Welcome to our essential oils for eczema guide!
It is estimated that over 31 million people suffer from eczema in the US alone. This can range from mild to very severe and can begin at any point in a person’s life – be this just after birth, during childhood, adolescence, or adulthood.
As those who suffer from eczema will know, the condition can cause huge amounts of physical and emotional discomfort, leaving most constantly searching for ways they can relieve and subdue their symptoms.
Using essential oils for skin various conditions has a long history. In more recent years, this has spread to the use of essential oils for eczema.
Research regarding the precise effectiveness of essential oils for eczema is still emerging, however, studies that do exist suggest that essential oils can be a beneficial supplement to your eczema treatment plan.
In this article, we’ll run you through the best essential oils for eczema and the scientific backing behind them. But first . . .
. . . What Is Eczema?
There are many different types of eczema, such as atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and stasis dermatitis.
While these vary in cause and symptoms, in general, they can all be defined under the following definition:
Eczema (pronounced eg-zuh-muh) is an inflammatory condition of the skin that causes dry, itchy, and sensitive skin. Other symptoms can include:
- Painful/sore rashes
- Inflamed or discolored skin
- Rough, leathery or scaly skin
- Skin infections
What Causes Eczema?
Just as the symptoms of eczema vary, so do the causes.
Numerous factors may contribute to the development of eczema, with the condition usually flaring up due to an interaction between triggers in the environment and your genes.
Let’s explain this deeper.
Whenever an allergen or an irritant comes into contact with our bodies, it activates our immune system.
The way that the interaction between particular irritants and the immune system presents itself will be different for different people – some may sneeze, others may develop headaches while others still may have no symptoms at all.
For those who suffer from eczema, this interaction will frequently present itself through the skin – causing flare-ups, inflammation, rashes, and other symptoms.
The development and flaring up of eczema can also be contributed to by genetic components, such as a protein called filaggrin. This protein plays a crucial role in regulating moisture levels in our skin and keeping it supple.
Many individuals with eczema may have a genetic filaggrin deficiency, which usually leads to drier, itchier skin that is more prone to irritation and inflammation.
There are numerous and varied environmental irritants that can lead to an eczema flare-up. These include, but are not limited to:
- extended exposure to extreme weather (dry air, heat or cold)
- certain fabrics such as wool or polyester
- chemical compounds in some beauty products
- chemical compounds in some laundry detergents/fabric softeners
- chemical compounds in some household cleaning products
How Can Essential Oils Help Eczema?
There is sadly no cure for eczema as of yet, however, there are many treatments on offer to help manage the condition.
Treatments vary depending on the person but may include light therapy (also known as phototherapy), immunosuppressants, biologics, medical-grade moisturizing creams, or other topical medications.
In addition to these prescribed medications, individuals with eczema can find alternative, natural remedies helpful in relieving the symptoms of eczema and managing the condition in both the long and short term.
This is where essential oils for eczema come in!
Essential oils have various magical properties that may assist in alleviating the symptoms of eczema in a number of ways. These include being anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, analgesic (pain reliever), reducing itchiness and scarring.
*Note: We wouldn’t recommend replacing prescribed treatments with essential oils for eczema. Rather they may be a beneficial supplement to your treatment plan. We recommend always consulting a healthcare professional before making changes to your treatment plan.
The 5 Best Essential Oils For Eczema
#1: Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil boasts many benefits, from acting as a natural bug repellent, to treating cold sores, to relieving anxiety. In addition to these, tea tree oil is also thought to offer relief from the symptoms of eczema.
This is due to the strong antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil. Antioxidants help skin repair itself, whereas being antimicrobial means the oil reduces the presence of microbes, such as bacteria and mold.
These are both highly valuable properties when it comes to treating eczema, as it encourages the repair of irritated, damaged skin while also protecting against infections that can worsen the symptoms of eczema and slow healing.
Another valuable property, tea tree oil is a natural anti-inflammatory, which can help to relieve redness, swelling, and pain.
There is limited research directly investigating the effect of tea tree oil on eczema, so these findings should be taken with caution. Tea tree oil is incredibly potent and can cause skin irritation, or even allergic reactions if used undiluted.
#2: Lavender Oil
Next on our list of essential oils for eczema is lavender. Like tea tree, the oil from this hardy flower boasts strong anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, helping to relieve inflammation and protect eczema rashes against infection.
