If you’ve been following this blog, you’d know I don’t jump into eczema (miracle) cures. I still don’t.
But as I read journeys of how eczema sufferers are cured, I realized that there are common approaches they take. These may not be THE (or even an) eczema cure but I think there’re certain situations which they may help improve eczema. I hazard a guess and this series is more about a holistic approach to controlling eczema – I suppose you can call it a cure if one approach singularly works well for you!
Many eczema sufferers are wary of chemical and steroids. I agree but am also wary of going into extremes of attributing everything bad to chemicals and steroids, especially given that eczema is a condition that comes about from many factors (so would focusing on just one aspect be over-simplification?). But I’m definitely supportive of home remedies that work – if they work without side effect!
Home Remedy #1 – Moisturize
Moisturizing is one approach that most would agree is beneficial. It’s accepted that eczema patients (adults and children) have defective skin barrier and a moisturizer have various functions to
- Protect skin from drying/ losing too much moisture
- Protecting skin from irritants
- Absorbing water into the skin
- Filling up the ‘holes’ in the skin or restoring the skin lipids (that help keep the skin cells together and prevent infection, learn more from dermatologist Dr Cheryl Lee in this Over-Alkaline skincare interview)
See also the research on moisturizing where it had been shown to reduce steroid usage and preventive effect on babies with high risk
Home Remedy #2 – Don’t Moisturize (with Irritants)
There are also sharing by eczema sufferers that their eczema improved after STOPPING moisturizer use. My guess is that there could be ingredients in the moisturizers that they have been using that are triggering the eczema, a form of contact dermatitis. There is a test to determine which ingredient in skincare product that you could be sensitive to, known as patch test (interview with Laura Verallo Rowell, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics).
There are indeed individuals whose skin are sensitive to many common ingredients and therefore, it would make sense for this selected group to stop moisturizer use. Not for general population with dry skin though.
To be safe, start off with a moisturizer that doesn’t contain the top irritants, compiled by dermatologist Dr Verallo Rowell with alternative names to these irritants.
Home Remedy #3 – Keep the Skin Moist
I wouldn’t really call it a ‘home remedy’ as clothing products that are able to trap moisture close to the skin and studied to improve eczema usually have invested money into the technology behind the clothing. One such technique is Wet Wrap which had been shown to help eczema and if you’d like to know more about what goes into the wrap and how to use it, read here. My national (Singapore) eczema support group also runs regular wet wrap session, do sign up at the top right box of my blog to be kept posted!
Home Remedy #4 – Ways to Kill Staph Bacteria
Staph bacteria is a common cause for eczema where increasing research showed that eczema skin is colonized by this bacteria which produces toxins that can worsen skin inflammation. There are ‘natural’ ways to kill the bacteria, for instance swimming or bleach bath or shower with a chlorhexidine-based bath wash.
If you don’t like the idea of bleach, read this interview with dermatologist Dr Cheryl Lee on vinegar spray.
Home Remedy #5 – Oils
Though no conclusive research, there are eczema patients whose skin improved after primrose and borage oil (see dermatologist Dr Cynthia Bailey’s comment in the post) and virgin coconut oil (see this very informative interview with dermatologist Dr Verallo Rowell on different types of coconut oil – make sure you get the right type!)
Home Remedy #6 – Anti-Inflammatory Natural Ingredients
There are also quite a few natural ingredients that have anti-inflammatory properties like honey, lavendar or able to protect skin like colloidal oat (interview with dermatologist Dr Claudia Aguirre).
Personally, I feel that the biggest home remedy is to avoid triggers. Logically it makes sense to identify these triggers because no treatment or remedy can be helpful if the skin is under constant ‘attack’. After which, I do believe in moisturizing and as for using natural ingredients, I’m all for it as long as it’s not something that irritate you (beware that natural does not equal no hypersensitive reaction) nor past expiry (as a home-made product may be less stable so the expiry date matters more).