5 Unorthodox Ways to Treat Eczema
Number 5 will surprise you...
If you haven’t experienced much relief from eczema with conventional over-the-counter (OTC) remedies, or you’ve had side effects from prescription medicines, there’s good news: You can create effective remedies using natural ingredients. Finding relief from this psychologically disabling disease can be challenging, so here you’ll learn about five unorthodox ways to treat it.
Make sure to read to the very end, as the last entry is likely the most effective treatment in the entire list...
An Overview of Eczema
Of the 31.6 million people in the U.S. who have experienced the severe itching, dryness and flaking, rough and thickened skin, scabs, and pain of eczema, about 18 million are adults. Millions of children also suffer from the disorder, although many outgrow it by the time they are teens. Whenever children are treated for eczema, it’s essential to use methods that are safe for their developing bodies, and to seek guidance from a physician.Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is an autoimmune disease, meaning one in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body. It is notoriously hard to treat, causes physical pain and emotional distress, and has no known cure.
The following treatments are natural, gentle, and proven effective. Still, consult with your doctor to ensure that there are no allergies or unwanted interactions between these treatments and any oral or topical medications you are currently using.
Unorthodox Ways of Treat Eczema
Before we get into complementary and alternative therapies for eczema, here are some ways to minimize symptoms by identifying and eliminating triggers:
- Get tested for allergies so you know which foods and substances to avoid; gluten and dairy, for example, are two of many potential eczema-inflaming allergens.
- Keep an exceptionally clean home to minimize exposure to dust, animal dander, mold, and other pathogens and irritants.
- Use only the gentlest soaps, shampoos, and detergents.
- Avoid irritants like cigarette smoke, perfumes, or perfumed skincare and laundry products.
- Wear non-irritating fabrics; avoid wool and certain synthetics.
- Avoid hot water or temperature extremes that can dry the skin.
Once you have taken steps to remove irritants in your environment, try some or all of these time-tested natural remedies for eczema. You may see positive results; and if you don’t, remember that eczema sufferers often differ from each other. Not everyone has the same triggers or underlying conditions; some treatments may achieve miraculous results for one person and be completely ineffective for another.
And while positive results may be evident with mild eczema, extreme cases may not respond to natural treatments. Finally, it is important to note that these are not cures; they are suggestions for treating eczema symptoms.
1. Coconut Oil
Be sure to use high-quality virgin or cold-pressed coconut oil to avoid reactions to chemicals often used to extract cheaper, commercially available brands.Extracted from the meat of mature coconuts, coconut oil has amazing antimicrobial (germ-killing) and anti-inflammatory properties. This is thanks to high concentrations of lauric acid, which is a nutritious fatty acid. Lauric acid reduces the presence of bacteria, yeast, viruses, fungi, and other pathogens on the skin. Coconut oil absorbs into the skin, where it reduces the chance of infection. Also, by boosting the skin’s barrier function, coconut oil helps the skin retain moisture. When skin stays hydrated, this can ease or even eliminate itching and irritation.
How Do I Use Coconut Oil to Treat Eczema?
Less is more with coconut oil. Apply a small amount to affected areas after bathing or showering, and before bedtime. You may want to cover the affected areas with a gauze bandage to protect your skin while you sleep.
2. Vitamin B12
Another method of treating eczema naturally is topical vitamin B12, which research has shown to be effective. One study, conducted by researchers from Germany, involved 49 participants who applied vitamin B12 cream to the affected areas twice daily for eight weeks. The treatment was shown to significantly reduce eczema symptoms.
How Do I Use Vitamin B12 to Treat Eczema?
Vitamin B12 supplements can be taken as an overall health booster. But taken orally the benefits of Vitamin B12 may not be as pronounced for treating eczema because the effects are influenced by the use of steroids or prescription skin creams.
Topical Vitamin B12 is available in creams, but these should be used with caution to prevent flare-ups caused by allergic reactions to certain ingredients. Your doctor may recommend a non-irritating cream that contains vitamin B12.
You can make your own topical treatment by mixing 0.07g of vitamin B12 with a moisturizing cream that you have tolerated well in the past, or a skin-friendly oil such as coconut oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, calendula oil, borage oil, or sunflower oil.
Do not use olive oil as a carrier oil for vitamin B12 or to soothe skin affected by eczema. Olive oil can damage the skin barrier, which is the outermost layer of the skin that keeps moisture in and damaging irritants out. People with eczema have a malfunctioning skin barrier. When a substance like olive oil further impairs it, skin can become severely dry and this can aggravate eczema symptoms.
Honey is a thick, sticky emollient that helps trap moisture in the skin and has several therapeutic properties. There are two types of honey to consider for treating eczema naturally: manuka honey and raw honey.
Manuka honey is made in Australia and New Zealand by bees that collect pollen from the native manuka shrub.
This type of honey has the potential for treating eczema thanks to its immunoregulatory (related to immune function), anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti‐staphylococcal (bacterial infection-fighting) properties. Compared with conventional pasteurized honey, manuka honey contains up to 100 times more of an antimicrobial substance known as methylglyoxal. Manuka honey is often used to heal wounds and relieve digestive issues, as well as soothe sore throats.
