Eczema also known as dermatitis refers to a group of skin disorders that are characterized by itchy and inflamed patches of the skin. There are seven major types of dermatitis including atopic dermatitis which is the most commonly contracted, contact dermatitis, stasis dermatitis, dyshidrotic dermatitis, nummular dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis.
If you are not yet sure of the type of eczema you are infected with, it is probably atopic/contact eczema as it is the most common. The common symptoms of all eczemas include:
- Dry skin
- Skin crusting and scaling
- Skin coloration
- Pus, etc.
To properly investigate your symptoms, you can read more about it on Medicine Net.
Eczema is a skin condition that can appear at any stage in life from infanthood to old age. It tends to range from mild to severe conditions where sometimes you can even live with it without much grief and if you are unlucky, it can be debilitating.
The good news is that it is not contagious and unfortunately its cause is yet to be discovered but it is believed to be caused by environmental and genetic factors. It develops as a reaction by the immune system to various chemicals and allergens in the environment.
This is why it is important to investigate the triggers for your eczema and avoid them as much as possible. Many of the home remedies described seem to be about general body care and eczema management such as:
- Maintaining a good balanced diet with whole grains, fruits and vegetables
- Dressing properly for the weather to avoid sweating that can increase the urge to scratch the infected skin
- Cutting down on bad foods like over processed foods, sugars, trans fat, etc.
- Identifying the allergy source e.g. a type of cloth, detergent, oil, food, etc.
- Keeping the infected area moisturized with natural oils (e.g shea butter, olive oil, coconut oil etc.) to avoid dryness that will cause itching.
- Use gentle soaps, lotions and other body care items.
- Beware of allergies that can restart or intensify your eczema
- Beware of possible food allergies and intolerances that can trigger your condition
- Avoid stress, cigarette smoke, metals, hot showers. They can also be a trigger, etc.
My eczema experience
For the past 7 years, I have battled with dyshidrotic eczema which is the eczema that affects the feet and hands. It started as a small patch on my feet near my toes in 2014 and by 2017, it started to show up on my fingers and palms.
Through these years, the doctors kept saying it is simply an allergy bla,bla, bla. I still don’t understand why they were not forthcoming about the truth unless they didn’t properly diagnose it themselves. It was only recently in the past 2 years that I finally understood what was wrong with my hand and feet.
Where I am from, dyshidrotic eczema is not common and neither are allergic reactions. The hospital put me on all kinds of drugs that never worked including ointments, poisons such as potassium, steroid creams, etc.
Sometimes, when it flares and I apply the cream or ointment from the hospital, it will almost disappear but then reappear again with a vengeance within a month. Many other times had no effect on eczema so I decided to discontinue most of them.
It was only when I decided to take my health into my own hands that I was finally able to stop the symptoms, flares and basically clear it from my skin. I can’t say it is cured because I know it can resurface again if I become too neglectful which I will explain later on.
For the time being, there is no sign that I have ever had eczema on my hands. I am also able to come in contact with irritants such as detergents without experiencing any flares or symptoms which was impossible before. Hurray!
Once I made the decision to find a solution for my skin problem, I stopped looking to hospitals for a solution and sought alternative health care.
While trying to figure out the right alternative treatment that works, I visited the naturopath a couple of times and it is through her direction and recommendations that I was finally able to get rid of my hand eczema.
Let us dive into how we did it.
The Natural remedies I used
For Itching Relief
Forget the scaling, pigmentation, skin peels, and inflammation. For me, crazy itching is the worst part of having dermatitis and is the symptom that most people want to get rid of fast.
Lavender is a very popular oil that is used for many purposes such as improving digestion, hair, skin, lessening wrinkles, etc. It is also commonly used in aromatherapy practices. Studies have shown that lavender is good in soothing sore, irritated, inflamed, broken, and dry skin.
This is because it has healing, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties. Before using it for the first time, do a patch test on your skin to check for a possible allergic reaction from your body if there is no reaction, then it is safe for you. otherwise, do not use it.
Before discovering this oil, I have tried over 12 different natural oils hoping for relief including chia seed, tea tree oil, sesame mint oil, olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, almond oil, eucalyptus oil, etc.
For me, only lavender did save me from the terrible itching of eczema
How to use:
Apply on the itchy area once it starts that maddening itching. You can use it at any time of the day as much as you wish as it is a very safe oil. I have used this only and it has been very effective for me in stopping the itching. I hope it works out as well for you.
It is best to buy already diluted lavender oil not concentrated essential oil. You can also dilute it if you only have the lavender essential oil, not just the lavender oil.
If using the essential oil, mix two drops of the lavender essential oil with two tablespoons of a carrier oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, grape seed oil, etc. Applying it in concentrated form as an essential oil directly on the kin is harmful so please dilute it before use.
Other recommended remedies for eczema itching
Another way of reducing the itchiness is holding a cool compress, ice cube, or ice pack to the infected skin. This is supposed to numb and soothe the eczema inflammation but it was neither nor practical for me.
