn Berry Oil helps relieve inflammation by delivering flavonoids, antioxidants, omega-3s, and beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Sesame Seed Oil: Sesame Oil offers anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer compounds including magnesium, phytic acid, an phytosterols.
Sunflower Seed Oil: Sunflower Seed Oil is high in Vitamin E (a strong antioxidant) as well as omega-6.
Vitamin E oil: Vitamin E Oil helps protect the skin against cell mutation through its antioxidant qualities.
Watermelon Seed Oil: Watermelon Seed Oil is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and highly nutritious for the skin.
Best essential oils for eczema
When shopping for essential oils:
Do not buy into products labelled fragrance, nature or perfume oil. This means the product is not pure.
Beware of bottles on shelves covered in thick dust as essential oils can lose their therapeutic properties over time.
Avoid bottles with rubber eyedropper bulbs. These bulbs can deteriorate and contaminate the oil. Instead look for bottles which have an ‘orifice reducer’.
Price isn’t always an indicator of quality, however sometimes it can be.
Organic oils are usually preferable and of a higher quality.
Research the vendor, make sure they provide all details of its origin, extraction method and give you confidence in their extensive knowledge on the background of this product.
Aluminium and dark glass bottles are better than clear glass or plastic bottles.
Balsam Fir Essential Oil
Balsam is wonderfully soothing for dry and cracked eczema. An antibacterial and anti-inflammatory oil, Balsam can help calm the weary eczema skin.
Birch Essential Oil
Not only does Birch
provide antiseptic and disinfecting benefits, but it is also mildly anti-inflammatory.
Carrot Seed Essential Oil
By stimulating the renewal process of the skin, Carrot Seed Essential Oil is very healing, it helps protect the skin from harmful UV rays, and can calm the inflamed eczema skin.
Providing strong antibacterial, antifungal and insecticidal properties while helping the skin contract to keep hydration locked in, Cedarwood Essential Oil is an excellent addition to the eczema tool kit.
Chamomile Essential Oil
As one of the staple products in various, natural, antipruritic lotions; Chamomile is often applied to many itchy skin concerns. It’s soothing and anti-inflammatory qualities make it a very gentle and kind oil for the eczema sufferer.
Clove Essential Oil
Strongly antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and pain-reducing; clove has been used for a long time by dentists to help treat the patient after dental surgery. Incredibly healing, Clove Essential Oil is also an effective mould spore killer.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
With many benefits which are used often by health and cleaning industries to disinfect, treat illnesses and even for use as an insecticide. Eucalyptus has been known to help treat inflammation as well as pain.
Fennel Essential Oil
The anethole content of Fennel Essential Oil has anti-inflammatory properties, much needed for the eczema sufferer.
Geranium Essential Oil
Frequently used for insect bites, Geranium provides swelling reduction, helps balance sebum, and yields swift tissue healing and even pain relief for many skin conditions.
Helichrysum Essential Oil
Helichrysum is relatively unknown, however deserves to have a place in our eczema repertoire as it promotes new cell growth, and possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties.
Lavender Essential Oil
Providing an effective soothing oil such as Lavender Essential can not only stimulate new tissue growth, but can also keep the skin free of infection due to its antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Mandarin Essential Oil
A wonderful antiseptic and promoter of new cell growth, Mandarin Essential Oil can also help the eczema skin by assisting in the maintenance of hydration within the skin.
Rosemary Essential Oil
Said to help relieve stress, Rosemary can also help stimulate the skin with its astringent and antibacterial qualities.
Rosewood Essential Oil
Rosewood Essential Oil offers an array of benefits from increasing the repair of skin damage, to helping stimulate the system into producing the enzymes and hormones it needs to stabilize functions within the body.
Spikenard Essential Oil
Spikenard is an oil that helps promote restful sleep. With its sedative, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory effects, applying this to the skin can be a god send to many struggling with eczema.
Tagetes (Marigold) Essential Oil
The marigold plant is abundant in its uses. Marigold Essential Oil has the ability to disinfect the skin, calm irritation and provide anti-inflammatory benefits is the reason it is sometimes used to help soothe the eczema skin.
Tea Tree Essential Oil – Manuka
Praised for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-allergenic properties, this immune system stimulating oil helps promote new cell growth and repair skin damage. Manuka Oil is very strong and can be drying, which is why it needs to be diluted before use.
Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme Essential Oil contains carvacrol which is an organic compound that works as a natural anti-inflammatory as well as antifungal and antibacterial. Found to reduce COX-2 expression by 65%.
Turmeric Essential Oil
The curcumin content is responsible for the yellow color in Turmeric, and is well documented for its anti-inflammatory effects.
Yarrow Essential Oil contains a strong anti-inflammatory, it helps promotes circulation and can even help remove toxins through the skin via mild perspiration.
For more methods, check out my list of 200 ways to beat eczema!
Oils aren’t oils! It’s easy to assume all oils are basically the same. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought this!
It’s wise to understand the different types of oils out there, which ones are right for the skin, and how to dilute and apply them. Don’t jump into buying the first one you hear of. Test them out and always use with caution.
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