If you can’t get Manuka honey, look for locally sourced raw, unpasteurized honey from a supplier that does not use chemical pesticides or herbicides. Raw honey contains beneficial bacteria that aid skin function. It stimulates the release of cytokines, which are important to the immune response. This makes raw honey an excellent treatment for skin wounds, which is great news for anyone who has scratched their skin to the point of bleeding from the incessant itching of eczema. Locally sourced raw honey may also help with seasonal allergies that trigger eczema flares.
How Do I Use Honey to Treat Eczema
To use Manuka honey or raw honey to treat eczema on the limbs or torso:
- Dry wrap: Moisturize the skin with a well-tolerated cream or natural oil, apply a layer of honey, and cover the areas with a thin layer of soft fabric. Leave on overnight and rinse off in the morning. Follow with a moisturizing cream or oil.
- Wet wrap: Apply honey to the skin, and then apply a damp bandage, followed by a layer of dry bandage to lock in moisture. Leave on overnight and rinse off in the morning. Follow with a moisturizing cream or oil.
To treat eczema on the face with honey: Apply a thin layer of honey to the affected areas of the face. Leave on for an hour, and rinse thoroughly. Apply a moisturizing cream or natural oil to lock in the moisture.
Use caution when choosing commercial manuka honey creams since many contain olive oil, which can worsen eczema by impairing the skin barrier functions.
People who are allergic to celery, bee pollen, or bee venom should not use honey, nor should it be used on children under one year old.
4. UVB Phototherapy
Ultraviolet B phototherapy (light therapy) helps treat moderate to severe eczema in adults and older children. UVB light is a narrow spectrum of natural sunlight. A very specific frequency (311nm and 313nm) of UVB light is used to painlessly penetrate the uppermost layers of the skin. UVB phototherapy works by reducing the number of white cells (T-cells) in the skin. Although white cells are important to the immune system, they can worsen eczema by causing inflammation.
How Do I Treat Eczema With UVB Phototherapy?
UVB therapy is always administered by a medical professional who closely monitors treatments to prevent potential burns and ensure your safety. You must commit to several months of treatment consisting of two to three phototherapy sessions per week. Once the itching and redness has subsided, it’s recommended you continue with maintenance therapy indefinitely to prevent eczema flares from recurring.
While it is generally effective, UVB phototherapy is not without risk. UVB (along with UVA) light damages the skin over time, and can accelerate skin aging or even cause skin cancer. Also, it’s generally not recommended for young children unless other therapies have failed.
UVB phototherapy is risky … but there is a safe type of phototherapy that’s more effective and that you can use it in the comfort of your own home.
5. Red Light for Eczema
Red light is part of the visible spectrum of natural sunlight. Unlike UVB light, red light is safe and does not cause skin damage. It is gaining popularity as a gentle and effective do-it-all therapy for a variety of skin conditions including eczema, its close cousin psoriasis, acne, and also skin damage from accelerated aging.
Red light phototherapy uses longer wavelengths of light (630nm to 700nm) to penetrate deeper into the skin and sebaceous (oil-producing) glands, where it has a number of therapeutic effects for treating eczema.
How Does Red Light Work?
Our bodies are reactive to the presence and absence of light. It stimulates us to wake up and go to sleep and, much like the process of photosynthesis in plants, light is essential for the production of nutrients and energy. Red light (specifically, 630nm and 660nm) has significant therapeutic effects.
- Red light stimulates energy production in cells—and increasing cellular energy is vitally important for easing eczema symptoms. To put this in context: When you are tired, you can’t perform your best while at work, at school, playing sports, or doing other activities. Also when you are overly tired, your body is more vulnerable to illness and infection. But when you are filled with energy, you feel good, you have the strength and endurance to take on any challenge, your immune system functions optimally, and you perform at your best.
- Red light stimulates collagen production, which helps in the formation of healthy new skin once eczema lesions begin to disappear.
- Red light stimulates the formation of new capillaries under the skin, which increases circulation and delivers more nutrients to the skin.
- Red light activates the lymphatic system, which is an essential part of the immune system. One function of the lymphatic system is to remove waste from cells to keep them healthy.
Best of all, red light therapy is a gentle treatment that does not damage skin cells.
How Do I Treat Eczema with Red Light?
Since red light is safe, you have the option of treating your eczema at the dermatologist’s office, or in the comfort and convenience of your own home. For children with eczema, however, red light therapy should only be done under the close supervision of a dermatologist.
Depending on the severity of your condition, a few treatments every week using high-powered LED lights that deliver the optimal therapeutic frequencies of red light (630nm and 660nm) can reduce your eczema symptoms over the course of several weeks or months. After symptoms have been relieved, continue with one to two sessions weekly to maintain the health of your skin and prevent future eczema flares.
Make sure to use a high-quality LED device, or your results will suffer
The key to success using red light is consistency, as well as using high-quality devices that deliver the intensity of light needed to achieve the desired results. Don’t be fooled by cheap masks and wands that don’t have enough light output for the high-intensity exposure that can relieve your eczema symptoms.
Make sure to use a high-quality LED device, or your results will suffer
Learn More About Treating Eczema with Red Light
Red light therapy offers fast-acting relief by reducing itchiness and inflammation. At the same time, it stimulates the body’s natural healing mechanisms—and it does this with no side effects. Now you can treat eczema at home, and put the embarrassment and agony of this disorder in the past.
Check out this in-depth article about how to use red light therapy to treat eczema, or browse the collection of high quality LED red light devices so you can get started on the road to healthy skin today.