This green spiky plat is known for its healing and soothing properties as it is popularly used for treating burns. It also helps moisturize dry skin, and combat inflammation which is often a problem for those with eczema. Its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties prevent infections that can likely occur from the cracked skin due to dryness.
How to use:
- Get an aloe vera leaf from your garden, the neighbour’s garden, the health store, from those that sell plants etc. where ever you can get it.
- Cut open a leaf and scoop out the gel.
- Do a patch test on a small area of your skin to make sure that you are not allergic to it
- Apply generously if not allergic to the infected area whenever you need to
You can also plant the aloe vera in your backyard or pots so that it is easily available whenever you need them. Remember that some aloe veras may cause allergic reactions in some people.
When our skin is healthy, it has an acidic PH that acts as a barrier to retain moisture to prevent dryness and block irritants from affecting the skin. However, when we develop eczema, our PH level increases thus, the barrier cannot function as it should.
How to use:
- Add some apple vinegar to your bath water (do a patch test before hand to ensure that you have no allergies to this vinegar )
- Soak in the water or use it to bath then another clean water to rinse
- Moisturize well after your bath
I will say that I do not have any experience with using this vinegar for dermatitis but because some have found it useful in easing eczema symptoms, I thought I should mention it. Do try it and let me know if it worked for you in the comments below.
Herbs I used
Some of the herbs that were previously recommended by the naturopath before we hit the jackpot were the giant milkweed, cassia occidentalis herb, Cynodon dactylon, etc. It was only when I used Ziziphus herb that I cleared my hand eczema.
Mind you, I used this herb for about 4-8 weeks I can’t remember exactly how many weeks. This is because it has been about 3-4 years of constant eczema flares and I was already tired of the trial and error of remedies by that time. I was not expecting much but it did work to my surprise and relief.
Ziziphus is a powerful herb that is used for numerous ailments including skin diseases, diabetes, diarrhea, ulcer, cancers, etc. It is native to Africa where it is commonly used in traditional medicine.
The leaves of the herb are the ones that I used though other parts of the plant also have medicinal value.
It was recommended by the naturopath that I use the herb for physical application and orally. I took the water extract for 2 weeks and applied the herb on the eczema for 4-8 weeks. It has been almost 2 years now since it completely cleared and stopped flaring even when I touched allergens.
For oral use:
- Boil a teaspoon of the herb in about 1/3 litre of water.
- Allow it to cool
- Sieve it and divide it equally into 2 parts
- Take one half in the morning after meals and the other half in the evening
- Continue taking the herb for the next 2 weeks.
For physical application:
- Pour about a cup of the ziziphus leaf powder into a jar, bottle, or any container with a cover.
- Pour enough olive oil into the container until it covers it completely.
- Mix well and add some more oil until it submerges the herb completely and has come to the top
- You can start using it immediately or prepare it some hours before night time or the time you intend to use it
- When you are ready to use, scoop the herb soaked in olive oil and rub it all over the infected area.
- Leave it for atleast 30 minutes on the skin. Do not wash it away.
- Repeat this 2-3 times in a day or as often as you can
- Use this treatment for 4-8 weeks and by the end of the second week, you will notice improvements
I used the herb only once a day which was at night because once I apply it on my hands, I cannot do anything else but sit and do nothing which was very inconvenient. So, I only used it once a day though 2-3 times is recommended.
Sometimes, after applying the herb, I put on some gloves to stop it from rubbing off when sleeping or staining my beddings.
It was not the most convenient or easy-to-use remedy but it was the most effective. If the one cup that was prepared should finish, prepare some more herb+oil remedy. By the way, after the olive oil is well infused with the herb (which is usually about a week after the preparation), just rubbing the oil from the infusion on the eczema when its itchy stops the itching immediately in my experience
If you can get the Ziziphus herb soap, that will be excellent, especially for those that have eczema on other parts of their body such as the face, arms, back, etc. If you can’t get the soap, here is how to prepare a rinse. You can use the rinse after bath, on your face or just once a day to fasten healing.
- Boil the dried leaves (1 tablespoon) in about a liter of water or so.
- Take it off the fire to cool down
- Sieve the water and keep it aside.
- After taking a bath, use this water to rinse your body finally and do not use any other water to rinse after it.
- Allow the water to be the last thing you use on your body
- Towel dry your skin and moisturize with natural oils
It is advised that when eczema is spreading to other parts of the body, itching, and discomfort are disrupting your sleep and daily activities, you are developing new symptoms of eczema, etc. It is time to see a doctor for a proper examination, diagnosis, and treatment.
Many have been successful in curing eczema permanently with changes in their diets, healing their guts, discovering their food allergies, avoiding general eczema triggers, using herbal remedies, and so on.
The remedies mentioned in this article are very effective for treating eczema almost permanently as I have experienced and I hope it works for you as it did for me. But, we should know that everyone is different and what works for some might not work for others.
I will advise that you try to avoid immuno-suppressants and steroid medications as much as possible due to their well-documented health risks. Try getting to the bottom of your eczema and find out your triggers and which home remedies work best for you.
I wish you well on your healing journey. Have a nice day!