An extensive study found that when diluted in a carrier oil and applied topically, lavender essential oil offered fast relief from the itchiness and irritation of eczema rashes. This is supported by other studies which found lavender to have a mild analgesic effect.
Another study found that when lavender oil was incorporated into carrier oils and applied through massage, there was a significant improvement in atopic eczema in children.
#3: Chamomile Oil
The flowers of the chamomile plant are well known for their relaxing properties, and as well as calming our minds, the oils of this cute plant do wonders for calming our skin.
A 2010 study also found that chamomile essential oil is able to penetrate into the deeper layers of our skin, meaning it may support longer-lasting relief.
When the direct effect of chamomile essential oil for eczema (atopic) has been studied, it proved to be an effective treatment when diluted and used on the skin as a cream, showing just over half the positive effects of 0.25% hydrocortisone cream.
#4: Calendula Oil
Fourth on our list of essential oils for eczema is calendula essential oil.
Also known as marigold, the brightly colored orange flower calendula produces an oil that is believed to hold benefits for those suffering from eczema due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
A 2014 study found that the use of calendula oil improved and in some cases completely reduced eczema symptoms in 70.8% of participants.
Another 2019 study found calendula oil to promote faster healing of wounds and abrasions of the skin.
#5: Borage Oil
Last on our list of essential oils for eczema is borage oil. Whilst being among the lesser-known essential oils, the properties of borage are by no means less impressive.
The use of borage essential oil for eczema has been on dermatologists’ radar for years, with a considerable number of studies researching its potential as a treatment for this skin condition.
A 2018 study found that borage oil helped to normalize the protective barrier of the skin, while another study found it to reduce inflammation and regulate the pH of the skin.
However other studies have shown less dramatic eczema symptom relief under the use of borage oil, leaving definitive answers regarding borage oil’s efficiency for treating eczema still a little inconclusive.
The 3 Best Carrier Oils for Eczema
Carrier oils are plant oils that are used to dilute essential oils and ‘carry’ them onto your skin. They are neutral oils, meaning that they are gentle on the skin and do not interfere with the properties of essential oils.
Carrier oils are very important, as essential oils are highly concentrated and can be harmful or even toxic if used undiluted.
When looking for carrier oils, it’s recommended to look for organic, cold-pressed, 100 percent pure, and additive- or preservative-free oils.
According to the National Eczema Association, the following carrier oils have proved promising in managing the symptoms of eczema:
#1: Sunflower Oil
The first carrier oil that we recommend using as the base to dilute your essential oils for eczema is sunflower oil.
As well as being gentle on the skin and offering a neutral base for essential oils to do their work, sunflower oil has been shown in studies to improve the hydration and health of the skin in babies with eczema.
This is attributed to its rich vitamin E content – a micronutrient crucial to the repair and maintenance of healthy skin.
#2: Coconut Oil
The second carrier oil that we recommend using as the base to dilute your essential oils for eczema is coconut oil.
Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, a nutritious lipid (also found in breast milk) that helps to develop monolaurin. Monolaurin is an antimicrobial agent that can defend against bacteria, fungi, yeast, viruses and other pathogens.
Coconut oil is also able to penetrate the skin quickly and efficiently, boosting hydration, skin elasticity, relieving itchiness, and reducing the chances of infection.
A 2018 study evidenced the anti-microbial properties of coconut oil, finding it to be highly effective at reducing the presence of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other pathogens.
A different study from the same year found coconut oil to have strong anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve redness, swelling, itchiness and otherwise protect the skin.
A 2013 study found that coconut oil improved hydration of the skin and relieved the symptoms of eczema in children over a period of 8 weeks.
#3: Jojoba Oil
Last but not least, the third carrier oil that we recommend using as the base to dilute your essential oils for eczema is jojoba oil.
Jojoba oil is heralded by many as a miracle oil and has developed a slight cult following in the world of alternative skin- and healthcare.
Of all naturally occurring plant oils, jojoba is the one with a chemical composition most similar to the oils naturally produced by our skin. This makes it great for restoring our skin to its natural hydration and pH balance, as shown by various studies.
What’s more, jojoba oil has been shown to be completely non-toxic to human skin meaning it’s highly unlikely to cause any irritation or reaction, even on the most sensitive skin.
How to use Carrier Oils and Essential Oils for Eczema:
Essential oils are magic – why not check out their other benefits?
Essential oils for eczema is just the beginning – these oils have so many other incredible uses!